Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here

NME.COM feature on Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here album including album review, artwork, tracks, listen now, tour dates, discography and more.

Release date: 03 March 2003

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Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here: Wikipedia Album Entry

The band entered Abbey Road Studios during the first week of 1975 to begin recording on their follow-up to Dark Side Of The Moon. In the previous year, they introduced three new pieces to European audiences during the first sets of each show. Two of them, "Raving And Drooling" & "You Gotta Be Crazy", were ultimately not recorded for Wish You Were Here, but re-shaped and re-recorded in 1976 for the Animals album as respectively "Sheep" and "Dogs".

The third would take shape as Wish You Were Here's centerpiece, "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". During tour rehearsals for the previous year's French summer tour, David Gilmour came up with the signature 4-note theme and the piece took shape from there. With the memory of former front-man/singer-songwriter/guitarist Syd Barrett fresh in his mind, Roger Waters wrote the lyrics as a tribute to his fallen friend, at the time already an reclusive figure.

In 1974, it would be performed as one uninterrupted piece. However, during the band's tour of North America the following year, it would be split in two parts, sandwiching another new song, "Have A Cigar". A funky guitar-driven piece, it would ultimately be sung on the final recorded version by Roy Harper, as Roger's voice was in poor shape. This song, and the ominous "Welcome To The Machine" were written reflecting the band's negative attitude towards the record industry. They also (with various instrumental parts of "Shine On") feature synthesizers in a stronger fashion than previous albums, as well as the sound effects (provided by Nick Mason) that are signature to the Floyd sound.

The title track took shape when Gilmour came to the studio and showed the band the chord sequence, which suitably impressed Waters. He then wrote the lyrics, referring to Syd Barrett's departure and Roger's own growing alienation from his band and from other people (these themes later on would become essential to his story of The Wall). More than any previous Floyd number, it has a very prominent Country & Western feel to the instrumentation (pedal steel guitar and acoustic piano) and the melancholy feel to the lyrics. It would eventually become one of the band's signature songs, and is as of now (May of 2009) the band's most scrobbled song on Last.fm

Towards the end of the recording process, a stranger who at first looked unfamiliar to the band and the engineers appeared in the studio. After much discussion of who it was, the band slowly recognized him as the man whose story and personal relationship with the group had heavily influenced the record, Syd Barrett. Each member was unsure of what song they were mixing, but urban legend has it that it was "Shine On", which adds a new and deep personal resonance to the already emotional piece. Subsequently Syd disappeared from sight, as the band members attended David Gilmour's wedding ceremony that night. That was the last time any member of Pink Floyd had personal contact with their former enigmatic leader.

The record was released in the Fall of 1975, the band's first on Columbia Records (in the United States, EMI was and remained the Floyd's International label). It became the fastest selling record of their career, topping both the American (certified Gold within two days of it's release and ultimately 6X Multi-Platinum in May 1997 by the R.I.A.A.) and U.K. album charts (Gold within the year, but has yet to achieve Platinum status).

The band themselves hold the album in high artistic regard, despite the negative and disconnected environment during recording, with both Gilmour and Rick Wright saying it was their favorite. It was the last of their albums in which Rick played an important role in composing the music (making significant keyboard contributions on "Shine On"), until nearly 20 years later with the band's last album The Division Bell. On the band's next three albums, the lions share of the song-writing credit would go to Roger Waters. This, in part with the deteriorating relationship between the band, would cause Roger to leave in 1985, ten years after Wish You Were Here.

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