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Waters is so rich that if he wants some orange juice for breakfast
he buys a plantation first. So it probably doesn't bother him that his
concert memorabilia cost you an arm and a leg, if you want to have them
shipped into Europe.
In July 2017 some vigilant Pink Floyd fans remarked that Nick Sedgwick's
'top secret' book In The Pink could suddenly be found at the London
Their Mortal Remains exhibition. The forbidden book appeared out of the
blue, without an official announcement, and it was rumoured that there
were only a handful of copies around, some even claimed less than
twenty. (Read about it at: In
The Pink hunt is open!)
Luckily this wasn't true and copies could (and still can) be purchased
from Roger Waters' webshop. Unfortunately this is an America only
webshop, meaning that for a 30$ book you have to add a 26$ transport fee
to have it shipped to the ancient world. That is not all. Once the book
arrives in the European Union our friends from DHL need to pass it
through customs clearance. There is a silly amount of import duties to
be paid, something in the range of 1,50$, but the additional
administration fee is the tenfold of that. In the end the book nearly
triples in price before you can hold it in your hands. It wouldn't
surprise me if Roger Waters Music Overseas Ltd has some shares in the
transport mogul with the yellow red logo.
When Roger Waters wants to go hunting in Great Britain with his pals Eric
Clapton and Steve
Winwood, he hires a private jet for the day. Fine for me, but
opening a European webshop to financially help his hundreds of thousands
of fans is apparently way out of his league. It is a bit ambiguous for
someone who claims he writes his music for the people who are living at
the wrong side of capitalism. Probably he only means Palestinians.
Palestinians are good. Palestinians matter. I wonder if DHL charges less
if Palestinians order something from Waters' webshop.
OK. Fuck all that. This rant is over. It's time to stop and smell the
roses. Let's finally start with one of those spectacular Holy Church of
Iggy the Inuit reviews.
Writing about music is not easy, how do you describe a rock ‘n’ roll
lick to someone who isn’t familiar with the piece? Author Alain
Pire had a ‘for private use only’ playlist of the tracks he
dissected in his doctoral work 'Anthropologie
du Rock Psychédelique Anglais' (2011), that I could listen to
while I savoured his prose. Without this auditory companion his book
would’ve been less fun and just a quasi-nonsensical catalogue of 109
psychedelic tracks. (Read our review here: AnthropoLSD)
Perhaps that is why I put Rob
and other colours' lexicon (2015) aside after the first one hundred
pages or so. It felt like a cookbook to me, lots of recipes, but nothing
to eat. I should have the guts starting it all over again, this time
with YouTube at my side.
Actually, I’m not in the business any more of absorbing everything Floyd
related that is thrown at the fans. I bought Gilmour’s Pompeii
but there isn’t a single hair on my head thinking of ever putting it in
my Blu-Ray player (actually I don’t have a clue how to operate that
thing). My Russian friend Stanislav told me it is musically perfect, but
also soulless, and I value him enough to take his advice for granted.
Why another book about Pink Floyd, I hear you say and Kopp starts his
biography with the same question. According to the author the period
between the Floyd's debut to Dark
Side Of The Moon is a shadowy mess for the average fan, with a
wealth of gems that are often overlooked. I can only agree. Why this
average fan, who only knows Dark Side and The
Wall anyway, would suddenly be interested in the history of the
Floyd's earlier albums is still a mystery to me and Kopp can't answer
this either. Take me, for example, I have Hotel
California in my collection, but I don't feel temped to read a
biography about The 'early' Eagles.
But even I, crusty old dinosaur, can’t deny that with the publication of
The Early Years a lot of new material has seen the light of day, at
least officially, and that the previous
biography about the Floyd’s early days, the one from Barry
Miles, is already a decade overdue.
Dig That Hole
Every good biography claims to dig out something new and this is not
different for Reinventing Pink Floyd. At Yeeshkul
Bill Kopp unfolded his cunning plans, but I don't think that he
really found something earth-shattering. Interviewing Ron Geesin, Peter
Jenner, Jerry Shirley, John 'Willie' Wilson, Davy O'List and Steve Howe
is a great thing. Putting on your achievement list that you also
interviewed members of tribute bands and 'Syd superfan' Robyn Hitchcock
much less so. That's undervaluing your work before even starting it.
