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March 24, 2006

David Gilmour - On An Island

Oh dear, where to start?

I really quite liked "The Division Bell"; was it really twelve years ago? It wasn't anywhere as good as a Pink Floyd album with Roger Waters on board, but it had it's moments. It was worthy of a sixty- eight city tour, and I went to see them in Earl's Court. They were big, loud, and very entertaining.

If you were expecting more stadium filling rock from Gilmour on this release, then you will be sorely disappointed. Only one track, "Take a Breath", actually gets the BPM count above comatose. It's the only one that shows any real sign of life, but even it isn't very exciting.

"Red Sky At Night" sounds like some kind of mini "Shine on you Crazy Diamond" reprise. "This Heaven' has it's moments, a bit smokey jazz club maybe. "The Blue", and in fact a lot of the work here, harks back to a very early album Pink Floyd did in 1972 called "Obscured By Clouds". This track sounds especially like 'Mudmen' from that CD.

The title track "On An Island" is the best song. We all want to hear Gilmour playing his trademark electric guitar sound, and it has a fairly decent bit in the middle here, and an extended solo at the end. The guitar is always there on the album, but he is just strumming with no real passion. All the other tracks are very slight, flimsy. I can hum the complete solo at the end of "Comfortably Numb" from memory - that's not going to happen with any of the work on display here.

Nearly every track make you feel as if you've stumbled upon a small band having a private jamming session in their back garden on a summer's afternoon. The music floats over you, not unpleasantly of course, it sounds nice. I think it might work well as the soundtrack to one of those nature documentaries that are so popular right now. After such a long wait for new material however, I think we deserved a bit more. "Obscured By Clouds" incidentally was a soundtrack album.

The thing that is really lacking however, the one thing that might lift the music out of this torpor and turn it into something meaningful, is the lyrics. There are words of course, well, except on the three forgettable instrumental tracks. The problem is that they are meaningless sentimentalities about how it's nice to sit by the sea, or drink some wine, or look into a child's eyes. Chris de Burgh would have thrown these lyrics out as being too syrupy and cliched. This is about as far away from "The Wall" or "Dark Side of the Moon" as it's possible to get.

A great vocalist could probably do something with the material, but Gilmour, and Waters for that matter, were never good singers. Pink Floyd had fantastic thought provoking lyrics. They practically invented the concept album. They sneered, and shouted, and screamed - they didn't actually do any singing at all really. But Gilmour thinks he can get away with it now, and his voice is just not up to it.

I think the problem is that Gilmour is just to rich and too happy. Hhe doesn't need the money, doesn't need the adulation of the fans. He has nothing left to prove. Stop being so damned nice Dave! Get some decent drums back, where was Nick Mason for this one? In fact, now you've made friends with Waters again after Live8 (that was a great performance), why don't you all go back into the studio and have one more go at a real Pink Floyd album. Waters is a bit of an egomaniac, too political sometimes, too outrageous, but together you are a perfect complementary team. You can reign him in, and he can push you to new musical heights. Get back into the studio, fight a bit, argue with each other and swear once more you'll never work together again, but don't actually split till the music is recorded.

I'd hate for you to keep on making this kind of material, so please make more effort, and I'm sure you can still rock us properly at least one more time.

Posted by se71 at March 24, 2006 10:53 AM


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