Monday, January 10, 2011

Pink Floyd 14: Great Dance Songs, Works and Echoes

The chronology thus far makes this a good place to discuss the various Pink Floyd collections that have cropped up over the years. For a band who thrived as much as they did in the album format, one could be forgiven for thinking that a “greatest hits” album may not be the easiest thing to compile, but compile they did. And did. And did again.

Following the success of The Wall, the Floyd’s current label decided to put out a hits album of sorts. Cheekily titled A Collection Of Great Dance Songs, it’s something of an arbitrary collection of album tracks that may have been familiar to FM radio listeners. Starting with “One Of These Days” from Meddle, it sports a re-recording of “Money” and the complete “Sheep” from Animals. An excellent edit of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” covers most of the first half to include all the verses before fading into “Wish You Were Here”. And “Another Brick In The Wall (Part II)” features the clean opening plus the schoolmaster’s coda. Yet despite the alternate mixes, it’s basically a sampler, and not a replacement for the LPs.

Not to be outdone, the band’s former American label soon put out Works, which also begins with “One Of These Days” before traveling back to the Syd days of “See Emily Play” and “Arnold Layne”. “Fearless” and “Free Four” show off their jaunty acoustic side, while “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” and “Several Species Of Furry Animals” appeal to the freaks. “Brain Damage” and “Eclipse” oddly end the first side, and the true rarity “Embryo” closes the set. That, plus various crossfades and alternate mixes make it interesting for fans, while newcomers will enjoy the earlier, lesser-known tracks.

While the band members fought with each other through the nineties, their entry in the box set category was simply Shine On, which offered seven of their thirteen albums to date, plus the exclusive Early Singles, half of which had appeared on Relics. A much better overview of the band came in 2001 with the release of Echoes, offering over two-and-a-half hours of Floyd classics and deep cuts, some edited and/or crossfaded, covering nearly all the bases. Syd is featured on five tracks (as well as opening and closing the set), there are a few cuts from the two post-Roger albums, and there’s even the first CD appearance of “When The Tigers Broke Free” from the film of The Wall.

When the band started reissuing the albums again—and in some cases, expanding them—ten years later, a single-disc best of was commissioned, cheekily titled A Foot In The Door. Naturally it leans heavily on Dark Side, Wish You Were Here and The Wall, plus “See Emily Play” and a track each from the two non-Waters albums. The strangest inclusion is “The Fletcher Memorial Home”; a great song, but hardly a radio-friendly toe-tapper. Of all the compilations, Echoes is still the best place to start. (Of course, you could also go whole hog with either of two box sets of all fourteen studio albums, released only four years apart.)

Pink Floyd A Collection Of Great Dance Songs (1981)—3
Pink Floyd Works (1983)—4
Pink Floyd Shine On (1992)—4
Pink Floyd Echoes: The Best Of Pink Floyd (2001)—4
Pink Floyd The Best Of Pink Floyd: A Foot In The Door (2011)—

4 comments:

  1. Talking about chronology, let me ask you something that's not related to this particular entry: why is it that you only reviewed two Joe Jackson albums and they weren't the first ones but "Big World" and "Rain"? Since you are very carefully devoted to year-by-year reviews in almost any other case, and since you wrote of those two with such evident pleasure and approval (which I share, because I like Jackson's music a lot), it's kind of mysterious... And I'd love to read more on that!

    Excuse the digression,
    Nacho

    ReplyDelete
  2. An excellent question. The main reason why there are only two Joe Jackson albums are because they're the only ones I'd gotten to. Rain was a recent surprise at the time, and Big World is an old underrated favorite. I assure you that the bulk of his back catalog is on the to-do list. If anything, I don't have to worry about running out of things to review.

    ReplyDelete
  3. An excellent answer, and excellent news, too! You're right, you don't have to worry about that. And I wasn't anxious, just curious. I'll wait patiently.

    I haven't listened "Rain" yet; "Big World" is an old favorite of mine, too, and even more when I remember the concert of the subsequent tour which I attended in Madrid. I almost got into a fight with diehard punk fans of "the first Joe Jackson" who were trying to boicott the show -the slow section of course and, in particular, the spoken intros to some songs, for which Joe had recquired the services of a Spanish translator, a girl who was almost killed by those dumbheads! Good old crazy eighties!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Seek and find "Rain". If you can handle "quiet" Joe, this won't offend you.

    ReplyDelete