Colour me Blind
In 2002, a Scotsman with a UFO, sorry UAP, fixation logged into a bunch of military and NASA computers. This was, in the words of American justice, ‘the biggest military computer hack of all time’. The United States asked Great Britain for his extradition. In America, the chance existed that he would be sentenced to seventy years in prison, not a bright-looking future for a man in his thirties.
It took Gary McKinnon over a decade to win his fight with American (and British) justice, and during that period, several support events were held to help him (financially) with his battle.
David Gilmour recorded a charity single for McKinnon, a cover of Graham Nash’s Chicago. Chrissie Hynde saves the song, and it would have been excellent without Geldof's or Gilmour's vocals. It’s a bit of an uncoordinated mess and not something to be particularly proud of.
Producer Youth (Martin Glover) was asked to make a remix of the track, and David Gilmour recorded some uninspired guitar licks at Youth’s studio. It was then that Youth got the luminous idea of turning the song into an album. And not just any album, but an Orb album. Youth has been a friend (and business partner) of Orb founder LX Paterson since his Killing Joke days.
After some hesitations, David Gilmour agreed on the album, and Metallic Spheres was released in October 2010. Although an Orb album in name, it is my opinion that Alex Paterson’s influence was minimal, or at least not as inspired as on other Orb releases. To quote another fan:
The original was such a letdown. On paper, it sounded like a dream collaboration; on wax, it sounded like an afternoon jam session of ideas all chucked together to be worked on later. (Mark Lawton @ Facebook.)
Metallic Spheres in Colour
This year, a remix of the album was announced, called Metallic Spheres in Colour. For Pink Floyd buffs, this is not a remix in the Floydian tradition where albums like Animals and A Momentary Lapse get a much-needed cleaning up. It is a remix in the Orbian tradition where, if you have some luck, a snippet of the original release can be recognised.
In other words, this is a completely new album; it is brilliant, and the fact that it has even less Gilmour than before has all to do with it.
Part one, Seamless Solar Spheres of Affection, is a great re-interpretation of the source material.
Part two, Seamlessly Martian Spheres of Reflection, is the kind of ambient The Orb premiered in the late eighties. If you are into this kind of music, you are in for a treat; otherwise, it will pester you like a lingering toothache.
Kind of a funny remark for the dorks amongst us. The first Metallic Spheres was issued as The Orb featuring David Gilmour; the 2023 remix changed that to The Orb and David Gilmour. (There is also a promo CD with the politically incorrect The Orb vs. Dave Gilmour, which really must have angered good old Fred.)
Colour me Dark
What is this rubbish?
What does Pink Floyd think we’re thinking?
Why release a fifth CD remaster of Dark Side of the Moon that sounds identical to all others?
To quote Ramenastern:
Wikipedia lists: 1979 remastered Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, 1992 Shine On Remaster (also released as standalone in 1993), 2003 30th anniversary remaster, 2011 remaster, 2023 remaster.
So that's five now. That's not including multichannel masters and mixes. (Ramenastern @ Reddit.)
The Dark Side of the Moon is no fucking Dash washing powder, is it? Sounding whiter than white...
Check out this summary by NO TIME TO ROCK: Is Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon a TIMELESS CLASSIC or is it PLAYED OUT?
Link for recalcitrant breowsers: Is Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon a TIMELESS CLASSIC or is it PLAYED OUT?
Colour me Grey
That there is a slight communication problem between Roger Waters and David Gilmour is a well-known fact. When he first announced he was going to reimagine Floyd’s 1973 masterpiece with the wisdom of an 80-year-old, most people thought he had finally become bonkers.
The Dark Side of the Moon Redux is partially a spoken word album, basically replacing the instrumental parts with long-winding, not always coherent, ramblings. This is not the first time Waters surprised us with a spoken word record. The 2004 single To Kill the Child/Leaving Beirut foreshadowed that. I don’t remember that single as being particularly memorable.
