on September 26, 2003
Reportedly, Pink Floyd themselves don't think very highly of their 1970 album, "Atom Heart Mother," aka "The Cow Album," with the band members on record having especially dismissed the 24-minute instrumental title suite, as well as the 13-minute instrumental-with-sound effects finale, "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast," as "absolute rubbish." Which leads me to one conclusion: artists are WAY too hard on themselves. The reality is, Pink Floyd have *nothing* to be ashamed of for this fine disc. I've always loved "Atom Heart Mother," and it still remains one of my personal favorite Floyd albums. By this time, Pink Floyd had gotten even more experimental with their music, and, having been influenced at the time by the "symphonic rock" leanings of such contemporaries as The Who, The Kinks and Deep Purple, the Floyd decided to take a crack at it themselves, and came up with their instrumental magnum opus, "Atom Heart Mother," co-written with avant-garde composer Ron Geesin, who had previously worked with bassist Roger Waters on the film soundtrack to "The Body." The main section of this big classical/rock hybrid sounds like music for a western movie (which guitarist David Gilmour says was the original idea), decorated throughout with odd string & brass flourishes, occasional changes in tempo, and haunting choir voices (courtesy of the John Aldiss Choir). There's also an excellent funky little Floyd jam right smack in the middle ("Funky Dung"), and another section for experimental sounds & effects ("Mind Your Throats Please"). Does it all hold together? To MY ears, definitely. I think the music is very captivating, with the band delivering a top-notch performance (including some very strong guitar & keyboard work from Gilmour and Richard Wright, respectively), and Geesin's grand orchestrations and choir parts only enriching this daring work even further. The "Atom Heart Mother" suite may not be for everybody, but I think it's very powerful stuff. And, if nothing else, it's outstanding "practice" for the band's next epic piece, "Echoes," destined for release on the Floyd's next album, "Meddle."The mid-section of the album's sandwich is comprised of three songs: Waters' beautiful "If," truly one of his best--and most personal--songs, Wright's golden contribution, "Summer '68," and Gilmour's acoustic sparkler, "Fat Old Sun." Finally, there's "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast," a three-part instrumental that's interspersed with the sounds of a guy eating breakfast and muttering to himself ("Marmalade, I like marmalade..."). One part piano, one part acoustic guitar, and one part rock piece, combined with sound effects so crisp and clear you can practically *smell* Alan's bacon & eggs on the grill, this track is just as bold as the epic title cut. It's arguably my favorite piece on the album, if only because it's so endearingly weird.As far as I'm concerned, Waters, Gilmour, Wright, and drummer Nick Mason shouldn't have a cow anymore about this album: "Atom Heart Mother" is a great Pink Floyd classic.
on June 29, 1999
While many consider Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall as the pinnacle of the Pink Floyd enigma, Atom Heart Mother was the album that, while retaining the wash of Sixties psychedelia, began to experiment with themes and concepts. The title track, intended originally as the theme for a western, is a massive undertaking of production and arrangement. Though it sounds sloppy by today's standards, for 1970 it was far ahead of its time. It moves through the various sections seamlessly, creating a mood of temporal dislocation. The cello parts are particularly fascinating-this is the only piece of music that has ever made me cry, it was just too beautiful to stand. Images of earthen pleasures and astral journeys to where stars have no names, this song represents an extraordinary talent for leaving the right spaces between the notes. "If", the second track, offers an almost pure and innocent look at the fear of oncoming madness ( a fear which would be later realized). The song is very laid back and touching. "Summer `68" is somewhat cheesy at times, though the trumpet sections are full of repentant anguish at succumbing to the pleasures of flesh (a groupie). Very bouncy, but still manages to be dark and Floydian. "Fat Old Sun" is my favorite of this album. Though badly recorded and mixed, the images of freedom in childhood, blissful endless summer where the twilight is eternal is about as mellow as you get. The guitar solo at the end is killer (listen to the bass line-its one of Water's best). "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" is kind of silly, though the voice of Alan making breakfast on morning glory seeds is just perfect. The song is somewhat rushed, but the last segment, Morning Glory, is fantastic. Can't even describe the feeling it gives me. Although flawed at times, Atom Heart Mother still stands as one of the most innovative albums ever written. The ultimate psychedelic fantasy.
I've been a Pink Floyd fan for years and track down all their obscure stuff just like every other fan. This album usually falls through the cracks when Pink Floyd's massive canon of work is reviewed. Too bad, because this album is truly groundbreaking.
Listen to such magic as Summer of 68, which uses some nice horn work. The title track is a sprawling opus mixing classical, rock and funk with great effect. My all-time favorite is Fat Old Sun, which just might be the best PF song ever. The guitar track in this song is quite simply mindblowing. Even better then Comfortably Numb, in my opinion. The album is rounded out by the acoustic beauty of If and the fun Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast, which has great percussion work by Nick Mason.
