Pink Floyd have a deep catalogue, replete with highs and falls, and numerous reinventions. Led by founder Syd Barrett, the group became the house band of the counter culture, recording one fabled album together – ‘Piper At The Gates Of Dawn’ – as the Summer Of Love reigned.
Syd Barrett’s departure left the band wounded, and their subsequent evolution saw Pink Floyd reconfigure themselves. 1970’s ‘Atom Heart Mother’ saw the group enter a new decade – but, as they freely admit, it wasn’t a high point.
Side A is a group-focussed effort, while the second side allows the individual members to take the focus. Alas, no one emerged happy – Pink Floyd have developed a habit of dismissing the work.
During an interview on the BBC in the early 80s, Roger Waters commented: “If somebody said to me now, ‘Right, here’s a million pounds, go out and play ‘Atom Heart Mother’‘, I’d say ‘you must be fucking joking’.”
Usually more mild-mannered, guitarist David Gilmour was dismissive of the record. He called it “a load of rubbish. We were at a real down point… I think we were scraping the barrel a bit at that period”.
Perhaps he had a point. Recorded in the aftermath of fractious sessions for the ‘Zabrinskie Point’ soundtrack, ‘Atom Heart Mother’ was the work of a band running on empty. Continuing, David Gilmour pointed out: “We were at a real low point. We didn’t know what on earth we were doing or trying to do at the time, none of us. We were really out there.”
That said, the record struck a chord with some at the time. Pink Floyd’s first number one album in the UK, director Stanley Kubrick wanted to use sections on his soundtrack for A Clockwork Orange – indeed, the distinctive cow sleeve can be seen in the film’s record shop scene, shot at the real-life Chelsea Drugstore.