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Alistair Tait Profile
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Ummagumma - a review


Pink Floyd – UMMAGUMMA (1969)

Roger Waters once referred to this album as “crap”. After listening to it tonight… I would have to agree! This album is split into two. The first disc is made up of live performances and features the following songs – Astronomy Domine, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun and A Saucerful Of Secrets. The first three of these songs are utterly brilliant. Indeed CWTAE and STCFTHOTS are the best versions I have ever heard. ASOS is a song I have never really liked. However, I would recommend getting a hold of this disc to hear some superb post-Syd Barrett live work.

Disc two is split into four sub sections. Part one is written by Richard Wright, part two by Roger Waters, part three by Dave Gilmour and part four by Nick Mason. This is Pink Floyd at its most self indulgent. There is nothing really that positive I can say about the songs. Indeed I would argue that most of them are not really songs at all, and instead, musical wankery-doo (aka utter shite!). Saying that though Grantchester Meadows (by Roger Waters) has a nice folk feel to it and gives this dark album a slightly different character. The Narrow Way (by Dave Gilmour) also has some nice ideas, but not enough to save this album.

Overall this is not an essential Pink Floyd album and apart from the superb live disc, there is not an awful lot to make one buy this album. Indeed, I think Roger Waters summed this album up best.
10/7/2004, 20:08 Link to this post Send Email to Alistair Tait   Send PM to Alistair Tait
 
Rahul Profile
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Re: Ummagumma - a review


I'd pretty much agree with all that. The live disc is fabulous, the studio cuts throwaway at best!

---
Theory is when you know everything and nothing works;
Practice is when everything works and nobody knows why.

Here we combine Theory with Practice: Nothing works and nobody knows why.
10/7/2004, 20:20 Link to this post Send Email to Rahul   Send PM to Rahul
 
Alistair Tait Profile
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Re: Ummagumma - a review


Yup! Floyd totally stuggled to come to grips with the post-Syd years. Atom Heart Mother was the first move in the right direction.
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Rahul Profile
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Re: Ummagumma - a review


I though Gilmour fitted in really well early on. Saucerful of Secrets is a great album, and the live shows were excellent too.

I guess when you're as experimental as The Floyd were back then, not all of it was going to work.

The fact that Harvest allowed each individual member to come up with a composition was a brave move, and perhaps highlighted the fact that the band worked best as a unit back then, rather than as individuals.

---
Theory is when you know everything and nothing works;
Practice is when everything works and nobody knows why.

Here we combine Theory with Practice: Nothing works and nobody knows why.
10/7/2004, 22:43 Link to this post Send Email to Rahul   Send PM to Rahul
 
Gillans micstand Profile
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Re: Ummagumma - a review


The thing about Floyd that bothers me is that when they were good,they were really good,but when they were bad,they were very insipid.
Maybe it's just that they had some serious ups and downs,or something like that.
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Milan Fahrnholz Profile
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Re: Ummagumma - a review


As someone who adores the music of Frank Zappa and Robert Fripp it would seem a bit inconsistant if I´d claim I´d dislike this album.emoticon

It´s nothing I can hear often, but when I´m in the mood for it I can enjoy it in a way.

The live album is incredible, great versions of some of my favourite old Floyd Tracks and the best official documentation of Pink Floyd live in their most creative phase for sure.

Careful With That Axe Eugene is a psychedelic masterpiece in it´s simplicity, Saucerful Of Secrets is brilliantly performed and the other two are classics undoubtful.

The studio recording is the most experimental and lest commercial they have ever done.

Rick Wright´s Sysyphus is probably the lest harmonic track that can be done on piano, like when you travel around the world you have at some point reached a maximum distance before you are on the way back again and that´s what Wright has reached, would he have gone on more he´d gone back to more harmonic terrains again.

