On October 2, 1970, "Pink Floyd" released their fifth studio album "Atom Heart Mother".
At the center of the album is a six-part symphonic-psychedelic piece that combines blues, classical music and psychedelic noises. This work extends along the entire first side of the record. A piece that may be controversial, but its importance in the band's musical development was significant.
Why is it controversial? Unlike the following works that the band will release during the 70s, there is no full consensus about this excellent piece among the band's fans. There is no consensus about it even among the band members themselves, who denied it, stopped performing it in live shows and called it "a load of rubbish" (quote by David Gilmour).
And what about its importance in the development of the band? It is right on the border between the band's psychedelic period and the more progressive era. Apparently, without "Atom Heart Mother" the band would not have dared to experiment with complex works like "Echoes", which came after.
The band began working on the album in the early 1970s, after finishing the songs for the soundtrack of the movie "Zabriskie Point".
The idea for "Atom Heart Mother" came from the record company, which pushed the band to combine a symphonic piece with the band's melodies. The model that was in front of the eyes of the record company was that of the "Moody Blues" with "Days of Future Passed", "Deep Purple" with "Concerto for Group and Orchestra" and more.
The piece began with guitar line by David Gilmour on guitar, a motif reminiscent of Western music, which evolved into the basic piece. The band members then handed over the "skeleton" of the work to Scottish composer Ron Geesin. Geesin composed and wrote the roles for the symphonic instruments: the brass instrument, the choir and the cello parts. Geesin then combined the instruments on the "skeleton" of the piece and processed the final product, while all this time the band was on tour in the United States.
Geesin came to the project through Nick Mason and Roger Waters who were his friends, when Geesin also collaborated with Waters on the album "Music from the Body", which was also released in 1970. He undoubtedly did an amazing job here, turning the basic musical composition that the band gave him, into a full work of music, exemplary and eternal.
The name of the piece was given by chance, after Geesin suggested that the band review a copy of a London newspaper and look for inspiration. Waters saw an article about a pregnant woman with a nuclear pacemaker and the rest is history...
The album cover also corresponds in one way or another with the name of the musical and the album. On the cover is a cow standing in a meadow, as a hint of the theme of motherhood and nature. The album cover did not include any inscription of the band and / or album name , apparently in order to emphasize the power of nature.
As mentioned, the musical piece on the first side of the album is divided into six parts:
The first section, "Father's Shout", includes the main motif: the theme tune of the piece, which is played mainly by the brass orchestra, includes trumpet, trombone, toba and more. This melody combines the musical parts played by the band itself. Next comes "Breast Milky" starting at 2:51 minutes and introduce us to a secondary theme tune that is mainly played by the cello accompanied by the band. The third part, "Mother Fore", is a church section that begins at 5:23 and is mainly led by Rick Wright's keyboards and a choir with 20 male and female singers. The fourth part, "Funky Dung", is a bluesy track that starts at 10:10 and includes a guitar solo of David Gilmour, which in a sense is reminiscent of excerpts from the piece "Echoes". Later in the section we are once again introduced to the chorus that connects us to the central motif and the theme melody of the piece. The fifth part, "Mind Your Throats Please", begins at 15:27. This is an avant-garde-psychedelic segment that abounds with strange sounds and repetitive recordings of excerpts from previous sections. The segment ends at 19:09 with the phrase "Silence In The Studio" said by the recording technician, aka Alan Parsons. The concluding section, "Reemergence", is a kind of repetition and summary of the passages from the previous chapters.
And now you are invited to watch this masterpiece played by "Echoes - Pink Floyd Tribute Show Israel":
On the other side of the record, we can find a collection of songs, written and composed by the band members separately, that has nothing to do with the musical piece on the first side of the album.
The song "If" was written, composed and sung by Roger Waters. This is a soft and moving folk song that is not so typical of Waters. Some argue that the song was written about Waters' feelings of guilt following the dismissal of Syd Barrett from the band.
The track "Summer '68" was written by Rick Wright, who also sang it. This is a melodic, dynamic and charming piece with touches of progressive rock, in which Wright refers to his experience with a fan during the band's tour in the United States.
The piece "Fat Old Sun", written and performed by David Gilmour, is a folk song in a pastoral atmosphere. Some have argued that it is reminiscent of the Kinks' 1967 song "Lazy Old Sun." Gilmour, by the way, did not deny it. This is a magical and mesmerizing song that Gilmour performs quite a bit in his solo career. Gilmour also plays bass and drums here.
The album ends with the track "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast". The piece was conceived by Nick Mason and it is indeed a psychedelic piece in three parts that stretches over about 13 minutes. In our humble opinion, this passage is a kind of "filler".
To sum up: despite the fact that this album is sometimes perceived as controversial, we really like it and hold the opinion that it is one of the most beautiful and important albums in the rich repertoire of "Pink Floyd".