Any serious Floyd aficianado already has this album, but budding fans need to pick it up. Besides, you newbies have to give yourself a break from The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon, anyway!
on April 26, 2000
Among my first Pink Floyd albums were Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall, and Animals. Once I listened to this album, I was astonished that I had never heard of it before.
I would almost rate this album to be better than The Wall (by far their best album, and in my opinion, the most incredible created of all time) but it would have to be much longer (if it was a double-cd album, I'd have a much harder decision!).
Still, this is plenty long. With only 5 songs, it weighs out at over 52 minutes! The first song alone is 23 minutes long! You will, as I have, fall in love with these songs - "Fat Old Sun" and "Summer of '68" are some of my favorite songs of all time.
If you've heard other Pink Floyd, such as Ummagumma or Meddle, you may have heard a very abstract form of Pink Floyd (synthesizers and songs that almost drain on, sounding more like sounds than written music). This album takes a step away from that with some of the most musical PF on any cd.
I own every single Pink Floyd album ever created, and this is probably my 2nd favorite. I strongly urge you to buy a copy, it is necessary for any classic rock fan!
on May 27, 2000
Sorry if I misquoted the reviewer below, but how can anyone put down early Pink Floyd like that? The Wall and all of the following albums simply lacked the creativity of the older years. Even Dark Side of the Moon is getting less interesting (The only time I still listen to it is with Wizard of Oz). To insult early Floyd as the reviewer below did is completely ridiculous. Atom Heart Mother is a wonderful example of the CREATIVE AND AMAZING WORKS OF EARLY POST-DRUG(Syd Barrett) PINK FLOYD. The title track is an epic triumphant piece, fusing classical music and vintage Floyd to create an unforgettable song. The slide guitar in "If" is memorable, as well as the lyrics. "Summer '68" is all around excellent, especially the brass section, "Fat Old Sun" is a wonderful lazy song with an excellent guitar solo, and "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast", although many consider it to be a novelty track, includes some very fine melodies, some extremely similar to their later works (Meddle, etc.). So it is on that note that I spit in the face of the reviewer below. Sell your copy of The Wall, buy Atom Heart Mother, and listen to it with pride.
on September 17, 2000
Reading one particular review below, I became infuriated. This ignorant reviewer stated that, in so many words,'one has to be under the influence'to like this album. What the hell's your damage man? This album is gorgeous, and is my second favorite Floyd album(Meddle being my first). I could outline the entire album for you, but I won't. Instead, I'll tell you about the best track, in my humble opinion, on this record. Alan's psychedelic breakfast is remarkable. The beginning a)rise and shine is a stunning opening for this brilliant piece of music, but the main point of focus in this review are parts b)Sunny Side Up and c)Morning Glory. As rise and shine subsides, and Sunny side Up begins, this song enters into a totally awesome guitar piece, played by the great David Gilmour. Beautiful accoustics. Around four minutes later,this ends and Morning Glory begins. Morning Glory(part c of Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast) is my favorite part of this song. The truly unique thing about morning glory is that, as each "verse"(pardon the term) of an instrument ends, another instrument is added into the mix. Listen to this album, seriously.
The afore-mentioned reviewer knows nothhing of Pink Floyd. He/She fits into the category of people that own Dark Side and The Wall and possibly Wish you were Here. This is not a true fan of Pink Floyd. The reviewer probably couldn't even tell you who Nick Mason is, without consulting the his/her cd booklet. Don't be influenced by this reviewer's opinion. For that matter, don't be influenced by mine. Buy this album and decide for yourself. I promise you won't regret it!
on May 29, 2002
Not only is Atom Heart Mother a superb reflection of Pink Floyd's innovative nature, but it also contains some absolutely brilliant music. It would be wrong to call this a "prog rock" album as that immediately puts the band into a category with ELP and friends, which seems silly when you look at the scope of Floyd's music, which goes well beyond the confines of quasi-classical pomp rock. Pink Floyd represent the good side of progressive music. The side which is a progressive embrace of the arts rather than just a dismissive pigeon-hole.
Atom Heart Mother opens with a sprawling epic, which encompasses everything from funk to classical, from dissonant keyboard experiments to soaring guitar and organ duals between Dave and Rick. In typically off-the-wall-and-out-of-the-window fashion the band employed avant garde' composer Ron Geesin and crafted an orchestrated masterpiece around a brilliant collection of themes, melodies, rhythms and timeless Gilmour soloes. The composition exceeds twenty three minutes and is divided into six parts (all of which, it appears, are about cows) including the cannily titled "Mind your throats please". It may not be the most accessable album opener but it can't be over-emphasised how GOOD this piece is.
