Thursday, April 7, 2016

When Music Mattered - Meddle (1971)

In 1970, Pink Floyd released their first number 1 album in the UK called Atom Heart Mother. Roger Waters called Atom Heart Mother “a soundtrack without a movie,” and the entire band wound up disowning the record as their catalog grew. But without experiments such as Atom Heart Mother, Pink Floyd would have never grown to become the progressive rock pioneers that opened up a whole host of other doors for a lot of bands that you have probably heard of.

In 1971, Pink Floyd perfected their epic sound with the release of the album Meddle. To many people, the song “Echoes” represents everything of substance with Meddle. But if you only focus on “Echoes,” then you miss out on some of the true ingenuity and musical innovation that is found throughout the rest of the album. While songs such as “San Tropez” and “Pillow of Winds” may not be household names, there is plenty of gold on Meddle for people with all musical tastes to enjoy.
Casual Pink Floyd fans may be familiar with the jam song called “One of these Days” that involves primarily two bass parts and a slide guitar. 

Fans who dig a little deeper into the band’s catalog may be familiar with the song “Fearless,” and people who have seen the movie Live at Pompeii will remember the blues song that featured the howling dog. The song was named after the howling dog. On the record, the song was called “Seamus” after the dog. In the movie, the song was called “Mademoiselle Knobs.”

The album Meddle was actually the primary source of material for the movie Live at Pompeii, which is yet another reason for music fans to watch Live at Pompeii. The band mixed together much of its earlier soundscapes with songs from Meddle and then threw in short previews of stuff that would be on Dark Side of the Moon. When you look at the albums from Atom Heart Mother to Dark Side of the Moon, you can see the development of Pink Floyd into an iconic rock band.

The first side of Meddle is worth a listen because of the different textures and moods the band uses. The way the first side is put together is almost akin to the concept albums the band would later become known for. The second side is simple “Echoes,” and it is 20+ minutes of pure brilliance. It is a song that takes us through the different moods of someone sitting on a beach and contemplating life as the waves roll in. It is also the song where David Gilmour gets a chance to use the many guitar effect tricks he developed to their full potential. It is accurate to say that Pink Floyd became Pink Floyd when the band wrote and recorded “Echoes.”

Pink Floyd is like most of the iconic bands from the 60s and 70s in that you can actually see the band develop in its music. Floyd did not leave out any steps in their songwriting evolution as they took great pains to put everything on tape. The studio albums the band released became just teasers to what could be accomplished live, but Meddle is that one rare instance where the band made complete statements in the studio that stand the test of time.

If you are interested in hearing the album that really launched the career of Pink Floyd, then take a listen to Meddle.

Rating: 5 out of 5

George N Root III is a music fanatic who listens mostly to anything written before 1981. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or send him a message at