Relics (Capitol 35603)
Say, what's this, I'm reviewing a Pink Floyd CD? Contrary to popular opinion, I do have a shameful classic rock side, though in most cases my willful obscurantism prevents me from enjoying the more overplayed fruits of the genre, of which many have been supplied by Pink Floyd. Dark Side of the Moon is a great album, though I can't see myself putting it on at any given time, seeing as I can enjoy it in the form of a laser light show or radio station "midnight album" almost any time I choose.
The corporate years of Pink Floyd escape me these days, and while at one point in my life you could find me intentionally rocking out to The Wall or even A Momentary Lapse of Reason, nowadays it's a rare mood indeed that has me hankering to hear that stuff. Even in my heaviest Pink Floyd phase, I probably only listened to maybe two or three of their albums. I think I was more into Radio K.A.O.S. by Roger Waters than The Wall, and on the latter my favorite songs were things like "Vera Lynn" and "Is There Anybody Out There."
That's why I say this: if you must have a Pink Floyd album, the one to have is Relics. Almost nothing on there that could be called overplayed except by those more willfully obscure than myself, and several tunes that will have you saying "Wow, that's good, why hain't I never heared it before?"
Relics collects the band's early singles, from 1967 to 1970 or so, including Syd Barrett's better offerings ("See Emily Play" and "Arnold Layne") as well as some great psychedelia ("Interstellar Overdrive," "Careful With That Axe, Eugene"). The album it most resembles is Chips From the Chocolate Fireball by the Dukes of Stratosphear, though with much less of a winking sense of humor and overall much less of a pop instinct.
As the disc progresses you begin to see how Pink Floyd gradually morphed from a tripped-out psych-rock band into an ambitious art-rock band. The element of continuity is probably the potential for dropping acid to any Pink Floyd album, and Relics certainly has that going for it.
But moreover, it has great songs like "Paintbox" and ponderous pre-Dark Side space-outs like "Cirrus Minor." Certainly there is a decent amount of muck and murk on this disc ("The Nile Song" will not likely ever be a favorite of mine, unless I get heavily into rhyming at some point), but the majority of it is thoughtful and actually quite pretty. It's psychedelic hogwash for the most part, but very well done for that genre.
Plus, it's enjoyable to imagine Roger Waters, whose recent music has been so drenched in bitterness, playing on a song called "Bike," which begins "I've got a bike, you can ride it if you like."
This is probably the most underrated Pink Floyd album there is, and well worth discovering, even if you think you've outgrown your classic rock phase. It never leaves you entirely, you know. Classic rock is quite like genital warts in that way.
Review by La Fée