Roger Waters Grantchester Meadows is a meancholic folk piece that is underlined with ambient animal sounds. I doesn´t go anyway it´s just there...accoustic guitar voice and sounds intentionally monotonic and probably the most down to earth piece on the album.
Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gather Together In A Cave And Groovign With A Pict is Waters´ second piece and is a collection of things that sound like animal sounds. Actually that´s experimenting with recording speeds. Almost everything that sounds like little creatures is Waters voice taped, recorded and played on many different speeds. It doesn´t feature any instruments but the sounds are still combined in a musical way. The rythtms the beats, joins and fade-ins and outs are absolutly technical acurate.
Also I find it a incredibly hilarious track, so that´s fine by me in every possible way.

David Gilmour´s The Narrow Way features his first unsecure trys on songwriting. His voice becomes soon disorted as he didn´t like his singing on that one. It has also many technical try-outs on accoustic and electric guitar and get like Wright´s piece more agressive as it progresses and moves through it´s building up sections.

Nick Masons´s Grand Vizier´s Garden Party is a collection of interesting sounds. Some of which I have never heard anywhere else. A drummer trying his drums any many other percussion instruments, playing and recording techniques.

All in all it´s a very important part of Pink Floyd´s history and of great relevance for their evelvoment it stands as a prelude for what was to come. Of course you can say that this doesn´t have to be released for the public then, but consider it was 1969 and back then people didn´t only want to experiment there were also people who were interested in things that were just different. Other than in todays music business were everything is the same and no one is allowed and many not interested in breaking the boundaries. Actually it would be time to have an album like Ummagumma again.
After A Saucerful Of Secrets(where they officially got 11 minutes for experiments which resulted in the title track that became Roger Waters first concept piece about War and was Floyd´s first constructred piece ever) it was for the Floyd the most important part of breaking from the commands of the producers and record companies and set their freedom to experiment even more and then in a more musical context on the following albums.

As I´ve said, I don´t like to listen to it too much, but when I´m fed up with todays middle of the road boredom music, I like to listen to this as exciting adventury remembering me there were those good times when people were breaking the boundaries and felt the will to experiment and actually express themselves and other than today the listeners were even interested in hearing a band having an adventure with the spark commnig over and hitting themselves.
11/7/2004, 14:52 Link to this post  
 
Gillans micstand Profile
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Re: Ummagumma - a review


I have to say that the live part is the only part I have listened to since the 70's.

Last edited by Gillans micstand, 11/7/2004, 18:42
11/7/2004, 17:11 Link to this post Send Email to Gillans micstand
 
Rahul Profile
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Re: Ummagumma - a review




quote:

Milan Fahrnholz wrote:

As someone who adores the music of Frank Zappa and Robert Fripp it would seem a bit inconsistant if I´d claim I´d dislike this album.emoticon

As I´ve said, I don´t like to listen to it too much, but when I´m fed up with todays middle of the road boredom music, I like to listen to this as exciting adventury remembering me there were those good times when people were breaking the boundaries and felt the will to experiment and actually express themselves and other than today the listeners were even interested in hearing a band having an adventure with the spark commnig over and hitting themselves.



I think it is an experiment that fails. Its easy to get caught up in the whole 'Floyd being experimental' outlook, but at the end of the day, if you want to hear Floyd being experimental, they achieved it with far more convincing results on Piper At The Gates of Dawn. Middle of the road it was not.

I love bands who can push boundaries. If you like early Floyd you should check out a band called Tomorrow, who pushed those boundaries just as much. Their 'Tomorrow featuring Keith West' album is probably just as good as Piper.

Bands like the Floyd and Tomorrow did experiment and push boundaries, but if it fails, it fails, no matter how much people try to analyse the music.

There are good psychedelic albums, and their are bad ones. There are good heavy rock albums and their are bad ones too.

Just because you like the music of Zappa and Fripp does not make it inconsistent if you dislike this effort. There was a lot of crap around this era too.

I've got no problem if you like the album, but if you are looking for an album that pushes the boundaries, I think there are far better examples than this! emoticon

Last edited by Rahul, 11/7/2004, 17:50


---
Theory is when you know everything and nothing works;
Practice is when everything works and nobody knows why.

