153 of 164 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "UMM, PINK FLOYD" said Homer (Simpson)
The word Ummagumma was a slang word for sex, now there is good sex and there is bad sex. Ummagumma certainly lives up to that for me. The package is made up of 2 CDs. The first CD is four long compositions performed live. This one disc is essential Floyd. Astronomy Domine is nothing like the versions found on 'Piper at the Gates of Dawn' (Floyd's first album), 'Echoes'...
Published on 16 Nov 2001
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Floyd at a turning point
This double album represents the band at a turning point in their career. Their previous official album, A Saucerful Of Secrets, had found them recovering from the trauma of losing their principal singer, songwriter and lead guitarist, and against the odds, coming up with a winner. The sci-fi leanings of Syd Barrett's Astronomy Domine had been matched with Roger Waters'...
Published on 15 Dec 2004 by Lozarithm
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153 of 164 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "UMM, PINK FLOYD" said Homer (Simpson),
By A Customer
The word Ummagumma was a slang word for sex, now there is good sex and there is bad sex. Ummagumma certainly lives up to that for me. The package is made up of 2 CDs. The first CD is four long compositions performed live. This one disc is essential Floyd. Astronomy Domine is nothing like the versions found on 'Piper at the Gates of Dawn' (Floyd's first album), 'Echoes' and 'Pulse' (the 1995 live album). There is no narration of the solar system at the beginning, just quiet keyboards. The keyboards return during the mid section of this 8.30 minute version. (Mike 'Tubular Bells' Oldfield stated that he was heavily influenced by that keyboard break, when he chose the track on BBC Radio 1's "My Top 10". Circa 1983. Listening to his 70's albums one can hear that influence).
Careful With That Axe, Eugene' is next up. At just under 9 minutes it is a very similar version as to the one found on 'Live In Pompeii' video. There is one important difference though. The scream actually gives the impression that someone is being cut into little pieces (and it's not Jimmy Young!). I love this piece and is played live by The Australian Pink Floyd Show to a rousing reception. It is a very moving instrumental which builds to a murderous mid-section and then dies away, slowly. A classic.
Another classic, and again the best official released version is found in 'Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun'. 9 minutes long here, it knocks the excellent studio version into touch.
A Saucerful Of Secrets' completes the disc. It is similar to the studio version except for Gilmour's more pronounced vocal on the 5 minute outro. (The same finale as to 'The Man and the Journey').
The studio album could have pages written about it. It was going to be an experiment using household utensils. Thankfully that idea fell apart. What was released is a right mixture of solo efforts. Firstly, Wright with his musical version of Homer's Greek character Sysyphus pushing his rock infinitely almost to the top of a hill only to let it slip roll down again. To me it is a total waste of 13 minutes. It is the sort of noise that kids would make on BBC's "Music Time". (Who remembers that programme?)
Next two gems from Waters. The beautifully serene 'Grantchester Meadows' and the very silly, but stunning 'Several Species...' A Pict being slang for a Scot. Apparently to get the full drift of the hidden messages on this one track you need to play the vinyl at 16rpm/33rpm/45rpm/78rpm backwards and forwards. Don't worry if you've only got a CD player it is still great fun. Waters contribution comes in at 12.30 minutes.
Gilmour didn't have faith in his lyrics on his 12.20 minute piece 'The Narrow Way'. His voice is deliberately hidden in the mix of part 3. So the lyrics were not printed in the booklet. However, they are easy to find on the net. OK, the lyrics aren't outstanding but they aren't bad for an early attempt. The music is good; moody and powerful if just a little chaotic at times.
8 of Mason's 8.40 minutes are, for me anyway, a waste of time. Again reminders of "Music Time". But were Led Zeppelin inspired by the flute ending on part 3 for their intro to, oh what's the name of the most popular song ever written, oh..., "Stairway To Heaven".
Don't worry that the live album is spoilt by audience noise (like Delicate Sound Of Thunder) it isn't. This was recorded in England in June '69 when the crowd gave polite, respectful silence during each track, just like on 'Yessongs' by Yes. And just like 'Yessongs' the sound quality is superb. Remember this is years before digital recording. This album is only enhanced by being remastered. Finally, great packaging (even if some photos are from the 70's) from Storm Thorgerson who worked on the original album but it is nice to refer to that vinyl to see the original presentation showing different photos and Floyd's second album in one of the mirrors on the wall.
