CK Retro Review: Meddle by Pink Floyd

After suffering from a bit of a creative funk that dogged them for several years after the departure of Syd Barrett from the band, Pink Floyd found their footing with 1971’s Meddle. Although the album has some mediocre valleys, the stunning peaks, including one of their all-time great instrumentals and a side-long epic, more than compensate. Here is a song-by-song review.

TWO STARS

6. “Seamus”- It’s forgivable because the band is clearly having a laugh with this blues parody featuring a surprising tuneful canine. It’s less forgivable when you consider there are only six songs on the album, and one of them is pretty much a throwaway.

5. “A Pillow Of Winds”- With “Dear Prudence” arpeggios and some pretty slide guitar, the framework of this acoustic folk song is pretty enough. But the melody meanders and the lyrics fail to make much of an impact, making this track somewhat forgettable in comparison to some of the wonderful songs all around it.

THREE STARS

4. “San Tropez”- This interesting curve ball sounds little like the spacey reputation that Floyd had cultivated over the years. Instead, it’s more like some lost vaudeville track or the theme song to a sitcom. Roger Waters, who wrote the track on his own and takes lead vocals, attempts to enjoy the idyllic titular location in spite of some ambivalence about the opulence of it all (“I’m drinking champagne/Like a good tycoon.”) Nice piano work by Rick Wright at the end as well.

FIVE STARS

3. “One Of These Days”- Unlike their previous album, Atom Heart Mother, which found the band relying on an orchestra to beef up their sound, Meddle found them creating studio magic out of their own ingenuity and creativity without any outside help. The opening track sets the tone, with the echoing bass, intimidating drums, and sequencer effects all giving way to Nick Mason’s strangulated voice gurgling out the lone lyric (“One of these days, I’m going to cut you into little pieces.”) At that point, the band kicks into overdrive, led by Wright’s keyboard stabs and David Gilmour’s squalling guitar. Absolutely thrilling from start to finish.

2. “Fearless”- It took him a while, but Gilmour’s combination of melodic cleverness and guitar wizardry began to shape Floyd’s sound, especially on this relentlessly ascendant mid-tempo track. That climbing guitar hook and the persistent groove carved out by Mason and Waters’ are perfectly in keeping with Waters’ defiantly triumphant lyrics, which easily outstrip all the doubters in the narrative. This song deserves to be known by more than just Pink Floyd fanatics.

1. “Echoes”- For years, Pink Floyd had been trying out would-be epics like “A Saucerful Of Secrets” and “Atom Heart Mother” with mixed results. On “Echoes,” their songwriting skills and studio craftsmanship finally caught up with their ambition. The eerie ping of Wright’s piano, the way Gilmour’s guitar rises out the murk to dramatic heights, the seagull cries and ghostly winds in the experimental section, it all coheres because the main verse-chorus structure is so stirring. There is always a purpose, a common goal held by all of the disparate musical elements, a goal which is expressed by Waters’ lyrics, which are alternately frustrated at man’s tendency to isolation yet hopeful that the yawning distance can ultimately be breached.

(E-mail me at countdownkid@hotmail.com and follow me on Twitter @JimBeviglia. Check out the links below for books based on material that originated on this site.)

http://www.amazon.com/Counting-Down-Bob-Dylan-Finest/dp/0810888238

https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781442230651

 

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2 Comments on “CK Retro Review: Meddle by Pink Floyd”

  1. markrb1 says:

    Hi Jim. Great series of posts. It’s been a while, but we’re getting into the Floyd era where I feel qualified enough to leave the odd comment. Let’s hope a few other fans come out of the shadows soon.
    A brave choice for number 2, but you’ll get no arguments from me. Its a great song. There are a couple of minor numbers here, but in some ways its the last album where they sound like they’re having fun. Not weighed down with the pressure of creating the next masterpiece I guess. Meddle really is one of a kind. A side of off the wall animated shorts before the main feature begins and the bar is well and truly raised. Nothing sounds like the aural equivalent of dawn as the closing few minutes of Echoes.


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