In the Why (Another Book About) Pink Floyd chapter the author starts by
giving his personal history of the band with some nice descriptions of
The Wall / The
Final Cut era, but he cuts a few corners too many. The Wall was
performed live in four cities, not three, as he pretends, forgetting
Dortmund. David Gilmour did not co-write the highly redundant Not
Now John, he merely sings most of the slightly insulting and easy
forgettable lyrics. Nick Mason only skipped drums for one track on The
Final Cut (he can hardly be heard on A Momentary Lapse Of Reason
though). Being careless in his statements is a repeating pattern and
Yeeshkul member Hallucalation has listed 11
factual errors for the first pages alone (but that man is a walking
It feels good to see the term ROIO
appear again although I fear only cassette tape traders will remember
what that was. Bill Kopp is an American author, so he is well aware of
the few Dark Side Of The Moon singles and uses the American version of A
Nice Pair that has a live version of Astronomy
Domine. (Here he cuts a corner again by claiming that Rick Wright
co-composed the track and that Harvest
was an American subsidiary of EMI.) His theory though, that Syd Barrett
may have lifted the intro from The
Electric Prunes song 'Are
You Lovin' Me More (But Enjoying It Less)', is a tempting one.
Julian Palacios already remarked the same thing in his 2010 biography
Dark Globe but I had forgotten about it.
Bricks In The Wall
Kopp's biography mainly consists of listing and analysing the songs of
each and every official album, one by one, from the Floyd's debut to
Dark Side. With The Early Years box-set as his companion he also
minutiously describes the early singles and demos, out-takes,
(alternative) live versions, movie tracks and others... The BBC radio
gigs, that can be found in a scandalously amateurish way in the Floyd
box, are also the subject of Kopp's very detailed dissection. Where The
Early Years set has some hiatuses he consults those bootlegs (sorry,
ROIO) that clearly show the evolution of several Floydian suites: Dark
Side Of The Moon, Echoes, Atom Heart Mother... you name it, he plays it.
Note: Over at Yeeshkul
Neonknight, and some of his accomplices, are working on the definitive
BBC radio compilation. So far quality greatly exceeds the one from the
'official' release, plus they seem to have unearthed some tapes Pink
Floyd Ltd. didn't know they even existed. It's still a work in progress,
It is in those detailed descriptions where the cookie crumbles, dear sistren
and brethren of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. What to make
of the following exposé at page 72 that I randomly picked:
Rick Wright's organ becomes a more central melodic element, and while
the reading contains its fair share of improvisation, there's a greater
musicality to the instrumental work. Gilmour elicits all manner of
otherworldly squeals from his guitar, while Waters turns in a hypnotic
bass line that displays the progress he has made as a player. A new,
stomping two-chord interlude has been introduced into the song, set
against a section in which Gilmour plays more atonal figures on guitar;
the call-and-response between the two sections serves both to heighten
tension and root the more abstract parts in a more conventional musical
Without knowing what song and performance this is about, this is the
kind of gibberish art critics put on catalogues of their newest fad.
Paragraphs like the above come thirteen in a dozen. (The song is Interstellar
Overdrive, by the way, played at the Beeb in December 1968.)
In my long career as a Floyd lover I have listened to a lot of Pink
Floyd early tours live tracks, and I remember some of those pretty well,
but some of Kopp's descriptions fly way above my head. As such the book
should only be consulted with the right track playing through your
digital audio player. I'm sorry, but I simply don't have the time for
One Of The Few
Now about the new spectacular things Bill Kopp found out. Actually it is
only one. Steve
Howe, from Tomorrow
(and about a million of spin-off-bands), once was asked to step in for
“One night we were playing somewhere else.” says Steve Howe. “I was
rushed to London to stand in for Syd. I was delighted; I love playing
with people I hadn't played with before.”
But once he arrived, he was met by Steve O'Rourke of Pink Floyd's
management team Blackhill Enterprises, who told him, “Well, thanks a
lot, but actually Syd's just about going to make it.” (P42.)
Did you catch the obvious error in the above, BTW? Like I previously
said, Bill Kopp likes to cut corners. (Solution.)
