Friday, July 17, 2020

Pink Floyd - Paranoid Delusions (1974)

Pink Floyd released their eighth studio album, The Dark Side of the Moon, in March 1973. A concept album, it had been part of the band's setlists for more than a full year before its release date, and its massive commercial success and critical acclaim made Pink Floyd unexpected superstars. After the tour in support of the album ended, in October 1973, the band initially took an extended break to rest from their incessant touring, but after a while, decided to tackle the daunting task of following up DSOTM. And their first idea, Household Objects, was as idiosyncratic a followup could be. Harkening back to their more experimental roots, the main concept behind Household Objects was to make music without using any actual instruments. In the two pieces the band completed in early '74, "Wine Glasses" and "The Hard Way", they achieved keyboard-like sustain by sliding their wet fingers over wine glasses, played basslines on rubber bands, created percussion by stamping their feet, and so forth. However, after the second track was completed, Waters, Gilmour, Wright, and Mason lost interest in the project, and instead, they decided to focus on more, let's say, conventional musicianship. With a tour of France booked for the Summer of 1974 fast approaching, the band wrote two brand new pieces: "Shine on You Crazy Diamond", a 20-minute long meditation on the influence and life of Syd Barrett, and "Raving and Drooling", a frenetic and jammed-out song about insanity. 

They were both road-tested during this tour, and were later joined by "You've Got to Be Crazy", a very critical and acidic song about business and capitalism, during their November 1974 British Tour, with a gig at Wembley in the 16th being professionally recorded. With those three songs amounting to more than 50 minutes when played live, there was more than enough reason to believe that this would serve as the backbone of the next Floyd album, as they were known to work out their material live before heading into the studio. Guitarist David Gilmour seemed to agree with this notion, citing his wish that those three be the next PF album, while bassist Roger Waters disagreed. Waters thought that while "You've Gotta Be Crazy" and "Raving and Drooling" were good songs, they didn't fit his vision for the next record, and that he wanted to use only "Shine On", and expand on its themes of the demise of Barrett and the Music Industry. In the end, as we all know, Waters ended up winning this musical tug-of-war, and the classic Wish You Were Here album got made. It had three more songs being added alongside SOYCD, which acted as a bookends to the album, divided into two parts. And as for those two leftovers, both ended up undergoing some considerable rewriting, getting adapted into "Dogs" and "Sheep", from PF's Animals, from 1977, which some consider an even stronger album than the one that came before it. As is Pink Floyd tradition, not a note was wasted.

So, the purpose of this reconstruction is to answer the question: what if Pink Floyd had released an album consisting of those three songs? Had Gilmour won the fight for the future of the next PF record, what would such a record look like? And to answer that question, we'll need to set up some ground rules first. No live recordings will be accepted, as this is supposed to be a studio album, after all. We can use them for reference when it comes to basing our edits, but not use the live, unfinished versions themselves. Second of all, only those three are allowed as part of the album, due to time constraints. During the band's 1975 US tour, they played then brand new tune "Have a Cigar" alongside the three aforementioned songs, a couple of months before they finished recording WYWH. And as much as I like it, it doesn't fit the general theme of the record, and since the album is already much too long as it stands, nevermind when we add yet another song. And as for the two Household Objects songs, "Wine Glasses" got lucky and got included added as the intro to "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", but since "The Hard Way" was not recycled in any form, we cannot use it, unfortunately. Since the Animals versions of the outtakes are the closest we have to a finished product, we'll use alternate versions of them, with explanations of what would be different in their 1974 versions provided by me. Anyway, not to stretch this any further, here's what said album would look like:

Raving and Drooling (The Extraction Tapes)
You've Got to Be Crazy (The Extraction Tapes)
Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Wish You Were Here)

Bonus tracks:
Wine Glasses (Wish You Were Here)
The Hard Way (The Dark Side of the Moon)

