Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd
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Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd
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Audio, Cassette, Box set, Limited Edition, November 20, 2001
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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!
Echoes 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
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After listening to the compilation roughly 4-5 times, I eventually developed an appreciation for it - especially in the car on the way to work. Unfortunately, I can't listen to this through headphones - for that, I will listen to the original albums. I have found that in the intimate setting of listening to music through headphones, the track sequence is a bit jarring. In fact, the sequencing of tracks ranges from horrid to inspired - I just wish the compilers had studied the beginning and end of each track a bit more.
I also have slight problems with the fact that the compilers crudely gutted roughly 7 minutes out of the (originally) 23-minute Echoes (from Meddle, 1971) and that tracks from Obscured by Clouds (1972), Atom Heart Mother (1970), Ummagumma (1969), and More (1969) are not included. I also realize now how 1980s sounding the material from A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) is - the 80s "cheesiness" is heightened when placed next to their classic, 1970s material.
On the bright side, the sequence is a new presentation of the music of Pink Floyd which I found refreshing. For example, I have listened to the Dark Side of the Moon album something like 1,000 times since first hearing it on 8-track around 1979, so hearing the tracks in a different context was kind of cool. Although the 1967 - 1994 timeframe is covered, the 1971-1979 period is emphasized, which was a creative peak. As far as seldom heard tracks go, "When the Tigers Broke Free" (an outtake from The Wall ) is included here (not to mention the 2004 reissue of The Final Cut ). This addition might be nice for people that are new to the group.
Speaking of people that are new to the group, I think it bears mentioning that Pink Floyd was never, nor will they ever be, considered a "greatest hits" kind of group - in fact, I find the title of this compilation to be ridiculous. The music of Pink Floyd, whether intentionally or not, lends itself to be listened to one album at a time, in their entirety, and in an intimate setting - maybe with a few friends (do people do this anymore?).
The sound quality and packaging is great. The liner notes include information about each track, so if you love the epic track Echoes, you will want to go out and grab Meddle.
All in all, this may be the best Pink Floyd compilation out there and should be a good starting point for people that are just getting into Pink Floyd. This covers the span of their studio albums, with an emphasis on material released during the height of their powers. Recommended studio albums for newbies who just want to take the plunge include: Meddle, Obscured by Clouds (1972), Dark Side of the Moon (1973), Wish you were Here (1975), Animals (1977), and The Wall (1979).
Running from the early days of "See Emily Play" to older material like, "High Hopes", the absolute best is here with few exceptions. Half of "Dark Side Of The Moon" and "Wish You Were Here" are represented here as well. Pink Floyd has always been noted for being an 'album' recording group with very few singles until the later years. Also well known for thier concerts, the double CD, "Pulse" sold millions.
This set does not track from inception to end like most collections, but rather mixes the songs up non-chronologically making for a more appreciative listen. The only gripe this author has is the quick cut at the ends of songs instead of a slow 'fade-out'. It can be jarring. However, it is not so bad that some of the originally longer songs have been shortened. Only hard-core fans will notice the edits (i.e. "Echoes").
The liner notes are fairly all-inclusive with some fun information and album shots. It's a great collector box for those who don't wish to buy all the Pink Floyd recordings - but that wouldn't hurt.