1968–1977: Transition and International Success

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Posted on Mon, 02/16/2015 - 8:12pm
by Angie Spray

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Gilmour Replaces Barrett

In December 1967, the group added guitarist David Gilmour as the fifth member of Pink Floyd. Gilmour already knew Barrett, having studied with him at Cambridge Tech in the early 1960s. The two had performed at lunchtimes together with guitars and harmonicas, and later hitch-hiked and busked their way around the south of France. In 1965, while a member of Joker's Wild, Gilmour had watched the Tea Set. Morrison's assistant, Steve O'Rourke, set Gilmour up in a room at O'Rourke's house with a salary of £30 per week, and in January 1968, Blackhill Enterprises announced Gilmour as the band's newest member; the second guitarist and its fifth member, the band intending to continue with Barrett as a nonperforming songwriter. Jenner commented: "The idea was that Dave would ... cover for [Barrett's] eccentricities and when that got to be not workable, Syd was just going to write. Just to try to keep him involved". In an expression of his frustration, Barrett, who was expected to write additional hit singles to follow up "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play", instead played the band's "Have You Got It Yet?", intentionally changing the structure on each performance so as to make the song impossible to follow and learn. In a January 1968 photo-shoot of the five-man Pink Floyd, the photographs show Barrett looking detached from the others, staring into the distance.

Working with Barrett eventually proved too difficult, and matters came to a head in January while en route to a performance in Southampton when a band member asked if they should collect Barrett. According to Gilmour, the answer was "Nah, let's not bother", signalling the end of Barrett's tenure with Pink Floyd. Waters later admitted, "He was our friend, but most of the time we now wanted to strangle him". In early March 1968, Pink Floyd met with business partners Jenner and King to discuss the band's future; Barrett agreed to leave.

Jenner and King believed Barrett to be the creative genius of the band, and decided to represent him and end their relationship with Pink Floyd. Morrison then sold his business to NEMS Enterprises, and O'Rourke became the band's personal manager. Blackhill announced Barrett's departure on 6 April 1968. After Barrett's departure, the burden of lyrical composition and creative direction fell mostly on Waters. Initially, Gilmour mimed to Barrett's voice on the group's European TV appearances; however, while playing on the university circuit, they avoided Barrett songs in favour of Waters and Wright material such as "It Would Be So Nice" and "Careful with That Axe, Eugene".

A Saucerful of Secrets

In 1968, Pink Floyd returned to Abbey Road Studios to record their second album, A Saucerful of Secrets. The LP included Barrett's final contribution to their discography, "Jugband Blues". Waters began to develop his own songwriting, contributing "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun", "Let There Be More Light" and "Corporal Clegg". Wright composed "See-Saw" and "Remember a Day". Smith encouraged them to self-produce their music, and they recorded demos of new material at their houses. With Smith's instruction at Abbey Road, they learned how to use the recording studio to realise their artistic vision. However, Smith remained unconvinced by their music, and when Mason struggled to perform his drum part on "Remember a Day", Smith stepped in as his replacement. Wright recalled Smith's attitude about the sessions, "Norman gave up on the second album ... he was forever saying things like, 'You can't do twenty minutes of this ridiculous noise.'" As neither Waters nor Mason could read music, to illustrate the structure of the album's title track, they invented their own system of notation. Gilmour later described their method as looking "like an architectural diagram".

Released in June 1968, the album featured a psychedelic cover designed by Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell of Hipgnosis. The first of several Pink Floyd album covers designed by Hipgnosis, it was the second time that EMI permitted one of their groups to contract designers for an album jacket. The release peaked at number 9, spending 11 weeks on the UK chart. Record Mirror gave the album an overall favourable review, but urged listeners to "forget it as background music to a party". John Peel described a live performance of the title track as "like a religious experience", while NME described the song as "long and boring ... [with] little to warrant its monotonous direction". On the day after the album's UK release, Pink Floyd performed at the first ever free concert in Hyde Park. In July 1968, they returned to the US for a second visit. Accompanied by the Soft Machine and the Who, it marked Pink Floyd's first significant tour. In December of that year, they released "Point Me at the Sky"; no more successful than the two singles they had released since "See Emily Play", it would be the band's last until their 1973 release, "Money".

UmmagummaAtom Heart Mother, and Meddle

Ummagumma represented a departure from their previous work. Released as a double-LP on EMI's Harvest label, the first two sides contained live performances recorded at Manchester College of Commerce and Mothers, a club in Birmingham. The second LP contained a single experimental contribution from each band member. Ummagumma received positive reviews upon its release, in November 1969. The album peaked at number 5, spending 21 weeks on the UK chart.

