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Review: Pink Floyd – The Endless River

Earlier this year, when the news leaked out that there was a new Pink Floyd album on the way, there was a feeling bewilderment among fans, rather than excitement. It simply did not compute, as most people assumed the band was completely defunct. Since the death of Richard Wright four years ago, only David Gilmour and Nick Mason remained as ‘official’ band members, and the latter was never force as a performer nor a composer. And it was highly unlikely that former bandleader Roger Waters had reconciled with the others enough to record with them. So what was this new release to be? It seemed likely that it would just be Gilmour and Mason, like A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987), which is one of the worst-reviewed releases of the band’s long career.

A Momentary Lapse of Reason’s ill-advised inner sleeve

However, it was soon revealed that the album would be mostly made up of music recorded for, but ultimately rejected from, The Division Bell (1994). It was heartening that it would feature contributions from Richard Wright, but at the same time disappointing that music that didn’t make the grade 20 years ago was now considered good enough to release. Many fans were willing to give the record a try, as it was ‘new’ material, and possibly a chance to celebrate Wright’s life and work. But was this album worth reviving the Pink Floyd moniker for?

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Desert Island Disgust

Desert Island Discs is a British institution, but it has been going so long that the producers seem to have run out of interesting people to interview. These days, the guests are vapid celebrities and incredibly posh people who nobody’s ever heard of. Also, none of the guests seem to have any particular love of music, so their eight musical choices are generally a mix of the startlingly obvious and the incredibly asinine.

Some thoughtful person at the BBC made an archive of the show, listing every single guest and their chosen discs. This made it very easy for me to find the interviewees with the poorest musical tastes. Five of the worst offenders are outlined below…

Nigella Lawson

  1. The Archies – Sugar Sugar
  2. Mory Kante – Yeke, Yeke
  3. Boney M. – Daddy Cool 2001
  4. The Mavericks – Dance the Night Away
  5. Wheatus – Teenage Dirtbag
  6. New Order – Blue Monday
  7. Eminem – Cleaning Out My Closet
  8. The Chemical Brothers  – Hey Boy, Hey Girl

Several of these tracks are obviously garbage, but the one that really sticks out is “Teenage Dirtbag”. It’s not just that it’s a band song, it’s that it’s about the angst of being an adolescent boy. Nigella is female and was forty years old when the song was released. So she doesn’t even have the excuse of this being a record she related to in her youth. She gets some points for New Order and the Chemical Brothers, though.

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Slideshow: Unacceptable in the 80s

In the 1980s, the music scene was changing at a breakneck pace, and artists who first became famous in the 60s were finding it difficult to stay relevant (and therefore rich). Many long-established artists tried changing things musically, often by embracing the use of synthesisers and electronic drum machines. Worse still, they also tried to improve their “branding” by changing their dress sense and visual aesthetics. This led to some unintentionally hilarious record covers. The slideshow below has ten album covers that show older artists trying, and failing, to look cool in the 80s. Click to activate…

The Best of ‘What’s In My Bag?’

Amoeba Music, the famous LA record shop, has a great little web series called What’s In My Bag? They invite well-known people into their store, let them shop around for a while, and then interview them about the albums they chose. It’s basically a non-copyright-infringing version of Desert Island Discs. There’s often a lot of hipster-y posing, but there are a fair few videos where the celeb’s genuine love of music shines through. Here’s a few of the best videos…

Noel Gallagher

Unlike the others on this list, Gallagher’s video is ad hoc. Amoeba didn’t know he was coming; they just saw him in the aisles and ushered him into the green room for this brief but enjoyable video. He’s taking a punt on some artists that are new to him, and some of his choices (Pink Floyd, Can, and David Axelrod) are fairly surprising. Never one to mince words, he guesses that he’ll find a lof of these “shite”. He also gets a Hawkwind album “to see what all the fuss is about”. I don’t think there’s been fuss about Hawkwind for about 40 years.

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Synchronicity

There’s a crazy urban myth regarding Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. It’s been around coincidentally as long as the internet, and states that the album works as a sort of alternative soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz. The theory goes, that if you start playing the album at the same time you start playing The Wizard of Oz (with the sound muted), the album will synchronise with the film’s visuals in interesting ways. By that, I mean that the music corresponds to what’s happening on screen, and the songs change when scenes do. Some people say that it goes beyond mere coincidence, and that the album must have been composed specifically for this purpose.

The idea of this has always intrigued me. I’m embarrassed to say that soon after I heard about it, I bought a copy of DSotM and The Wizard of Oz and tried it out for myself. I am possibly the only person in the world who was not high when I did this. I noticed a fair few moments of synchronisation and was a firm believer that, while this was probably not a deliberate thing, it was certainly some kind of weird, cosmic coincidence.

Now I’m older and wiser, I’ve tried this synch again (still not high), to see if my opinion had changed. Someone had helpfully put the two together and uploaded it to Vimeo (YouTube for grown ups). The video is after the jump, and below that is a list of all times when I think that things do, and do not seem to synch…

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