On the second side Roger's obscure genius shines on the subtle ballad "If", with lyrics which ponder on the inexplainable flaws of humans and the threat of madness ("If I go insane, please don't put your wires in my brain").
"Summer '68", Rick's bouncey pop song, has an irresistable rhythmic drive and and a wonderful clashing of horns, acoustic strumming and great piano playing.
Dave's graceful "Fat old sun" is one of the best songs in the history of the world, topped off with a real diamond of a guitar solo.
Running on surprisingly long for a 1970 album, ATM continues with the dodgy three part instrumental "Alan's psychedelic Breakfast". The daft but amusing sound effects and some pleasant guitar and keyboard noodlings make the first two sections highly enjoyable but the piece really gets going with the uplifting jam at the end.
All-in-all this is a must have album for Floyd fans and, if you're feeling adventurous, not a bad place to start for new-comers interested in the pre-darkside Floyd. It's a long way from radio friendly but a person with good taste should recognise this as one of the most creative albums of all time whether they already like the band or not (and Pink Floyd were very much a band in 1970).
on June 17, 2006
This British band was to be more influential than anybody dared thought in 1965 when they formed as The Pink Floyd, under the leadership of a certain Mr Syd Barrett in Cambridge, England. They evolved from numerous bands from the area, including Leonard's Lodgers, The Abdabs and The Tea Set, and changed their name to just `Pink Floyd' in 1968 when Syd had gone.
The first album to appear was the quintessential Sixties psychedelic rock album The Pipers At The Gates Of Dawn (1967), which was mainly Syd Barrett written, and is still wonderful to listen to today. It reached Number Seven in the British album charts.
The second album A Saucerfull of Secrets (1968) was a difficult album for the band, as Syd by then had gone, not literally gone as in disappeared, but gone as in, his head was definitely somewhere but no longer on this planet. David Gilmour had become a member of Pink Floyd and for a while Pink Floyd was a quintet, but Syd became impossible and they were down to four again. Syd Barrett only appears on three of the songs on the album, but Gilmour only gets a writing credit on the title track.
Album Number Three was a soundtrack for the movie More (1969) and is a marvellous album, but it was recorded in 5 sessions over a period of 8 days and was, after all, only meant to accompany the movie. Nonetheless, it peaked at Number 9 in the British charts.
Fourth album out the traps was an ambitious double album affair: Ummagumma. One album was recorded live whilst the other contained four solo sections from each member of the band. The live album contained three songs written whilst Syd Barrett was in the band plus the title track from the second album. Whilst the second album is extremely adventurous, it's not really a band thing. But again the album was a huge hit in the U.K., reaching Number 7, whilst in America it was the first Pink Floyd album to break into the Top 100.
So with this rather patchy if successful album track record behind them, what did the band come up with for their fifth album? Atom Heart Mother (1970). Well it's a bit hard to describe really. The first track is the title piece taking up 24 minutes; it's an amazing collection of musical themes in a classical arrangement (this is why at first it was known as the Amazing Pudding. Get it. Collection=Pudding. The Amazing Pudding is still the name of Pink Floyd's most famous fan club). The band had various riffs and themes, but hadn't really put it all together, and with an imminent American tour coming up and a recording contract to fill, with the band not really in agreement what should be done, they brought in mutual friend Ron Geesin - the avante garde producer.
Roger Waters and Nick Mason went in the studio to lay out a rough rhythm section for him, which was a bit ragged as both were a little tired, so it speeds up in some places and rather alarmingly slows down at others. With this the band clears off to America leaving Ron Geesin with the instructions to over lay something grand; you know, heavenly choirs, brass fanfares, whatever you like really, get on with it Ron we're all rather busy actually. Oh, have it ready for us when we come back in June, etc.
So completely without supervision Ron Geesin took Pink Floyd's rough rhythm track and turned it into a musical masterpiece, bit of luck really.
When the members of Floyd got back from tour they were well impressed, so they decided not to bother re-recording the bass and drums. But Gilmour and Wright went back into the studios to lay some mercurial guitar and keyboard solos onto our Atom Heart Mother.
The piece is broken up into six sections, but it all gels perfectly into a whole. Gilmour and Wright really come out of the closet with their dynamic soloing, whilst all of Geesin's work fits perfectly with the band.
The brass section riffs are monstrous, whilst the violin playing is executed with total abandon. The choir is in fine voice, especially with its forerunner to Tubular Bells voices that rampage through the closing sections. The SoundBits are also tastefully used with a motorbike roaring away with the band and orchestra when they first come in together. As the music builds to a false climax towards the end a voice booms out, "Here is a loud announcement" whilst at the musical climax another voice calls for "Silence in the studio" to no avail. With time constraints, touring, and Ron Geesin only coming in half way through, everything was against it being a classic, but it is.
