Often-forgotten David Gilmour was the Pink Floyd leader’s most varied solo effort

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Arriving as it did between two Roger Waters-heavy Pink Floyd releases, David Gilmour’s self-titled debut is destined to forever be compared to Animals and then The Wall — yet the album holds its own as a smaller, personal statement.

Loose and collaborative, with some interesting instrumentals, David Gilmour is recommended because it’s neither withering in the shadow of Roger Waters or (like, say, the Gilmour-led albums in the band’s third-act) trying too hard to sound like Pink Floyd. Instead, everything feels familiar and comfortable. Credit goes, in part, to David Gilmour’s backing band — old buddies who had been members of Bullitt, an early Gilmour solo group.

Released on May 25, 1978, it stands as Gilmour’s most varied offering — from a tough, ominous rocker in “There’s No Way Out of Here” to a somber and sweet vocal showcase in “So Far Away” to the closer “I Can’t Breathe Anymore,” which builds off a simple reading on isolation into a soaring guitar solo.

Of particular note is the driving “Short and Sweet.” A kind of precursor to the far more widely known “Run Like Hell” on Pink Floyd’s subsequent The Wall, this solo cut combines the sweetly romantic sound of David Gilmour’s voice and a serrated guitar edge. With “Short and Sweet,” co-written by Roy Harper (who later issued his own version of the song on 1980’s The Unknown Soldier), Gilmour has perhaps never sounded more personal.

It’s a highpoint of a project that might be criticized as comfy and never too deep, if it weren’t such a perfect platform for David Gilmour to just be David Gilmour. He was clearly at home, collaborating again with Bullitt drummer Willie Wilson and bassist Rick Wills. Of course, the pressures of working within the Pink Floyd dynamic would become far more obvious as Gilmour led the band into 1987’s Momentary Lapse of Reason.

But first, Gilmour quickly folded back into Pink Floyd, and David Gilmour — other than its minor hit cover of a song by Unicorn, above — became largely forgotten. Gilmour, Waters and Co. would return to this same Superbear Studios in France to work on Pink Floyd’s The Wall, where a leftover riff from the David Gilmour solo sessions would find a home in “Comfortably Numb.”

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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