Thanks for reading this long essay, but it is impossible to describe this double CD in only a few words.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Right okay.......,
Ummagumma is seriously not an easy ride for some, especially the studio disc. For starters, the live disc is pure brilliance, and better than their studio versions, especially A Saucerful of Secrets, beautiful humming in that one. The studio album however, is incredibly brave, yet difficult. Richard Wrights efforst, are quite adequately, listenable, Roger Waters' Grantchester Meadows is rather good, though his next effort is nonsense. But the highlight of the studio album, is good ol' David Gilmour, The Narrow Way. This what promotes this album to a 4 star rating. It keeps making you put the studio album on time and time again. But Nick Masons efforts are just sheer awful, really, it is. But thats the worst it gets, so thank god its the final tracks of the album. The final verdict is that, only for fans I think, not for the average buyer thats for sure.
39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A saucerful of undiluted Pink Floyd,
When I first bought this album, I didn't like it. There are only two studio songs with lyrics and at first it is certainly an uncomfortable cacophony. However, the more I listen, the more I like it. The wierdness is composed and put together with the care of a classical composer. From Richard Wright's pseudo classical piano doodlings, to the mellotron and running water interlude that lulls you into a false sense of security before the massive mellotron chord and drum-roll that sounds as though it was taken straight out of a horror film. Several species... is really the dark side of Grantchester Meadows. The Narrow Way begins with an ethereal acoustic jam and ends up as a full blown rock anthem, with Nick Mason displaying drumming of a similar standard to The Nile Song on 'More'. Then he comes into his own messing about with drum loops in the Grand Viser's Garden Party, neatly bookending this madness with a motif on the flute!
Then you have the live album to go. Astronomy Domine has a far more menacing effect than Barrett's version on the first album and the vocals at the end of A Saucerful of Secrets are a true feat, plus Nick Mason really belts those skins again on this one!!
Bands today would never realease an album like this 1) because their money-minded managers would never allow it and 2) they probably wouldn't know how anyway. True creativity in music is clearly not what it used to be.
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Floyd at a turning point,
This double album represents the band at a turning point in their career. Their previous official album, A Saucerful Of Secrets, had found them recovering from the trauma of losing their principal singer, songwriter and lead guitarist, and against the odds, coming up with a winner. The sci-fi leanings of Syd Barrett's Astronomy Domine had been matched with Roger Waters' compositions Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun and Let There Be More Light, and Richard Wright had contributed two whimsical pieces, Remember A Day and See Saw. Their new direction, however, was determined by the closing track in which they were given the freedom to do whatever they wanted, A Saucerful Of Secrets itself, a 12-minute epic combining four separately composed instrumental pieces, Something Else, Syncopated Pandemonium, Storm Signal, and Celestial Voices. It set the pattern for the new Pink Floyd.
The idea of this double album was to wrap up their old repertoire with a live album of stage favourites, while launching their re-invented selves with a second studio album in which each of the four members would contribute a quarter in the form of solo performances or constructions.
The Pink Floyd had already launched new material in their More Furious Madness From The Massed Gadgets of Auximenes concerts, but for the Ummagumma sets stuck to familiar material. Recordings for the live album were made at 3 locations - Bromley Technical College, Bromley Common, Kent (26 April 1969); Mothers Club, Erdington, Birmingham (27 April 1969 - a gig I attended) and the College of Commerce, Manchester (2 May 1969). The Bromley concert recording was not used whilst it appears composites from the other two appearances were edited together to form the four song track list of the Live Album. "Parts of Saucerful on Ummagumma came from the Birmingham gig, which we put together with the Manchester stuff," said Richard Wright of the process. The plan rather backfired as the Live Album proved so popular that the band were obliged to continue to play them in their sets thereafter.
