Thursday, September 24, 2009

Which One's Pink?

Hey once again, everyone... one of my favorite bands, which I must say have had the biggest influence on me (artistically speaking) has to be none other than the band Pink Floyd. Ever since I heard their monumental Dark Side of the Moon, followed by A Saucerful of Secrets and later on Piper at the Gates of Dawn, I was immediately hooked.

What fascinated me the most was that I took special notice of the band's lineup on the earlier albums liner sheets, and noticed that at one point there was another guitarist by the name of Syd Barrett, which I learned later on, was actually one of the founding members of the outfit. What I was really trying to figure out, however, was in fact who was who on that kaleidoscopic photograph that adorns their first album's cover. And then, of course, the mania began. I had purchased the book A Saucerful of Secrets: A Pink Floyd Odyssey by late biographer Nicholas Schaffner, who passed away very shortly after publishing this very same offering.

What fascinated me the most was the fascinating history of this band, and how much they mirrored The Beatles, and yet still managed to slip in a little under the mainstream's radar in order to establish a very cool and sometimes strange cult following of a reputation amongst their fans worldwide. Well, that's an awfully poetically stupid thing to say, really...especially when you consider at how well their Dark Side of the Moon album release fared on the charts, which at one point was voted as: "One of the Best Albums to Fuck To..." believe it or not. Others claim that you have to be on LSD in order to experience it and truly appreciate it. But I think I'll pass on that, since I like my brains sunny side up instead of scrambled, thank you very much!

Anyways, after hearing many fellow Floydians' (that is one who digs Pink Floyd, just like Beatles fans are called Beatlemaniacs) claims that you needed to be high in order to hear the secret messages jumping out at you on The Dark Side of the Moon record, I figured it would just be easier to crank up the volume and put my headphones on. And sure enough, I got to hear the famous recorded interviews that were all conducted during the course of the recordings to most of the crew, as well as The Abbey Road Studios personnel. "I've been mad for fucking years..." "Yes, absolutely years, every holiday, and night." Sorry if I can't really claim perfect accuracy in that last transcription, but it's the sound effects used in that album that sometimes drown out the speech. Roger Waters is notorious for doing that sort of thing, you know?

I was even surprised to find out that even Paul McCartney was interviewed during this taping process, which involved asking a random set of questions, likened to what I could best describe as a Voight-Kampff test on a Replicant just to see if someone was completely insane at the time! Of course, this track was never used, and basically scrapped for a couple of better probing Q & A behavioral responses. This was yet another thing that Roger Waters is notorious for; according to David Gilmour, which is basically sacrificing a great musical piece in order to make it sound more of a radioesque sort of sound. Again, I'm paraphrasing, since I can't exactly remember what the exact words were that he used to describe this genius sound editing process of Roger's.

But at any rate, it's a pretty far out thing to know that while The (early) Pink Floyd were busy in the studio recording their first offering The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, The Beatles were right next door recording their landmark Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. And it also turns out that their engineer Norman Smith also worked with the Beatles! Imagine that!

Norman Smith Image
And here's Norman at the Controls...

Another interesting tidbit is that when the band first started out, they were more geared towards R & B based sounds, and they went through a number of name changes; such as Sigma 6, The Tea Set, Leonard's Lodgers (more on that later...), The Screaming Abdads, The Architectural Abdads, The Abdads, and get this... The Megadeaths! Go figure!

There was even a point where there were five members, just like the Beatles in their early heyday. And this additional member was none other than Bob Klose, who left the music scene to further his studies.  So it's not exactly the same kind of treatment that Pete Best got when the band finally got around to stirring up a great deal of interest from the record label, or anything.  But it's still worth noting here that there were actually two periods that there were five Floyds.

Bob Klose Image
The fifth Floyd... Bob Klose

But then again, it's not really accurate to say that Bob was the fifth Floyd, since there were a few other members and earlier incarnations of the band lineup, and their name around this time was most probably Leonard's Lodgers.  However, it may be correct to say is that he was still a member while the group had donned the name The Pink Floyd Sound, which was an idea of Syd Barrett's, naming it after two of his favorite blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. There is also a story out there, which I can't say for sure if it's accurate or not, that Syd used to feed acid to two of his cats, one of which was named Pink and the other Floyd. Sometimes people think that this is the origin of the band's name. Another thing that pisses me off is the fact that people will refer to Pink Floyd as a person. It's a group, you fools!

