Sunday, March 26, 2017

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here (1975)

“Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd (1975)

Release Date: September 12, 1975
Produced by Pink Floyd
Chart Positions: #1 (US, UK, Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, Denmark) #2 (Austria, Norway) #4 (Germany, Bolivia, Japan), #5 (Argentina), #7 (Uraguay) #8 (Croatia), #10 (Italy), #14 (Canada, Sweden), #15 (Switzerland, Greece), #17 (Spain), #19 (Finland, Portugal), #20 (Poland), #21 (Korea), #34 (France, Czechoslovakia), #77 (Belgium)
Certifications: Diamond (France), 7xPlatinum (Australia), 6xPlatinum (US), 4xPlatinum (New Zealand), 2xPlatinum (UK, Austria), Platinum (Germany, Canada) Gold (Argentina, Poland, Italy)
Singles: “Have A Cigar” (#48 Italy)

Written entirely by Roger Waters, Wish You Were Here is the ninth studio album by Pink Floyd, released in September 1975. Inspired by material the group composed while performing across Europe, Wish You Were Here was recorded in numerous sessions at London's Abbey Road Studios. Some of the songs critique the music business, others express alienation, and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" is a tribute to Syd Barrett, whose mental breakdown had forced him to leave the group seven years earlier. It was lead writer Roger Waters' idea to split "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" into two parts and use it to bookend the album around three new compositions, introducing a new concept as the group had done with their previous album, The Dark Side of the Moon.

As with The Dark Side of the Moon, the band used studio effects and synthesizers, and brought in guest singers to supply vocals on some tracks of the album. These singers were Roy Harper, who provided the lead vocals on "Have a Cigar", and The Blackberries, who added backing vocals to "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". The album became an instant commercial success and record company EMI was unable to print enough copies to satisfy demand.

The album opens with the 13-minute “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V), Part I begins with the fade-in of organ, harp and minimoog synthesizer and works into a bluesy guitar solo played by David Gilmour. During this section some very faint conversation in the studio can be heard in the left channel.
Part II comes in at 3:54 and begins with a four-note theme, known informally as "Syd's Theme" repeated throughout much of the entire section. Nick Mason starts drumming and Waters his bass playing. We’re treated to another solo by Gilmour.
Part III starts at 8:42 and begins with a Minimoog solo by Rick Wright accompanied by a less complex variation of Mason's drums from Part II. This part includes Gilmour's third guitar solo.
Part IV works in at 8:42 with Roger  Waters singing his lyrics, with Gilmour, Wright and female backing vocalists Venetta Fields and Carlena Williams on harmonies. (Fields and Williams were part of the vocal group The Blackberries)
Part V starts at11:10 with two guitars repeating an arpeggio variation on the main theme for about a minute with the theme of Part II (Syd’s Theme). Dick Parry comes in with saxophone, the sax solo is accompanied by an ARP string synthesizer keyboard sound. A machine-like hum fades in with musique concrète and segues into "Welcome to the Machine". “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” though it is was not released as a single peaked at #10 in Poland due to extensive airplay.

The second track “Welcome To The Machine” describes the band's disillusionment with the music industry as a money-making machine rather than a forum of artistic expression. The plot centers on an aspiring musician getting signed by a seedy executive to the music industry (the "Machine"). The voice predicts all of his seemingly rebellious ideas ("You bought a guitar to punish your ma / You didn't like school / And you know you're nobody's fool"). His illusions of personal identity are further crushed with lines such as "What did you dream? / It's all right, we told you what to dream."

Track Three “Have A Cigar” was released as a single but failed to chart. Regardless the song is considered a classic and is widely known by music fans around the world. Written by Roger Waters, the song's lyrics were a critique of hypocrisy and greed within the music business. The music is more straightforwardly rock-oriented than the rest of the album, beginning with a churning riff played on electric guitar and bass. The track is filled out with additional guitar, electric piano and synthesizer parts to create a rock texture. Concluding with a guitar solo, which is interrupted by a synthesizer filter-sweep sound effect as the music reduces in volume to tinny, AM radio-like levels. Finally, the song ends with the sound of a radio being dialed off-station; this effect is used as a transition to the title track, "Wish You Were Here". Roy Harper performs the lead vocals on “Have A Cigar”. Both Roger Waters and David Gilmour had attempted to sing the song on separate takes, as well as on a duet version, but they were unhappy with the results. Harper was recording his album HQ in Studio 2 of Abbey Road at the same time as Pink Floyd were working in Studio 3, and Roy Harper offered to sing the part ("...for a price").

"Have A Cigar" (1975)

Segueing in from “Have A Cigar” track four “Wish You Were Here” has a sentimental feel to it. Its lyrics encompass Roger Waters' feelings of alienation from other people and his distrust for the music industry. Like most of the album, it refers to former Pink Floyd member Syd Barrett and his breakdown. David Gilmour and Waters collaborated to write the music, and Gilmour sang the lead vocal.

The album closes with a 12-minute recording of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX).
Part VI begins with a howling wind from the preceding song "Wish You Were Here". As the wind fades away, Gilmour comes in on the bass guitar. Waters adds another bass with a continuing riff pattern. Then Wright comes in playing an ARP Synthesizer and after a few measures, several rhythm guitar parts and drums come in, as well as a Minimoog synthesizer to play the opening solo. At the two-minute mark, Wright's Minimoog and Gilmour's lap steel guitar play notes in unison before Gilmour does a lap steel guitar solo with some counterpointing from Wright's synthesizers. It lasts for about three minutes and Gilmour plays each section an octave higher than the previous one. Then the vocals come in.
Part VII starts at 4:39 with vocals by Roger Waters then segues into part VIII.
Part VIII opens at 6:09 with Waters playing a second electric guitar for a high-noted sound riff while Gilmour plays the arpeggio riff that bridges Parts VII and VIII. A solid progression of funk plays for about two minutes before very slowly fading out. Throughout this section, Wright's keyboards dominate, with the use of a Minimoog synthesizer, and a Hohner Clavinet. In addition to their guitar solos, there is occasional trading of leads from Gilmour and White instead of the keyboard sounds as heard on record.
Part IX begins at 12:28 Gilmour described Part IX in an interview as "a slow 4/4 funeral march... the parting musical eulogy to Syd". Again, Wright's keyboards dominate, with little guitar input from Gilmour. Mason's drums play for much of this part, and the keyboards play for the final minute before fading out. On the fade-out, a short keyboard part of the melody of "See Emily Play,” one of Barrett's signature Pink Floyd songs, can be heard. This was the final solo writing credit Rick Wright would receive in Pink Floyd during his lifetime, as well as his last writing credit of any kind until The Division Bell in 1994.

David Gilmour and Roy Harper (1975)


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