The other four tracks are also little gems, but in their own special way. Again not much band cohesion. But maybe they just worked better this way. The next song is a lovely Roger Waters song called If, showing Waters' ever increasing interest in the human brain. Gilmour supplies some exquisite electric guitar to accompany Waters' acoustic guitar and vocals.
The lyrics are amongst Waters' most uncomplicated (like later when he tried to educate us all with `The Wall' in 1979).
`If I were a swan I'd be gone,
If I were a Train I'd be late,
And if I were a good man,
I'd talk to you more often then I do.
If I were asleep I could dream,
If I was afraid I could hide,
if I go insane,
Please don't put wires in my brain.
Richard Wright's contribution, Summer 68, is a nod to the past, showing off unashamedly its Syd Barrett influences, with its catchy chorus and mid tempo verses, all tied up with some rollicking barrel house piano, and the return of the brass section at the conclusion. David Gilmour then contributed Fat Old Sun, a wonderful little dirge that is a complete rip off of The Kinks song released the previous year as Lazy Old Sun, but that does not make it a bad song, and anyway Ray Davies never sued.
The last piece on the album is exactly what it says it is, Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast. The song's title refers to one Alan Stiles of Pink Floyd's road crew in the Sixties and early Seventies. What you get is the sounds of Alan getting up in the morning and coming downstairs to cook his breakfast, all rather noisily, with the band jamming some breakfast type themes over the top in places. Often they just leave Alan scratching away solo. A rather odd end to the album, but as with the rest of the music, rather effective.
Atom Heart Mother was released at the back end of 1970 and was the first Pink Floyd album to top the British charts, and crack the American top fifty. So job well done. Mind you when Pink Floyd released their greatest hits double CD Echoes in all its one hundred and fifty minutes, they could not even find time for one little excerpt from this album. The cow pictured on the front cover of this album is called Lulubelle the third. I hope she got her royalties all right, because for a little while there, she was the most famous cow in the world.
Mott the Dog.
on December 1, 1999
I noticed that AHM is listed as an "Amazon Essential" recording. If you're new to Pink Floyd, make sure you get Meddle, Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, and The Wall before picking this one up.
It's certainly an *interesting* album, but I don't think you'll find anyone who thinks you should get this before WYWH (which, according to Amazon, is not an essential). You'll note that AHM is not included in the "Shine On" box set...
Released in 1970, this excellent album showed the band developing the symphonic approach to their music that they started exploring on A Saucerful of Secrets (1968) and brought to its fullest expression on Wish you Were Here (1975). However, the experimental tendencies that characterized their music of the 1960's were also present too, albeit in the form of found sounds rather than bizarre effects generated on the electric guitar and other electronic manipulations.
The lineup at this point is the classic incarnation of Pink Floyd and included Roger Waters (bass, vocals); David Gilmour (electric/acoustic guitars, vocals); Rick Wright (Hammond organ, piano, mellotron); and Nick Mason (drums). Joining the band for the first time however, was a choir and a full symphony orchestra (including a ten piece brass ensemble) that was initially directed by Ron Geesin (who would also collaborate with Roger on The Body - 1970). Ron however, cracked under the pressure and the orchestra was eventually directed by John Aldiss. Syd fans may want to take note of the fact that he (Syd Barrett) apparently wandered into the studio during the recording sessions.
The nearly 24 minute multimovement suite Atom Heart Mother is one of my favorite lengthy compositions by Pink Floyd (along with Echoes and Shine on you Crazy Diamond). This is a fantastic work that opens with a plodding gloomy theme that Dave referred to as a "theme from an imaginary western". The addition of an orchestra; loads of brass and the choir add quite a lot to its epic, sweeping grandeur. Although the band members have been quoted as saying that they did not care for this track that much, I think it is just fantastic. The other "half" of this album (I used to own this on vinyl) consists of Roger's pastoral, acoustic track If, with great spacey Hammond work from Rick; Rick's adventurous piano-led Summer 68', which (somewhat) restates themes from Atom Heart Mother, complete with the brass sections; Dave's soft acoustic and spacey piece Fat Old Sun; and finally, the other epic on the album Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast (13'00"). This last composition is a collage of found sounds encountered in the kitchen while making breakfast (dripping water, a match being struck, frying food etc) that are alternated with loosely played sections by the band. Again, this was another piece that the band did not care for every much, indicating that it was more or less "thrown together", but something that I like very much.
The reissued CD is actually very nice and features a re-designed booklet by none other than Storm Thorgerson along with the original lyrics.
This album is significant in that the elements of the classic Pink Floyd sound were finally in place. Very highly recommended along with Meddle (1971). Before I forget, The Amazing Pudding was the original working title for Atom Heart Mother.