In late 1971 Pink Floyd issued Meddle, its first album that -- based on the hundreds of music collections we've inspected over the last 25 years -- enjoyed fairly broad acceptance among mainstream music fans. Interestingly, that appeal seems heavily based on the strong and continued affinity FM radio has for the album opener "One Of These Days," a track considered by some in the band to be the most collaborative composition it ever recorded. Meddle as a collection flows but is far from homogenous. From the "Dr. Who"-ish space rock of the opener, Floyd leads listeners through the peaceful, pastoral mirror world of "A Pillow Of Winds;" the slow campfire strum of "Fearless" (which memorably closes with Liverpool soccer fans singing "You'll Never Walk Alone;" the cosmopolitan and hedonistic bounce of "San Tropez;" the weird dead-dog blues sketch "Seamus;" and finally the Homeric psych symphony "Echoes." Granted, none of it is overtly challenging to casual music fans, but little of it is Top 40 fodder either. And yet the album reached No. 3 on the U.K. charts.
All of which leads to us to the recently issued DVD "Pink Floyd -- Meddle: A Classic Album Under Review," which will be released by MVD Entertainment April 24. We were skeptical of how much we would enjoy this, because we found another video in the series, "Joy Division -- Under Review," very dull. The expert commentary contained there, while credible, offered little compelling analysis or insight (particularly when compared against the relatively gripping Ian Curtis biography "Touching From A Distance" written by Curtis's widow Deborah). Without input from actual band members, there seemed to be little meaningful raw material, making "Joy Division -- Under Review" fall flat under the weight of the sort of musings you hear from dudes with too much time to kill in the record store. And while "Meddle: A Classic Album Under Review" also relies exclusively on talking heads at best offering personal opinion, analysis and insight, and at worst just plain speculating about stuff, the result is much more satisfying. Perhaps it is the tighter narrative or the higher quality of the archival footage.
But also the analysis seems significantly more pithy. The film devotes most of its first half to background about the band, and then gradually contextualizes the album within the Floyd continuum against milestones including "Set The Controls For The Heart of The Sun" and "Atom Heart Mother." There follows a reasoned discussion of whether Pink Floyd should be called a progressive rock band; the importance of that single processed piano note as a jumping off point for "Echoes." The filmmakers also use strong examples to make interesting points, including isolating the two dueling bass parts of "One Of These Days" to contrast the abilities of Waters and guitarist David Gilmour and showing live footage of the actual dog Seamus howling along with the (nice) pair as evidence of the silliness of the track. The DVD is likely too academic for casual music fans, but those with a strong affinity for the Floyd will get something out of watching it.
[Buy Pink Floyd -- Meddle: Classic Album Under Review from MVD here]
[Stream Meddle for free at Rhapsody here]
Pink Floyd: InterWeb |