A little bit ago some people on that Face Place website - you know, the one with a population larger than all but two countries - were talking about the most memorable albums they could remember. I was pretty distraught that people kept tossing Pink Floyd, but it was always The Dark Side of the Moon or The Wall - like they were the only Floyd albums ever released.
Props to the guy who listed Wish You Were Here - but it's such a shame that it's the "deep cuts" album. It was shocking that one of the greatest space/prog-rock bands ever was reduced to three albums. I'm some raving Pink Floyd fan who can rattle off the liner notes from the back cover of some obscure single from 1967, but at least I know not to ask which one's Pink.
I started writing this blog a month ago, then saw fit to delete half of it. Since then I've just sat on it. Now I don't really remember how I started my argument, but it was something like, "you can take your precious Dark Side and The Wall and jam them," because they wouldn't have been anything without Meddle.
This album in particular gets a really bad wrap for no reason at all. Lets face it, Floyd produced experimental art in the form of music and that means it's 100% subjective. One persons Picasso is another's Van Gogh.
On a critical level, I argue that Meddle signifies a specific change in their sound. It's the first cohesive album featuring solid suites of music that each move from point A to B. I dare say, it's their first true progressive album.
Now I'm not some vinyl snob - my ever growing 180+gb digital library indicates I'm quite far from it - but this is definitely an album that makes much more sense with two sides. And, yes, I do own it on vinyl - it's just more convenient to listen on my iPod. If figure it as two suites of music hyphenated by a few stand alone tracks.
The first two tracks, "One of These Days" and "A Pillow of Winds", directly segue with the sound of ambient wind, a technique they later showcase on Wish you Were Here. While "Fearless" isn't directly connected with the first two songs, I feel it completes the movement.
"Fearless" balances the driving, almost horrifying tone of "One of These Days" with the breathy, romantic "A Pillow of Winds". Plus droning rhythm of "Fearless" is one of my favorite PF guitar riffs; there is just so much that can be done with four chords and the right timing.
"San Tropez" and "Seamus" are stand alone experiments with jazz and blues, respectively. While potentially just fits of whimsy, I consider these focused attempts at expanding their sonic character. And poor, poor "Seamus" (that's the dog) always gets left out in the cold as their worst song - something I really feel is a little harsh.
Side two contains the 23+ minute opus "Echoes", which really diagrams my feelings about this album. It's an adventure, with ups and downs. It starts one place, moves somewhere else, gets a little lost, a little scary and then ends on some solid footing. I'm filled with a sense of accomplishment when I listen to it.
So, I stand by earlier comment. You cannot have your precious Dark Side without it. Coincidentally, Dark Side is their next full length, non-soundtrack album. And while I'm not dismissing Obscured By Clouds in any way, I'd argue that you could mash Meddle with Dark Side quite successfully.
If you listen to "Echoes", you can hear pieces of Dark Side developing, especially portions of "Brain Damage". Sure it lacks the sonic cohesion of Dark Side or the potent lyrics of The Wall, but it's the start of something big. And I'm a real sucker for starting points.
When you're looking at Pink Floyd, the journey is just as important as each stop along the way. I just happen to believe Meddle was a very important stop. Undoubtedly I've failed to convince anyone that Meddle is a superior album, but at least I can say that I've argued on it's behalf.