Saturday, May 25, 2013

Gilmour's Solo Debut

If you were a teenager in the 1970s, the odds are pretty good that you heard Pink Floyd at least once — whether you were a casual listener or a devoted fan.

For the casual listener, Pink Floyd probably meant songs like "Money" or "Time."

For people with more exposure to Pink Floyd, there was a lot more to listen to. But, in the late 1970s, there was a lot of movement going on within Pink Floyd. Roger Waters was promoting an idea that eventually became "The Wall," Pink Floyd's double album from 1979, and members of the band were working on individual projects.

David Gilmour, who had been with the band since 1967, was working on a solo project that was first released on this date in 1978. He wasn't leaving the band — he was just stretching his creative wings a bit.

My memory is that the main track from that album, "There's No Way Out Of Here," got a lot of radio air time that summer.

And Gilmour, in addition to being a well–established guitarist, had a voice that was perfect for songs like "There's No Way Out Of Here," which was similar to classic Pink Floyd tracks like "Wish You Were Here."

Frankly, I never understood why his solo debut wasn't more highly regarded. I thought it was a pleasant enough album, easy to listen to, accessible even for non–Floyd fans.

Possibly at times, though, the songs on the album sounded a bit too Floyd–like. "There's No Way Out Of Here," for example, sounded like a Floyd demo that, for whatever reason, was left off a Pink Floyd album and never revived.

Casual Floyd listeners wouldn't have picked up on that, I suppose, but dedicated Floyd fans — and experienced music critics — may have. I certainly saw similarities in songs like "Raise My Rent" and "So Far Away" — but, to be totally honest, the whole album sounded like Pink Floyd outtakes to me.

Reasonably short outtakes, admittedly, but outtakes nonetheless.

At that time in my life, that appealed to me. Pink Floyd's most recent album at that time was "Animals," an album I have grown to appreciate more as I have matured, but, at the time, I found the long tracks to be somewhat tedious. While I always appreciated the unconventional nature of Pink Floyd's music, I was drawn to the more traditional album arrangements of "Wish You Were Here" and "Dark Side of the Moon."

I guess I was more predisposed to like albums with a single track that took up an entire side of a record if that record was made by Yes, which was always more of a symphonic experience for me, anyway.

By the way, technically, "There's No Way Out Of Here" was a cover. It was originally recorded by another band a couple of years earlier.

But few people were aware of it at the time, and fewer still probably are aware of it today.

And for Floyd fans, it is worth noting that "Short and Sweet," a song that was co–written by Gilmour, strongly resembled "Run Like Hell," which would be included on "The Wall" the very next year.

Talk about coming attractions.