Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Momentary Lapse of Reason

A Momentary Lapse of Reason  51:13
Studio recording June 1986-Summer 1987 
* Released 7 September 1987 
* Re-released as part of the Shine On box set, 1992

David Gilmour: guitars, all lead vocals, keyboards, sequencers
Nick Mason: electric & acoustic drums, sound effects
Additional instrumentation from: Richard Wright — piano, vocals, kurzweil, Hammond organ; Bob Ezrin — keyboards, percussion, sequencers; Tony Levin — bass guitar, stick; Jim Keltner — drums; Steve Forman — percussion; Jon Carin — keyboards; Tom Scott — alto & soprano saxophones; Scott Page — tenor saxophone; Carmine Appice — drums; Pat Leonard — synthesisers; Bill Payne — Hammond organ; Michael Landau — guitar; John Halliwell — saxophone; Darlene Koldenhaven, Carmen Twillie, Phyllis St James, & Donnie Gerrard — backing vocals

Produced by Bob Ezrin & David Gilmour
Recording and mixing engineered by Andrew Jackson
Assisted by Robert (Ringo) Hyrcyna
With: Marc Desisto, Stan Katayama, Jeff Demorris
All instrumentation and effects recorded digitally (except acoustic drums and bass guitar)
Additional re-mixing: James Guthrie (on Yet Another Movie and Sorrow)
Studios: Astoria, Hampton (on the Thames); Britannia Row Studios, London; A&M Studios, Los Angeles; Can Am Studios, Los Angeles; Village Recorder, Los Angeles; Mayfair, London; Audio International, London
Also thanks to Winston Johnson at Cama, Gary Barlough at Producer's Workshop, L.A.
Spherical sound: Tom Jones, Kan Callats, Sarah Bruce
Recorded by Guy Charbonneau, Le Mobile, Los Angeles
Additional sound effects: Andrew Jackson
General technical & musical instrument supervision: Phil Taylor
Mastered at Mastering Lab & Precision Lacquer
Art direction by Storm Thorgerson
Front cover concept by Storm Thorgerson and Nexus
Graphic Design by Andrew Ellis, Icon, London

UK: EMI CDP 7 480682 Reached #3 on the UK charts
US: Columbia CK 40599 Reached #3 on the US charts

The impetus in Dave Gilmour's mind for a new Pink Floyd album came in 1985, perhaps spurred by the realization provided by his recent solo album and tour (neither of which lived up to financial expectations) that truly massive success was only achievable under the Floyd moniker. However, Dave says he approached the new album "like I would have approached a Pink Floyd album" [Shine On 100] and not as a solo album under the Pink name. Dave even talked to Roger about doing the next album together, but Roger officially left the band in December of 1985, making it clear he had no intention of recording with Dave Gilmour or Nick Mason again.

Recording began in approximately June of 1986 on Dave's beautiful houseboat/studio, the Astoria, moored on the Thames near Hampton. Dave recorded some demos and jammed with people like Bob Ezrin and Jon Carin to come up with ideas. Bob Ezrin was originally going to produce Roger Waters' solo album Radio KAOS, but ended up co-producing Momentary; he explains why.

Bob Ezrin: "I think Roger is brilliant, but he's a tough guy to disagree with, and he can be overly passionate and uncompromising. It's those qualities that go into making him a great artist, but neither Dave nor I would ever consider ourselves great artists. We're more interested in creating something that's popular and fun. Actually, I hate the word artist, but I would definitely concede that Roger is a great artist — as well as a total obsessive and a psychiatrist's dream. I love Roger, and I truly love most of what he does, but not enough anymore to go through what's necessary to be a part of his process. It's far easier for Dave and I to do our version of a Floyd record." [Penthouse Sep 88]

And so Ezrin ended up as the most important contributor to Momentary besides Dave. However, things did not go smoothly in the beginning. As it had been fifteen years since the Floyd had produced a record which was not a 'concept album,' Bob and Dave began the production process by trying to create a concept for the new album. It was felt that outside talent was needed to develop a concept, and so Eric Stewart (originally of the band 10cc) was brought in.

Eric Stewart: "Dave Gilmour and I got together around August or September of 1986 to work on a concept that was definitely intended for the next Pink Floyd album. We sat around writing for a period of time, bet we couldn't get the different elements and ideas to gel. The song writing itself was acceptable in certain parts, but not as a whole; so the concept was eventually scrapped." [Penthouse Sep 88]

So development of a concept for the album was temporarily put on a back burner. However, the songs themselves simply were not progressing from the rough demos into well-polished pieces of work with a special element. This may in part be due to the fact the this was Dave's first major attempt to write lyrics (a couple of stabs on his solo albums notwithstanding) and they certainly weren't shaping up with the depth of previous Pink Floyd lyrics. Roger Waters heard about the current state of the music from Michael Kamen in September or October of 1986.