What to think about it all? The Redux floats between the brilliant (Us and Them) and the slightly exhausting (Money). The hits, so to speak, are beautifully rendered with minimalistic instrumentation and with a Tom Waits-like raspy voice. I imagine Roger Waters sitting behind a piano in a cocktail bar, while Polly Samson is sipping from a daiquiri and yapping loudly to drown out the music. In other tracks, it feels like Waters is his own tribute band, mimicking the jazz-lounge tunes of Air covering Pink Floyd.
It’s the kind of experiment only Waters can accomplish, but I guess once is enough. Nobody will ask for a spoken word record of Wish You Were Here. He would be capable of reciting his shopping lists over the instrumental Shine On parts.
As a Pink Floyd fan who only listens to Dark Side once in a blue moon, this is an essential record to have, but not really to listen to regularly. I’ll stack it next to the Ca Ira opera and the spoken word (again!) rendition of Stravinsky’s The Soldier Tale.
Colour me Blue
Pink Floyd über-fans are such an elitist lot. I know I’m one of those as well. But I don’t understand why some of them loathe the solo records because they don’t have the same standards as the three, four, or five Pink Floyd big ones. (I even like the Mason + Fenn album Profiles.)
One of those is Rick Wright’s Wet Dream, which appeared in 1978. It went nearly unnoticed when it was released, but my favourite rock radio show (in Belgium) gave it plenty of airplay, often coupled with Gilmour’s first from that same year.
Zee is regarded as cult nowadays (see our review at: Are friends Zeelectric?) and Wet Dream has been heading the same way. I always found Wet Dream a fine album, with its scarcely hidden Shine-On-You-Crazy-Diamond-ish style and mood. It probably is my most liked (and certainly most played) solo album from the boys.
Just take the opener, Mediterranean C, for instance. This is Floyd pur sang and would have found its rightful place on Wish You Were Here or the slightly underrated Obscured by Clouds.
Cat Cruise is 33 seconds longer than in the original version; Waves even 52 seconds. The album follows the path of Gilmour’s first, which was also about a minute and a half longer in its remastered version.
The Steven Wilson remix, as about everybody agrees on, is pretty terrific, giving the instruments more place without destroying the original mood of the album.
Get it and enjoy this forgotten album. It might grow into a classic.
Blu-ray version (Update: 2023 12 16)
After having travelled by carrier pigeons all over the entire world, the Blu-ray version of Wet Dream finally arrived at Atagong Mansion. It contains several superfluous postcards and a 10-page fold-out leaflet with some new pictures and the original cover art. By the way, do you know who the nipple belongs to that can be seen on that Hipgnosis cover? (Answer at the bottom of this post.)
The Blu-ray has the album in a 2023 Dolby Atmos mix, a 5.1 surround mix, and a 24-bit high-res stereo mix. All mixes that make audiophiles go crazy, but frankly, I can’t be bothered. But - what a nice surprise - it also contains the original 1978 stereo version.
The other extras are instrumental versions of the four tracks with lyrics. These are the songs with the vocals stripped off, and as such, they sound a bit meagre and repetitive. It’s somewhat interesting for anoraks but doesn’t add to Wright’s legacy - quite the contrary.
Remember A Day
This isn’t the first time a Rick Wright song got the ‘instrumental’ treatment. In the 2000 bio-hysterical movie Remember A Day, which every Syd fan should at least watch once, not for its cinematographic merits but for its abundance of Floydian cameos, the credits have an instrumental version of Rick’s Remember A Day song.
That version was initially promoted as a rare alternative take of the Rick Wright song. Fans soon found out that it was merely a remix of the song, with the instrumental parts stitched together and the sung parts left out. You can listen to it here: Remember A Day.
The Wet Dream Blu-ray also has a pretty nice photo gallery and a couple of home videos with the surprise appearance of a certain Pink Floyd guitarist.
The Nipple Theory
To answer the question above, the model on the Wet Dream original artwork was Aubrey 'Po' Powell’s partner Gabi Schneider. This titbit was revealed by journalist Mark Blake, who wrote the biographies Pigs Might Fly and Us and Them. Gabi can also be seen on the back covers of 10CC’s Bloody Tourists and Wishbone Ash’s Front Page News.
Many thanks to: Mark Blake, Mark Lawton, NO TIME TO ROCK, Ramenastern.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