Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Special Treat From Pink Floyd

Earlier this week, Columbia Records released Pink Floyd's "The Endless River," a collection of previously unreleased tracks recorded during the sessions that produced "The Division Bell" 20 years ago.

I didn't get the CD on the first day it was available in the United States (it was actually released a few days earlier in the United Kingdom). I got my copy after it was released, but I've been listening to it whenever I could since then.

I grew up listening to Pink Floyd. Well, from my teen years on, I suppose. As a youngster, I listened to the Beatles a lot. Then, sometime in my teens, I heard "Wish You Were Here" and "Dark Side of the Moon." I've been a Pink Floyd fan ever since.

I still love the Beatles, of course. I like a lot of different kinds of music. In fact, I'll listen to just about anything — except rap. To any of you who may be rap fans, I'm sorry. I just don't consider it music. One of my students once asked me, "What's your favorite rap song?"

And I replied, "The closest thing to rap in my collection is Bob Dylan singing 'Subterranean Homesick Blues.'"

Anyway, I thought I would never hear another new release from either the Beatles or Pink Floyd. I was wrong.

Nearly 20 years ago, the surviving Beatles took recordings John Lennon had made and dubbed in their own vocals and musical instruments to create not one but two songs featuring the Beatles — even though Lennon was dead. They weren't exactly new to me. I had heard Lennon's solo recordings. But it was nice to hear the four of them performing together again. That part was new to me.

And now Pink Floyd has one–upped the Beatles with an entire album. The music is mostly instrumental — with the exception of the final track — but fans will recognize the sound immediately. This isn't a jerry–rigged Pink Floyd with someone brought in to fill in for the late Richard Wright or the long–departed Roger Waters. It's Wright with David Gilmour and Nick Mason.

I have told people that I hear elements of past Floyd albums like "Dark Side of the Moon" and "Wish You Were Here" — and I do, to the extent that I expect the music to go in one direction, even after several hearings, and then it goes in an entirely different direction — but I also hear things you might not expect from Floyd — for example, I hear sounds that remind me of Yes and Rick Wakeman.

Like those "new" Beatles songs that were released nearly 20 years ago, "The Endless River" is a special treat I never thought I would get from an old favorite.