Pink Floyd – Wish you were here
Even thought it was Dark Side of the Moon that stayed on the charts for over 100 dog years, and The Wall that gobbled up all the attention, most hardcore followers of the Floyd consider this album to be the band’s truly finest hour, and rightfully so. It is here that the contributions of Mssrs. Waters, Gilmore, and Wright blend together in the most harmonious manner, while reflecting upon the band’s past ghosts, namely that of founding member Syd Barrett. In comparing all the Floyd albums saturated with Waters’ depressing visions, Wish You Were Here is the one that rings most sincere and least overblown to me. No maniacal screaming or ‘loony’ laughter, no ‘he leadeth me to the slaughterhouse’ readings on vocoder, no “The Trial.” The message is despairing, but clear, direct, and not self-aggrandizing or self-pitying.
Every song on here, whether taken together or apart, is a staple of classic rock radio, whether you like that fact or not. My favorite is “Welcome to the Machine,” one of the most incredible works the band ever accomplished from a construction standpoint. Never has a rock song sounded so hollow and effectively zombie-like to me, with Gilmour’s octave-separated wail caught like a fly in a spider’s web of musique concrete. “Have a Cigar” contains some of Waters’ best lyrics and features an unexpected guest vocal from cult artist Roy Harper. Harper turns in a magnificent performance, perfectly capturing the portrait of the Gordon Gecko’d record exec and orgasmically cooing: “Everybody else is just greeeen, have you seen the charts?” and “We’re so happy, we can hardly count.”
I could comment on the anthemic title track and the album’s epic “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” as well, but instead I’ll keep this reasonably short, figuring most everybody who’s a prog rock fan has probably heard this album already. If you haven’t, shame on you. This is a magnum opus of rock music in general, not just the prog rock genre; the sort of album that gets made only when the planets are in a certain conjunction.