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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon 15 July 2009
Some acts, such as the Beatles, Dylan and the Floyd, have had so many books written about them that it is hard to come up with anything new. This book succeeds in describing two aspects of the Pink Floyd story to a level of detail I haven't found elsewhere:
-The size and diversity of the Cambridge scene; there were many other creative people, e.g. Aubrey Powell of Hipgnosis, and the friendships lasted a long time; the Floyd have a long history of supporting old mates on hard times. Syd Barrett was of course the classic instance of this. Blake makes the point that many of the people involved had missing fathers, e.g. Waters and later Barrett, and implies that they may have thus lacked role models and conventional direction; he argues that Barrett was not the only one from the Cambridge scene whose talent failed to fulfil all its promise.
-The power struggles of the post-Barrett group, with Waters and Gilmour as the strong antagonists, Mason as the diplomat, and Wright as the nice guy who would rather avoid all this aggro. This makes one wonder how the group politics would have evolved if Barrett had stayed in the band (like many "what ifs", fascinating but frustrating).
Chronologically, the book was published soon after Barrett's death, so the penultimate event is the "hell freezes over" reunion at Live8. Blake justifiably spends a long time on this, and (bearing in mind that Wright was to die not long after Barrett) Blake's view could be summed up in another well-known song lyric: "It's too late when we die to admit we don't see eye to eye".
Perhaps not the perfect Floyd biography, but probably the best to date, complementing Julian Palacios' excellent Barrett biography "Lost in the Woods". Blake is an ideal biographer, on the one hand being a devotee of his subjects (his website tells us that the first concert he saw was the Floyd performing The Wall in 1980) but on the other able to exercise analytical detachment.
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