Roger Waters: "After four to five months of constant work with Gilmour and company, Bob [Ezrin] spoke to Michael Kamen, who did orchestral arrangements on The Wall and also co-produced my first solo album, The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking. Bob told him the tracks were an absolute disaster, with no words, no heart, no continuity." [Penthouse Sep 88]

Michael Kamen has corroborated this assessment of what Bob Ezrin said. It should be mentioned at this point that Roger Waters believed (and still believes), not wholly without evidence, that an attempt was being made on the part of all involved in the Momentary project to fake the Pink Floyd sound, in order to ensure the financial success of the album. A key piece of evidence in his argument was the next event in the development of the album.

Roger Waters: "What happened next was that Bob Ezrin, David Gilmour, and CBS Records executive Stephen Ralbovsky had a confidential lunch meeting at Langan's Brasserie, the famous London bistro in Hampton Court, in October or November of '86, wherein both Ezrin and Ralbovsky told Gilmour 'This music doesn't sound a fucking thing like Pink Floyd!' And according to what Dave told me, they had spent $1.2 million on it!" [Penthouse Sep 88]

CBS (Columbia) Records (now owned by Sony Music Entertainment) was the American distributor for Pink Floyd product, the market in which it was most important to make an impact with the new phase of the Floyd. When queried by journalist Timothy White, a surprised Bob Ezrin gave his version of what had happened at the Hampton Court meeting.

Bob Ezrin: "How Roger could have known that we all had that meeting is remarkable to me. Okay, fair enough; the point of the meeting was for me to tell David that what he had thus far was not up to Pink Floyd standards. Wait a minute, let me rephrase that: I said it was not up to our standard of a Pink Floyd project, and that we should start over again. And David was open and willing to do that." [Penthouse Sep 88]

Dave denied that he was attempting to engineer a specific sound, in nearly identical statements both before and after he had heard allegations from Roger concerning the Hampton Court meeting.

Dave Gilmour: "There's nothing within the Pink Floyd sound that I don't like. I'm not faking or having to do anything any different to do a Pink Floyd record. And we never sat down and said, 'God, this doesn't sound Pink Floyd enough — let's do this to make it sound more Pink Floyd." [Shine On 100-101] "We just worked on the songs until they sounded right. When they sounded great and right, that's when it became Pink Floyd." [Penthouse Sep 88]

However, Dave's reply seemed to make an implicit nod toward the meeting with Bob Ezrin and Stephen Ralbovsky at Hampton Court when journalist Matt Resnicoff asked him "When you brought in A Momentary Lapse of Reason, there was absolutely no concern that it echo the Pink Floyd sound?"

Dave Gilmour: "Oh, well, I don't take any notice of record companies, they just make the records. They never get any say in it... until such a day comes as they make a loss on one of our records, which they've never done, it'll stay that way." [Shine On 101]

Bob Ezrin: "I won't tell you that there weren't times when I didn't say to David or David didn't say to me, 'This would be easier if Roger were here,' or 'Roger would know what to do,' or 'Roger could give us that flavor.' But we had no choice but to go our own route and start over — and we did." [Penthouse Sep 88]

'Starting over' included a new attempt to develop a concept for the album: the next stab at bringing in outside talent for conceptual and lyrical development came with Liverpudlian poet Roger McGough and Canadian songwriter Carole Pope (also brought in for her musical ability). McGough's agent commented.

Peter Brown: "Dave worked with Roger McGough late in 1986 on original ideas for the Pink Floyd project, but those ideas remain a grey area." [Penthouse Sep 88]

Carole Pope: "The idea to contact me came from Bob Ezrin. It was January of 1987 and they were looking for somebody to rewrite a batch of David Gilmour's material, so I went over to England for a few weeks to lend assistance. Bob and David also asked me if I had any suggestions for concept albums in the Pink Floyd style. By the time I left England in February, they still couldn't decide what to do." [Penthouse Sep 88]

In the end (in Bob's words), they "decided the atmosphere was the most important thing." And so the album developed a theme rather than a concept, and this theme was drawn from their immediate surroundings: the river.

Bob Ezrin: "[The river] imposed itself in all the songs..." [Schaffner 289-90]

Once the idea of a concept was abandoned, things seemed to gel more quickly. The music had continued to come together more cohesively as time went by, and a successful collaborator on lyrics was finally discovered in Anthony Moore. As the album began to take shape with songs like Learning to Fly and The Dogs of War, recording began in earnest in studios like Britannia Row and Mayfair in London; Dave, Nick, and Bob Ezrin were present, along with 12 other instrumental accompanists.

Dave Gilmour: "I have no pride about this sort of thing. I've thought of parts that I can't play. If I can't play it I'll get someone else to. Why not? I don't worry about that stuff, really. You're trying to get something that's in your head out into other people's heads. Any way of doing that is cool with me. Like I say, the objective is to achieve what you're trying to do on tape, and if that involves using other musicians, then so be it. I have no shame about it whatsoever." [Shine On 102]

Storm Thorgerson: "It was quite an onerous task to try and get together a Floyd album, and Dave could get terribly knocked for it. He was putting himself up for heavy grabs. It would have been easier to do one of his solo albums, in fact. So I think he wanted all the help he could get." [Schaffner 290-91]

To present an accurate picture, however, it should be noted that thorough credit was given, and approximately 1/3 of the additional instrumentalists had minimal contributions. In addition, although five others helped Dave write the music and words for the album, according to Jon Carin, all the songs were "ninety-nine percent Dave." [Schaffner 289]

The album continued to develop, with songs like Sorrow and On the Turning Away (recorded Christmas of 1986). Then Dave dug up some demos he'd recorded two years ago, and A New Machine and Terminal Frost were rapidly produced. Rounding out the album was the Signs of Life instrumental, taken from a eight-year-old demo, and co-contributions from Phil Manzanera and Pat Leonard: One Slip and Yet Another Movie respectively.

