I do like a bit of Pink Floyd, especially in their more experimental days before ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ came out. They were bursting with ideas but they were struggling to find their sound. However, Pink Floyd entered 1969 in reasonable shape sales wise, but there was still some debate as to the direction the band would take. The band’s early material and their hits had been written by Syd Barrett, but due to reasons documented in numerous other places, he had left the band by April 1968. The band had already recruited Barrett’s friend David Gilmour to help take the heavy lifting of live work and so was already in place when Barrett left/was asked to leave. The bands second album, ‘A Saucerful of Secrets’ had been released in June 1968 and was a mixed bag of psychedelic jams, first album outtakes, Barrett knock offs as well as one Barrett original. The album is, as drummer Nick Mason described it, a cross-fade between one era and the next. I’ve not seen a more apt description of that album anywhere else.
With Barrett gone and the psychedelic era drawing to a close, the band were looking for a new direction. A way of keeping themselves busy as well as earning some money, the band took on commissions to write soundtracks. This included the films ‘Speak’ by John Latham, ‘More’ by Barbet Schroeder, ‘The Committee’ by Peter Sykes and there was some contributions to TV shows such as Tomorrows World. They would finish off the 60s by realising the half live, half studio album ‘Ummagumma’. 1969 was quite a productive year, but that does not mean that the music they were producing was as memorable as the work that had proceeded it or what was to come. This was a band treading water and wondering what to do next and listening to the studio set on ‘Ummagumma’ shows this. However, when listening to the material that band put out in 1969, I wondered if there was enough songs to make a stand alone album as a true follow up to ‘Saucerful of Secrets’. Well, this is what I came up.
All of the songs needed to come from the last months of 1968, which means that the ‘Point Me At The Sky’ single would still be part of this timeline. I changed the B-Side from ‘Careful With That Axe, Eugene’ to ‘Ibiza Bar’ from ‘More’. I quite like ‘Ibiza Bar’ as it borders on a hard rock sound Pink Floyd did not attempt very often. However, one of their other attempts was ‘The Nile Song’ from the same album was also in a similar style and sound very much alike as well. I did not like the idea of having two songs that sounded pretty much the same so I relegated one to a single B-Side. ‘Cirrus Minor’ also appeared on the ‘More’ and it could be argued that it is a strange choice as the opening track. It is a very mellow songs and not the bombastic here were are opening you’d expect on an album. It was the opening track on the original album and to my ears, this was the best place for it. I edited the introduction to ‘Grantchester Meadows’ over the end of ‘Cirrus Minor’ as we moved to a more folk orientated tune and it works quite nicely. We then get to ‘Careful With That Axe, Eugene’, which is presented here in a stereo mix. The original single version was mono, but as this album would have been released in stereo only as all new Pink Floyd albums have been since 1969; that is the reason why this mix was included. This song was wasted on the B-Side of ‘Point Me At The Sky’. Side A finishes with ‘The Narrow Way (Part 3)’, the first Pink Floyd song with lyrics by Gilmour. Parts 1 & 2 were instrumental tracks and have been edited out, as they would have meant this side of the album would be too long. This record is meant to be more song based so having all of the instrumental noodling would detract from the record.
Side B starts with a bang and the aforementioned ‘Nile Song’. We then go back to the more folky side of Floyd with the beautiful ‘Green Is The Colour’. The pace picks up again with ‘Biding My Time’ which was one of the few genuine Pink Floyd rarities to get an official release during the 70s, when the band put out the ‘Relics’ album. Cymbaline, one of the more beautiful songs from ‘More’ and like ‘Green Is The Colour’, was wasted on a soundtrack album. What follows is another rarity from the era in the form of the song ‘Embryo’. Only recorded as a demo in late 1968, it slipped out on the Harvest label sampler LP ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’. The song was never finished by the band but it did become a concert staple between 1970 and 71. We finish off with another song from ‘More’ with ‘Crying Song’.
Playing through this compilation whilst writing this entry, it reminded me that even at this early stage, the band were capable of writing some quality material and this would have been a very good album, if a little eclectic with the amount of styles presented within the grooves. Granted, they were still trying to find the direction they were going to go in but this would have lead nicely into ‘Atom Heart Mother’, the studio album that followed in 1970. It was interesting to note that a lot of these songs were being performed by the band at this time as ‘The Man & The Journey’ show, which I also looked at back in April of 2022.
- Cirrus Minor – More
- Granchester Meadows – Ummagumma
- Careful With That Axe, Eugene (Stereo Mix) – Relics
- The Narrow Way (Part 3) – Ummagumma
- The Nile Song – More
- Green Is The Colour – More
- Biding My Time – Relics
- Cymbaline – More
- Embryo – Picnic – A Breath Of Fresh Air
- Crying Song – More
- Point Me At The Sky – Single A-Side
- Ibiza Bar – More
The name of the album comes from the name given to some of the shows they played in 1969 which would also be known as ‘The Man & The Journey’.
The cover has been adapted from https://www.reddit.com/r/pinkfloyd/comments/avlk6k/pink_floyd_the_man_and_the_journey_hypothetical/