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Ummagumma Live

4.1 out of 5 stars 333 customer reviews

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Ummagumma
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Audio CD, Live, October 25, 1990
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Genre: Popular Music
Media Format: Compact Disk
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Release Date: 23-AUG-1988

Amazon.com

Released in 1969, Ummagumma represents where the influence of departed founding songwriter Syd Barrett began to fade in favor of the rather less whimsical and pastoral visions of Roger Waters. Ummagumma is a double album, divided into live and studio halves. The live cuts--"Astronomy Domine," "Careful with That Axe, Eugene," "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun," and "A Saucerful of Secrets"--established the Floyd's predilection for gloomily atmospheric and faintly preposterous sci-fi bombast that would turn them into such a successful stage act. The kindest that may be said of the studio compositions--by and large interminable avant-prog rambles in search of the lost chord--is that they haven't dated terribly well. --Andrew Mueller
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Live
  • Label: Capitol
  • ASIN: B000002UA5
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (333 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #203,309 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
The Amazon.com synopsis of "Ummagumma" is a little off, factwise; the part-live/part-studio "Ummagumma" was not the sole vision of bassist and, later, lead songwriter Roger Waters. It was in fact a group idea, sparked by the suggestion of keyboardist Richard Wright. With the studio album, each member was given half a vinyl side with which to experiment (key word), a move which some called self-indulgent, but it was no more self-indulgent than much of the Beatles' work (especially their films).
The live half of "Ummagumma" would be Pink Floyd's only official live release for nearly 20 years before 1988's "Delicate Sound of Thunder." The four selections are the ultimate document of Pink Floyd's psychedelic era, when they enjoyed playing live at smaller venues, as opposed to the arenas and stadiums of their post-"Dark Side of the Moon" days. Tracks that were already infinitely psychedelic in their studio parts are sent even further into space; 'Astronomy Domine' features an extended keyboard (or is it a mellotron?) solo, that brings a bit of beauty to an often spooky track, like the grim instrumental descent into insanity 'Careful With That Axe Eugene.' 'Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun' epitomized Pink Floyd's sound of the era, and the ominous 'A Saucerful of Secrets,' a conceptual instrumental about war, soars much higher than its studio version; David Gilmour's wordless vocal cries are much more emotional and powerful than they were before (and stronger than the version on the "Pink Floyd At Pompeii" film).
A late-70s "Encyclopedia of Rock" claimed that these live versions sounded "too close to the album versions." The writer obviously never listened to this album.
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Format: Audio CD
Pink Floyd's fourth (and first double) album entitled Ummagumma was released in November of 1969.
This double album is basically two albums in one package. The title of the album is an old Cambridgeshire slang term for a word I cannot use.
I first got this album as a Christmas present from my paternal grandmother whom unfortunately passed away on Valentine's Day 2004 on cassette (which, on the US version, was missing three live tracks present on the CD and LP issues) in 1987. Then, I first acquired on CD in August, 1991 with the full album (to hear the live tracks which were wrongly excised from the cassette).
The first disc is a live album that the band recorded at a club called Mothers in Birmingham, England and the Manchester College of Commerce in Manchester, England in April and June of 1969 respectively.
The first track is a wonderful, extended reading of "Astronomy Domine" this time featuring keyboard player Rick Wright singing the lower parts Syd originally sang and guitarist/singer David Gilmour singing the higher harmonies. The song is a great showpiece for David's excellent guitar work and Rick's fantastic keyboard work. Next is "Careful With That Axe Eugene" (deleted from the original US cassette issue) which is more sinister and longer than the hurried studio version with bass player/vocalist Roger Waters' demonic screaming and excellent drumming from drummer Nick Mason and excellent playing by Wright and Gilmour as well.
"Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun" (also deleted from the original US cassette issue) follows and buries the studio version once again featuring extra keyboard work by Rick whom was one of the best keyboard players in rock history (although unjustly overlooked) and Roger sang this track with more passion.
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Format: Audio CD
Released in 1969, this experimental album consisted of solo works by each member of the band along with a disc of live material. I think that of the pre-Dark Side of the Moon albums, this may be the most difficult to listen to for most folks, although I really do like this album and appreciate the fact that the band was experimenting with different approaches to composition. The lineup at this point included Rick Wright (organ, piano, mellotron, vocals); Roger Waters (bass, vocals); Nick Mason (drums and percussion); and David Gilmour (electric and acoustic guitars; vocals).

The solo works are quite different from one another with Rick's moody keyboard opus demonstrating his fondness for Stockhausen and featuring some very dissonant and atonal sections. Dave's piece was a bit more of a straightforward rock piece and very good, although he has been quoted as saying he did not like it very much. Nick's drum piece is excellent and demonstrates just how creative a drummer he was (and still is) - for those of you that are curious, his track is not just a drum solo, but a very interesting "sound collage" with drums. Roger's pieces range from the pastoral (Grantchester Meadows) to the downright bizarre (Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict). The latter piece is purely a sound collage, with little in the way of what one would regard as melody, harmony, etc. Still, it is interesting nonetheless.

The live disc is what I used to get excited about and features excellent versions of A Saucerful of Secrets and especially Careful with that Axe Eugene - the screams are positively hair-raising.
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