Saturday, March 6, 2010


Meddle  46:45
Studio recording January-September 1971 
* Released 13 November 1971 
* Re-released in the Shine On box set, 1992

Recording details: 4-6, 9-11, 19-21, 24-26 January; 7, 11-12, 14-15, 19, 21, 25, 26, 28 March; 8-10,  13-14, 26-28 April, all of the above at EMI Abbey Road; 1-2, 6, 9-11, 24-26, 28 May at Abbey Road and Morgan Sound Studios, Kilburn; 19-20, 22 July at Morgan Sound Studios; 23-25, 27 August at AIR Studios, Oxford Street; 21, 26 September at Command Studios for the Quad mix
Produced by Pink Floyd
Engineers: Peter Bown and John Leckie at EMI and AIR; Rob Black and Roger Quested at Morgan Sound
Album cover designed by Pink Floyd
Outer sleeve photos by Bob Dowling
Inner sleeve photo by Hipgnosis

UK: Harvest SHVL 795 Reached #3 on the UK charts
US: Harvest SMAS 832 (30 October) Reached #70 on the US charts

The album which, in the minds of many, began Pink Floyd's glory years was Meddle. It was obvious that at this point, the creativity of the group was acquiring a certain kind of synergy and would soon reach a climax of inspiration. The band was beginning to combine musical ideas more effectively than ever before. It was around this time that the innovative experimentalism of Pink Floyd would begin to merge with a greater sense of musicality and melodic richness that would lead to Dark Side of the Moon the following year.

Recording for the album began in January of 1971, when the band began laying down various ideas for Echoes, the centerpiece of the album. Rather than following the normal procedure of going into the studio with preconceived ideas and recording them, the group went in with virtually nothing and spent a tremendous amount of time fiddling about, and developing ideas through the recording process itself.

Nick Mason: "Another LP is being made now, but we go into the studios with the idea of putting down rough ideas instead of actual tracks — we're consciously approaching this one differently."

These ideas developed throughout March and April, when Echoes finally reached a cohesive form. Pink Floyd's lengthiest recording process ever continued throughout May, amidst a grueling tour schedule, and work on Echoes at last wrapped up in July. At this point the band realized too much time had been wasted, and under pressure from the record companies, they recorded material for the other half of the album in a relative rush in July and August. Mixing finished in September, and the band had barely decided on the titles for all the songs when the album was rushed into production to be ready for Christmas sales.

Since the story of Meddle is largely synonymous with the story of Echoes, more information on the album's development can be found in the entry for that song.

Reaction to the album varied, but most people, including the band themselves, realized something important had been achieved. Echoes succeeded in all the places the Atom Heart Mother Suite didn't: it was a richly complex and layered piece, captivating in its textures, lengthy but never boring, climactic, powerful, and possessing a positive direction, with an obvious beginning, middle, and end. The songs on the other side of the LP ran the gamut from classic Pink Floyd (One of These Days, Fearless) to utterly forgettable easy-listening (San Tropez). Though none were really up to Echoes standards, most were better than anything on side two of Atom Heart Mother. One of These Days, perhaps the most intense, true hard rock song the band ever did, continues to be performed live to this day. All of the songs, and especially Echoes, demonstrated that more than any other band, the Pink Floyd really knew how to use the studio effectively, incorporating up to the minute technology to create their otherworldly sounds.

Roger gave an overview of how he felt about the album upon its release.

Roger Waters: "Basically I feel quite good about it. I really love Echoes and I really like One of These Days, the first track on the other side. I quite like the rest of it, but really in a kind of half-hearted way — I'm not really crazy about the rest of that side. A mistake we've made twice now with both our last two albums has been to bend to external pressures — that's only in my opinion, mind you, I'm not saying this is for the rest of the group. But I think we've bent to pressures from the record company, and from our manager a bit too, to get the thing out, because our record companies, especially Capitol in the States, start screaming for product. I think that's been a mistake and I think those tracks turned out a bit weak because of it, but on the other hand it could be a mistake to desperately try to make everything perfect, because if you try to do that you're always fighting a losing battle anyway, because you're never going to do it.  However long you go on working on an album, I don't think you ever come out thinking, 'Bugger me, I've done it this time.' I don't think it's possible to make an album that you think is definitely all right from beginning to end."

Dave Gilmour: "Meddle was the first sign of really having a direction and knowing and trying to achieve something. I mean the track Echoes on Meddle definitely for me achieved something very good and strong, although the lyrics aren't something that Roger would put down on the list of his top five lyrics ever. I can't really remember the lyrics on Echoes itself as being that significant. There are songs on that album that are more significant, I think, I can't remember the titles, the one with You'll Never Walk Alone on the end of it [Fearless]. I think there are things on that album that pointed towards the direction that Roger was going to want to move into."

Critic Michael Watts, who panned the album, received this letter in response (accompanied by a parcel containing a boxing glove mounted on a spring of Nicky's design):

"Ya boo, Michael Wattz is a beast and everyone knows he is bottom of the class in musik and a weed as well, and he knows even less than the sissys in 2B. Chiz and Swiz and now the upper VIth are in a fearful bate and Master M. W. jolly well better watch out as if we catch him we will (I) steal his cap (II) throw ink on his prep (III) confiscate his tuck (IV) push him into the school duckpond, so jolly well watch out. — Nick Mason, Roger Waters, Rick Wright and David Gilmour (all of 4A)."

Whoever said the Floyd can't respond maturely to criticism?

Album Package
Storm Thorgerson: "This is a Floyd design with various additions from Hipgnosis. The brief of this job was given over the phone from Japan and the roughs were sent backwards and forwards by plane, which may have accounted for some of the confusion. Perhaps, more of a case of Muddle rather than Meddle. The large ear was presumably to represent the musical nature of events; i.e. the record was an auditory affair. The rippled water was presumably intended to suggest a disturbance, a meddling perhaps in the act of hearing. Pink Floyd's music disturbed the senses. Also, the ripple was like the concentric circles of a sound wave. One major decision involved shooting on a 5x4 camera for the first time, which presented its own problems; making the image that you see upside down and reversed. The other major decision was to photograph the band in an absolutely straight on, no frills, very real manner. In fact, the brutality of the black and white inner spread is very striking, we'd like to think, in its unexpectedness; not what you'd expect from a 'spacey' band."

Dave Gilmour: "It was a very strange time, the titling and putting together of it, because we were actually on tour in Japan when it was about to come out. The cover was being done by telephone, from Japan to England, and the picture of the submerged ear was not as good as we thought it would be. Believe it or not,there is an ear in there! We never quite managed to put the right energy in right at the end of the record, for getting the cover and the little detail stuff done. It's not my favourite cover. [The title was] a play between 'medal' (the thing that you wear for achieving something) and 'interfere.'"

One of These Days
Pillow of Winds, A
San Tropez

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