I’ve just listened to Pink Floyd’s ‘Atom Heart Mother’ on my iPod. It’s the first time I’ve listened to it from start to finish for many years.
It is a very interesting experience: I’d forgotten so much of it that it might as well have been the first time I’ve concentrated on it. I’m not really that familiar with Floyd’s output before 1971’s ‘Meddle’ and while it’s years since I listened to that album (I find that I don’t currently own a copy), my memory puts it firmly in their early Prog catalogue, which developed through ‘Dark side of the Moon’ in 1973 through to their final album, ‘The Endless River’ in 2014 (which itself was more of a musical goodbye to the late Rick Wright, than anything truly new).
I don’t quite know what to make of ‘Atom’. I guess I’ll take one step further back and listen to ‘Ummagumma’, to try and place it in some kind of musical perspective. I am almost entirely ignorant of any Floyd music prior to that, with the sole exception of the song ‘See Emily Play’ which is interesting (it doesn’t seem to have been on any of the UK albums – certainly not before the 40th anniversary re-releases), but what little I know of the Barratt era leaves me cold. Other bands did psychedelia rather better than the Floyd.
‘Atom Heart Mother’ is late-period psychedia, and to sound suitably pretentious, sounds like music from two years earlier (one of the tracks references 1968) struggling to emerge from its cocoon as early prog. It’s an interesting, but not fully engaging listen. The band have yet to leave dittyville at this point, and the extended use of brass and flutes feels like they took flower power, took it off the hallucinogens and swapped them with steroids.
I am pondering, after ‘Ummagumma’, whether it’s worth investing in ‘More’ (but that’s a movie soundtrack, or even the first two albums, despite my reservations. I must buy a copy of ‘Meddle’ though – and I am thinking about re-examining my 37 year dislike of ‘The Wall’…
I should do some work.