Back in 1987 I bought an album by a band I’d sort of heard of. The album was Momentary Lapse of Reason, the band Pink Floyd. Every so often, you listen to an album and realise you’ve come home. To this day I’m not entirely sure what drew me to the album – it didn’t have the visual appeal of Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe, it didn’t have the “already heard it in school” pedigree of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. But I bought it. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Y’see I’ve not really had much of a musical education from my parents. My dad had Queen’s Greatest Hits in the car pretty much all the time, and he’s now graduated onto much more mellow Rod Stewart stuff *shudder*. Mum? Still not sure what she’d choose to listen to – Terry Pratchett audiobooks, at a guess. So I’m largely self-taught when it comes to my musical taste. If I’d had the internet, and known about Music Map, I’dve known that my progression through Yes, Deep Purple, Genesis and Marillion would’ve led me to Pink Floyd sooner or later. Probably sooner.
From that starting point, I got my hands on Delicate Sound of Thunder, the live album from the tour that followed. From there, I filled in the gaps backwards to Dark Side of the Moon, introducing my then-girlfriend to the music along the way. She picked up Animals, and somehome we’ve never quite managed to own The Final Cut. Between us we’ve never really got into the pre-Dark Side stuff, it’s just a bit too raw, too un-finished. Songs like Arnold Layne hint at the greatness that is to come, but it’s not quite there yet.
Skip forward to 1996 and two poor students on a coach down to London from Edinburgh, off to see Pink Floyd on The Division Bell tour. What an amazing night that was! A packed Earl’s Court singing along to Wish you were Here is one of my treasured memories. At the time, I think we all knew on some level that another studio album was unlikely. The live album Pulse was recorded during that tour. Still, not a bad run for a band – 7 solid albums without a bad track on them. Not many bands can say that.
Then in early 2013 rumours started circulating on the internet that there was going to be a new album. And maybe a tour! The tour rumour was quickly quashed but more and more information about the new album started to come to light…
The album would come from sessions recorded while the band were recording The Division Bell – and before the death of their keyboard player. It would take it’s title from one of the last lines of High Hopes, the last track on The Division Bell.
The Endless River was released Monday 10th November 2014 and I, like many who had pre-ordered, had it downloaded and ready for the morning commute.
It is simultaneously quintessentially Pink Floyd while being unlike any other album they’ve released to date. Broadly speaking, it’s just 4 tracks – but each is nearly 15 minutes long. Largely instrumental, it flows and weaves through what feels like the entire history of Pink Floyd. It is a thing of beauty.
If you’ve not had the pleasure of Pink Floyd, do yourselves a massive, massive, favour and start listening. Pick an album at random, from Dark Side of the Moon to The Endless River. Don’t just listen to it once, listen to it over, and over, and over, and over. Listen to it in darkened rooms where your brain isn’t distracted by anything else. Listen to it with friends, tell them to shhhh when David Gilmour’s guitar solo for On the Turning Away starts. Tell them to listen to the lyrics! Above all, listen.
And do not mourn that there will be no more. Celebrate that there is.