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Rock CEO's "You gotta hear this!" #7 : Relics

March 30,2012

We're already at the seventh installment of "You gotta hear this!" For lucky number seven, I want to introduce one of the top five bands I feel a crazy emotional attachment to, a band that changed my life, Pink Floyd.
Pink Floyd is indeed most major bands of all time, but just how in the world did such a difficult and intricate band come to sell over 200 million copies?
My guess is that everyone holds an interest in the philosophical or in what is waiting on the opposite side of reality. The music of Pink Floyd is nothing if not surrealistic.
Pink Floyd is widely labeled as a progressive rock band and grouped together with King Crimson, ELP, Yes, and Genesis as the Top 5 prog rock bands. However, considering Pink Floyd's worldwide recognition and record sales, it's clear to see that they are a one-of-a-kind monster with no equal. And as for the music itself, it's hard to label them with the one word simply as "prog rock," as they created a truly wide range of rich sounds.

Relics
Pink Floyd
EMI (August 14, 2001)

That wide range of sounds changed with the various eras of the band. More specifically, the group's history is divided into three eras: the Syd Barrett-led era starting with their debut in 1967, followed by the Roger Waters-led era once Barrett left the band, and then the David Gilmour-led era following Waters' departure. The Waters-led era was by far the most successful period for the group: The Dark Side of the Moon (1973), Wish You Were Here (1975), and The Wall (1979) are far and away the most famous albums and became megahits.
However, the incredible amount of sheer charisma and genius shown early on by Syd Barrett can be clearly seen in the strong, lasting effect he had on the band even well after his departure - despite the fact that his departure came a mere one year after their debut.

For instance, the album The Dark Side of the Moon I mentioned earlier is seen as a musical expression of Syd Barrett's inner mind, and the 'You' in the title of the song "Wish You Were Here" refers to Syd as well. The opening song, "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", is also a tribute to Syd. And finally, the character Pink from the rock opera The Wall is the personification of the life and mind of Syd.

Unfortunately, Syd's genius eventually led to his gradual mental breakdown. His presence with the group, and the cursed events and circumstances surrounding the decline of his mental state, took Pink Floyd down into deep and dark psychological ravines, leaving a lasting influence on their music.
(The cinematized version of The Wall, Pink Floyd The Wall, is also great. It is directed by the great Alan Parker, and stars Irish punk/new wave band The Boomtown Rats' vocalist Bob Gedolf in the lead role, and Gerald Scarfe's animation is the most incredible of all.

Syd's life had a major impact on other musical figures as well, including David Bowie, T.Rex, Mick Jagger, and even myself.
As for Syd's music, only his first album with Pink Floyd and a few of their singles, as well as a few pieces of his solo work still remain. All are delicate and intricate pieces of work filled with a hint of his insanity, yet at the same time displaying a certain sweetness.
I chose this album for the seventh installment of this column because I am a huge Syd Barrett fan, and this compilation album contains a lot of his best songs which before had only been released as singles.
When I was a kid in elementary school, I loved this album so much that I'd play the album's color vinyl record on every single night and listen.

To speak of some songs specifically, I was especially in love with "Julia Dream," and used to chant the hook over and over in my head like a Buddhist monk. "See Emily Play" is also amazing.
These songs, together with the studio versions of their debut songs "Arnold Layne," "Careful With That Axe, Eugene," and "The Nile Song" to close out the album (I really like the frog chorus at the end) combine to make an album rich in madness, beauty and fragility.

Pink Floyd has released a ton of hits, but this album, Relics, truly captures the essence of Syd Barrett's passion, his insanity, and his love. You gotta hear this!