Pink Floyd fans have been diminished to a bunch of pathetic wankers if you ask me. I know, I am one of them. We discuss the fact if Syd Barrett was having an Earl Grey or an Orange Pekoe tea on Sunday morning the 18th of November of the year 1967 and we are proud of that.
You slowly become a Pink Floyd wanker (PFW for short) when one realizes that the amount of Pink Floyd tribute CDs starts to become bigger than the volume of official Pink Floyd albums. Magazines with Pink Floyd on the cover make a pile higher than the house you are living in and you have just bought The Rough Guide To Pink Floyd only because you want to scrutinize it for possible errors.
Being a grumpy wanker de luxe I am fairly disappointed in Toby Manning's The Rough Guide To Pink Floyd, because it actually is a very fine book. I like it, damn! I like the air of blasphemous criticism it breathes throughout the text, the fine humour, the stabs at all the (past) members of the band. This is by no way a hagiography. Aren't there any errors, "Show me the errors!", I hear you scream. Well probably they are in there, but I have already forgotten them, so much fun I had by reading The Story section of book.
'Cause the book is divided in 3 segments: The Story, The Music and Floydology. The Story takes about half of the volume and is a very good read. The Music tries to delve inside the productive qualities of the Floyd members and this is where some favouritism creeps in. Finally.
Over the years we have had several Which One Is Pink wars. There are still people around who think that the post-Barrett-era band does not have the rights to the name Pink Floyd. Most of those bozos would never have heard of Syd Barrett anyway without the tributes that have been buried inside Dark Side of The Moon, Wish You Were Here or he Wall, so their claims are not to be taken too seriously.
Of more importance are the Waters versus Gilmour feuds. Toby Manning has a fine point when he writes that The Final Cut is a Roger Waters solo record disguised as a Floyd release, while The Pros And Cons Of Hitchhiking is in fact a 'Pink Floyd album in all but personnel'. He certainly has the right to his opinion that post-1986 Diet Floyd was a fine forgery of the classic original. However, I do not understand that the author selects only one representative track from the post-Waters-period: Richard Wright's lament Wearing The Inside Out. That track is, by definition, not representative for the post-Waters Floyd at all and if the slightly horrible The Post-War Dream, Your Possible Pasts and Not Now John made it into his Pink Floyd Top 50, I fail to see why One Slip, Sorrow, What Do You Want From Me or High Hopes have not been included as well.
But even if Toby Manning is an erring admirer of the opposite camp he has probably written the best book about the Floyd in ages. It can stand without shame next to Nicholas Schaffner's Saucerful Of Secrets (1991, already) and Nick Mason's Inside Out memories (2004).
Wanking one last time: the 18th November of the year 1967 wasn't a Sunday after all!
(This review appeared originally on Unfinished Projects : The Rough Guide To Pink Floyd.)