“Come with me now, to that secret place, where the eyes of man have never set foot…” The “Magical Mystery Tour,” represents an odd moment in Beatle history as both a film and an album. As a record, its unintentionally brilliant. The original British EP just consisted of songs from the hour long movie such as “Fool on the Hill,” “Blue Jay Way,” “I am the Walrus,” and the cool trippy instrumental “Flying.” That now rare EP has long since been replaced by the full length American issued record. The LP, not only includes the songs from the movie but also includes all the humungous Beatle singles from 1967 such as “All You Need is Love,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” and “Penny Lane.” It makes for a colossal psychedelic album, littered with Beatle masterpieces. The film, while containing much of this fantastic music, is a different story all together. Conceived mainly by Paul McCartney as a solution to give the Beatles exposure without the hell of playing to insane live audiences, the film ended up being the Beatles first real commercial and critical disappointment. So let’s not kid ourselves, the movie sucks. The plot makes no sense, its poorly edited, (save the musical numbers) includes a ridiculously pointless strip tease, and ends suddenly with little to no explanation. That being said, the film is a total joy and wonder. I know, I just massively contradicted myself, but come on, you get to see some of the greatest musical geniuses the world has ever known, running around like mad as a collective unit, at a time when they were at their creative peak. It’s a priceless document of the lads in the era right after the death of their manager Brian Epstein, (the first real death knell of the group according to John Lennon), and just before their incredible spiritual journey to India. The making of the film became a source of tension for John and George, as Paul basically created and directed most of it. John and George were becoming increasingly disgruntled with Paul’s emerging group dominance, and resentment grew mightily. As for the Mystery Tour itself, that too ended up being a disaster as fans found the bus on the road, tailed it, and caused traffic jams. John angrily tore the “Mystery Tour” graphics off the bus’s side so they could proceed filming on schedule and with more anonymity. With all the unhappiness present amongst the Beatles, glimmers of joy and goofiness do pierce the film’s dreck. Ringo is simply a fantastic actor with a lot of heart and humor. John, decked out in psychedelic lederhosen, has some nice moments with a cute little kid, and George is deliciously weird as fuck throughout the entire film. Paul, who is blamed for a majority of the film’s crappiness as director, does get a stunning spotlight for his “Fool on the Hill” sequence as he dances around the cliffs of France. Anyway, I got the full film, remastered in stunning sound and glorious color, so roll on up for the Mystery Tour, just click play!
Archive for British Psychedelia
Money, fame, power, and prestige; Pink Floyd had it all, but by their bloated 1977 stadium romp known as the “Flesh Tour,” Roger Waters and company became disgusted with what they had become. Boorish fans in large intoxicated and stoned numbers were ruining the concerts, and Roger loathed them so much that he literally spit on them, then imagined what it would be like to place a wall between the stage and the audience. This growing apathy for churning out area rock combined with bad business deals draining the band’s fortunes, Pink Floyd got to work on a new double album and film. The product was The Wall, and ambitious rock opera about a character named “Pink,” based on a combination of Roger and Syd Barrett. I think its kind of amazing that for how marginalized and separated Syd became from the actual band, the remaining guys still couldn’t stop thinking about him, and openly used his persona for inspiration. The album, one of Pink Floyd’s best selling, touched on themes of class oppression, nihilism, fascism, and most dominantly isolation, symbolized by the wall itself. One thing you can say about Pink Floyd was that they certainly knew how to keep upping the bleakness levels to 11. I have two clips from the film. The first is a gorgeous animated presentation of “Goodbye Blue Sky,” one of the briefest, but best songs on the record. It’s a mix of dirge like militarism and beautiful Beatle-esque harmonies, and the video itself is an incredible anti-war/violence statement if there ever was one. The next video is for “Another Brick in the Wall,” the album’s anthem that melds Pink Floyd’s dark psychedelia with a funky disco beat. If you’ve never seen the clip, its slightly disturbing with the children wearing those ghoulish melted masks of oppressive conformity. The Wall appropriately brings Pink Floyd week to its conclusion, but that won’t be the end of the band on this site. There are many hidden gems and massive hits I’ve left out obviously, and expect this particular psychedelic bunch to roll up again. Cheers.
