13. Pink Floyd : 'Meddle' (1971)

'Meddle' represents the birth of Pink Floyd as we know them today. It was actually their sixth studio album and was recorded at a series of locations around London, including Abbey Road Studios. With no material to work with and no clear idea of the album's direction, the band devised a series of novel experiments which eventually inspired the signature track 'Echoes'. Although many of the group's later albums would be unified by a central theme with lyrics written mainly by Roger Waters, 'Meddle' was a group effort with lyrical contributions from each member.

Of course, I could have chosen 'Dark Side Of The Moon' which is a more rounded, assured release - largely considered to be their best - but I find 'Meddle' more interesting as it was the album which was clearly building to that end, and has a more experimental feel about it. It also confirmed guitarist David Gilmour's emergence as a real force within the group having replaced vocalist/guitarist/writer Syd Barrett who went awol from the band's early, more unfocused incarnation. There's a lot of debate about which is the best Floyd period and I was probably too young to have got it with Syd. Had I grown up in that era, maybe it would have been a different thing, but I only discovered them after he was gone.

It's common knowledge that I'm into sound production and design - those things are important to me - and when Gilmour came to Floyd, along with the others, they focused a lot more on those aspects. The Syd era was more about his songs and Englishness, and that kind of thing.

With 'Meddle', Pink Floyd were experimenting in a very different way to anyone else at that time - you can hear electronics in there, right through to the influence of classical music. 'One Of These Days' rises out of nearly a minute of wind effects and follows the now-more-familiar Floyd formula (sound effect, slow organ build, lead guitar surge and climax-resolution), 'Pillow Of Winds' and 'San Tropez' are strange acoustic numbers hovering over a bizarre back-drop of weird sounds. A clever and eerie spoof entitled 'Fearless' leads up to a classic crowd rendition of 'You'll Never Walk Alone', the perennial victory song appropriated by Liverpool's Kop. Even the throwaway track, 'Seamus', with the howling of Steve Marriott's dog over Gilmour's blues, has a lazy charm which undermines the ambition of the remainder of the record.

'Echoes', a 23-minute aural extravaganza which takes up all of side two, recaptures some of the themes and from earlier albums. Originally titled 'Return of the Son of Nothing', the track dominates the entire work. It has a majestic grace and a sophisticated mystery that went on to define everything we know about Floyd; slightly obscure; extremely atmospheric. Starting with a sonar pulse, the track leisurely unfolds before climaxing into full electro-rock. After another four minutes it dissolves to atmospherics before finally returning to the main theme.

This is progressive rock at its most engaging and intelligent.

01. Television : 'Marquee Moon' (1977)
02. Lou Reed : 'Berlin' (1973)
03. Public Image Ltd. : 'MetalBox' (1979)
04. Talk Talk : 'Spirit Of Eden' (1988)
05. Steve Reich : 'Reich: The Desert Music' (1997)
06. David Bowie : 'Aladdin Sane' (1973)
07. Radiohead : 'OK Computer' (1997)
08. Massive Attack : 'Collected' (1998)
09. Morrissey : 'You Are The Quarry' (2004)
10. Eno : 'Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy' (1974)
11. The Beatles : 'The White album' (1968)
12. Górecki : 'Symphony #3, Op. 36' (1992)
13. Pink Floyd : 'Meddle' (1971)