Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point
Studio recording December 1969 
* Released March 1970

Recorded in Rome, Italy
Recorded over two weeks in December 1969
Recording supervised by Michaelangelo Antonioni
Produced by Pink Floyd
Music co-ordinated by Don Hall
UK: MGM 2315 002
US: MGM SE-4668ST (rel. January 1970)

Pink Floyd's third soundtrack recording was a compilation effort, using only three of seven compositions they wrote for the film. The rest of the album is an assortment of country and western style tunes from groups all but forgotten today, with the exception of first-rate contributions from the Grateful Dead. Pink Floyd's music seems somewhat incongruous in this distinctly American film shot in California.

After hearing Careful with that Axe, Eugene in 1969, director Michaelangelo Antonioni decided it would be perfect for the climactic final scene of Zabriskie Point, and approached the band about scoring the film. They took two weeks from their busy schedule in early December (or possibly late November) to stay in Rome and record.

Dave Gilmour: "We did Zabriskie Point for Antonioni, and in fact we wrote much more than he eventually used. I feel, even now, that it would have been better if he'd used most of what we'd written."

This is certainly true, as the entire film suffers from a lack of integral music which might have helped to buoy up the catatonically slow plot. Out of approximately 36 minutes of music Pink Floyd wrote for the film, only seven were used (and 12 on the album). Rick, Roger, and Nick offered different views of what the recording process was like.

Rick Wright: "Film scores are very hard work. We worked solidly day and night for two weeks to produce twenty minutes of music. But it is very satisfying work and we'd like to do more of it."

Roger Waters: "We went to Rome and stayed in this posh hotel. Every day we would get up at about 4.30 in the afternoon. We'd pop into the bar and sit there till about seven, then we'd stagger into the restaurant where we'd eat for about two hours and drink. By about halfway through the two weeks, the bloke there was beginning to suss out what we wanted; we kept asking for these ridiculous wines so by the end he was coming up with these really insane wines. Anyway, we'd finish eating — the crêpes suzette would finally slide down by about a quarter to nine."

Nick Mason: "The peach melba was good too. I used to start with sole bonne femme followed by the roast leg of lamb cooked with rosemary. Then a peach melba or a crepe suzette, or perhaps both."

Roger Waters: "We'd start work at about nine; the studio was a few minutes walk down the road so we'd stagger down the road. We could have finished the whole thing in about five days because there wasn't too much to do. Antonioni was there and we did some great stuff, but he'd listen and go — and I remember he had this terrible twitch — he'd go, 'Eet's very beautiful, but eet's too sad,' or 'Eet's too strroong.' It was always something that stopped it being perfect. You'd change whatever was wrong and he'd still be unhappy. It was hell, sheer hell. He'd sit there and fall asleep every so often, and we'd go on working till about seven or eight in the morning, go back and have breakfast, go to bed, get up — and then back into the bar."

Nick Mason: "Antonioni was a fucking crazy man to work for. We ended up not doing anything much in the film. That's why he wasn't working with experienced actors: they were ordered to do everything."

The highlight of these recording sessions was the composition of a piece which was to be used during the riot scenes in the film. A beautiful piano piece by Rick Wright, The Violent Sequence (as it was first called) was later to develop into the lyrical and passionate Us and Them on the Dark Side of the Moon album. More information on this and other unused and unreleased Zabriskie Point music can be found following this entry. Below, all the songs on the album are listed, with a few words about each non-Pink Floyd song and full documentation for each Pink Floyd song.

TRACK LISTING (only Pink Floyd contributions)
Heart Beat, Pig Meat
Crumbling Land
Come in Number 51, Your Time is Up

The following tracks were recorded for Zabriskie Point but were not used in the film or soundtrack:
Fingal's Cave
Rain in the Country
Violent Sequence, The


  1. Hey there!
    It's me, WRomanus, the author of the big research on Yesshkul about ZP.
    You should update and extend this nice blog with the finds of this research ;-)

  2. Thanks for the information and links! It certainly seems you've wrapped up the bottom line with regard to this release. I couldn't possibly incorporate all that information here, so those interested should definitely check out the links provided in the previous post.