On this day in music history: October 10, 1970 – “Atom Heart Mother”, the fifth album by Pink Floyd is released. Produced by Pink Floyd, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London from February – August 1970. The first self produced album by the band (though executive produced by longtime producer Norman Smith), it marks the end of their “psychedelic period” moving toward writing more tightly structured songs. The first side of the album featuring the title track is a nearly twenty four minute long suite (made up of six movements) featuring additional orchestration by the EMI Pops Orchestra and choir vocals by the John Alldis Choir. The albums iconic cover photographs taken by Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis is in response to the bands request for “something plain” on the cover. Thorgerson drives out to a cow pasture in Hertfordshire and takes the photos for the front, inner gatefold and back cover. Unlike previous albums, the cover does not contain any text with the band’s name, album title, track listing, or even any pictures of the band. This becomes a main feature of Pink Floyd’s albums throughout the rest of their career. It is also the first Pink Floyd album to be mixed into quadraphonic sound, first being released on 8-Track tape and and as a vinyl LP. Reissued on CD and vinyl various times over the years, the album is remastered and reissued on 180 gram vinyl in 2016. “Atom Heart Mother” hits number one on the UK album chart, peaking at number fifty five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 12, 1975 – “Wish You Were Here”, the ninth album by Pink Floyd is released (US release date is on September 13, 1975). Produced by Pink Floyd, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London from January – July 1975. Conceived as a concept album by Roger Waters feelings about the music industry, the songs “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” and “Wish You Were Here” are dedicated to former band mate Syd Barrett, whose drug fueled breakdown had forced him to leave the band. Both songs take on an added poignancy when Barrett turns up at the studio unannounced on June 5, 1975 while the band are recording the album. Overweight with a shaved head and eyebrows, he is virtually unrecognizable to his former band mates when they first see him. All are saddened and deeply affected by the brief encounter. It is also the last time they ever see Barrett before his death in 2006. The albums now iconic cover art is designed by long time collaborator Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis. The front cover photo (taken on the back lot of Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, CA) features a shot of two business men shaking hands, with one of them on fire, symbolizing how musicians often get burned by record companies in the business end of the music industry. The original UK and US album covers use alternate photos, with later reissues featuring the UK cover shot. The LP was then covered in either black or dark blue shrink wrap featuring a large graphic sticker with the band name and title printed on it. Though it receives mixed reviews from critics, it becomes the bands fastest selling album to date, with advanced orders topping a quarter million in the UK and nearly one million in the US. Reissued numerous times since making its CD debut in 1984, it is most recently remastered and reissued in 2011. It is released as an extensive “Immersion Box Set”, containing two CD’s, two DVD’s and a Blu-ray disc. The CD’s contain the original stereo mix of the album on disc one, with the second containing six previously unreleased live tracks, studio outtakes and alternate mixes. The DVD’s and Blu-ray discs contain multi channel remixes including 5.1 surround mixes and original quadraphonic stereo mixes, and video of live performances. It is also remastered and reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2016. “Wish You Were Here” spends two weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 6x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 8, 1987 – “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason”, the thirteenth album by Pink Floyd is released (UK release is on September 7, 1987). Produced by Bob Ezrin and David Gilmour, it is recorded at the Astoria Houseboat Recording Studio in Hampton, Middlesex, UK, Britannia Row Studios in London, and A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA from October 1986 – May 1987. The project begins its life as David Gilmour’s third solo album, but evolves into a Pink Floyd album (the first without co-founder Roger Waters) after original members Nick Mason and Rick Wright are invited to participate in the sessions. It also features musical support from a number of guest musicians including Tony Levin (bass), Jim Keltner, Carmine Appice (drums), Tom Scott (saxophone), and Patrick Leonard (synthesizers). The album differs from previous Pink Floyd albums, in that it does not follow a central theme or concept, and instead is simply a collection of unrelated songs. “Reason” also marks the return of producer Bob Ezrin, who works