The Bodhisattva Beat
Music and Life

Pink Floyd: Ummagumma

Ummagumma: 1969

Ummagumma: 1969

I have been familiar with this album for quite some time. It was one of my early introductions to Pink Floyd. A friend had this, and “Dark Side of the Moon.” I took to the latter right away, and soon had my own copy. “Ummagumma” remained more of a novelty. It was just so freaky, that it seemed cool. I had no idea what the musical or creative benefits were. There wasn’t much deep analysis going on then.

Years later, my college roommate had it. The live stuff was great (I still had yet to her the original versions of these songs). The studio side was selectively played. There was still no patience for detailed investigation of the longer pieces.

A few years back, I finally got my own copy. “Piper at the Gates of Dawn” and “A Saucerful of Secrets” had become favorites since my college days, so the live takes still enthralled. Yet, the “Ummagumma” originals continued to elude me.

I must say that I have always enjoyed the Roger Waters tracks. “Grantchester Meadows” is a lovely piece, and points the way to his later sound. “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict” is a great experimentation with sound samples, and effects.

My opinion has changed on Gilmour’s “The Narrow Way.” I used to find it a tad boring, but now I appreciate the subtleties. The only problem is the whirring noises added to part one. It detracts from what is otherwise a quality piece.

Nick Mason’s “The Grand Vizier’s Garden Party” leaves a lot to be desired. The winds on the “Entrance” and “Exit” are quite nice, but those parts are brief. The percussive noodle-fest that makes up part 2, while interesting, does not hold up to repeated listens.

I find Richard Wright’s contributions to be nothing more than experimentation without much of a purpose.

This is an album that should be checked out. However, I would hardly call this a necessity. “Careful With that Axe, Eugene” is unique to this album, and the Waters and Gilmour originals are high quality. If not for that, I would probably recommend this one for collectors only.

Roger Waters – bass, guitar, gong, bass, vocals, tape
Nick Mason – percussion, drums, timpani, tape
Richard Wright – organ, piano, keyboards, vocals, Mellotron
David Gilmour – organ, bass, guitar, piano, drums, vocals, Mellotron

Lindy Mason – flute

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One Response to “Pink Floyd: Ummagumma”

  1. Just like you (and many other people), I believe the ‘studio’ side to be interesting, but little more than that – with the possible exception of “Grantchester Meadows”, which is really a lovely song. The ‘live’ side, however, is one of my favourite recordings by PF, though it does not attain the heights reached by the immortal “Live in Pompeii” movie.

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