Pink Floyd – Delicate Sound of Thunder

2010-02-08 15:31
Delicate Sound of Thunder
A cruel and ungrateful question to ask of a band who helped people like me survive our adolescence. The middle-class mid-life crises seemed comfortingly similar to my world-weary 16-year-old disillusionment, the oppressive British public school system was an easy match for the soul-crushing Calvinism of 80s white South Africa. The grand, dark, nightmarish sound that Roger Waters era Floyd made famous transformed teen anguish into something beautiful, romantic and glorious. The echo on the vocals. The electric guitars squealing like dying pigs... we were feeling it.

It was perfect music for filling a stadium with tripping fans. And that's just what Floyd did. They packed stadiums all over the U.S.A., pulling out all the stops with laser-light shows and eardrum-shattering sound.

They also recorded the New York shows, and the result was Delicate Sound of Thunder. It was their first album released not only on vinyl and cassette but also on CD – an extremely hi-tech shiny disk said to be indestructible (and unlike the cassette tape, impossible to copy without specialised equipment!)

Well, it's a beautiful recording, soaked in that ricocheting desperation, doom-laden grandiosity. The thing is, it feels a little self-important and I hate to say this but, oh what the hell: tired. Like the band's fans - once beautiful young people with everything to live for and a hundred reasons they'd rather die - time has left Delicate Sound of Thunder looking somewhat portly and constipated. The intros feel too drawn out, the instrumentals ramble on and on. And on.

It has its moments, of course. "Dogs of War" sounds better live, and mullet-man Scott Page's intense sax solo is alone reason enough to get this track. Things start looking up on side two, on which they stop punting A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) and play their older and better material. "Time" wakes up thanks to folksy vocals and more open arrangements than the album version. "Us and Them" gains new life through some harmonic variation on the origional. It's impossible to mess up "Money", even with the risks they take on this speedy, cheese-out version of the classic track. "Another Brick in the Wall" (live), being a genuine anthem, is probably essential iPod fodder.

In the end, it's a great album, or at least half of it is. But be warned: Delicate Sound of Thunder just isn't sounding quite as awesome as it was back in 1988.

With the exception of 'Dark Side of the Moon', has any Pink Floyd aged particularly well?

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biobot 2010/02/08 3:44 PM
Unfair to judge Floyd on post-Waters rehash. Dr Biobot prescribes a quarter of a bottle of whisky and Animals.
Barry Groenewald 2010/02/12 8:19 AM
  • Rating:
Dark Side of the Moon is a milestone record and still sounds good - Wish you were Here in my opinion also aged well - Shine on you Crazy Diamond is one of their best recordings. True - after Waters left their sound changed but each of their albums contain gems that should not be dismissed.
Rodders 2010/02/25 10:59 AM
To answer the question: has any Pink Floyd besides 'Dark Side of the Moon' aged well? unutterably so - 'The Wall' is still one of the most definitive albums of the 20th Century, and my personal favourite album (unlike most PF fans) is 'The Final Cut', which is still haunting, desperate and downright dark 30 years later! However, I do agree that 'Delicate Sound of Thunder' has not aged well, but then I wasn't a huge fan of the album even back in 1988 (those glorious days of teen angst in Std 9!!!)
ROGER WATERS 2010/02/25 12:35 PM
Personally, I dislike all Pink Floyd music after 1983
katman 2010/03/09 3:52 PM
Delicate Sound of Thunder is what it is: Pink Floyd without Waters. Once you have accepted that, it’s a wonderful live recording. But for me the Floyd that has aged best is Wish You Were Here. It’s that perfect blend of concept album and stand-alone tracks.
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