So Pink Floyd were officially worldwide superstars. Now what? Certainly that’s what their new American label wanted to know, and luckily for everyone involved, the band found their way into another exploration of the concepts they’d successfully mined on their big hit. Wish You Were Here is a return to the fabric of the sidelong composition balanced with shorter tracks, but here the idea of an eternal loop is accomplished by splitting the magnum opus in half, with the shorter songs in between.
“Shine On You Crazy Diamond” is that opus, listed as being in nine parts that are pretty easy to identify if you’re paying attention. It begins with some thick synthesizers, eventually joined by a bluesy guitar. Then a four-note phrase appears to stand the hairs on your neck. Another instrumental section eventually leads into the vocal, which takes two verses before giving way to a sax solo. The overwhelming feeling of futility is underscored by the mechanized pulse that drives “Welcome To The Machine”, which for some reason turns into a spaceship landing at a cocktail party.
“Have A Cigar” (a.k.a. the one that goes “Oh by the way which one’s Pink?”) delivers a similar funk feel as “Money” on the last album, but this particular slap at the music biz is sung by folkie Roy Harper. Another whooshing effect gives way to the title track, coming first from a radio speaker before springing to full stereo splendor with the acoustic guitar. The wind returns to blow the song away, leaving the remainder of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” in its place. A slide guitar picks up the pace, skidding all over before bringing us back to the verse and a chorus, followed by a longer exploration of the forlorn arpeggios heard near the end of the first half. An altogether different theme closes the piece, resolving on a major chord.
Thanks to Classic Rock radio, Wish You Were Here is another Pink Floyd album that has suffered from over-saturation, as the three shorter songs are still in heavy rotation. But the brilliance of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” holds everything together, and makes it worth hearing the “hits” again.
Naturally, thanks to the album’s commercial popularity, it too was blessed with expansion in the screw-the-economy-let’s-rerelease-everything-a-third-or-fourth-time climate of the 21st century. The Experience Edition adds an interesting selection of music. Three more songs from the Wembley show already mined for the 2011 Dark Side sets appear, including “Raving And Drooling” and “You’ve Gotta Be Crazy”, which would be retooled for Animals. The balance is given over to three embryonic tracks: a snippet from the abandoned “Household Objects” project, an early mix of “Have A Cigar” before Roy Harper walked in, and a lengthy “Wish You Were Here” with a clean intro and the famous buried violin solo by Stéphane Grappelli. (Those who sprung for the Immersion Edition got all that plus quad mixes, surround mixes and concert background films on two DVDs. And a book. And a scarf. And a bag of marbles. And some beer coasters. And other stuff.)
Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here (1975)—4
2011 Experience Edition: same as 1975, plus 6 extra tracks
2011 Immersion Edition: same as Experience, plus 2 DVDs and 1 Blu-Ray