Is the Excitement over the New Pink Floyd Album Worth It?
Pink Floyd has announced its first new studio album in 20 years will be released on November 11 – an event that has some people very excited. The Endless River is a tribute to Rick Wright, the band’s keyboardist who died in 2008. The album is primarily made up of music that Wright, guitarist David Gilmour, and drummer Nick Mason put together during a session in 1993 that led to the last studio album, 1994’s The Division Bell. So in a sense it is not “new”. But, the band says it has spent the last year recording and upgrading the music, using the advantages of modern studio technology. And, as (shamless name-drop alert!) Rick Wakeman once said to me, old music is new to people who have never heard it before.
So, here it comes – a primarily instrumental offering, with just one song, available in CD, vinyl, and deluxe edition.
The brief bit that has been released so far sounds more like Gilmour’s 2006 On An Island album than The Division Bell, but anyone who listens to Floyd knows that 30 seconds doesn’t tell you anything about what’s coming.
So, why the excitement? Pink Floyd is one of the most successful bands in rock history. According to Billboard, its 1973 Dark Side of the Moon album is estimated to have sold more than 45 million copies worldwide. It is no longer unique, but the band’s style – epitomised by other 1970s releases such as Wish You Were Here and The Wall – was cutting edge for its era, mixing soft and heavy rock with philosophical lyrics and pioneering electronic sounds.
The band is also known for its revolutionary light shows and ethereal album artwork, and The Endless River continues the latter tradition, featuring a standing man, back to the viewer, rowing an old boat across the clouds towards what is either a sunset or sunrise.
Gilmour and Mason are the two remaining members of the band still working under the Pink Floyd name. Original member Roger Waters left in the 1980s for a solo career. With Wright, the four played together in a one-off reunion in July 2005 for the Live 8 anti-poverty concert in London. The fifth member, Syd Barrett, died in 2006. He left the group in 1968, suffering from what is widely believed to be drug-induced mental illness. He is still considered by many to be the driving force behind all that Pink Floyd became, however.
Worth getting excited about? We will have to wait and see.