The Five Floyds Image
Well... you don't see this everyday, do ya?
The full five member Floyd lineup!
  L to R:
Nick Mason (drums), David Gilmour (guitar),
Roger Waters (bass), Syd Barrett (guitar),
Richard Wright (piano/organ)

Oddly enough, this was yet another joke that's prevalent on the band's personal ode to Syd Barrett, which was one of the first acid casualties of psychedelic rock; the album Wish You Were Here in the song Have a Cigar where the verse "The Band is just fantastic, that is really what I think, oh by the way which one's Pink?" is the epitome of the highly misinformed culture in the music industry. For me, this is basically just about everybody I've tried to engage in a conversation with that have little to no idea of just how important this group really is.

Getting back to the note I made earlier, about the Leonard's Lodgers title of the band. Apparently, this name was influenced by Mike Leonard, who was the band's lighting projectionist. One could easily say that if it wasn't for this inventors' tinkering about with the use of sounds to affect light patterns, well... there wouldn't be such a thing as raver night clubs today! There wouldn't even be a Pink Floyd light show to begin with! And no, I'm not talking about the one at the local science museum, kids! I'm talking about the one that we get to see at during their live performances/tours/etc. Which, by the way, I don't think will ever happen again, now that both Syd Barrett and Richard Wright have each passed away. So God only knows what the future holds for the remaining members.

Hopes were pretty high (permit the pun, there...since one of their songs was called High Hopes and all...) when the band made a special reunion at Live 8. This was technically the last appearance the band ever made together, after the split between Waters and the other two remaining members of the band, David Gilmour and Nick Mason (that is... after Wright was fired by Waters after The Wall).

Which brings me to a cool little tidbit that I picked up, courtesy of The Internet Movie Data Base, which is the best place to find out some pretty cool trivia about one's favorite movies and all. I found out, or better yet... actually proved to my curiosity, for I could have sworn he was in the film, was the fact that Roger Waters was actually in The Wall! It turns out tat at one point, he was considered for the lead role (not in a cage!) but the part was eventually given to Bob Geldof (of The Boomtown Rats fame). Here's some visual proof...

Pink Floyd The Wall Movie Wedding Sequence Image 1
If you blink, you'll miss this...
There's Roger (in red) appearing as the best man
in the very brief wedding scene of the film
during the Mother sequence.

Pink Floyd The Wall Movie Wedding Sequence Image 2
And here he is again, with Bob Geldof (second from right)
looking remarkably a lot like Syd Barrett
in his psychedelic heyday!

Anyways, I just thought I'd share this with all of you out there, the uninitiated, as I like to refer to you all as, and not just the regular lot of assholes that refer to Pink as a he, when they say something to the extent of: "Yeah, I like his music!" or better yet think of them as a strange underground group. I'll never forget a comment that one of my schoolmates told me one time, which was something to the extent of: "Dude, don't you listen to normal music?" Freaking idiot! Oh well...

One more thing I like to add, which has been a highly repeated subject time and time again, in the anals of Floyd fanatic speculation... and that is that most people claim that the last moments off of the bands' Division Bell album is actually a conversation between David and his son Charlie, or something along those lines. There may be some truth to that statement, however, what most people tend to overlook for the most part is that this line is also in the song Astronomy Domine, which is the first song off of Piper; the band's first album. If you listen closely to the heavily distorted megaphone blaring over the crazy diamondesque guitar solo work of Syd (whose name was actually Roger, and whose middle name was Keith) Barrett, you can make out the exact same phrase, which is: "Charie? Is this Charlie... Hello?" It's pretty difficult to hear, since there's a lot of crazy experimentation going on in there, but the fact of the matter is that it's there! Basically, if you look at it from this standpoint, Division Bell was actually a very highly reminiscent album that drew largely from the glory days of the group. If you listen, you could hear the swarms of bees, (or just a lot of buzzing insects...don't know if they're really bees or not) from Granchester Meadows, which was on their Ummagumma album. And you can also hear the bells from the Fat Old Sun, from their Atom Heart Mother album, which at one point was considered to be used as a soundtrack for Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, according to Roger Waters; and not the more common urban legend of how the twenty-five minute long Echoes suite off of Meddle synchronizes up perfectly with the stargate sequence at the end of the film, which is coincidental if not altogether completely sick! I mean, can you imagine what frame of mind you have to be in to figure out this kind of thing?!?