The Studio Album proves the adage that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Rick Wright's Sysyphus suite is portentous and somewhat overblown and Nick Mason's Grand Vizier's Birthday Party fares less well. Roger Waters has two pieces, of which the pastoral Grantchester Meadows is the one to which I most return, and both of which provide the lightest and most humorous touches to the record. David Gilmour asked him to write some lyrics for his own piece and Roger Waters probably did him a favour by refusing since The Narrow Way must have shown him that he could write his own lyrics as it was one of the first of a long line of work from his pen. It was either brave or indulgent for the members of the band to expose their strengths and weaknesses in this way, but it cleared the way for more fully realised work by the whole band such as 1970's ambitious Atom Heart Mother, and the superb Echoes on 1971's Meddle
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just My Review.....,
For many years, this double LP/CD was one of the most popular albums in Pink Floyd's pre-Dark Side of the Moon output, containing a live disc and a studio disc all for the price of one (in the LP version). The live set, recorded in Birmingham and Manchester in June 1969, is limited to four numbers, all drawn from the group's first two LPs or their then recent singles. Featuring the band's second line-up (i.e. no Syd Barrett), the set shows off a very potent group, their sound held together on stage by Nick Mason's assertive drumming and Roger Waters' powerful bass work, which keeps the proceedings moving no matter how spaced out the music gets; they also sound like they've got the amplifiers to make their music count, which is more than the early band had. "Astronomy Domine," "Careful With That Axe Eugene," "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun," and "A Saucerful of Secrets" are all superior here to their studio originals, done longer, louder, and harder, with a real edge to the playing. The studio disc was more experimental, each member getting a certain amount of space on the record to make their own music - Richard Wright's "Sysyphus" was a pure keyboard work, featuring various synthesizers, organs, and pianos; David Gilmour's "The Narrow Way" was a three-part instrumental for acoustic and electric guitars and electronic keyboards; and Nick Mason's "The Grand Vizier's Garden Party" made use of a vast range of acoustic and electric percussion devices. Roger Waters' "Grantchester Meadows was a lyrical folk-like number unlike almost anything else the group ever did. In 1994 the album was remastered and reissued in a green slipcase, in a version a lot louder and sharper (and cheaper) than the original CD release.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Floyds' Ultima Thule,
I grew up in the early 70's as these great records came out. I loved everything about them - the heavy, spacy sound, the mystique, even the look of the covers. Each LP was obsessed over and dissected. When Dark Side came out I hated it as a sell out. From the comments below I wonder whether fans still divide around that watershed. I still vastly prefer early Floyd myself, before Roger Waters developed an ego the size of Bono's and Nick Mason started collecting Ferraris. I know that most people now disagree but hey, that's fine. I would, though, utterly repudiate the 'get real' remark below. Relax, enjoy what you like and leave the rest.
This is my favorite of their albums, partly because it came out when I was 14. It's hard to recommend it on that basis because no-one can quite have the same experience of it. It was all wrapped up in the exitement of discovering a completely new music: not only Floyd but Krautrock, the Velvets etc. The records you really value at that age remain with you even if you rarely listen to them again. Though my tastes now tend more towards 'The Fantomas', I only have to hear the wonderful opening to 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun' to get the authentic tingle in the spine.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Floyd Finding Their Feet,
Pretty much the Yin and Yang as far as Pink Floyd records go. I've had this in my collection for two years now and I still have a great deal of trepidation about playing the enormously self-indulgent disk two... it's definitely a strange one.
As ever there is a concept here, however the strange thing about this album is that the concept seems to be very much like a self-governed competition between the band to see who can craft the best standalone composition. "Does the winner get full control of the band?" says Roger... bad luck for Rick and Nick then, who turn in the dire Sysyphus and the even worse Grand Vizier's Garden Party repectivly. Gilmour gives it some gusto on the Narrow Way, which unsurprisingly is based around various guitar effects and sequencers, whilst Waters proves himself the king of the castle with the lovely, folk-infused Grantchester Meadows.
