Pink Floyd, Meddle

Dan Epstein

By Dan Epstein

on 06.08.11 in Reviews

Meddle (2011 - Remaster)

Pink Floyd
The band’s most cohesive and satisfying album since The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

Though they began with a rather lengthy and unpromising series of studio experiments, the sessions for 1971's Meddle eventually produced Pink Floyd's most cohesive and satisfying album since The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Shorn of Atom Heart Mother's orchestral excesses, Meddle reverses that album's structure, closing the album with a side-long epic instead of kicking things off with it. But while that track, the 23-minute "Echoes," rightly remains one of the most revered extended excursions in the Pink Floyd catalog, the album's opening instrumental (the galloping "One of These Days") is perhaps an even more important piece in the grand scheme of all things Floyd. With David Gilmour's whirring slide guitar — lending a smoother and more controlled sound to the proceedings that contrasts markedly with Syd Barrett's manic slide work from the first two albums — and Roger Waters's elastic bass pushed to the fore, Rick Wright's reverberating Hammond fills providing the drama, and Nick Mason's drums sounding more thunderous than ever, "One of These Days" marked of the birth of the "classic" '70s Pink Floyd sound that would fully flower on 1973's Dark Side of the Moon. Though that sound largely disappears for the next four tracks — "A Pillow of Winds," "Fearless," "San Tropez" and the light-hearted "Seamus," all hazy, acoustic-driven songs that seem mostly intended to serve as pleasant filler between Meddle's spectacular bookends — it returns in time for "Echoes." A progressive rock masterpiece, "Echoes" feels considerably more organic than "Atom Heart Mother," as if it were a song that naturally grew to more than 23 minutes in length, rather than being conceived as an art piece. Still, the band clearly learned a lot about layering unusual sounds and textures from Atom Heart Mother collaborator Ron Geesin; those lessons, combined with the band's increasingly muscular attack, make for an incredibly compelling listening experience that never fails to reveal new details, especially on headphones.