In October 1970, Pink Floyd released Atom Heart Mother. An early version premièred in France in January, but disagreements over the mix prompted the hiring of Ron Geesin to work out the sound issues. Geesin worked to improve the score, but with little creative input from the band, production was troublesome. Geesin eventually completed the project with the aid of John Alldis, who was the director of the choir hired to perform on the record. Smith earned an executive producer credit, and the album marked his final official contribution to the band's discography. Gilmour said it was "A neat way of saying that he didn't ... do anything". Waters was critical of Atom Heart Mother, claiming that he would prefer if it were "thrown into the dustbin and never listened to by anyone ever again." Gilmour was equally dismissive of the album and once described it as "a load of rubbish", stating: "I think we were scraping the barrel a bit at that period." Pink Floyd's first number 1 album, Atom Heart Mother was hugely successful in Britain, spending 18 weeks on the UK chart. It premièred at the Bath Festival on 27 June 1970.

Pink Floyd toured extensively across America and Europe in 1970. In 1971, Pink Floyd took second place in a reader's poll, in Melody Maker, and for the first time were making a profit. Mason and Wright became fathers and bought homes in London while Gilmour, still single, moved to a 19th-century farm in Essex. Waters installed a home recording studio at his house in Islington in a converted toolshed at the back of his garden.

In January 1971, upon their return from touring Atom Heart Mother, Pink Floyd began working on new material. Lacking a central theme, they attempted several unproductive experiments; engineer John Leckie described the sessions as often beginning in the afternoon and ending early the next morning, "during which time nothing would get [accomplished]. There was no record company contact whatsoever, except when their label manager would show up now and again with a couple of bottles of wine and a couple of joints." The band spent long periods working on basic sounds, or a guitar riff. They also spent several days at Air Studios, attempting to create music using a variety of household objects, a project which would be revisited between The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here.

Released in October 1971, "Meddle not only confirms lead guitarist David Gilmour's emergence as a real shaping force with the group, it states forcefully and accurately that the group is well into the growth track again" wrote Jean-Charles Costa of Rolling StoneNME called Meddle "an exceptionally good album", singling out "Echoes" as the "Zenith which the Floyd have been striving for." However, Melody Maker's Michael Watts found it underwhelming, calling the album "a soundtrack to a non-existent movie", and shrugging off Pink Floyd as "so much sound and fury, signifying nothing." Meddle is a transitional album between the Barrett-influenced group of the late 1960s and the emerging Pink Floyd. The LP peaked at number 3, spending 82 weeks on the UK chart.

The Dark Side of the Moon

Pink Floyd recorded The Dark Side of the Moon between May 1972 and January 1973, with EMI staff engineer Alan Parsons at Abbey Road. The title is an allusion to lunacy rather than astronomy. The band had composed and refined the material on Dark Side while touring the UK, Japan, North America and Europe. Producer Chris Thomas assisted Parsons. Hipgnosis designed the album's packaging, which included George Hardie's iconic refracting prism design on the cover. Thorgerson's Dark Side album cover features a beam of white light, representing unity, passing through a prism, which represents society. The resulting refracted beam of coloured light symbolises unity diffracted, leaving an absence of unity. Waters is the sole author of the album's lyrics.

Released in March 1973, the LP became an instant chart success in the UK and throughout Western Europe, earning an enthusiastic response from critics. Each member of Pink Floyd except Wright boycotted the press release of The Dark Side of the Moon because a quadraphonic mix had not yet been completed, and they felt presenting the album through a poor-quality stereo PA system was insufficient. Melody Maker '​s Roy Hollingworth described side one as "utterly confused ... [and] difficult to follow", but praised side two, writing: "The songs, the sounds ... [and] the rhythms were solid ... [the] saxophone hit the air, the band rocked and rolled". Rolling Stone '​s Loyd Grossman described it as "a fine album with a textural and conceptual richness that not only invites, but demands involvement."

