I was searching to find what album to listen to for today. I was leaning toward Heatwave because of Rod Temperton’s songwriting. But I know I need to listen to classic albums.
I went to Consequence Of Sound’s top 100 list and came across this. The cover is so ubiquitous, I remember seeing it everywhere as a kid. Considering that this album is on many of a top 100 list, considering that I want to focus on classic albums, and considering I haven’t heard it ever, I swapped Heatwave with Pink Floyd. I’m excited to listen to the whole thing. Heatwave will still be a part of this process at some point, even if it’s not considered a classic album. I think it would be great to listen to for songwriting purposes.
To get a little context, I looked up the wikipedia page for DSOTM. The band decided to use the album as part of a tour. They also agreed that it would be centered around a central theme, things that “make people mad,” pressure of success, and the mental health issues from former band member Syd Garrett. I’m a huge fan of themes. It’s a great constraint for me to work in and it helps to give me clarity and focus when creating. Alan Parsons of Abbey Road was the engineer for this project and was critical in helping to craft the sonics. I’m excited to get into it.
Speak To Me – Such a cinematic opening. The heartbeat, the repetition of the cash register, what sounds like ripping paper, someone talking about being mad, laughter, screaming – all these elements setup the listener for something. I dig it.
Breathe – The tracks run seamlessly into each other. I like how this track started. The instrumentation and arrangement is amazing. Very lush. The vocals almost seem like they are floating. I like the writing. With the theme in mind, it makes me feel like “Breathe” is a warning of sorts. Take it in, but the higher you get, you may have to watch for the end sooner than you think.
On The Run – Cinematic. Great synth line and great synth sounds! They use a lot of panning. I hear a lot of footsteps running and airplanes. I also hear voices and laughing that could be considered inner monologue. The song isn’t exactly tense, but there is a lot of motion involved.
Time – The clock sounds make this very literal. I like the openness of the track in the beginning – the percussive elements, the rhodes, the grounding guitar tones. They all float together. And then the song comes in! I dig the groove. I hear background oohs and ahhs that sound like they are being played through a Leslie speaker and I’m LOVING IT! Lyrically, it’s super observational but makes a point. Structurally, I love the changes within the song, from opening to verse to chorus to the end of the song. There isn’t really a hook, it’s more of a expositional song.
The Great Gig In The Sky – Feels ballady. I like the piano and the country guitar slides. The voice discusses dying. And the song kicks in. Damn. Clare Torry can blow! If I think of death and dying while hearing this, I feel like I can be transported up to the sky. There is emotion behind the song. There is emotion behind Torry’s wailing. Beautiful.
Money – The registers create a rhythm in 7 count time. This song probably wouldn’t work as a single today, but it’s amazing to me that it did back then. The time signature, the lyrics, and the lack of a hook make it an intriguing song for me because the typical song structure is somewhat followed minus the repetitive hook. But the main melody repeats itself. And then the “bridge” is a crazy breakdown! Lyrically, the song is STILL relevant. That’s a bit tragic. The voices at the end about being in the right is something to think about.
Us And Them – I like the organ. The song breaks out into a jazzy vibe, with a sax solo, unique and uncommon chord changes. It’s easy to listen to. There is no rush to this song. I love the changes from Verse A to Verse B. And, of course, I’m loving the harmonies and background vocals. I like how the paint the idea of “Us And Them,” war and words. I’m feeling like the writing on this album is like that of a painter – less about personal feeling and more storytelling. I’m puzzled that this was a single based on the length. But, you know, YOLO.
Any Colour You Like – This song feels like a continuation of the last. I like the instrumentation here. There is a distinguishable difference between the synth parts and the keyboard parts. I like the staggering of the guitar solo.
Brain Damage – Wow. This is the most literal song about mental health. I like the lyrical melody here. The words are endearing to me because there is no shame in this song. The line “I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon” makes me feel like Roger Waters was relating to Syd, as this is the song written about him. I just think it’s so elegantly done. The guitar parts are easy to follow and the arrangements are lovely.
Eclipse – It’s a great ending. Lyrically, it’s a great concept – all we do is correct. But it all gets overshadowed by the moon. The arrangement on this song makes it feel like a finale to a movie!
My mistake in listening to this was that I didn’t have a listen from front to back. I had to go back and repeat songs to listen critically. A full listen through with no stops is in order!
That being said, I love this album. I can understand why it was easily considered a classic. It’s not really aggressive. The production value is high, the arrangements are lush, the writing is great, and it’s really accessible if you are open to it. I don’t think they were looking for a hit. They were looking to create a full body of work with this one. And they succeeded. The album sounds very intentional. There is no filler. Everything is purposeful. This would be an album I would like to create. I don’t know how well it would do today, but that’s not the point. I don’t hear works like this today. It’s a very singles driven culture in the music industry, but if you make a solid album, I think it can go pretty far.
Musically, I just went with the vibe, son. Totally stole the background vocals through the Leslie idea. I dig this: