Album review: Pink Floyd, p.u.l.s.e. (1995)



By Steve Newton

Those Pink Floyd guys sure know how to get maximum mileage from a hit album. Evidently not satisfied with selling some 13 million copies (in North America alone) of 1973’s Dark Side of the Moon, they rereleased it in a “limited edition” 20th-anniversary CD version a couple of years back. Now they’ve gone and made a recent live recording of that entire work the main selling point of the much-ballyhooed new double disc, p.u.l.s.e. Does the ultimate example of ’70s prog rock really deserve that kind of reverential treatment?

You betcha.

The best-ever album to smoke a doobie to, Dark Side set the standard for the fusion of simple pop songs with cutting-edge technology and mind-bending sound effects. I still remember the weird rush I got while first experiencing the plane-crash effect at the climax of “On the Run”. Other Floydian recollections dominating my ’70s-rock consciousness include the ultrafunky bass riff of “Money”, the ominous percussion intro to “Time”, and the stunning vocal gymnastics on “Great Gig in the Sky”. Somehow, all 10 Dark Side tracks seemed to flow along so smoothly that it was almost like listening to one long song, and—spliff or no spliff—it was easy to get lost in the genius of main songwriter Roger Waters.

Waters isn’t in the band now, of course, but the group does very well without him—and if I had to choose between the two, I’d take David Gilmour’s guitar and vocals over Waters’s bass and vocals anyway. Gilmour is still the subtle master of tasty phrasing and sly guitar effects, and he leads a crack 11-piece band that includes original members Nick Mason on drums and Richard Wright on keyboards, with impressive backing from Dark Side of the Moon saxophonist Dick Parry and a trio of exceptional female backup singers.

P.u.l.s.e.  was recorded in Europe and the U.K. last year on the Division Bell tour, and the sound production is superb, just as it was for the band’s two-night B.C. Place stopover last summer. Even the CD-box design—which includes a 44-page, full-colour mini-booklet, gorgeous cover art, and a pulsing, battery-powered red light—harkens back to the glory days of the foldout LP, when you bought music you could listen to and look at—maybe even hang on your wall.

Yup, those were the days. Hands up, everybody with those Dark Side of the Moon posters still taped to the basement wall!

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