Throughout March 1973, The Dark Side of the Moon featured as part of Pink Floyd's US tour. The album is one of the most commercially successful rock albums of all time; a US number 1, it remained on the Billboard chart for more than fourteen years, selling more than 40 million copies worldwide. In Britain, the album peaked at number 2, spending 364 weeks on the UK chart. Dark Side is the world's second best-selling album, and the twenty-first best-selling album of all time in the US. The success of the album brought enormous wealth to the members of Pink Floyd. Waters and Wright bought large country houses while Mason became a collector of expensive cars. Disenchanted with their US record company, Capitol Records, Pink Floyd and O'Rourke negotiated a new contract with Columbia Records, who gave them a reported advance of $1,000,000, which is worth approximately $5,000,000 today. In Europe, they continued to be represented by Harvest Records.

Wish You Were Here

After a tour of the UK performing Dark Side, Pink Floyd returned to the studio in January 1975 and began work on their ninth studio album, Wish You Were Here. Parsons declined an offer to continue working with them, becoming successful in his own right with the Alan Parsons Project, and so the band turned to Brian Humphries. Initially, they found it difficult to compose new material; the success of The Dark Side of the Moon had left Pink Floyd physically and emotionally drained. Wright later described these early sessions as "falling within a difficult period" and Waters found them "torturous". Gilmour was more interested in improving the band's existing material. Mason's failing marriage left him in a general malaise and with a sense of apathy, both of which interfered with his drumming.

Despite the lack of creative direction, Waters began to visualise a new concept after several weeks. During 1974, Pink Floyd had sketched out three original compositions and had performed them at a series of concerts in Europe. These compositions became the starting point for a new album whose opening four-note guitar phrase, composed purely by chance by Gilmour, reminded Waters of Barrett. The songs provided a fitting summary of the rise and fall of their former bandmate. Waters commented: "Because I wanted to get as close as possible to what I felt ... [that] indefinable, inevitable melancholy about the disappearance of Syd."

While Pink Floyd were working on the album, Barrett made an impromptu visit to the studio, during which Thorgerson recalled that he "sat round and talked for a bit, but he wasn't really there." He had changed significantly in appearance, so much so that the band did not initially recognise him. Waters was reportedly deeply upset by the experience. Most of Wish You Were Here premiered on 5 July 1975, at an open-air music festival at Knebworth. Released in September, it reached number one in both the UK and the US.

Animals

In 1975, Pink Floyd bought a three-storey group of church halls at 35 Britannia Row in Islington, and began converting the building into a recording studio and storage space. In 1976, they recorded their tenth album, Animals, in their newly finished 24-track studio. The concept of Animals originated with Waters, loosely based on George Orwell's political fable, Animal Farm. The album's lyrics described different classes of society as dogs, pigs, and sheep. Hipgnosis received credit for the packaging of Animals; however, Waters designed the final concept, choosing an image of the ageing Battersea Power Station, over which they superimposed an image of a pig.

The division of royalties was a source of conflict between band members, who earned royalties on a per-song basis. Although Gilmour was largely responsible for "Dogs", which took up almost the entire first side of the album, he received less than Waters, who contributed the much shorter two-part "Pigs on the Wing". Wright commented: "It was partly my fault because I didn't push my material ... but Dave did have something to offer, and only managed to get a couple of things on there." Mason recalled: "Roger was in full flow with the ideas, but he was really keeping Dave down, and frustrating him deliberately." Gilmour, distracted by the birth of his first child, contributed little else toward the album. Similarly, neither Mason nor Wright contributed much toward Animals; Wright had marital problems, and his relationship with Waters was also suffering. Animals is the first Pink Floyd album that does not include a writing credit for Wright, who commented: "Animals... wasn't a fun record to make ... this was when Roger really started to believe that he was the sole writer for the band ... that it was only because of him that [we] were still going ... when he started to develop his ego trips, the person he would have his conflicts with would be me."

Released in January 1977, the album peaked on the UK chart at number two, and the US chart at number three. NME described the album as "one of the most extreme, relentless, harrowing and downright iconoclastic hunks of music", and Melody Maker '​s Karl Dallas called it "[an] uncomfortable taste of reality in a medium that has become in recent years, increasingly soporific".

They performed much of the album's material during their "In the Flesh" tour, Pink Floyd's first experience playing large stadiums, the size of which caused unease in the band. Waters began arriving at each venue alone, departing immediately after the performance. On one occasion, Wright flew back to England, threatening to leave the band. At the Montreal Olympic Stadium, a group of noisy and enthusiastic fans in the front row of the audience irritated Waters so much that he spat at one of them. The end of the tour marked a low point for Gilmour, who felt that the band achieved the success they had sought, with nothing left for them to accomplish.

 

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Pink Floyd - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia : taken from - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_Floyd
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