Personalities | Pink Floyd | The Collaborative Era (1971) | Key Events
1971 opened with the release of the Relics compilation, which was a pert summary of Floyd’s progress to date with the stellar Barrett singles ‘Arnold Layne’ and ‘See Emily Play’ sitting comfortably alongside later work like Waters’ ‘Cirrus Minor’ and ‘The Nile Song’ from the More soundtrack. The sleeve for Relics was drawn by Nick Mason, revealing that his architectural training had not gone to waste. In fact, as they could not write music Mason and Waters would plan the cartography of extended Floyd performances by drawing maps and diagrams, planning peaks, troughs and quiet passages of play.
Far East Tour
Unlike their contemporaries Led Zeppelin, The Who and The Rolling Stones, Floyd were not prone to on-the-road excess. Lists of instruments, equipment and just how they got their live quadraphonic sound were more likely to appear in the press than tales of red snapper redeployment or hotel room reconstruction. They were hardly recognized on the street; the main personality of Pink Floyd was the music, as demonstrated between 6–15 August 1971 where they embarked upon their first Far East tour consisting of three dates in Japan and two in Australia where, at one venue, only 500 people turned up.
Meddle Tour Begins
In a revealing interview with Melody Maker published on 9 October 1971, Roger Waters confessed to a journalist that the band had actually begun to rehearse again, ‘I can’t remember the last time we had a rehearsal. I think that often the cause of groups splitting up is when people freak and can’t come up with new stuff, which has happened to us.’ On the Meddle tours (Europe: 18 September–11 October and America: 15 October–20 November) the extended track ‘Echoes’, originally titled ‘The Return Of The Son Of Nothing’, was first performed live.
Sessions for Meddle (1971) commenced in Abbey Road Studios in January 1971 and continued, where time permitted, during their hectic 1971 tour schedule. During that first session Rick Wright was playing around on a piano amplified through a Leslie speaker. When Wright hit a single note on his keyboard that sounded like a sonar ping, the ears of the rest of the band pricked up. Repeated, this note formed the introduction to one of the most famous Pink Floyd pieces of all time – ‘Echoes’ which took up the entire second side of this Top 3 album. ‘One Of These Days’ is one of the greatest-ever opening tracks on any album. Throbbing bass ostinato, howling winds, pulsating rhythm, an early proto-techno interlude, Wright’s keyboard splashes, Gilmour’s guitar howling like a high-performance car before taking off into a stratospheric solo and even a Doctor Who reference condensed into under six minutes! The wistful acoustic prowl of ‘A Pillow Of Winds’ and ‘Fearless’, featuring an extended ‘sample’ of the Anfield Kop football crowd are also memorable. The price for such consistent innovation was paid on the howling-dog blues of ‘Seamus’.
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