Sunday, July 17, 2016

Pink Floyd – Royal Mail First Day Cover

The latest Royal Mail First Day Cover is dedicated to Pink Floyd. Few bands in the history of rock have managed to carve out a career as rich and expansive as that of Pink Floyd. From their blues-based psychedelic roots, the members of the Cambridge-formed outfit have created some of modern music’s most totemic and inspirational albums, with ground-breaking live performances to match.
When listened to sequentially, Pink Floyd’s 15 studio albums not merely mirror the group’s musical development but also offer whistle-stop tour of wider developments in popular culture.
The band’s 1967 debut, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, for instance, is a perfect example of psychedelic adventure and English whimsy, with topics ranging from that era’s fascination with space travel (as on the titanic opener, ‘Astronomy Domine’) to leader Syd Barrett’s internalised nostalgia (evinced on the warm fantasia of ‘Matilda Mother’).

Barrett’s departure from the group in March 1968, following increasing bouts of depression and mental instability, was traumatic. Pink Floyd’s 1969 album, Ummagumma, proved as much, split as it was between the live recording that make up Record One and the studio tracks of Record Two, written individually by bassist Roger Waters, drummer Nick Mason, keyboard player Richard Wright and guitarist David Gilmour (who had initially joined the band to play alongside Syd).
Meddle (1971) and Obscured Clouds (1972) saw the band’s sound coalesce, paving the way for the all-conquering The Dark Side of the Moon (1973). A modern musical masterpiece, whose lyrics deal with matters ranging from consumerism to mental fragility, Dark Side was followed by the equally majestic Wish You Were Here (1975).

Pink Floyd’s sweeping art rock and cerebral lyricism chimed with an audience increasingly disenchanted with the failed optimism of the 1960s. Indeed, disillusionment also pervaded Floyd’s 1977 album, Animals, setting the tone for the conceptual brutality of The Wall (1979) and its successor, The Final Cut (1983), both helmed by Roger Waters. Following the latter’s departure in the mid 1980s, David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright continued as Pink Floyd, issuing A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) and The Division Bell (1994).

Two decades later, a few years after the death of Richard Wright on 15 September 2008, came The Endless River: a contemplative swan song by a band whose albums continue to astound and inspire 50 years after their first record was released. 

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