The story of the most influential band in rock is told through the eyes of it’s only constant member; drummer Nick Mason.
You can divide Pink Floyd’s career into four distinct segments. Firstly when the band was lead by erratic psychedelic genius Syd Barrett which produced 1967’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn, a period during which Floyd’s live experience inspired the Beatles to replicate this sound on Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Then came the band’s best and most consistent work, the so-called Democratic Phase where all four members wrote together, the best-known works being Atom Heart Mother, Meddle, Animals and in the middle of this period Pink Floyd released possibly the quintessential British rock album, Dark Side of the Moon.
Roger Waters then began to dominate at the complete expense of Mason and Richard Wright, and with David Gilmour only contributing some music to The Wall it became inevitable that The Final Cut was virtually a Waters solo album.
This record, whilst politically explosive is virtually unlistenable and self indulgent, resulting in Gilmour withdrawing his name from the production credits.
Waters was sidelined and Gilmour led the Band for 1987’s Momentary Lapse of Reason, which saw a partial return to form, cemented by the incredible Division Bell released in 1994 and a suitable landmark for Pink Floyd to cease recording.
The book narrates the band’s progress but leaves the reader feeling somewhat un sated as, for musicians that recorded some of the most existentialist work, there is little discussion of feelings or sources of inspiration.
Three incidents made me think that, as individuals, Pink Floyd despite shunning rock god behaviour and lifestyle, were cringingly ambitious.
Firstly as Syd descended into madness the band simply carried on with no thought about the impact on their songwriter. They simply recruited David to cover the vocals and guitar parts, leaving Barrett to just sit on stage in a daze and when one night in the van going to a gig someone suggested picking up Syd, an un named band member said; “Let’s just not fucking bother”, and that was that.
Compounding this when, in 1975 Syd turned up unannounced at Abbey Road, he was met with stony faced, embarrassed silence and left never to be seen again, a fact Mason acknowledges was a complete disgrace on the band’s part. Although it didn’t stop them cashing in on Syd’s memory with Shine on You Crazy Diamond.
Thirdly Waters summarily sacked Richard Wright from the band in a fit of rage right in the middle of the Wall Tour. Gilmour and Mason said nothing, and Wright was forced into carrying on as a hired hand despite Roger saying Rick would never record with Floyd again.
The inter band relations are summarised thus; “Things got so bad between David and Roger, that someone almost said something”. Which made Live8 all the more remarkable, something Mason covers here.
It occurs to me that Pink Floyd are so typically English, as no feelings are very remotely referred to in everyday life, but a repressed to the extent that they can only be dealt with by producing art of the highest quality, once again proving what a weird lot we really are.
HUNTER DAVIES; THE GLORY GAME.
This was really the first football book aimed at a literary audience, and was the last until Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch in 1992, which produced a flood of such work that it is now virtually a discreet genre.
Davies was given un-restricted access to Spurs’ first team squad for the 1971/72 season and the result in a fascinating insight into how things were done.
Each chapter is about a specific aspect, from the Manager Bill Nicholson, through to the support staff, and even a section where Davies travels to Coventry on one of the notorious British Rail Football Specials.
There is a very interesting appendix where the author produces a questionnaire about social attitudes and it is surprising to read that Alan Mullery saw marriage as a partnership of equals, changed nappies, cooked, cleaned, and put the kids to bed, whilst Pat Jennings believed in not lifting a finger.
Depressingly only three players voted Labour, although Steve Perryman considered himself strongly Socialist.
Joe Kinnear was 25 at the time the book was written and it is apparent then that the guy was intelligent, forward thinking and would go on to great success as a Manager.
It would be brilliant if Davies could repeat this effort in the current era as, despite the money you can see that the Top Four aside, most players clearly love what they do and enjoy playing a great deal.
There is widespread cynicism about the game, mainly inspired by the press, but for sheer entertainment the Premier League is still up there and the strides made by Aston Villa and Hull City are proof that anything is possible.
GEOFFREY MOORHOUSE; ESSAYS ON RUGBY LEAGUE.
One game that is still largely in touch with its fan base is the thirteen man code, and I for one find that Hull City aside, I would take RL and cricket any day if I had a choice of viewing.
This is the RL equivalent to the Glory Game and the prose is first class, evocative whilst avoiding cliché as we are taken on a tour of snippets of the games history from its formation in a Huddersfield hotel, to the fascinating Lions Tour of Australia in 1988 which includes a magnificent description of the Lions defeating their hosts in the Third Test.
Moorhouse educates us on the history of the Australian Origin Fixture and it’s social roots, and overall this is a great read about a great game and why it is so important to us along the M62 corridor in particular.