Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (remaster) (review)

Capitol records is in the midst of a massive reissue program of the Pink Floyd catalog.  Icon Fetch reached out to several veteran Dayton musicians to give their takes on their favorite Floyd albums.  Tod Weidner has fronted the band Shrug for almost 20 years, coming away with first place in the 1995 Dayton Band Playoffs.

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (Experience Edition) (Capitol/EMI) review by Tod Weidner

Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, released in 1975, holds a firm position in the hearts of many a Floyd fan as one of THE all-time classic albums, both in the band’s catalog and the Rock genre as a whole.  I have always considered WYWH to be very much keyboardist Richard Wright’s baby; it features (to my ear, at least) some of the warmest, most delicious synth and keyboard sounds ever put to tape.  In addition, I would personally rank the epic centerpiece of the album, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” as one of Rock’s most exquisitely-arranged compositions.  The whole album is a very solid, yet lyrical and atmospheric, set of songs, and it was with great anticipation that I awaited the new remastered “Experience Edition” 2-disc set, particularly the goodies that are to be found on the second disc.

Disc 2 begins with three tracks recorded live in the Fall of 1974 at London’s Wembley Arena, before the band entered Abbey Road Studios to begin work on the album.  “Shine On” is presented here in its entirety, as guitarist David Gilmour had originally envisioned it.  Bassist Roger Waters eventually had his way by splitting the song up and bookending the album with it.  Here, it’s taken at a much faster pace and with a looser feel than the studio version we have grown familiar with.  The next two live tracks, “Raving And Drooling” and “You’ve Got To Be Crazy” are very early versions of what became, respectively, “Sheep” and “Dogs” on Floyd’s 1977 Animals album.  Both of these tracks are fascinating for their embryonic (and much less polished and nuanced) arrangements, and the minimalism of all three of the live tracks (Floyd was still touring as just a 4-piece back then) will be a bit jarring for fans more accustomed to late-period Floyd’s live sound, with its extra musicians and vocalists fleshing out the material.

The disc also includes “Wine Glasses,” a taste of the band’s abandoned “Household Objects” project, featuring the intro chords to “Shine On.” There is also an alternate take of “Have A Cigar,” with Waters on lead vocals (the album version has Roy Harper, a cult-favorite singer/songwriter and friend of the band, handling vocal duties). The real treat of the second disc in my opinion is the alternate version of the album’s classic title track.  The legendary master jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli, famous for his collaborations with the brilliant guitarist Django Reinhardt, was recording an album down the hall from Floyd at the time, and was persuaded (reportedly for a fee of 300 pounds) to contribute a beautiful, slippery, weeping violin solo, replaced in the final version by Gilmour’s scat-sung acoustic guitar lead. This track alone makes the Experience Edition of WYWH essential listening for any Pink Floyd fan.