It’s 1975; Mullets are cool, disco is a thing (unfortunately), and Pink Floyd are at the summit of the Rock and Roll mountain in the wake of 1973’s Dark Side of the Moon.
Applying their trademark experimentation, philosophical lyrics and jaw-dropping harmonies, Pink Floyd are about to launch their star even further.
Within only five tracks, Dave Gilmour, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Richard Wright created a record which still maintains its timeless aesthetic.
Wish You Were Here is bookended by parts 1 & 2 of Shine on you Crazy Diamond, a sprawling, cosmic experience which grabs the listener and tells you to listen. And listen you do, because nothing quite compares to the sound of Pink Floyd. The inspiration for this classic is the heartbreaking story of former frontman Syd Barrett, who was forced out of the band due to deteriorating mental health.
Part of the lore around this record is the story in which Barrett turned up at the studio while Floyd were recording, only to not be recognised by any of the band members. His story adds a layer of melancholy to this album.
Welcome to the Machine follows, the opening is atmospheric and tense, a fitting precedent for what is about to follow. Welcome to the Machine, much like Floyds later album, Dogs, is a review of society and governmental control. Lyrics like “Where have you been? It’s alright we know where you’ve been”. Illustrate this point.
Pink Floyd kept the theme of social commentary with Have a Cigar, an intelligent and witty critique of the record industry. After a funky bassline introduces the track, the opening verse lists all of the worn out cliches that major labels use to woo young artists. The criticism turns into a scathing attack on the industry, and the disconnected ignorance of those at the top. “The band is just fantastic, that is really what I think, oh by the way, which one’s Pink?”, this humour and intellect is really what sets Pink Floyd apart from many other groups of the era.
The penultimate track is the titular Wish you were Here, my personal pick for the greatest song of all time. As the sampled radio audio fades out, we are launched into Dave Gilmour’s hypnotic guitar playing. There’s something about the melody that reminds me of home, there’s a comfort in the playing. As the second guitar kicks in, you can almost hear the pain in the strings. It is a song about loss, longing and waiting, and if were ever lucky enough to hear it live, I can’t promise I wouldn’t cry.
Wish you were Here, to me is what progressive rock is all about, the notes, lyrics and compositions are hypnotic and addictive, but there’s something deeper. This album grabs me, comforts me, makes me smile, and makes me tear up. And that is why it is this weeks record of the week.
Listening Advice: Vinyl
There’s truly no other way, the only way to truly understand what Gilmour and Co are trying to say is to listen to it the way it was meant to be listened to, vinyl.