Meanwhile, Rick Wright had approached Gilmour in mid-1986, when he heard that Dave was starting work on a new album, and said "If you ever need me or want to work with me, I really want to work with you." [Schaffner 284] And so it was early in 1987 that Rick was asked to the Astoria to discuss the possibility of him rejoining the band.

Dave Gilmour: "I thought it would make us stronger legally and musically." [Schaffner 291]

Rick Wright: "Both sides said, 'We'll see how it goes.'" [Schaffner 291]

Dave Gilmour: "The first day when the three of us got back together it was like putting on a comfortable old pair of shoes." [Schaffner 291]

Rick was subsequently reinstated, but in the capacity of a session and tour musician (as well as appearing in Floyd publicity shots). He would not become a full member of the band again until 1994's The Division Bell, and had no real creative input on A Momentary Lapse of Reason.

The recording wrapped up in Los Angeles, early summer of 1987, most notably at A&M studios.

Dave Gilmour: "You can't go back. You have to find a new way of working, of operating and getting on with it. We didn't make this remotely like we've made any other Floyd record. It was different systems, everything." [Schaffner 291]

And after considering Signs of Life, Of Promises Broken, and Delusions of Maturity, the title for the new album was of course taken from a lyric in One Slip - a momentary lapse of reason, that binds a life to a life...
Roger Waters: "It's a superb title for a so-called Pink Floyd record." [Penthouse Sep 88]

After finishing the album, Nick commented on an interesting motivational factor in its production: "Particularly at our advanced age in the music business, when you suddenly really have to fight for something — and you've actually got someone fighting against you — it doesn't half generate a bit of drive. We could have taken five years to make another album, but Roger looking over the gun sights at us made it happen in ten months." [Schaffner 299]

David Gilmour: "I had a number of problems with the direction of the band in our recent past, before Roger left. I thought the songs were very wordy — and that, because the specific meanings of those words were so important, the music became a mere vehicle for lyrics, and not a very inspiring one... Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here were so successful not just because of Roger's contributions, but also because there was a better balance between the music and the lyrics than there has been in more recent albums. That's what I'm trying to do with A Momentary Lapse of Reason — focus more on the music, restore the balance." [Schaffner 296]

Roger Waters: "Is there anything more sad and unjust than a fake?" [Penthouse Sep 88]

Roger Waters: "[The album was] a pretty fair forgery." [Miles]

Album Package
Dave had the idea for the cover of an empty room with vestiges of past relationships, including an empty bed. This gave Storm Thorgerson another idea: "...instead of vestiges, we should have lots of beds. I just thought it would be pretty amazing to see eight hundred beds sitting in line... [Colin Chambers] turned my image into a river of beds." [Schaffner 295-6]

Storm: "It was absolute hell to do. All at once it rained — eight hundred beds, all out, made up — and then we had to take them back in again. But it works really well; people smile when they see it. Cause it's not faked, and people know when they look at the picture that it's real." [Schaffner 296]

Storm Thorgerson: "If you had driven round the headlands of Saunton Sands in North Devon on the morning of June 15, 1987 you would have been somewhat surprised to see a very long line of beds stretching along the beach. Real beds, with real sheets and real blankets. Eight hundred of them. The idea for this cover came from Yet Another Movie whose lyric mentions 'visions of an empty bed.' Dave had this idea of a bed in an empty room with a tall window off to one side. Sunlight streamed through the window leaving a pattern across the wall and the unoccupied bed. An empty picture frame stood on the bedside table. Instead of visions of an empty bed we decided to do the vision of empty beds. Hence lots of beds stretching as far as the eye can see, each one the repository of a dreamer. More 'movies of the mind' mixed with land art. It was Colin Chambers who suggested arranging the beds like a river, i.e. a river bed. At first, we tried to do this cover in America because we thought the light would be better, but we could not find the appropriate beds. It seemed important that the beds were hospital beds, not only because they were more interesting to look at, but also because of the implication of illness or madness. But they could not be found anywhere in LA, the supposed home of Hollywood fantasy. So it was back to dear old Blighty for a location. The most complex issue of this cover was the actual doing of it. The 800 beds were made of wrought iron, each one weighting a ton. They had to be individually made up, and therefore it took ages. We needed three tractors, several trailers, 30 helpers and nice weather. We in fact set it all out, the whole damn lot, got ready to photograph and of course, it rained. We put all the beds back in storage and decided to do it another day. As a result this particular design cost a small fortune..." [Shine On]

Signs of Life
Learning to Fly
Dogs of War, The
One Slip
On the Turning Away
Yet Another Movie
Round and Around
New Machine Part 1, A
Terminal Frost
New Machine Part 2, A

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