ARTIST:

PINK FLOYD

(UNITED KINGDOM)
TITLE:

UMMAGUMMA

(1969)
LABEL:

EMI

GENRE:

PROGRESSIVE ROCK

TAGS:
Experimental, Instrumental, Live, Old School, Psychedelic, Symphonic
""Ummagumma' remains one of the best Pink Floyd records that every lover of good music must have in his record library."
CORTO1809 (29.10.2010)  
5/5
(0) opinions from our readers (0) comment(s)

With Ummagumma, Pink Floyd confirms once again the originality of his artistic approach. Indeed, the British group proposes us a double album, which is not original in itself. On the other hand, to put in the same packaging a live record and a studio record, that is much more surprising. The live album consists of four tracks recorded during concerts given in April/May 1969 in Birmingham and Manchester, each of them covering about a quarter of the length of the first CD. The album begins with an extended version of the spatial Astronomy Domine (The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn), followed by the extraordinary Careful With That Axe, Eugene, this track having appeared on the B-side of a 45 (the oldest will know what I'm talking about, the youngest will ask their parents about it).

The song begins with a slow ethereal progression of haunting organ, plaintive wails and omnipresent drums, but all in finesse and lightness. Then, Roger Waters whispers the only lyrics of the song, "Careful with that axe, Eugene", which can be literally translated as "Careful with that axe, Eugene", but also as "Careful with that guitar, Eugene", axe meaning guitar in colloquial language. The warning is all the more important because as soon as these words are pronounced, an inhuman scream comes to break the false tranquility of the song, and gives the start to a furious deluge of decibels. I don't know where Roger Waters gets these screams from, but the effect is striking. Then the calm gradually comes back and the music goes diminuendo until it dies. One of the most beautiful tracks of Pink Floyd, to give goosebumps to the most experienced.

Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun echoes Astronomy Domine in a version that is also longer than the studio version of A Saucerful Of Secrets from which the title is taken from, just like A Saucerful Of Secrets (the song), whose live version benefits from reinforced choirs in the last part, giving a more majestic scale to this track than the original.

The studio album, recorded at Abbey Road, is, like the live album, divided into four equal parts, each musician having been given the mission to compose alone the track or tracks that would fill the space assigned to him. The late Richard Wright opens the ball with Sysyphus, a symphonic song in four parts... a complete failure. The worst (maybe the only bad) song written by Richard Wright, bombastic, grandiloquent and pretentious.

Roger Waters is better inspired with Grandchester Meadows, which sounds like a ballad, and the astonishing Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict which, beyond the unusual length of the title, is only made of sound effects resembling excited animal cries that one would rather not meet (interpreted in part by Waters himself, who is definitely amazing on this album) and ends on a text declaimed in an eccentric way. No instruments, no melody, and yet this piece is fascinating. Experimental, yes, but meaningful, conveying a rare emotional power.

With The Narrow Way, David Gilmour gives free rein to his talent as a guitarist, but also as a composer. If the first two parts are quite experimental, with sounds that are entangled and echoed, the third part delivers a beautiful melody that we never get tired of.

Finally, Nick Mason closes off the lines and presents with The Grand Vizier's Garden Party what turns out to be an indigested pensum. Except for the introduction and the conclusion played with the flute by Mason's wife, the rest is only a useless display of percussions of any kind, Nick Mason not needing this kind of exercise to prove his talent. Personally, I always considered the drum solos as narcissistic exercises without musical interest. This one unfortunately does not escape the rule.

Ummagumma remains one of the best Pink Floyd records that every good music lover must have in his or her collection, and deserves the highest score, despite the weaknesses of Sysyphus and The Grand Vizier's Garden Party. On its own, Careful With That Axe, Eugene is worth buying this CD that the production company has the good taste to reissue regularly. If you don't have it yet, hurry up and get it.


More informations on https://www.pinkfloyd.com/





TRACK LISTING:
01. Astronomy Domine - 08:28
02. Careful With That Axe, Eugene - 08:47
03. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun - 09:22
04. A Saucerful Of Secrets - 12:49
05. Sysyphus, Pt. 1 - 01:08
06. Sysyphus, Pt. 2 - 03:25
07. Sysyphus, Pt. 3 - 01:48
08. Sysyphus, Pt. 4 - 06:56
09. Grantchester Meadows - 07:28
10. Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict - 04:57
11. The Narrow Way, Pt. 1 - 03:29
12. The Narrow Way, Pt. 2 - 02:53
13. The Narrow Way, Pt. 3 - 05:52
14. The Grand Vizier's Garden Party: Entrance - 00:59
15. Grand Vizier's Garden Party: Entertainment - 07:06
16. The Grand Vizier's Garden Party: Exit - 00:40

LINEUP:
David Gilmour: Chant / Guitares
Linda Mason: Flûte (14, 16)
Nick Mason: Batterie / Percussions
Richard Wright: Claviers
Roger Waters: Chant / Basse / Gong
   
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