Here we combine Theory with Practice: Nothing works and nobody knows why.
11/7/2004, 17:49 Link to this post Send Email to Rahul   Send PM to Rahul
 
Milan Fahrnholz Profile
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Re: Ummagumma - a review


I´ve mentioned it´s significance in Floyd´s history, wheater I like it or not is another issue. I like it´s sound and I find it interesting. Still it´s not an album I hear often.

The comparison with Fripp and Zappa was of course not entirely serious. I regard and enjoy both higher than Ummagumma and most of the other Floyd output. Starless And Bible Black and Hot Rats is also experimenting with sounds and music and I like both far better than Ummagumma.

It´s just an album that sounds interesting to me that´s why I listen to it once in a blue moon. When someone´s breaking the boundaries I´m not sure if you can say generally that an experiment fails(that´s always open for a debate as you see) because where are the standards you can compare them with when they are beyond?

I think it´s good they did that album because it brought their style out of psychedelia into structured progressive rock(it´s neither this nor that) and saw them transforming from one thing to the other.
Wheater you like it or not it´s an important album without which the following albums proably wouldn´t sound as they do.
If you enjoy the album´s contents is your business that has nothing to with the result of the experiment which proably was more important for them than for most listeners, but if there are two or three people who like it for what it is so be it.emoticon
11/7/2004, 18:02 Link to this post  
 
Rahul Profile
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Re: Ummagumma - a review


quote:

Milan Fahrnholz wrote:

I´ve mentioned it´s significance in Floyd´s history, wheater I like it or not is another issue. I like it´s sound and I find it interesting. Still it´s not an album I hear often.

The comparison with Fripp and Zappa was of course not entirely serious. I regard and enjoy both higher than Ummagumma and most of the other Floyd output. Starless And Bible Black and Hot Rats is also experimenting with sounds and music and I like both far better than Ummagumma.

It´s just an album that sounds interesting to me that´s why I listen to it once in a blue moon. When someone´s breaking the boundaries I´m not sure if you can say generally that an experiment fails(that´s always open for a debate as you see) because where are the standards you can compare them with when they are beyond?

I think it´s good they did that album because it brought their style out of psychedelia into structured progressive rock(it´s neither this nor that) and saw them transforming from one thing to the other.
Wheater you like it or not it´s an important album without which the following albums proably wouldn´t sound as they do.
If you enjoy the album´s contents is your business that has nothing to with the result of the experiment which proably was more important for them than for most listeners, but if there are two or three people who like it for what it is so be it.emoticon



The psychedelic era was coming to an end. A change of sound had to come anyway, for any band to survive. Hence Jimmy Page took the New Yardbirds away from the genre, Deep Purple dropped their psychedelic sound, The Pretty Things turned conceptual. Psychedelic bands like The Creation, The Nice, Arthur Brown fell by the wayside, abandoned, deserted or broken up. Those who soldiered on rarely achieved the same success they had achieved earlier. Pyschedelia was out of flavour and replaced with prog. Even Tomorrow vocalist Keith West lamented that their self-titled album was released by EMI in 1968, rather than in 1967 when it was recorded, because the fashions had already begun to change, and the delay in releasing the album hindered it's reputation.

So Pink Floyd were going to have to change their sound to survive. Floyd being Floyd, they went for something completely different, but I'm guessing it was down to countless rehearsals and band meetings that led to the change, rather than some experimental noodling on a dodgy studio album. David Gilmour couldn't even come up with words for his piece at first, but Roger Waters refused to help him out. There was probably more interesting experiements that influenced Floyds sound but never saw the light of day.

There was once a group of people who got an elephant to paint a picture, holding a paint brush in his trunk, and making loads of colourful splodges. When the piece was shown to a bunch of moden art critics, they all tried to analyse it's meaning, and value, not realising it had been made by an elephant. They just assumed that because it was presented to them as art, it must have some value. And they felt they had to appreciate it.


---
Theory is when you know everything and nothing works;
Practice is when everything works and nobody knows why.

Here we combine Theory with Practice: Nothing works and nobody knows why.
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