Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd

Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd

Mark Blake

Language: English

Pages: 448

ISBN: 0306817527

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Mark Blake draws on his own interviews with band members as well as the group’s friends, road crew, musical contemporaries, former housemates, and university colleagues to produce a riveting history of one of the biggest rock bands of all time. We follow Pink Floyd from the early psychedelic nights at UFO, to the stadium-rock and concept-album zenith of the seventies, to the acrimonious schisms of the late ’80s and ’90s. Along the way there are fascinating new revelations about Syd Barrett’s chaotic life at the time of Piper at the Gates of Dawn, the band’s painstaking and Byzantine recording sessions at Abbey Road, and the fractious negotiations to bring about their fragile, tantalizing reunion in Hyde Park.

Meticulous, exacting, and ambitious as any Pink Floyd album, Comfortably Numb is the definitive account of this most adventurous—and most English—rock band.

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art was frequently erratic but often yielded results. To the frustration of others, Syd spent more time painting in his back garden than in the college, but, with an assessment looming, would show up at the last 25 26 COMFORTABLY NUMB possible moment with a masterpiece. ‘One minute his pictures would be figurative, the next abstract,’ recalls John Gordon. ‘He was always experimenting, trying out different styles. Somewhere I have a blackand-white photo I took in his back garden of Syd

the sessions. ‘My memories are different from Norman’s,’ he says now. ‘Syd was clearly the band’s main creative force, and I thought he was fantastic. When I was asked to do the sessions I went to see Floyd play live, and I was absolutely amazed. It was so fresh and exciting; I hadn’t heard anything like it. Norman would have been directing them in the best way for that stuff to sound good on record. So perhaps there were things he said that challenged their way of thinking.’ A STRANGE HOBBY

were going, “National Insurance?” The live market was also drying up for the Floyd. We weren’t such an easy sell any more. We hadn’t had another hit, so we couldn’t play the pop clubs, [and] the blues clubs wouldn’t have us any more. 101 102 COMFORTABLY NUMB Which just left the college gigs and there weren’t that many and we’d played them all.’ A disillusioned Peter Wynne-Willson quit his role as the band’s lighting tech at the end of the Hendrix tour. Tellingly, in the light of Blackhill’s

on the album – eventually called A Saucerful of Secrets – remains the subject of speculation. He’s supposedly playing guitar on ‘See-Saw’, ‘Remember a Day’ and ‘Jugband Blues’, and Gilmour believes he’s somewhere in the background on ‘Set the Controls . . .’ The final track, ‘Jugband Blues’, with its eerie, lurching brass arrangement, is the only song to feature Barrett’s lead vocals. Sounding like a ghost, he utters the final prescient line, ‘What exactly is a dream . . . and what exactly is a

telephone calls, hesitations and cancellations, I was invited to film certain parts of the recording of Dark Side of the Moon.’ The footage from the January 1973 sessions would become as compelling as the scenes filmed in Pompeii itself. In the space of just over twelve months, Pink Floyd had undergone a significant change. The footage of the band at work in Abbey Road retains a certain timecapsule charm. Spot the countless smouldering cigarettes, a reminder of when smoking was still permitted in

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