Animals by Pink Floyd is my absolute favorite Floyd album and one of my favorite albums ever. For me, this is the highlight of Pink Floyd week as I get to share a live performance of “Pigs on a Wing 1″ as an intro to “Dogs,” my favorite Pink Floyd song. Animals is Pink Floyd’s real masterpiece, with better songs then Dark Side of the Moon, and is way more thematically focused then The Wall. Animals has 5 songs, with the intro “Pigs on a Wing 1,” being brought back at the end with slightly different lyrics, so its really 4 songs. The record is mostly the work of Roger Waters, who at this point took full creative control of the band. It’s a concept album loosely based on George Orwell’s book Animal Farm, mainly a railing against with the oppressive social-political of Great Britain. The whole thing is a psychedelic progressive folk rock masterpiece. It is also an angry finely manicured response to the emerging punk rock movement. Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols famously wore an “I hate Pink Floyd,” t-shirt, and Roger Waters and company wanted to remind the punkers they too emerged from an underground movement determined to unmoor the uptight and conformist British hierarchy. For “Dogs,” Waters wrote the lyrics, and Gilmour, in his only songwriting contribution to the record, wrote the music. It was originally titled, “You’ve Got to Be Crazy,” and features some of Pink Floyd’s best lyrics and dynamic guitar solos. It’s a piece of fantastic psychedelic dark funk, and demands worship. So check out this live performance and go for the gold by sitting through the whole thing, its worth it.
Here is a clean recording of “Dogs,” but with no live footage.
In yesterdays post I alluded to how Dark Side of the Moon reminded me strongly of Abbey Road. I must not be the only one, because the image above is all over the internet. This leads to an interesting debate amongst music fans, mostly ardent Pink Floyd people, that claim that Pink Floyd is the spiritual successor to the Fab Four. Some go even further claiming that Pink Floyd’s dazzling studio mastery and reflections on more mature philosophical themes elevate them as a technically greater band then the Beatles. I’ll address the claims in reverse order. While its true that Pink Floyd was a massive commercial success in the 70s, among the top 3 bands in the decade, they are not the Beatles of the 70s. What Pink Floyd did was continue the Beatles psychedelic studio experimentation in the pop rock format, pushing its boundaries and increasing its sonic power. Like the Beatles, their best songs had strong melodies, beautiful harmonies, and precise arrangements. The difference is, Pink Floyd was a psychedelic folk band, while the Beatles were an ever expanding rock and roll outfit, encompassing a wide variety of styles and sensibilities. At their height, Pink Floyd reached a massive arena audience and influenced youth culture strongly with their detached nihilistic messages railing against a corrupt and oppressive system. At the Beatles height, they did all things Pink Floyd accomplished, times a factor of 100, plus creating the universe of youth culture that Pink Floyd successfully tapped into. Tracing back to the first argument, in which people claim that Pink Floyd are spiritual successors of the Beatles, it is true, but so was practically every other band that came after the Beatles. Pink Floyd were the best group that continued the Beatles perfect psychedelic folk experimentation heard on the White Album and copped the professionalism and thematic track linking the Beatles employed in creating Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road. It was just a few aspects of the Beatles that Pink Floyd carried on, not the whole bundle, but honestly, who could do everything the Beatles did? This is no knock on Pink Floyd, merely a comment on the truly extraordinary accomplishments the Beatles achieved. I’m sure most Pink Floyders would probably agree this because I’d be hard pressed to find a PF fan that didn’t like the Beatles. Those that disagree are just not being fair to history and are letting their Pink Floyd love cloud their objective judgement. Anyway, those are my opinions on the subject, and I have no problem with others thinking otherwise, its a fun debate. I have one more song today from Dark Side of the Moon, “Time.” “Time” is one of the best songs on the album, a sweeping collage of sound effects, guitar power, and haunting lyrics. It’s a philosophical song about wasting ones life presented as an angry rant. It’s almost a call to arms, and its fascinating. Enjoy.
