Review Summary: "Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun."
Every time I listen to this album, I can't help but mourn over the events that took place during its time. Every Pink Floyd fan knows this story. After the release of their groundbreaking 1967 debut, The Piper At The Gates Dawn
, the band went through a lot of personal turmoil and all of it the hand of its leader. Syd Barrett, the tormented genius of his time. His mind would slowly begin to disorient by reasons that are still mysterious to this day. And after several occasions where his erratic behavior had become a burden far to great bear, the rest of the group concluded that Syd Barrett could no longer function as the head of the band and would gradually be replaced by David Gilmour.
A Saucerful Of Secrets
is the final Pink Floyd release to feature any contributions by Syd Barrett, as we can see him slowly being eclipsed by the other members. The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, though an exploratory album that discovered new approaches to Psychedelic music, reflected a sense of optimism. Several of its compositions displayed Syd's ironic sense of humor and lyrical witticism. A Saucerful Of Secrets
, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. The music is coated with an almost gloomy atmosphere, and its lyrical content conveys a much more adult tone.
The album opens with "Let There Be More Light"
, releasing an infectious bassline that will be sure to immediately seduce the interest of the listener. This is our first impression of Pink Floyd without Syd Barrett and we can already sense the higher level of maturity in the overall sound. Though the lyrics express that psychedelic essence of the previous album, it lacks the satirical innocence of Syd Barrett's touch. And though there are typical Psychedelic compositions like "Remember A Day"
, for the most part, we find Pink Floyd exploring new dimensions within their music and pushing themselves to even stranger realms. "A Saucerful Of Secrets"
displays a more abstract agenda, an exploration of the possibilities and limits of psychedelic music. "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun"
reflects that similar fascination with astronomy of the last album. It's decorated with a flourishing cosmic ambience, orchestrated to reflect the experience of an astral voyage through the vast distances of outer space.
We can really see Roger Waters beginning to assume the role as leader of the band in A Saucerful Of Secrets. Most of the music was written by him, and already we can see him venturing into the familiar territories of his subsequent works. "Corporal Clegg"
is perhaps the biggest example, as its the first Pink Floyd song to address issues of war, a theme which would recur throughout his career as one of the primary songwriters for the band. As for Syd Barrett, only one of his contributions made it to the album, the finale, "Jugband Blues"
. It was an interesting choice in placing this piece for the closing track. "Jugband Blues"
is a window into Syd Barrett's state of mind at the time, expressing not only his point of view of everything that is happening around him, but his farewell to us all. I have to admit, I find this song to be one of the most lamenting works in the history of music. His words reflect such genuine sorrow, because whether he was mentally ill or not, he knew that this would be his final moment as a member of Pink Floyd. The lyrical content of this song is perhaps the closest we'll ever get to understanding Syd Barrett, as he leaves us one last ambiguous message to decipher; "What exactly is a dream, and what exactly is a joke?"