Review Summary: Welcome to the stage of history...
After shaping the very foundations of music with The Dark Side of the Moon, the longest-charting album of all time, and releasing one of the vital concept albums in the music industry with The Wall, Pink Floyd had released their last album nearly a year before: The Division Bell. Many thought this would be the end of Floyd, that Bell was it. But Floyd was not done yet. Eventually going out for one more live release during the Divison Bell tour: Floyd twenty-four performances all the energy and passion they could give, and it soon became Pulse, Floyd's single defining live release. By this time it may have been considered as just one last attempt. One last attempt from a band of people that are several years older. But, for now, it was soon realized for what it is. It rocks harder than anything.
Things are different with Pulse. The Division Bell tour was said to be their last, and it soon would be their last album tour. Truthfully, the post-Wall era wasn't exactly the band's strongest. A Momentary Lapse of Reason
featured a performance considered by many as singularly a David Gilmour attempt, and that everybody else were less important, less enthusiastic. The anti-war statement The Final Cut
soon wound up as a less enthusiastic addition, and Division Bell had turned out to be a below average addition to end the band's time.
Here's the largest problem with Pulse: the performances are not as energetic or spastic as they were. The band had gone through the entire Dark Side of the Moon tracklist on the second disc, a decision made over the time of the tour. The instrumental work is still amazing as usual: the various instruments highlight each song, from the bass work to the straightforward guitar work (which is exceptional nonetheless), but there's not a whole lot of audience reactions in these performances. You'd be hearing Us and Them
and you'd hear it on the original LP. The absence of interactions and reactions in songs like The Great Gig in the Sky, Eclipse, and Time
can actually highlight Another Brick In The Wall, Pt. II
due its better interactions and energy on the stage, whereas the former three tend to be more dull.
The album is still slow and takes time to build, and is not to mention a mixed bag. Whereas the stronger tracks appear in the second half, the first half is more enjoyable when it comes to playing the sets in a more energetic way. And while you can't blame them (they're several years older, pounds fatter), for a last album, this could of been more exciting. The tracklist is spot-on, but they don't bring anything exactly new to the table. In a way, when I was finished listening to this still-excellent album, all I could think of was this:
"This was really good, but all in all, it's just another brick in the wall."
And that would be the finishing brick. If Delicate Sound of Thunder showed a younger band at the prime of their career, Pulse is the end of that era. (Arguably, Is Anybody Out There is from 1980) But an ending goodbye is in order, as this still shows some exceptional tracks. At the time, the band was just barely keeping intact, but they came out with this cataclysmic performance, one that was divided sharply. But the creativity comes back full circle in this title, and it would be one you'd be stupid to miss.