Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pink Floyd: Cymbaline

I watched a “Biography” episode the other night about Pink Floyd. It was highly interesting and it dealt with all of the problems of the band from the insanity and substance abuse of Syd Barrett to the power mongering of Roger Waters. From tragedies to successes, Pink Floyd’s career was like a roller coaster.

So for the bubbling under song for this week, I am making a stretch by going back to the band’s third album – while they are sounding a little like “A Saucerful of Secrets” on the “Soundtrack from the film More,” they were finally losing the influence of Syd Barrett and becoming their own persona. “More” was my second Pink Floyd album, and although you never hear this early stuff on the radio, some of it is quite good.

“More” is really one of their better early albums and nearly all of the cuts have promise. It was difficult to decide which song to use for today as there were so many choices. I can remember listening to this 1969 release quite often in the early seventies and watching the unusual Tower Records label with each turntable revolution.

I wonder what would have happened had I turned the speed up to 78 RPMs. I might have had a cosmic epiphany. It was their last LP on Tower in the US and on Columbia/EMI in the UK as EMI moved the band to the Harvest imprint worldwide.

The single from “More” was “The Nile Song” – one writer called it “arguably the heaviest song ever recorded by Pink Floyd.” He is probably right on that account. It was a Roger Waters composition and David Gilmour sounds like the cookie monster on the vocals. It’s really not a bad tune, but not ready for primetime here.

For today, I’ve chosen another Waters’ composition “Cymbaline.” It’s a little more subdued and has that omnipresent organ sound toward the middle of the song as Richard Wright put his stamp on this record. Wright comes in during David Gilmour's scat vocal solo.

This album was recorded in the band’s pre synthesizer days and Wright was really a master of making the organ sound ethereal. Unlike other recordings where the organ takes a back seat, it swells and eventually is the song's main instrument.  I really love this LP; however, even though it charted at #153 on the Top 200 Albums chart, it is an album that is really deserved a higher position. Pity.


The path you tread is narrow
And the drop is sheer and very high
The ravens all are watching
From a vantage point nearby
Apprehension creeping
Like a tube train up your spine
Will the tightrope reach the end
Will the final couplet rhyme

And it's high time Cymbaline
It's high time Cymbaline
Please wake me

A butterfly with broken wings
Is falling by your side
The ravens all are closing in
There's nowhere you can hide
Your manager and agent
Are both busy on the phone
Selling colored photographs
To magazines back home

And it's high time Cymbaline
It's high time Cymbaline
Please wake me

The lines converging where you stand
They must have moved the picture plane
The leaves are heavy round your feet
You hear the thunder of the train
Suddenly it strikes you
That they're moving into range
And Doctor Strange
Is always changing size

And it's high time Cymbaline
It's high time Cymbaline
Please wake me

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