Now that all the workouts have all been accomplished, HRH and I are settling down for an early-evening of creepy Halloween-themed records beginning with a selection from my own Desert Island album list, the ‘Umma Gumma‘ album by Pink Floyd.
‘Umma Gumma‘ is a double album and was released on October 25th, 1969 by Harvest Records in the UK and by Capitol Records internationally. The first disc consists of live recordings from concerts at Mothers Club in Birmingham and the College of Commerce in Manchester that contained part of their normal set list of the time, while the second contains solo compositions by each member of the band recorded at the Abbey Road studio.
For many years, this double-LP was one of the most popular albums in Pink Floyd’s pre-‘Dark Side of the Moon‘ output, containing a live LP and a studio LP for the price of one. Featuring the band’s second lineup (i.e., no Syd Barrett), the set shows off a very potent group, their sound held together on-stage by Nick Mason’s assertive drumming and Roger Waters’ powerful bass work, which keep the proceedings moving no matter how spaced out the music gets. They also sound like they’ve got the amplifiers to make their music count, which is more than the early band had. ‘Astronomy Domine‘, ‘Careful with That Axe Eugene‘ (the ultimate creepy Halloween song, in my humble opinion), ‘Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun‘, and ‘A Saucerful of Secrets‘ are all superior here to their studio originals, done longer, louder, and harder, with a real edge to the playing.
The studio LP was more experimental, each member getting a certain amount of space on the record to make his own music – Richard Wright’s ‘Sysyphus‘ was a pure keyboard work, featuring various synthesizers, organs, and pianos; David Gilmour’s ‘The Narrow Way‘ was a three-part instrumental for acoustic and electric guitars and electronic keyboards, and Nick Mason’s ‘The Grand Vizier’s Garden Party‘ made use of a vast range of acoustic and electric percussion devices. Roger Waters’ ‘Grantchester Meadows‘ was a lyrical folk-like number unlike almost anything else the group ever did. Oh, and if you’ve never heard ‘Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict’…you need to.
‘Umma Gumma‘ is a masterpiece album and if you never heard this album before, you dropped the ball. Like 99 % cocoa, you may have to adjust and train a hearing bud to understand, but after this small hearing adjustment you will discover that songs on this album will never exist anywhere else.
Ask Tina the Cat.
She bid a hasty retreat from HRH‘s lap in the first 30 seconds of ‘Careful With that Axe, Eugene‘.