A Saucerful of Secrets
Today we know that psychedelia isn’t all “Summer of Love” flower power and meditative affirmation. In the wrong hands, and over done, the psychedelic experience can quickly turn into a terrifying roller coaster ride through the Haunted Mansion of our greatest fears and anxieties. In 1967 and 1968, Syd Barrett, and by extension his Pink Floyd bandmates, were experiencing the awful anguish of a troubled mind ravaged by excessive drug use. During the recording of Saucerful of Secrets, Barrett’’s increasingly erratic behavior led the other members of Pink Floyd to find a more reliable guitarist. Enter David Gilmour, who in the process of recording this album would leave his mark, becoming a full time member, as Barrett was escorted out.
“Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” stands as the only recorded track of Pink Floyd as a five-piece, featuring both Barrett and Gilmour on guitar. The song is a stunning early example of the band’s incredible, sometimes terrifying power. At the center of the album, it shows how the band could do “less is more” and “more is more” with equal skill. This song is followed by “Corporal Clegg”, a song penned by Waters that demonstrates how early he was at work draping vicious social and political attacks in swaths of pop sweetness. Over the next decade, he would refine this method, eventually erupting in the anger and anxiety of Animals, The Wall, and The Final Cut.
Album closer“Jugband Blues” is appropriately the last song Barrett would contribute to the band. Its wild-tinged pop melody and eccentric structure stands as a suitable farewell to the wild influence of the increasingly unstable performer. When Barrett sings “I don’t know who is writing this song,” it is not psychedelic identity play, but a thinly veiled cry for help. With A Saucerful of Secrets, we leave behind the psychedelic experimentation of the 1960s and a mature Pink Floyd emerges, ready to redefine the power and purpose of rock music in the 1970s.
1. Let There Be More Light
2. Remember a Day
3. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun
4. Corporal Clegg
5. A Saucerful of Secrets
7. Jugband Blue