Of course, the crazy line of coincidences doesn't stop there. Let's not forget the whole Dark Side of the Rainbow spectacle! Which is really where all this fanatic Floydian madness originated from in the first place! For those of you that don't know, it's basically playing Dark Side of the Moon at the same time you start watching the Wizard of Oz. You can find out more about this completely far out concept by clicking here.

Anyways, another interesting fascinating little tidbit that I'd like to point out is this video that I like to share every now and again with my friends, who are all musicians in their own right; which is that aside from the unreleased (but heavily bootlegged) Vegetable Man or Scream Thy Last Scream songs which Syd Barrett composed for A Saucerful of Secrets, shortly before his departure from the group, and/or the What Shall We Do Now? and When the Tigers Broke Free numbers which are not on The Wall album (with the lyrics of What Shall We Do Now? still printed on the lyric sleeve!) but are in the film; there also exists a released (eight-track only) version of Pigs on the Wing, from Animals, which bridges the gap between both parts of the song. Both songs, of course, normally appear as bookends (or what I like to call the bread parts of the sonic sandwich) of the album. Of course, this version was actually created as a sort of audition tape for guitarist Snowy White, when they were all in talks for doing a tour together to promote the Animals album. There are many videos of this out there on YouTube, but this one's my favorite... since it's the first on I came across when I was looking for this rare version of the song.

And then, of course, there are other little rare variations here and there that I've stumbled across online... which is the alternate promotional video for Arnold Layne, which was the band's first hit about a kleptomaniacal cross dresser. Both the song and the lyrics are light years ahead of their time, and only go to show how much of a genius Syd Barrett really was. Below is the official promotional film, followed by a lesser known promo (which has somehow virtually disappeared from YouTube - probably due to copyright, fair use, and all that jazz...).  As a bonus, I've also found a true stereo mix of the song as well.

And then, I stumbled upon yet another little gem, which was a slightly different version of Corporal Clegg, off of A Saucerful of Secrets. I was going nuts trying to see if I could spot Syd in this video. Of course, he's not there, but David's reflection in the mirror threw me off. At one point I was thinking that all five members were in this video, but apparently not. Anyways, I like this rarity the best, since the song's ending is completely different, as well as there being some notable differences in the level of the instruments on the track. We don't get to hear the normal military siren followed by mortar fire, but instead a continuous chanting, done in an almost goosestep-like marching beat. My only gripe is that the video wasn't complete, but hey... we can't have it all, I suppose! Here's the alternate version, followed by the full length promotional version...

And finally, there's yet another gem which I found on eBay. It's one of them Japanese mini discs, which are CD's recorded straight from an original vinyl source. The album in question was none other than Piper at the Gates of Dawn. What's cool about this CD is that I believe it was released before the special anniversary edition of the album, which contains both the stereo and mono mixes, along with some third bonus disc, that I still haven't heard! Anyways, this CD contained an earlier acetate of Candy and a Currant Bun, which had some slightly different lyrics. And for those of you that don't know, the BBC in its infinite wisdom decided that the song's original title Let's Roll Another One was definitely not up to standards at the time. And yet, they didn't have any reservations, nor did they object to the verse of "Please just fuck with me!" How do you explain that one?!? Yes, indeed... censors are pretty stupid, but not as stupid as those people that liken the name Pink Floyd to an individual person instead of a group.

All right, well... this includes this portion of Musical Trivia with your host Dr. Gonzo XXVII (or AKA: P.S. Elliott for short!) reporting for the disassociated press, that is... The Gnoyze Guitar Mods & More Web Blog.

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