In October, 1971, Pink Floyd released their sixth studio album Meddle. The time was right for everything to fall into place – and that’s pretty much what happened. The album deserved to hit the summit yet was, surprisingly, to peak only at Number 3 in the U.K. Album Charts.
I have mused before that Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett could almost be considered as a whole different group – and a great other group at that – but Meddle is a more accomplished monster finally raising its head and looking you squarely in the face.
One Of These Days (Waters / Gilmour / Wright / Mason) is a remarkable album opener. Howling wind gives way to a very purposeful bassline. Keyboards and sparse guitar add to a powerful building sound. The sound is organic and strong – it is like a force of nature. After a full three and a half minutes Nick Mason’s slowed down vocal states “one of these days I’m going to cut you into little pieces” and the piece merges via a crescendo into a full-on tilt for the remainder of its duration. If there is any criticism to be levied at the song it is that surely you don’t put the best song on the album as the opener?
The Pillow Of Winds (Waters / Gilmour) eases the album down after that blizzard of welcome noise that it follows. An acoustic song and seemingly a love song. It is a gentle piece of music which retrospectively paints the direction the band would further develop on later albums.
Fearless (Waters / Gilmour) is another gentle song that showcases Pink Floyd offering a much more mature sound than on the two preceding albums (Ummagumma and Atom Heart Mother). It is well put together and the band sound like a unit. At the very end of the song it fades into Liverpool fans singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. Oddly this works well, who’d have thought it – football fans chanting and progressive rock mixing like this.
San Tropez (Waters) is a mid paced soft rock affair complete with sliding guitar streaks. The album after its storming intro is maintaining a more accessible sound whilst still sounding genuinely authentic.
Seamus (Waters / Gilmour / Wright / Mason) unhinges Meddle slightly. A bluesy guitar jams with a dog howling. It is an experiment too far but thankfully is quite short in length.
Echoes (Waters / Gilmour / Wright / Mason) is an epic that takes up the whole of Side 2 of Meddle. At over 23 minutes in length the track is very well structured and is not another slice of experimentation. It is really like Gilmour’s coming of age. The song is conventional for it first 7 minutes or so before a solid throb of a jam forms. At this point the music actually sounds alive – you can feel its meaty pulse. Both guitar and keyboards settle in the jam. Then slowly but surely keyboards and guitar pull the jam apart by snaking away and regrouping – snake away more and regroup again – the deviation is divine. The song lulls into a low hush for quite a lengthy period before the keyboard ticks away to wake up the rest of the instruments and set the ball rolling again. When the instruments reform the rise is like playing with a volcano that could violently erupt at any given moment. A minor personal criticism is that at this point the music is so powerfully constructed that when the song actually reforms it is quite soft – if it had spewed in a vibe like the album opener it may have been the bands best ever track…