A Saucerful of Secrets is the 2nd Album by Pink Floyd, and for me is a huge step in the right direction. Fans of "More", "Ummagumma", "Atom Heart Mother" and "Meddle" (All of which I would recommend) should all find lots to love in this album. This album was released in 1968 and marks a transitional point in Pink Floyd's career, from the Psychedelic Pop sound of Syd Barrett to the sometimes lengthier Psychedelic Rock and Space Rock songs that the band would be releasing up until the release of Dark Side of The Moon in 1972.
Pink Floyd 1968: Roger Waters - Bass, Vocals Rick Wright - Organ, Piano, Vocals Nick Mason - Drums, Vocals David Gilmour - Guitar, Vocals Syd Barrett - Guitar, Vocals
Lets go through the album Track by Track:
1. Let There Be More Light (*****) A Great opening track written by Roger Waters and a great summary of Pink Floyd at this time. Roger's Bass and Nick's Drums thrash it out allowing space for Rick's Farfisa organ noodlings to give the track great atmosphere. The Vocals on this track are performed by Richard, David and Roger and are panned all across the stereo spectrum. Rick's organ accompanies the vocal melody as it does in songs such as "The Embryo". The song really picks up into a chorus section with some great Hammond organ work from Rick Wright and hard drumming from Nick Mason. At approximately 3:30 the song drops into a droning psychedelic solo section that shifts in dynamics reminiscent of "Careful with That Axe, Eugene". Roger and Nick always manage to keep the songs grounded not matter how off the wall David and Rick go. A perfect start to an almost perfect album.
2. Remember A Day (*****) Next up we have another of my favourite tracks off the album, and one of two Rick Wright compositions that appear on the album. This song has an undeniable energy in the drums and piano that is beautifully written and arranged. This is also the first we hear of Syd Barrett on this album, playing the slide guitar. Rick's vocals are catchy and panned hard right for a lot of the song that adds to the eerie effect of this track even if it is effectively a pop song. This song has been performed live once, and not by Pink Floyd but by David Gilmour's solo band in 2008 on ...Later with Jools Holland after the death of Rick Wright.
3. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun (*****) Space Rock has been taken to a new level with this song, as has Roger Waters. This is the first song where he really stepped into his own, leaving behind the Syd Barrett inspired compositions. The song has a dark and mysterious atmosphere throughout. The repetition of the Bass / Vocal melody and the Toms played with Mallets give a hypnotic effect to the track allowing David and Rick to indulge in their sparse improvisation that defines post-Barrett Pink Floyd. This set a new standard in what Pink Floyd could do sonically which was topped again by the performance of this song on the live portion of "Ummagumma" which in my opinion is the best official live Pink Floyd release. This song leaves you wanting more and more
4. Corporal Clegg (****) Just as you think the Syd Barrett influence has been whittled out, Rogers Water's Corporal Clegg brings back a very 60s and very happy Psychedelic Pop mood, complete with Kazoo played by David Gilmour. Nick's Drums keep this song upbeat and happy throughout. Roger's bass also keeps the song plodding along. Vocals are allowed to take over in this track will great harmony parts being sung by David, Rick and Nick. This Track ends up being quite chaotic but enjoyable none the less and it's impossible not to wear a huge smile after listening to this song.
5. A Saucerful Of Secrets (*****) Seeming like a continuation of mood from "Set The Controls..." its hard to see why "Corporal Clegg" was placed where it was, as you get a huge contrast from song to song. This track shows the band at their experimental peak. This song features a huge sonic wash of Guitar and Organ and Piano that leaves you stunned. The start of this track sounds apocalyptic and is the darkest territory the minds of Pink Floyd have ever wandered. 4:00 Minutes in everything drops out aside from a drum loop that repeats continuously, as the rest of the band hammer out their instruments, creating the most eerie music ever heard, especially considering the rest of the music being made in the 1960s. "Chaotic" is one of the only words that spring to mind, closely followed by "awesome". 7:00 Marks another shift in direction as the deepest rumble occurs followed by dissonant organ sounds and "clanking" sounds which are equally as hypnotising. By 8:30 the greatest piece of music ever created has now been discovered in the form of "Celestial Voices" the fourth part of this song, although it is effectively the same chords for the remainder of the song, they build and build into the pinnacle of epicness, with wordless vocal harmonies and mellotron added more and more. The best version of this song is considered to be that on "Live at Pompeii".
6. See Saw (***) The final Rick Wright composition of the album as out of place as "Corporal Clegg" but nevertheless a good song, it has a similar vibe to "Remember A Day" but doesn't quite match musically. This is the weakest point of the album so far and will always live in the shadow of the 5 prior tracks.
7. Jugband Blues (****) The only Syd Barrett composition that features on the album is an odd one, as can be expected. This song is not to my taste as much as the other songs on the album at first, although has great moments as the song progresses. Featuring a big band, parts of the song are reminiscent of "Atom Heart Mother" and the Left to Right panning of the entire track is rather hypnotic. This song and "See Saw" are good songs but would have benefited being at the start of the album, letting to mood take over with "Set The Controls..." and the Title Track.
This is a great album, recommended for all fans of Pink Floyd, especially those curious about the band in the early days, but for those new to the band, Try "Live at Pompeii" and "Dark Side of The Moon" to get you started.
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