(All Album Reviews by Sean)
And now for an oldie but a goodie, the second album from Pink Floyd, A Saucerful of Secrets. This was the first album to feature David Gilmour on guitar. The legendary Syd Barrett was of course the guitarist on the band's stunning psychedelic debut The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. The story of Syd's departure is well documented so I won't get into it here now. There is a shift in the sound of the band on this album because of the change in personnel. The debut album was full of short tunes. Here we see the band take it's first step towards longer compositions.
Saucerful marries the band's symphonic leanings with the psychedelic vibe of the the bands debut album Piper. The opening cut "Let There Be More Light" starts with an aggressive staccato guitar riff. Middle eastern sounding organ lines wrap around it as the tune progresses and grows louder. Then an abrupt change takes place and we are moved to a more psychedelic terrain. A whispered vocal verse from Richard Wright sounds like music from a late 60's spy movie. The chorus is full on drama. Reminds me a bit of something Van Der Graaf Generator might have done.
"Remember a Day" is sort of a psych ramble. Not the most focused tune on the album. You hear the roots of some sounds the group would elaborate on in the future here though. It reminds me of some of the bands psych singles like "See Emily Play".
"Set The Controls For The Heart of the Sun" on the other hand is quite a focused composition. The hypnotic phrygian riff and tribal drums pound the listener into a trance. Quite a creepy vibe is created, driven by what sounds like a bizzarely processed Hammond organ. The sounds of gulls and quasi-monk choirs adorn this classic Floyd track. This tune is the highlight of this album.
"Corporal Clegg" is a shorter pop/psych tune penned by Roger Waters. The verse riff is a trippy take on the famous "Jimi Hendrix" chord. The middle section is a wacky chorus of kazoos. Not the most memorable track here.
The title track is the second most memorable piece of music here. This was the bands first long form piece. A predecessor to such greats as "Echoes" from Meddle and "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" from Wish You Were Here. This piece does not hang together as well as those later numbers. In some ways though that is it's charm. It has some very trippy parts to it, much more dissonant than anything the band would later do. After about a four minutes of a gently building wall of dissonance a tribal drum beat enters and the band proceeds to do some wild improv on top of that. Gilmour using a slide on his guitar, way up high on the strings. Wright shares many bursts of atonal piano. Waters surfs a wave of wild feedback over it all. About eight minutes in a theme crops up on the organ at last. Melody finally comes into play and hymn-like hook comes around. Gilmour soon joins in to sing a chorus of "Ahhhhs" on top of this uplifting movement/outro.
"See-Saw" is a Wright penned and sung tune that is rather forgettable. Reminds me a bit of early Moody Blues. A sort of morose little tune. The closing cut is the one tune left over from the Barrett era, "Jugband Blues". It is cool to hear a little glimpse of that sound here. It is a shame Syd could not have contributed more to this album. This seems out of place here. A situation that could have been remedied by more Barrett tunes. It is easy to see why it was saved for last, it is awfully different from the rest of the album.
A Saucerful of Secrets shows an early Floyd on it's way to the sound that they would make famous in the 70's, but still fumbling with it's psych roots.