By Lauren Wise
By Troy Farah
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By New Times Staff
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David Gilmour also has an agenda, which includes the art of subliminal song-stealing. Rewriting Ray Davies' "Lazy Old Sun" as "Fat Old Sun," Dave utilizes the identical church-bell sound effects the Kinks used on "Big Black Smoke." Things get even worse on the Meddle album with "San Tropez," Dave's entry in the Nilsson sound-alike sweepstakes! Somebody set the controls to the dark side of the moon--and hurry!
In 1973, the group releases its masterwork. When its label wants to premiäre Dark Side of the Moon with a quadraphonic listening party at the London Planetarium, the band members, eager to ditch their cosmic image, beg off appearing. EMI is forced to send four life-size cutouts of the band in their place, and it's a testament to Floyd's continuing lack of personality that no one complains.
Yet a personality finally does emerge from within the ranks--Roger Waters. Once he assumes all lyric-writing duties, the band's random experimentation has the direction it's lacked since Syd's expulsion. Oddly, adding the girlie vocals and the saxophone they scoffed at Syd for suggesting helps make this their most accessible album to date. The band even scores an unlikely AM radio hit in the U.S. with "Money." But worldwide success and a hit single don't sit well with Waters. He begins to regard the whole mindless adulation surrounding the group as if it were a suspicious boil on the back of the neck. On the last show of the Animals tour, Pink goes punk when Roger hurls a clammy goober in the face of a worshiping fan. This inspires Waters to erect a wall between himself and the audience on the next tour.
It could've been worse. He could've been inspired by the audience featured in the film Pink Floyd at Pompeii and decided that what Floyd's audience really needed was hot, molten lava poured all over it. That'll teach it not to yell out requests for "Money."
The Wall reveals Waters' contempt for Floyd's audience in full bloom. Why else would he choose such an illegible calligraphy in which to scribble the lyrics? Plus, he enlists producer Bob Ezrin, a man incapable of working with an artist--Alice Cooper, Kiss, Peter Gabriel and Lou Reed, to name a few--without sticking singing children all over the album. Pink Floyd proves no exception. Kiddy voices and all, "Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)" zooms to No. 1 on the singles chart, while the double album goes on to sell 17 million copies.
The all-powerful, all-mighty Rog is quick to take all the credit. After the album's completion, he ousts keyboardist Rick Wright and decrees that no one else in the band will get a writing credit on the next Floyd album. Not that they'd want one on The Final Cut, aptly named since all one can think about while listening to this dreck is, "When is it going to be over?" A Roger Waters solo album in Pink clothing, it does disappointing business and is a harbinger of the chilly reception his next three solo albums will receive. Surprisingly, he ignores this omen and leaves Floyd to pursue the aforementioned unsuccessful solo career! And they said Syd was nuts!
Unwilling to give up a perfectly good brand name, Gilmour rounds up all the nonvegetating Floyd members he can to record A Momentary Lapse of Reason. Waters, incensed that the group doesn't just roll over and play Syd, starts harassing it with lawsuits. At one point, the infighting gets so bad that the Sun runs a story stating that Waters commissioned an artist to make 150 rolls of toilet paper with Gilmour's face stamped on every sheet.
Undaunted, the two-ply guitarist mounts one of the most lucrative tours in rock history. Whereas the Stones, the Who, Bowie and McCartney all vie to pull in megabucks with their "greatest hits"-styled shows, the Floyd introduces a new wrinkle--a "greatest props" tour! But this is no mere recycling job. Note the inventiveness involved in bringing back the infamous, 40-foot inflatable pig from the Animals tour--this time equipped with male genitals!
And instead of a flaming plane dive-bombing into the stage after "On the Run," a flaming, inflatable gurney does the honors. Likewise, the Gilmour special-effects team builds a white wall of smoke during "Comfortably Numb," since Waters retained custody of all 2,500 bricks used on the 1979 The Wall tour.
Count Roger Waters among the new props brought out of storage for The Division Bell. Just as Syd Barrett's presence haunted every Floyd album that followed his absence, so now does Roger Waters rattle his chains in the distance.
On "Poles Apart," it's unclear whether Dave's still feeling guilty about replacing Syd (I never thought you'd lose that light in your eyes") or if he's pissed off at Roger (Why did we tell you then you were always the golden boy?") or if he's just smug that he wound up with the franchise (Did you know it was going to be so right for me?"). In the end, he's talking to a wall, one that's not about to argue back. This song cycle about communication breakdowns also draws heavily on Gilmour's broken marriage for inspiration. But unlike Waters, who gave his marriage ending an over-the-top treatment on The Wall, mild-mannered Dave never breaks any dishes or gives any specifics. Always a reactionary, never a visionary, Gilmour makes his verbal inadequacies known on "Lost for Words" and "Keep Talking"--songs about the inarticulate speech of the heart that he actually needed a lyricist to help him with! You get the feeling if Dave ever underwent marriage counseling, he'd try to bring a lyricist along there, too.
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