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Wish you Were here

Release date: September 15th, 1975

Recorded at: EMI Studios, Abbey Road, London (January-July 1975).

Pink Floyd followed the commercial breakthrough of Dark Side of the Moon with Wish You Were Here, a loose concept album about and dedicated to their founding member Syd Barrett. The record unfolds gradually, as the jazzy textures of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" reveal its melodic motif, and in its leisurely pace, the album shows itself to be a warmer record than its predecessor. Musically, it's arguably even more impressive, showcasing the group's interplay and David Gilmour's solos in particular. And while it's short on actual songs, the long, winding soundscapes are constantly enthralling.

At the time of its release, "Wish You Were Here" received markedly mixed reviews: after the success of "Dark Side", many thought it was a distinct anti-climax. However, it has aged very well. The lush strains of the album's centrepiece, "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", found a new audience in the late '80s among new agers and ambient house freaks; while the title track--perhaps the Floyd's most melodic song since the days of Syd Barrett--remains perennially popular. By 1975, Roger was missing Syd; the business was getting to him ("And by the way, which one's Pink?" from "Have a Cigar" was an actual quote by an American record executive). The album also shows Gilmour making his strongest individual contribution yet, with several fine extended guitar solos and some of the most heartfelt vocals the Floyd have ever committed to disc.

David Gilmour: "After Dark Side we were really floundering around. I wanted to make the next album more musical, because I felt some of these tracks had been just vehicles for the words. We were working in 1974 in this horrible little rehearsal room in Kings Cross without windows, putting together what became the next two albums. There were three long tracks, including Shine On You Crazy Diamond, which I wanted to record, and Roger said, No, let's take Shine On, divide it into two, and put in other material around the same theme. And he was right, I was wrong."

Nick Mason: "This was much a more difficult record to make. Roger was getting crosser. We were all getting older. We had children. There was much more drama between us, people turning up to the studio late, which we generally hate. There was more pressure on me to make the drumming more accurate and less flowery. But I think as an album it flows really well. It's like a descedant of Meddle in terms of the use of repeating themes, and the pacing."

Pink Floyd: The Illustrated Discography says: "During the WYWH sessions a fat, shaven-headed person wearing grey Terylene trousers, a nylon shirt and string vest wandered into the studio. The band ignored the visitor and kept on playing and it was the visiting Andrew King who finally recognised their guest: 'Good God, it's Syd! How did you get like that?
' To which Syd replied, 'I've got a very large fridge at home and I've been eating a lot of pork chops.' The whole event was slightly un-nerving since the theme of the album was based on Syd and his subsequent madness."

About that, Rick Wright said: "The whole album sprang from that one four-note guitar phrase of Dave's in Shine On. We heard it went, That's a really nice phrase. The wine came out, and that led to what I think is our best album, the most colourful, the most feelingful. Shine On was in the process of being recorded, the lyrics about Syd were written. I walked into the studio at Abbey Road, Roger was sitting, mixing at the desk, and I saw this big bald guy sitting on the couch behind. About 16 stone. And I didn't think anything of it. In those days it was quite normal for strangers to wander into our sessions. Then Roger said, You don't know who that guy is, do you? It's Syd. It was a huge shock, because I hadn't seen him for about six years. He kept standing up and brushing his teeth, putting his toothbrush away and sitting down. Then at one point he stood up and said, Right, when do I put the guitar on? And of course he didn't have a guitar with him. And we said, Sorry Syd, the guitar's all done."

Shine On You Crazy Diamond
Part I (Wright, Waters, Gilmour) [00:00]
Part II (Gilmour, Waters, Wright) [03:35]
Part III (Waters, Gilmour, Wright) [06:29]
Part IV (Gilmour, Wright, Waters) [08:42]
Part V (Waters) [11:10]
[13:33] Vocals by Waters and Gilmour joins on the chorus.
Welcome to the Machine (Waters)
[07:26] Vocals by Waters and Gilmour.
Have a Cigar (Waters)
[05:07] Vocals by Roy Harper.
Wish You Were Here (Waters, Gilmour)
[05:40] Vocals by Gilmour.
Shine On You Crazy Diamond
Part VI (Wright, Waters, Gilmour) [00:00]
Part VII (Waters, Gilmour, Wright) [04:52]
Part VIII (Gilmour, Wright, Waters) [06:04]
Part IX (Wright) [09:09]
[12:21] Vocals by Waters.

Total Playing Time: 44'11