990 - Pink Floyd 'Atom Heart Mother' (1970)

My Rating: 2.80 out of 5
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: X
Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums: X
The Mojo Collection: X

Chart Peak (UK/US): 1/55

Favourite Tracks: Summer '68
Least-Favourite Track: If

Many years ago I used to make regular visits to Notting Hill Gate's 'Record & Tape Exchange' in order to be insulted, humiliated, ignored and occasionally even to buy some secondhand vinyl. I liked the cover, so I always remember noticing dozens of copies of this album languishing in the racks (not a good sign) & the shop policy of reducing the price every fortnight that a record remained unsold meant that most copies of this had dropped to the bottom price of 20p (definitely not a good sign). I can't remember exactly how I ended up buying it, but I probably brought in a mint acetate of a previously-unreleased Beatles single & ended up spending my generous "10p cash or 20p exchange" on it in a panic before the staff sneered at me again.

Anyway, I was surprised to find that I owned this record on vinyl because I certainly don't remember listening to it & that's a shame as I think my adolescent self would have rather enjoyed it. The orchestral title-track starts off like some classical avant-garde piece but during its 23 minute journey takes us on some unexpected turns - yes, there are some pretentious & pompous excesses but there are also enough flashes of brilliance to keep me interested. The album closes with another long soundscape Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast which made me chuckle with its bowl of Rice Crispies up front in the mix (the 'snap, crackle & pop' must have caused some confusion to vinyl listeners). I was also surprised that after about 10 minutes it starts hitting a groove that sounds uncannily like Stereolab.

After I listened to this, I read that the album had been ill-conceived, poorly-executed & that the band pretty much disowned it. But neither the record's genesis or what the performers feel about it has any bearing really (after all, the Beatles didn't care much for the 'Let It Be' LP). All that matters is how my brain responds to the music & for all its supposed faults, to me it sounded like a fairly cohesive, unified & progressive record.

Out of interest, I asked my friend who is a massive Floyd fan what he thought of the album & he simply replied "Rubbish". I'm guessing he was one of the many people who sold their copies of it down at 'Record & Tape Exchange' all those years ago.


crowbarred said...

To me, its a bit like someone asking Barry Bonds what it was like to hit his 9th home run or Donald Bradman hitting his first half century, they would reply "Ah but that was the old days when the foundation was young" We did better since then ~ and all 3 did

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