The other composition on this disk is Waters’ attempt at surreal psychedelic experimentalism, which is saved from complete tedium thanks to some rather humours (and indecipherable) vocal passages... this however soon becomes dull though, and much like Wright and Mason’s work, is overcome by it’s own pretension. As everyone else in the world has already mentioned, disk one is pretty fantastic stuff, with the Floyd delivering four of their early classics in a live, loud and utterly electrifying new form. This is certainly enough to warrant three out of five stars... but would I recommend this as a purchase? Probably not.
You really have to ask your self some serious questions with this album, like is it really worth it? Yes the live disk is terrific, and yes it does have a legendary status amongst Pink Floyd devotees and the band’s legacy as a whole... but at this current price...? Is it worth spending the best part of twenty-pounds on what really amounts to a four track, live mish-mash...? No, didn’t think so.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biased but hopefully fair.,
Despite being a fan of the Floyd from very early childhood, I have to concede agreement to some of the other reveiws of this album.
However, along with Atom Heart Mother, this album helped me shape my initial musical instincts that ultimatly have lead me to a career as a muscian. It wasn't the live disk, (which lets face it, is awesome!) but the studio disk that I used to enjoy most as a kid. Pretentious, ego driven, maybe they are. But in the right circumstances, with the lights off and the mind wandering, they can be fantastic stuff. And anyway, no-matter what it sounds like, how could anyone knock a track with such an amazing title as, "Several Species of Small Furry Animals, Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving With a Pict"!!! CLASSIC!
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hugely underrated and sounding better than ever,
This review is from: Ummagumma [Discovery Edition] [2011 - Original Recording Remastered] (Audio CD)
"Ummagumma", a half-live, half-studio double album released in 1969 is one of the band's most underrated efforts - apparently the band don't think much of it. However it's wonderful.
The live tracks are atmospheric and show why the Floyd were such a highly-regarded live act in 1969 - they're nothing short of awesome here.
The studio album - half a side for each band member - is the bit that causes people problems - many regard it as unfocussed and self-indulgent. One reviewer once memorably described it as "four middle class boys trying to be avant-garde in their Sunday best". I prefer to look at it as the Floyd at their most experimental, a record that's sometimes a bit short on catchy tunes but one which rewards repeated listening.
This is an impressive remaster, with a lot of hitherto unheard detail subtly revealed. Not a good place to start for Floyd newbies perhaps, but a great album nonetheless.
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Undeniably intriging,
By A Customer
Ummagumma consists of two discs-one a collection of live performances (Astronomy Domine, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The SUn, A Saucerful of Secrets.) and a studio album, consisting of solo works by each band member. It is, quite simply, unlike any Floyd album I have ever heard, and signals a shift from the quirky, psychedelic days of the Barrett era into a deep, haunting and, in places, truly frightening sound that definately does not make for easy listening. The highlight of the live set is "Careful With That Axe Eugene"-building up into a psychotic jam that gradually dies away to leave you shaking in your armchair-Wright's organ riffs and Water's scream are so different from the studio version it's untrue. The studio disc consists of "Sysyphus" (by Wright) Granchester Meadows, Several Species of small fury animals gathered together in a cave and grooving with a pict (Waters) The Narrow Way (Gilmour)and "The Grand Viser's Garden Party (Mason). Some will be transfixed by the melodic beauty that rings throughout the first three tracks and the technical dexterity of "The Grand Viser's Garden Party." Others will be turned off by the decidedly wierd veil that cloaks the album. Others will enjoy the album for precisely that reason. However, whatever your view, it cannot be denied that the production of the album is highly original-completely removed from that of "Dark Side Of The Moon." "Several Small Species" is a bizarre collection of processed sound effects, and Sysyphus often delves into atonal chords and ocilating noise, but also posseses its eye in the storm-a moment of eery yet strangely melodic beauty, lulling you for just long enough to forget that your ears are about to be assaulted. Granchester Meadows and The Narrow Way are gorgeously melodic, yet the Narrow Way is more in keeping with the terrifying malaise of sound that is the albums only real theme. And the Grand Viser's Garden Party, well, it does show just how skilled a percussionist Mason is, and apparently the drums at the real Grand Viser's Garden Party played for even longer! With its ingenious processing and haunting themes, Ummagumma is worth listening to out of curiosity-the chances are you're never going to hear anything else quite like it.
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