‘The Endless River’

Happiness is listening to the anxiously anticipated “new” and final album by Pink Floyd,  “The Endless River,” for the first time.

The band that played the soundtrack to so much of my life has endured and remained relevant for almost 50 years. Although they played and recorded quite a bit of music together during the second half of the 1960s, most will remember Pink Floyd for their breakthrough album “The Dark Side of the Moon” which was released in 1973.

Although The Dark Side only yielded one edited single (“Money”) which peaked at #13 on Billboard’s Hot 100, the album reached a chart milestone which is unlikely to ever be topped. In May of 2006, the album had remained on at least one of Billboard’s charts for mind-boggling 1,500 weeks.

Like many, that was my jump in point for Pink Floyd. But with such a successful album impeccably produced by Alan Parsons, the wait for the follow-up seemed like an eternity to the teenager I was at the time.

When the release date for “Wish You Were Here” hit the press nearly two and a half years later, I was filled with anticipation built upon ambiguous expectations. The album was released with this opaque dark green plastic wrapper and had this strange round sticker which gave you the only clue that this was a Pink Floyd album.

I bought the album on the first day it appeared in record stores. I listened to what sounded to me like a cold, dark, and enigmatic body of music. I listened, and then I listened again and then again; over and over until the haunting sounds of the album were constantly permeating through my subconscious. Although it didn’t happen right away, “Wish You Were Here” became my new favorite Pink Floyd album and remains at the top of my personal Pink Floyd chart.

By the end of the 1970s, the band went onto even greater commercial success with the release of “The Wall.” This recording served as Roger Waters’ swan song with the band. After touring and touring some more, then making a film, he was finished with Pink Floyd. But was Pink Floyd finished without him? Often seen as the creative force behind the band, many casual fans would be surprised to learn that so many of the lead vocals, harmonies, guitar playing and more came from original member, keyboardist Richard Wright, and guitarist David Gilmour, who joined the band in 1967 as the eventual replacement for the original creative mind behind Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett.

The band quietly carried on with a lower studio profile to produce a couple more albums, “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” (1987) and the most recent, “The Division Bell” in 1994.

Fast forward to November, 2014 and we now have the first, and as so proclaimed by the band, the last, new studio album from Pink Floyd; “The Endless River”.

Some critics may call this a pointless album, I disagree. It’s been 20 years since their last official studio album. Since then Roger Waters has continued to declare that he’s not “which one’s pink.”

This is a swan song release and tribute to Pink Floyd’s original and iconic keyboard player Richard Wright, who fell victim to cancer in 2008.

The album is based on 20 hours of unreleased material the band wrote, recorded and produced with Wright during sessions for Pink Floyd’s previous studio album “The Division Bell” in 1994.

The album clearly highlights the work of the subtle and often intentionally understated Wright who preferred subtle sound textures over high profile solos. There are hints of works dating back to before these “Division Bell” sessions. The mostly instrumental album showcases Wright’s flourishes of early organ oriented work, Dark Side ambience and up-tempo Wall-like rock. But more than any other previous studio release by the band, “The Endless River” channels “Wish You Were Here” in a hauntingly familiar, yet fresh way.

If you are a fan, and one of those who always had a preference for “Wish You Were Here” over “The Dark Side”, you’ll like this album. Like everything Pink Floyd has done, it is hauntingly unique.

-Mike Manolagas

Check out a promo video for the new album below:

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