with the band for the first time since “The Wall” in 1979. It spins off three singles including “Learning To Fly” (#70 Pop, #1 Mainstream Rock), and “On The Turning Away” (#1 Mainstream Rock). Following the release of “Reason”, former bassist and chief songwriter Roger Waters sues the others over what he feels is unauthorized use of the Pink Floyd name. He is unsuccessful in his attempt, and the band continue without him. The album is most recently remastered and reissued on CD in 2011, and as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2016. “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 29, 1968 – “A Saucerful Of Secrets”, the second studio album by Pink Floyd is released. Produced by Norman Smith, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London from August, October 1967 and January – April 1968. The bands follow up to their debut “The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn” is recorded sporadically over a period of eight months, largely because of Syd Barrett’s increasing mental instability due to his excessive consumption of psychedelic drugs. Guitarist David Gilmour is brought in to take Barrett’s place, becoming a permanent member of the band in March 1968. The album features songs such as “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” and the title track, both of which become staples of their live performances. The enigmatic cover art for the album is designed by Hipgnosis, making Pink Floyd the first EMI act (besides The Beatles) to have their album covers designed by someone other than EMI’s art department). It is the beginning of a four decade long association with the graphic design company. Reissued on CD numerous times since its first digital release in 1987, it is most recently reissued in 2011. The album is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2016, with the album sleeve using a printed version of the original UK “flip back” jacket design, and pressed with the original 60’s era UK Columbia labels. “A Saucerful Of Secrets” peaks at number nine on the UK album chart, and does not chart on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: June 3, 1972 – “Obscured By Clouds”, the seventh studio album by Pink Floyd is released. Produced by Pink Floyd, it is recorded at the Château d’Hérouville, Hérouville in Île-de-France, France from February 23 – 29 and March 23 – 27, 1972. The album features music (six tracks with vocals and four instrumentals) from the soundtrack of director Barbet Schroeder’s (“Single White Female”) film “La Vallée” (“The Valley”). It is the bands’ second collaboration with the French film director, having composed the music for his 1969 film “More”. Pink Floyd will record “Clouds” just prior to the sessions for their next studio album “The Dark Side Of The Moon” at Abbey Road Studios in London beginning in June. Working under a tight schedule, the band complete the recording of their film score in just two weeks of studio time, following Schroeder’s rough cut of the film to create specific music cues and interludes. The albums’ enigmatic cover art (designed by regular graphic collaborators Hipgnosis) features a deeply out of focus photo of a man sitting in a tree. Remastered and reissued various times since making its CD debut in 1986, it is most recently reissued in 2011. The vinyl LP, out of print since 1990, is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2016. The album packaging replicates the original UK cover artwork, with the LP jacket having rounded die cut corners and the original hype sticker spotlighting the film. “Obscured By Clouds” peaks at number six on the UK album chart and number forty six on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: May 29, 1995 – “Pulse” by Pink Floyd is released (US release is on June 6, 1995). Produced by James Guthrie and David Gilmour, it is recorded at Festa Nazionale dell’Unità in Modena, Italy, the Cinecittà in Rome, Italy, Niedersachsenstadion in Hannover, Germany and Earl’s Court in London from August 17, September 17, October 13 – 23, 1994. Recorded live during the UK and European legs of the “Division Bell” tour in 1994, the majority of the album is compiled from the band’s two week run of performances at Earl’s Court in London. The second disc of the album includes “The Dark Side Of The Moon” performed in its entirety as well as a performance of “Astronomy Domine”, which had not been performed live by the band since the early 70’s. The original CD release of the album comes with a flashing red LED light (powered by two AA batteries) in the spine. A limited edition four LP vinyl version of the album is also released (with “One Of These Days” included as a bonus track, also included on the cassette release). An accompanying home video release is issued in tandem with the album. Out of print since its original release in 1995, the vinyl LP box set is reissued on May 18, 2018, pressed on 180 gram vinyl and faithfully replicating the original packaging and fifty two page hardbound book. “Pulse” enters the UK album chart and the Billboard Top 200 at number one, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.