A Saucerful of Secrets
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A Saucerful of Secrets
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The band’s second album, originally released in 1968, was the first album to feature David Gilmour who replaced Syd Barrett on guitar and vocals. The new Discovery version presents the original studio album, digitally remastered by James Guthrie and reissued with newly designed Digipak and a new 12 page booklet designed by Storm Thorgerson.
The ‘Discovery’ collection: 14 Remastered Studio Albums
Since 1967 Pink Floyd have produced one of the most outstanding and enduring catalogues in the history of recorded music. All 14 original Studio albums have now been painstakingly digitally remastered by James Guthrie (co-producer of The Wall), and are reissued with newly crafted packaging and booklets created by the band’s long-time artwork collaborator Storm Thorgerson.‘Discovery’ albums are designed as an introduction to the artist, with all booklets including full album lyrics.
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Put side one on, crank up the volume and blast "Let there be more light" and your life is now complete
The lineup at this point included new member (and old friend) David Gilmour (electric and acoustic guitars; vocals); Rick Wright (mellotron, piano, organ, and vocals); Roger Waters (bass guitar, vocals); Nick Mason (drums and percussion); and on Jugband Blues/Remember a Day, Syd Barrett (vocals, electric guitar; slide guitar). Although Dave was never comfortable with his vocals skills at this point, I think he does a great job, as do all of the other members including Rick and Roger. Dave was a little bemused by what his new bandmates were asking him to do with his guitar, and he found himself playing the instrument with pieces of wood, and making other odd noises. The musical influences present on this album clearly indicate that the band was entering new territory and even Rick Wright started exploring his Stockhausen influences a bit further (especially on A Saucerful of Secrets). As a side note, the band was using a quadraphonic sound setup during this early stage and surrounding their audience with the music, which was yet another nod to avant-garde electronic composers; in this instance the reference was to Edgar Varese.
Musically, this album is a bit removed from the excellent debut album, and is a little darker in mood (if that can be imagined). The album shows the band delving further into the electronic soundscapes that they would develop further over the next few years. I think that the lengthy (11'57") A Saucerful of Secrets suite is an excellent example of this and brings together avant-garde electronic experimentation, Rick Wright's "celestial" and spacey organ chords with tiny modulations, and large scale form into one place. Large scale composition is something that would develop further during the 1970s, and on this suite there is good use of dynamic range, and varying moods throughout. There is also the meditative and somewhat menacing Water's piece Set the Controls for the heart of the Sun and two nice spacey psychedelic pieces loaded with mellotron by Rick Wright including Remember a Day and my personal favorite See Saw. Corporal Clegg marks the beginning of Roger Water's increasing focus on his father's death in the war and features (I think) a few riffs on the guitar from Syd. The truly odd track on the album is Syd Barretts' Jugband blues, which is a chaotic mix of the Salvation Army Band (he told them to play whatever they felt like playing), kazoo, and his penchant for asymmetric and surreal lyrics. This would prove to be his last studio performance with the group.
All in all, A Saucerful of Secrets is regarded by many folks as a weaker sophomore effort, although I feel that this is a pretty important album that demonstrates the direction the band would head in. Highly recommended along with Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967); More (1969); Ummagumma (1969); Atom Heart Mother (1970); and Meddle (1971).