If you asked an average record store patron to name ia recording from the British progressive rock group Pink Floyd, you’d hear the words “Wall,” “Dark,” “Side” and “Moon” mentioned a lot. While “The Wall” (1980) and “The Dark Side of the Moon”(1973) are good albums, they both fall short in my mind of Pink Floyd’s 1971 record, “Meddle.”
“Meddle” is possibly the best rock record I’ve ever heard. The songs are ingenious, lyrically and musically. The lyrics present enigmas that keep the listener wondering. The music, typical of Pink Floyd’s other works, is relaxing and eerie at the same time.
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Side one has five songs. The first, “One of These Days,” has a dark, pulsating energy throughout and concludes with the threat, “One of these days I’m gonna cut you into little pieces!” “A Pillow of Winds,” is a ballad typical of early Pink Floyd and is similar to the material on “Dark Side.” “Fearless” is the only weakness on the record. It’s nice, but goes on too long. “Fearless” features a children’s chorus similar to the one on “Another Brick Part 2.” “San Tropez” is a cocktail-bar style song, and the last song, “Seamus,” is a jokey blues. These last two songs provide the listener with some reassurance before they plunge into the essence of the record.
Side two is taken up entirely by “Echoes” which is one of the most amazing songs ever written. It lasts 23 and a half minutes, and at some points it seems like it’s going on forever, but still, the song is excellent. At the beginning, the song seems to materialize out of nowhere. Then the first two verses and choruses are sung, presenting some puzzling lyrics for the listener to ponder during the 14 minute instrumental break. During this long span, the listener is treated to a musical expansion of the verses and choruses, a section which is Pink Floyd’s version of slow funk, a long chorus of echoing sea gull cries, and a “psychedelic” section with buzzing synthesizer parts similar to “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” and “Astronomy Domine.” After the third verse, the song fades away into the mist.
This record is a classic. If you’re a fan of Pink Floyd’s early work, if you’re a fan of far-out progressive music in general, or if you have nothing else to do with your money, buy this album. It might not be the best one you’ll ever hear, but it’ll be the most unusual. n