‘We ended up going down some cul-de-sacs’: On David Gilmour’s experimental first projects with Pink Floyd

David Gilmour joined Pink Floyd as the band was completing its final recording with original frontman Syd Barrett. But 1968′s Saucerful of Secrets didn’t herald a new direction, so much as the beginning of a long period of experimentation.

First came 1969′s More, which found Pink Floyd dabbling in short-form acoustic balladry. Ummagumma, which combined studio and live tracks, followed later that year. 1970′s Atom Heart Mother included collaborations with a brass section and choir. Both of the latter projects concluded with a series of solo compositions.

These wildly divergent themes don’t exactly point to the stunning successes to come with Dark Side of the Moon.

“The idea of everyone operating separately didn’t work particularly well,” Floyd’s Mason tells Dave Kerzner. “It was really [1971's] Meddle that was the next stepping stone, and the way forward towards Dark Side.

David Gilmour has revived “Fat Old Sun,” from Atom Heart Mother, on various solo tours, while Roger Waters memorably included the same album’s “If” as part of the Radio K.A.O.S. shows. Still, a general ambivalence toward these 1969-70 efforts clearly persists: The 1992 album-themed box set Shine On skipped directly from Saucerful of Secrets to Meddle.

“I think what we ended up doing in a way,” Mason says, “was going down some cul-de-sacs. I think Atom Heart Mother, which we’re all fond of — we think it’s interesting — it was not the route we ended up continuing down, in the same way that Ummagumma wasn’t either.”

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