Update April 2017: According to Hallucalation, over at Yeeshkul,
the Steve Howe anecdote has been published before, on the liner notes of
Kopp is also pretty sure David Gilmour stepped in for Syd Barrett on at
least one December 1967 show, but fails to make this rumour hard. It has
been published before though, for instance in Glenn Povey's Echoes book
from 2007 where it is written that the evidence comes from Jimi
Hendrix's drummer Mitch
Mitchell (who claims that Gilmour may have been around for several
Pink Floyd shows). Apparently the public was most of the time so high
they never spotted the difference. If it is true, of course. Opinions
Things Left Unsaid
While Kopp gives very detailed reports of the Floyd's live tracks and
their studio counterparts, he is pretty fragmentary on all other
biographical subjects. The first American tour isn't mentioned at all
and Barrett's alleged drugs intake only gets a quick mention. While his
book wants to highlight the hidden musical gems from the band, there
isn't a word about the Hipgnosis
artwork that has been a part of the Floyd's mystery for decades. At the
other side there are some comparisons to American psychedelic groups,
Much of what Pink Floyd called 'John Latham' sounds like what the Dead
would call 'Space' or 'Drums' (P51).
His detailed dissection of Floyd tracks brings forward an interesting
theory about The
Committee. The soundtrack contains a mysterious anomaly on the first
piece of music, played backwards in the movie.
It features a most unusual mix of sounds: drums sound like Indian tabla,
guitars sound like sitars (or electric sitars), and the keyboard sounds
seem to be coming from an early modular synthesizer. It's worth noting
that none of these instruments had made an appearance on a Pink Floyd
recording previously, and none - save synthesizer - would in the near
So there is a big chance, according to Kopp, that this backwards 30
seconds track has been recorded by another group of musicians. Now who
recorded a lost twenty-minutes track for this movie, months before Pink
Floyd messed with it? None other than Syd Barrett, probably with
Brian 'Blinky' Davidson and Steve Peregrin Took. David Parker dug up the
EMI paperwork for this session in Random Precision. (Read all about it
Rhamadan – Committee Connection)
It is an interesting theory, to say the least. Kopp also pretends
Barrett's twenty minutes solo piece circulates amongst collectors, but
that's the first I have ever heard about that. Peter Jenner and Max
Steuer pretend not to have it in their archives and suspect the other
one to have ditched it. Unless, of course, it still resides in one of
Nick Masons' cupboards.
While Kopp is generally more argus-eyed than Hercule Poirot he surprised
me by not being aware of the Seabirds cock-up. In their ads for The
Early Years Pink Floyd Ltd. pretended to include an unreleased More
song, fans had been looking for for decades, called Seabirds. However,
these fans were unpleasantly surprised when they found out that the
Seabirds track in the collection was in fact another take on the
(from the same movie). The Pink Floyd management had to issue excuses,
but this was just another sign that the Floydian historians did a messy
and mediocre work while assembling the box. (See also: Supererog/Ation:
skimming The Early Years)
And so the book continues with surprising me on one, but disappointing
me on another page. On a concert on May 15th, 1970 in New Orleans, Roger
Waters had a throat problem and announced that 'Jude' would do the
screaming on Careful
With That Axe, Eugene. (And from Nick Sedgwick's autobiography we
know she could scream, see Roger
is always right.) This genuinely intrigues me, but that concert is
one I don't have on my 158 GB Pink Floyd bootleg folder (P139).
Trying to recover from that, Kopp doesn't seem to know, two pages later,
that David Gilmour also played the bass on Meddle's
Of These Days (P141).
Speak To Me
Actually, so I figured out while reading, this book isn't a biography
but an infomercial for The Early Years box. It's not that I didn't like
reading it but it omits too much biographical material to be of interest
for the 'average 'Pink Floyd fan. You know, those fans that don't know
what gems there are hidden in the Pink Floyd's pre-seventies catalogue.
The book clearly is written for people who already are aware of the
Floyd's history and their legacy. Pink Floyd is a legendary band and as
a NME journalist once described it:
The musicians go together like salt and vinegar on fish and chips - it
is that sort of tasteful relationship (P168).
This book has a lot of chips, salt and vinegar, but clearly not enough
fish. In my opinion it is very overpriced as well. But if you like
musical analysis and if you are a Floydian anorak and if
you think 35$ is not too much asked for a 200-pages book, be my guest
and grab it at your local book-store.
Many thanks to: Azerty, Hallucalation, Neonknight, Stanislav V. Grigorev. ♥
Libby ♥ Iggy ♥
Solution: Steve O'Rourke was Pink Floyd's legendary manager, but
after they quit Blackhill Enterprises, that was Peter Jenner and Andrew
King (with the rest of the band). Back to text.
Sources (other than the above mentioned links): Palacios, Julian: Syd
Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London, 2010, p. 207. Parker,
David: Random Precision, Cherry Red Books, London, 2001, p.
119-123. Povey, Glenn: Echoes, the complete history of Pink Floyd,
3C Publishing, 2008, p. 74.