Wishing I Wasn't Here Listening to "Wish You Were Here": Prog Review #4

Wishing I Wasn't Here Listening to "Wish You Were Here": Prog Review #4

Two Pink Floyd albums in the top five? Maybe I should have started from the bottom of the list.

Dark Side of the Moon (1973) has got a few good things going for it, but there’s nothing all that interesting on Wish You Were Here (1975). Like its predecessor, the production is fantastic. And, the more I listen to this album, the more I notice all the fine touches: the swelling synth-strings on the intro to “Shine on You Crazy Diamond", industrial flourishes and timpani on “Welcome to the Machine”, the creative panning on “Wish You Were Here”, the ambient noises linking each track, and the crisp guitar sound throughout. Lyrically, there’s some cohesion to these songs that provide a wry retrospective on the price of success; it's like a downer version of Rush's "Spirit of Radio"

That’s about all that I can say is great about this album. The songs are all so dull. And what a disappointment. I’ve tried to listen to this album in the past, before going through the Rolling Stone list, and I could never get through the first track. “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” plays on my local classic rock station all the time. I’ve often switched to the station and caught the intro and thought, “that’s really cool. The body of this song has gotta be great.” But after eight minutes of stray noodling and sustained chords, it gets old. They build so much anticipation into the relatively simple synth and slow blues guitar soloing, but all they’ve done is stretch out a mediocre classic rock tune into 13 minutes – TWICE, since the second half of the song closes out the album. That’s about 25 minutes out of a 45-minute album dedicated to a song with immense buildup and no payoff. Sure, there are a lot of cool instrumental parts, but it’s more-or-less the same thing over and over.

“Welcome to the Machine" has like two chords and a lot of ambient noise. Like everything else on here, it's fine at first, but I don't need it to go on half as long as it does. “Have a Cigar” and “Wish You Were Here” are just typical sounding blues rock and twangy classic rock tunes respectively, with some gratuitous synths. The crossover appeal of the latter track says a lot for the band’s ability to use prog stylings to their best advantage to jazz up their music. But at bottom, the whole album is just overly familiar, plodding, mid-tempo geezer rock that’s a drag to listen to. I’ve gone through this album at least six times in the last week, hoping to gather some idea of why it merits its place on the chart..

But I must confess: I simply don’t get high enough to appreciate some of these classic rock masterpieces (I’m looking at you The Doors).

Rolling Stone Rankings                       

#1: Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon
#2: King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King
#3: Rush - Moving Pictures
#4:
Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here

ASK Rankings

#1: Rush - Moving Pictures
#2: King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King
#3:
Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon
#4: Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here

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Sorting Through "Moving Pictures": Prog Review #3

Sorting Through "Moving Pictures": Prog Review #3