As we have been progressing with chronological normality through Pink Floyd’s career during “Pink Floyd Week,” the video clips have matched the time in which the songs were produced. Now that we have reached the seminal Pink Floyd record, Dark Side of the Moon, an album about madness and time, I figured we’d jump ahead several decades to see the guys rock “Money” at Live 8. Because of Richard Wright’s death in 2008, this would represent the only full band reunion (sans Syd Barrett) that the world would ever see since Richard Wright left in 1979. So, this is a rather historic performance, and a surprisingly relevant one given that Live 8 and Occupy Wall Street have similar philosophical roots. It also goes without saying that the song “Money” is the ultimate ironic anthem on the subject of the crushing evil of greed. It’s an awesome Roger Waters tune set to his greatest bass line. I always thought Dark Side of the Moon was a continuation of the sonic ground broken by the Beatles on Abbey Road. Lyrically and thematically, the two records have nothing in common, but there is such a high level of musical accomplishment and precision on both records. The gapless linked tracks on Abbey Road were also a huge influence on Dark Side as well. It actually should come as no surprise that both records share many musical similarities because they were both recorded at Abbey Road Studios with many of the same technicians and engineers that worked with the Beatles. That’s enough Beatle/Pink Floyd comparisons, as I’ll have a more thorough analysis on the subject tomorrow. Anyway, enjoy this thrilling rendition of “Money,” and make sure to click the ads on my site so I can put my hands on Google’s stack…Jack.
So, despite their love for the man, Syd was barred from entering Abbey Road studios when Pink Floyd was recording. Syd went on to do a few slapped together solo records, with Roger and Dave actually helping with the production, and then Syd entered oblivion, thus propelling his cult like status to mythic proportions. In 1969, Pink Floyd was Britain’s top rising psychedelic band, but they were no where near the megastars they became by 1973. Still, they carried enough swagger to be offered the chance to provide a soundtrack for “More,” an avantgarde film about heroin. The song below, “Cymbaline,” is a gorgeous psychedelic folk ballad that feels more like Simon and Garfunkel than it does “Interstellar Overdrive.” I think at their heart, Pink Floyd were more folk rockers than anything else. Their best songs, no matter how steeped they are in special effects, crushing guitar solos, and wailing experimentation, are folk ballads. “Cymbaline,” a twisted song about a nightmare, was a progressive step forward the band, and would point to the future dramatic heights they would aim for. By the way, this video performance, is a fantastic moody and cinematic slice of footage of the band in its most natural setting, a church. Enjoy.
Welcome to the unassuming beginning of Pink Floyd Week here at williesimpson.com. My good friend Andrew Lee turned me on to this fantastic early Pink Floyd video of Syd Barrett’s last major contribution to the bands creative identity, “Jugband Blues,” from 1968′s A Saucerful of Secrets. It makes sense that Barrett, now driving head first down the road of dementia and insanity, would only be able to contribute one song to the last album he would appear on, but its amazing that they took the time to record a promo video with Barrett starring in it. I mean, at that point, Syd was losing his mind, forced out of the group he essentially founded, was marginalized creatively, yet somehow they all got together to make this thing. And what a thing it is. It’s just an awesome example of strait ahead British psychedelia, featuring lyrics that are both deeply personal, and deeply bizarre, and mashing together rock and roll, folk, and marching band orchestration. It has 3 different keys and 3 different time signatures. It’s the definition of fractured genius, closing out with the brilliant lines, “and the sea isn’t green, and I love the Queen, and what exactly is a dream, and what exactly is a joke.” It’s haunting and masterful, and even though Syd was soaked with acid laced insanity, and the other band members were forcing him out, he was still giving Pink Floyd its direction and inspiring its other members to carry on what he started.