Fasten those headphones for Arnold Layne; See Emily Play; Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun; One of These Days; Echoes; Time; Money; Us and Them; Shine On You Crazy Diamond; Wish You Were Here; Sheep; Comfortably Numb , and more. On imported vinyl!
is a double-CD collection of some of Pink Floyd's best songs. It's also a fascinating document of the band's history. They began life as Syd Barrett
's phantasmagoric plaything before clasping the wings of Icarus and ascending toward the sun on an epic space-rock odyssey, eventually turning left once they reached the dark side of the moon and burning up on reentry, crash-landing on every earthlings' home hi-fi. And it's all here--30 years of the Floyd's awesome back catalog trimmed down to two handsome CDs. It's worth remembering that, despite a fondness for pyrotechnics, Pink Floyd were never a prog-rock band. Sure, some of their songs are a bit long, and they never released singles (at least not for 11 years), but the same could be said for Led Zeppelin
. Clinically devoid of the faux-classical overtures and vainglorious musicianship of that era, Pink Floyd were a pole apart; Meddle
's epic maritime tone poem "Echoes" remains the Floyd's apogee. But here, on this collection, "the albatross" which "hangs motionless upon the air" has had its wings clipped--seven full minutes are missing, but you'd never be able to tell. The sonar bleeps, the screeching seagulls, the howling winds are all retained, and whoever wielded the editorial axe, Eugene, did so carefully.
Interestingly, the album's nonchronological track listing works--the summery, childhood enchantment of "See Emily Play" is right next to the school discipline of "Happiest Days of Our Lives"--and at least this way no one will switch off when material from A Momentary Lapse of Reason comes around. Despite the curious omission of "Atom Heart Mother," this really is the very best of the Floyd--from the throbbing "One of These Days" to the pop operatic "Great Gig in the Sky" to the genius silvery fluidity of Dave Gilmour's guitar work. This is timeless, as many members of Sigur Rós, Radiohead, and the Beta Band will attest. --Kevin Maidment