Long rant coming on.....
In the mid-80's, Floyd fans were wondering if the band would ever play again. Gilmour and Waters had done their solo albums and tours in '84. Gilmour had said that Pink Floyd was "gathering dust" while Waters said that being in the band was "not much fun anymore". So it was a sense of great relief when it was announced that despite Waters' departure, Gilmour and Mason would continue on as Pink Floyd with Wright returning to the fold. My hope was that musical interplay between Gilmour and Wright that had made albums like Meddle
, Dark Side
and Wish You Were Here
so special would be reignited. When Lapse
was released in September '87 I was greatly disappointed. Wright's presence on the album was virtually non-existent. Gilmour's writing and soloing was subpar. There were a few songs that I thought were ok, but much of it was unlistenable. When The Division Bell
was released seven years later, I was similarly unimpressed, although I thought the album was an improvement over its predecessor. Needless to say I wasn't a big fan of this era of the band. Which is why I was so pleasantly surprised several years back when I heard Andy Jackson's wonderful surround mix of The Division Bell
. It made me reevaluate the album. The mix of course was wonderful but I found that for the first time I was really enjoying the music as well, sometimes even listening to it in stereo. When a surround mix of Lapse
was announced, I was hoping for a similar epiphany. Sadly it was not to be so.
Andy's surround mix here is decent, it probably betters mixes from many other engineers. However it seems to lack the "wow" factor that has made many of his other mixes so special. The two instrumental tracks are the highlights. It's kind of hard to describe the mix. You certainly feel the rear speakers, and it's not just a big-stereo type of scenario. But I don't also feel that much is happening in the surround field. Hard to articulate it. A lot of press was given to the fact that they de-80's-ed the album, trying to give it a more natural feel. But a lot of what they removed could probably be effective in the surround field. In terms of fidelity it doesn't really shine either. Not awful, but again not great. It probably could be a more enjoyable experience if the songwriting was up to Gilmour's previous level of excellence, but unfortunately that's not the case here.
One of the things that I had always loved about Pink Floyd was that every album was a new experience. They never tried to recreate their past glories. They always forged ahead and were trying new things. Wish You Were Here
didn't sound like Dark Side
didn't sound like Wish You Were Here
and so on..... Unfortunately on this album it felt like GIlmour was trying to recreate some sort of classic Floyd sound. The opening sequence felt like an attempt to recreate the opening of "Shine On", the beginning of "One Slip" felt like an attempt to make an 80's version of "Time", etc.... Additionally on many songs Dave seemed to forget how to write a decent melody. His monotone droning grows tiresome very quickly. "On the Turning Away" is a notable exception to that. It's pretty nice but it also does feel like a rewrite of "Out of the Blue" from About Face
. "Learning to Fly" and "One Slip" are perfectly acceptable 80's AOR, but they're not anything special. Tony Levin's solo on "One Slip" is a rare musical highlight on the album. The second half of the album though gets pretty tedious. I keep waiting for something to happen, it never does. The final track, "Sorrow", is pretty torturous. Sadly it's not the worst thing the album has to offer. That dubious distinction is saved for "The Dogs of War". Not only my least favorite cut on the album, but my least favorite song ever released under the Pink Floyd name. It feels like a Def Leppard reject. The only thing more embarrassing than the song itself was its accompanying screen film that was shown on the Lapse
tour. (Interestingly, the most embarrassing part of that film was excised from the new reissue of Delicate Sound of Thunder
). A big deal was made out of that fact that some of the 80's artifacts were removed for this new mix, however doing so only seems to underscore the deficiencies in the songwriting. Not surprising, Waters was critical of the album and referred to it as a "forgery". More surprising, Wright later concurred and called Waters' criticisms "fair".
Mix: Not up to Andy's usual standards, but not a Rich Chycki style disaster either: 2/3
Content: The low point of the Floyd catalog. Uninspired performances. A few listenable songs: 1/3
Fidelity: Something recorded by a major act in 1987 should sound better: 2/3
High-res: They did release it on Blu-ray: 1/1
I am going to dock a point because of the unnecessarily high list price. For that kind of money they could have thrown in some marbles and a scarf.
If you want post-Waters era Floyd, better to go with The Division Bell
. It's got better songs, a better mix, better fidelity and better performances.