Gilmour, Mason, Waters and Wright performing live at Wembley, November 1974

The album starts off with "Raving and Drooling", for which we use the Extraction Tapes version of "Sheep", with the bass guitar intro, and original (unfinished) lyrics reinstated. Had Waters agreed with Gilmour's idea of making an album out of the three songs they already had, he would probably end up revamping its lyrics considerably, as he did to make it fit the Animals concept. As for the musical structure of the song, it was already set in stone by late-1974, which means this version is faithful to the band's original idea of the track before it became "Sheep". And as for "You've Got to Be Crazy", we use another June 1976 take from The Extraction Tapes, which features almost the same lyrics as "Dogs", minus its 6/4 synthesizer solo, and with a horrible Roger Waters guide vocal. The original 1974 lyrics to the song didn't please David Gilmour, who thought it had "too many words", and found himself having almost to rap in order to get all of the words out. This problem was solved when, before their 1975 American Tour, Waters rewrote the lyrics of the track, making them into the words we all know as "Dogs", minus some animal references ("collar and chain" was "brittle and bit", "pat on the back" was "seat on the board", and so forth), and the aforementioned synthesizer solo. It also had David singing lead throughout, with the exception of the outro, which would probably also be the case here, with the tune clocking in at 13 and a half minutes, as performed live in 1975.

Occupying the whole of side two as a side-long epic, as originally intended, is "Shine on You Crazy Diamond", which I created by editing together the two parts, as a mockup of how the song was performed live in 1974. During the band's British Winter Tour, Part V segued into Part VI by overlaying the latter's introductory bass riff with the fading guitar riff of the former, which is how I edited both pieces together here, crossfading the outro to Part V to the intro of Part VI. The whole piece is 25 and a half minutes long, which is pushing the limits a vinyl record could hold, but was still doable (remembering side two of Atom Heart Mother is 28 minutes long!), if not recommended due to loss of fidelity. If you want to keep to those constraints, you can edit out the guitar solo on part III (which is the only part of the song that's edited out in every Floyd comp), and bring it down to a slightly more reasonable 24 and a half minutes. As for Paranoid Delusions' sequencing, I decided on having "Raving and Drooling" as the opener instead of the SOYCD suite, as by 1975 the former had become PF's opening number on live performances, with Crazy Diamond serving as the finale to set one, before an intermission and a full performance of The Dark Side of the Moon. It also works fairly well, making for a better listen than having the two sides in their "original" orders. If Waters could only finish the lyrics to R&D in time, they'd have one hell of an album ready by early 1975.

Clocking in at 49 and a half minutes, Paranoid Delusions would easily be one of my favorite Pink Floyd albums ever, if not my favorite. It features the band in their performance and songwriting apex, and with three epic suites, marks the Floyd at their proggiest. Much more complex than The Dark Side of the Moon, but still retaining its world-weariness and bleak outlook, it feels like a natural step forward from it, to a greater degree than Wish You Were Here ever could. However, due to its expansive nature, I can see this selling less than WYWH did. Not that it would be a poor seller (impossible, after the massive success of DSOTM!), but without a radio-friendly single such as the title track or "Have a Cigar", it'd lose a bit of its mass appeal. But if that's the price to pay for such a fantastic LP, I'm all for it! I took the name Paranoid Delusions from a bootleg of a 1973 show, as I felt it fit in pretty well with the album's material, and calling this Household Objects could be a bit misleading. And as for its cover, I recycled one of the booklet artwork pieces from WYWH, which was placed right next to the lyrics of Shine On, as I felt it represented well the feelings present on the album, especially on SOYCD, evoking a strong feeling of absence. It's a shame that the band didn't explore this option further, as we the fans would greatly benefit from it. But we can't complain about how it all turned out, with the Floyd calling out the Machine and reading too much George Orwell.

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here [Immersion Edition]
Pink Floyd - From Abbey Road To Britannia Row - The Extraction Tapes 1975/76
Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon [Immersion Edition]