Matthew Watters | Vietnam | 02/07/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This record is an astonishing document of that suspended moment in time, just before rock's Great Divide in the mid-1970s, when a punk and New Wave underground would begin to render acts like Pink Floyd perpetually unhip, and all the more so when albums like Dark Side of the Moon would find a grotesque level of commercial success and be warmly embraced by the Dazed and Confused set. This would shortly be my stoner older brother's music, played on eight-track tapes in his orange hippie van, and, for years, I wouldn't be caught dead hearing it. But, take yourself back to the time this was first released, and for a brief, shining moment, prog rock, glam rock, art rock, bubblegum pop could all stand side-by-side. Look at this cover art and listen to this music. The vibe is actually uncannily similar to the early solo work of Brian Eno, but there are also pop songs interspersed here that wouldn't have sounded out of place on a Todd Rundgren album. And, for a record by a band that was about to become a commercial behemoth, this is very heady, art stuff, without a whiff of sell-out about it. Impressive musicianship with admirable integrity, and it only loses a star for the utter lack of irony that seemed to have plagued most of Pink Floyd in its post-Syd Barrett phase. Barrett is a post-punk hero because he was funny and clearly having a lark overturning the rock-and-roll furniture, while Waters and Gilmour were a little prone to take it all a bit seriously. By the time of The Wall, they would be almost insufferably self-important. But that doesn't detract from the timeless beauty of the music they created here."
Caught between cultural bookends
j ARCHITECT | Seattle, WA | 08/26/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Most of the more thoughtful reviews pretty much capture my overall impression of this album...less 'psychedelic', more 'formulistic', 'post Syd recovery', 'pre-DSOTM', no 'space-jams'. Please indulge me here, but I probably pre-date most of the PF viewers (and listeners), having seen PF in 1969 (Saucer Full of Secrets tour), 1970 (Ummagumma tour), 1975? (DSOTM). The first two at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia and the last in Pittsburgh, Pa (Arena). I have to admit fully that I am in the Syd, early Floyd camp...and feel that DSOTM was akin to a commercial sell out. The album's success created a physical barrier between myself and a band I really identified with. I simply lost the ability to enjoy them any longer. The size of the performing venues changed dramatically from intimate halls populated by a mellow, spaced out audience to one in which you were surrounded by 20,000 headbangers on qualudes. At that point, around 1975, I gave up and moved on.
Looking back on the years, I none-the less fully recognize the brilliance of PF through-out its varied history. I enjoy them immensely even today (in my home - far away in space and time from the headbangers). In fact, I am trying to get my 15 year old son to stop listening to pop radio long enough to give them a critical listen.
But back to the album...OBC is certainly not one of PF's finest albums...it always seemd rushed to me and as I said, formulistic. A few gems like Wot's...Mudmen and Stay are worth the price of admission, however the album does not read as a cohesive whole, but more as a soundtrack...hey, it *is* a soundtrack...seemingly made up of discarded relics from PF's unused material bin. It should, none-the-less, be part of any PF fans collection (which is why I just bought it...not having heard it for 30+ years!) if only to capture the moment of Floyd's last year of relative obscurity when they were the ultimate cult band to one which became infused with hyper egos, super stardom, huge stage presentations and listened to by a less discerning world audience. In spite of it all, PF is and was a positively unique and wonderful band, able to capture so much of the cultural pulse of the times through out its very long and brilliant history."