This is Day Four! I’ll tell what album I chose in a minute. Look here for my intro.
Don’t know this challenge? Here is the basic idea (which I’ll semi-ignore):
Post a song a day for five consecutive days. (will do, well album, not song)
Post what the lyrics mean to you. (Optional) (nope – instrumental)
Post the name of the song and a video. (will do – a song from the album)
Nominate 1 or 2 bloggers each day of the challenge. (Well…, All of you)
(I was “volunteered” to do the challenge by Sue Vincent ;) )
When I was a freshman in high school I used to tag along with my brother who was a senior that year. This was very true during marching band season (not football season ;) ). I remember one night sitting in the back of his car while a group of us were out doing stuff. Someone put a tape in the player (cassette tape – if you don’t know, Google it – I’m old). I closed my eyes. I rarely have synesthesia, but I had it that night. The music came to me as colorful geometric patterns. They swirled and danced according to note, harmony, instrumentation, etc. I kept bothering my brother after that about that tape, but I didn’t hear/see it again. Until Christmas, when the vinyl album was waiting for me under the tree (notice this was the third Christmas present in this series? And the last was me to my brother). And what was this magical album?
Pink Floyd, Atom Heart Mother.
The band was so proud of the album when they released it, but later grew to hate it, particularly the title track, which took up one entire album side. This was a large suite for orchestra and rock band. Often the orchestra and large choir did the foreground music to The Floyd’s background tracks. It was very different for most similar albums.
Pink Floyd often did things that other prog-rock bands did at about the same time. A lot of them worked with orchestras about this time. They also all seemed to have series of songs on each album highlight one member. That’s Atom Heart Mother. But Pink Floyd was different. First,there music stayed very rooted in the blues, even when they were doing these wild, highly chromatic and dissonant orchestral works. Time and a Word by Yes is great, but different. The Moody Blues Days of Future Past is also very different since the band and orchestra never played together. ELP’s work with an orchestra was also very different.
One thing is that this sounded like The Floyd. You can hear some of their old material in here, some that came out just after it (like “Echoes”) and even later works, like “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”. Despite the orchestra, this is classic early Floyd.
And the writing was great. It was blues based rock on one level, but it had progressions that went above and harmonies that went farther. And then Pink Floyd of this era was known as much for making odd sound effects and experimental noises as music, and I think this was the height of experimental sound as music (“Echoes” comes close).
Besides the suite, there are several other songs, of course. “If” is typical Roger Waters of the time and I think he plays it up to today. “Fat Old Sun” is typical David Gilmore of that period and he still plays it. Both are pretty good. “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast” sounds very typical of Floyd from that period and is excellent in some places, but is dated in others and not my favorite.
The band never performed Richard Wright’s “Summer of ’68” and it is forgotten. To me that is a shame. It is one of the angriest Pink Floyd songs ever and the brass band is excellent – cold, heartless and angry. Typically Roger Waters is the angry Floyd, but here it was Richard Wright. I think if you replace the song in the Wall where “Pink” chases the groupy out of his hotel room could have been replaced by this song and it would have worked just as well if not better. Also, listen to the end of Alan Parson’s Breakdown. Yep, hints of Atom Heart Mother and Summer of ’68.
Anyway, as a high school student I played this album over and over again, mostly the suite side (remember, vinyl had sides). Later it lost its luster, but still occasionally made the rotation.
A few weeks ago I sat down and listened to it from end to end, they way I did with classical music as I studied it. The thing that jumped out at me is how much of a forgotten influence this album was. Even more than any of the other albums I talked about, this had a huge impact on the music I wrote. Even though the themes from my Hamlet Symphony were developed from a 12-tone row, at least one has a very strong resemblance to the main brass theme on Atom Heart Mother.
Here is the suite:
I also have to put on Summer of ’68 so you can see what I mean:
Since I mentioned the Hamlet Symphony, I’ll post the 2nd movement, which has a lot that is tied into this.
Recognize the similarities? (If you listened to the almost 35 minutes of music…)
And here is a short work of mine that has Floyd overtones: