Thursday, January 3, 2013

Pink Floyd, Part 5

Delicate Sound of Thunder (1988)
Rating: 5
"Money / Woo woo!"
Best Song: One of These Days
Worst Song: Any of the ones from Momentary Lapse of Reason

       Well, our good buddy Dave decided that creating a horrible new album just wasn't enough -- he had to go and murder some of the classics on a live album, too! Thaaaat's right, children, Señor Gilmour teamed up with a buncha unnamed studio hacks to create this masterwork in awfulness, and awful it truly is.

       Not a single song comes close to the original (save "One of These Days", which has some REALLY awesome riffage towards the end), and half of the show is made up of songs from A Momentary Lapse of Reason. That should be enough to convince you to stay far, far away from this album.
       But no, folks, that's not the ONLY reason this thing is dreadful. The sound quality is absolutely abysmal, and it's EASILY the worst sounding live album I've ever heard. It sounds about like a man holding a 10 dollar tape recorder he bought from Wal-Mart standing outside of an arena where the band is playing. Seriously. Oh, except for the guitar playing, which sounds ridiculously loud and clear...and people said that Roger was egotistical....
       Stay away. Stay AWAY, I said!!!!

The Division Bell (1994)
Rating: 9
"I'm wearing the inside out"
Best Song: Take it Back
Worst Song: Marooned

       Well, apparently Dave wasn't very happy (naturally) with the direction that the band took on A Momentary Lapse of Reason, so on what would be their final studio album he grabbed his old buddies Nick Mason and Rick Wright and created...The Division Bell. Is it any good? Yeah, somewhat. I'd probably give it a "B" or so, if reviewing it on that sort of scale. It stays in a mode of pleasant mediocrity for its entire running time, and while that doesn't particularly excite me, at least it isn't painfully horrendous, like...I dunno...Delicate Sound of Thunder or the aforementioned Momentary Lapse, which in all honesty was TRULY a momentary lapse of reason from Dave. 
      But you see, I have two main problems with this album: 

1) It's WAY too long. Nearly everything here exceeds 6 minutes, and there are 11 tracks! All put together, this thing's over an hour long! Of course, nearly every classic rock dinosaur put out an uncharacteristically long album in the early 90s, didn't they? I suppose they did it just because they could, thanks to the wonderful "CD" format. Ugh.


       No exaggeration from me there. What, you want examples? Alright, here are but a few. The synths in "Wearing the Inside Out" sound right out of it, "What Do You Want from Me" sounds just like "Have a Cigar", "Cluster One" is yet another aping of "SOYCD", "Poles Apart" has nearly the same use of steel guitar and vocal melody of "Wish You Were Here", and "Lost for Words" and "Keep Talking" both reek of WYWH influence as well. Yikes.
       And, as you know, WYWH just happens to be my least favorite of the "big four", so that doesn't help matters too much either. But still, for fans, this really isn't a half-bad album. The aforementioned "What Do You Want From Me" has a decent vocal melody and groove, and "Poles Apart" is pretty fun. I dig that mid-song "Mr. Kite"-esque freakout.
       "High Hopes" is a decent closer, if only for the ridiculous over-drama that pervades it. The melody really isn't strong enough to support it for 8 minutes...but it's nothing too offensive, and I like the use of acoustic guitar quite a bit. I also enjoy the pretty ballad "Lost for Words", what with its interesting, Roger-bashing lyrics and the use of some great slide guitar that's actually very similar to the kind Daniel Lanois used on Apollo Atmospheres and Soundtracks. Also, at one point the song randomly drops out and becomes a sound collage. It's not necessarily "cool", but at the very least, it provides an interesting twist.
       My personal favorite of the album, however, is "Take it Back". Sure, yeah, it's painfully obvious that the band is trying to create a U2 clone, but hey -- it's a good U2 clone! And I prefer Dave to Bono...far less self-important. And listen to that riffage! Again, it's just like The Edge..but I prefer Dave to The Edge! A truly great song, at last!
      On the downside, we have the painfully Adult Contemporary-sounding "Wearing the Inside Out" and "Marooned". The less said about the Grammy-winning (?!?!) "Marooned", a horrible attempt at making another "Great Gig in the Sky", the better. "Wearing the Inside Out", however, is a different story. It's Rick Wright's final number (plus his first sung part on a song since Dark Side), and while the arrangement nor the melody entice me much, Rick's singing is truly affecting. A surprisingly touching song.
       I don't like "A Great Day for Freedom" either. The lyrics sound painfully Roger-esque, what with the talk of wars and walls and such, and otherwise it's simply a dull, mildly pretty ballad. "Keep Talking" is yet ANOTHER AC-sounding number that's really nothing too exciting. The only notable aspect of the song is a silly guest appearance from the "Fitter Happier" robot of OK Computer fame. He must have been a very popular guest vocalist in the 90s...
      It's not bad. I doubt I'll ever listen to it in its entirety ever again, but hey -- I wouldn't mind revisiting some of these songs from time to time. Are you a diehard Floyd fan who already owns all the obvious choices? Well then, I suggest you check this one out, as there are some actually good songs here...unlike Momentary Lapse. Nowhere near essential, but still not bad.

Order of Accessibility
1) Dark Side of the Moon
2) The Wall
3) Meddle
4) Wish You Were Here
5) Animals
6) The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

After all that, you should be prepared for pretty much anything else in the band's discography.

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