2 of 2 thought this review was well written
Pink Floyd is the greatest rock musical act ever. Such an audacious statement is bound to cause controversy and draw criticism from all but the most devoted of fans. Yet, if you look at what Pink Floyd managed to complete in its time as a band you may come to agree with the above statement. 1973's Dark Side of the Moon revolutionized music at the time of its release, went 15X platinum in the United States alone, and is considered by many listeners and critics to be one of the best rock albums created; 1979's The Wall went 23X platinum, is one of the most popular concept albums in existence, and spawned some of the most recognizable classic rock songs in the forms of Comfortably Numb, Hey You, and Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2. Now many people's knowledge of Pink Floyd ends there. They sing along with the radio hits and may wear the Dark Side of the Moon t-shirt, but do not know anything beyond that. This is a shame as the follow up to Dark Side of the Moon is an exceptional album in its own right that deserves a spot next to Dark Side of the Moon, and The Wall.
Syd Barrett had an immense amount of influence on the music of Pink Floyd. From being an original contributing member of the band, to having music dedicated to his memory by loyal band mates, he shaped much of Floyd's early music and particularly the themes of this album. Wish You Were Here's name is a tell tale giveaway about its focus. The band misses Barrett, and they want the world to know it. Roger Waters does a fantastic job writing the lyrics and the band does an equally brilliant job of putting his thoughts to music. From the slow building climaxes of the two parts of Shine On You Crazy Diamond to the acoustic piece and album's namesake Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd creates some very beautiful, atmospheric rock.
Beautiful and atmospheric are in fact two very good words to describe the music. While certainly not happy in any way, the buildups and crescendos as well as the aforementioned songwriting make the music very enjoyable. While not technically astounding or vocally superb, Wish You Were Here as a single piece of work just may be overall-brilliant. The flow from one track to the next works very well and for the first time through you may not even realize some tracks have ended and the next begun. Similar to Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here is presented as singular work rather than a series of songs strung together.
As for the songs themselves, the two parts of Shine On You Crazy Diamond are the clear standouts. The amounts of rising and falling musical swells paired with a glorious chorus and thick atmosphere make SoYcD a rich and rewarding musical experience that should not be ignored. Wish You Were Here and Have a Cigar are the two well known radio hits. Both are more digestible lengthwise than SoYcD although they may lack the majesty of the aforementioned. Have a Cigar and Welcome to the Machine change the focus of the album momentarily to critiquing the musical industry and press. While there is nothing wrong with lyrical diversity, there is a part of me that wishes the band had dedicated the album entirely to Barrett instead of giving Waters a few tracks to rant on. Welcome to the Machine is unfortunately a slight letdown compared to the rest of the album as its synths are a bit overdone and its seven and half minute length is ultimately forgettable. Now while as an individual song it may be sub-par, fitted with the rest of the jigsaw that is Wish You Were Here it remains an essential if less enjoyable piece of the puzzle.
Wish You Were Here is a difficult listen to many people who like their straightforward rock music. It's five tracks surprise many unsuspecting soon to be fans, and the twenty-five minute two part Shine On You Crazy Diamond may deter those who like their music concise. However I would strongly urge you to give Wish You Were Here a listen. Forget what you know about two and a half minute songs on twelve track albums, and forget what you know about simplistic rock lyrics dealing with drugs, sex, and rock and roll; because in the end you will be richly rewarded. I strongly recommend this album to any fan of the rock genre.