Pink Floyd – Zabriskie Point (Original Soundtrack)

As I have posted one alternative history LP for Pink Floyd this month, how about another. Zabriskie Point is a film that is most probably more famous for its soundtrack album than the film itself. Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni and produced by MGM, this was the movie studios attempt at a counter culture film which was thoroughly ignored by the people it was meant to appeal to. From a budget of $7million (not a small amount in the late 60s), the film grossed about $1million in return. It is noticeable for an appearance by a young Harrison Ford. Infamously, leading man Mark Frechette took part in a bank robbery three years after the film came out and died in prison from an accident with some weights. 

However, the soundtrack lived on as it included tracks by the Grateful Dead, Kaleidoscope and songs unavailable anywhere else (at the time) from Pink Floyd. It was because of the Pink Floyd connection that I bought a vinyl copy of this record myself back in the dim distant past. Floyd had spent 1969 producing ‘Ummagumma’ and another soundtrack for the film ‘More’. They had done reasonably well with their LP sales, but this was the first year that the band had not released a single in the UK because, as Roger Waters once noted, without founder Syd Barrett, they just weren’t very good at it. It was because of a recording on their last single of the 1960s that Antonioni came a-calling. 

That recording was that single’s B-Side, ’Careful With That Axe, Eugene’. Antonioni was so impressed with the track that not only did he ask the band to re-record it (under the title of Come In Number 51, Your Time Is Up) but to score the entire film. This the band did, but as has already been noted, the director decided against using the majority of their material for the film. This is a shame as there are some nice instrumental pieces here, as well as a couple of actual songs. Out of the actual songs, only ‘Crumbling Land’ made the soundtrack album as well as two instrumental pieces, ‘Heart Beat, Pig Meat’ and the aforementioned ‘Come in Number 51 (etc)’. The rest were consigned to the archive. 

What I have tried to do here is to present a soundtrack to Zabriskie Point that is made up of only Floyd music.

Love Scene – there were numerous version of this instrumental track, because Antonioni could not make up his mind what he wanted. Floyd produced at least seven variations, three of which have been included here. 

Aeroplane – one of many heavy rock pieces Floyd produced for the soundtrack. 

Unknown Song – initially released on the 1997 version of the soundtrack album, this contains melodies that were reused in ‘Atom Heart Mother’ as well as being a signal to what was to come from the band. The acoustic 12 string playing is reminiscent of ‘A Pillow of Winds’ from ‘Meddle. 

Crumbling Land – Pink Floyd do an Americana style song, which David Gilmour later noted, could have been performed better by any number of American bands. 

Auto Scene – A variation (and instrumental version) of ‘Country Song’. 

Heart Beat, Pig Meat – This would sometimes make an appearance with another Floyd project which never saw the light of day as an official released at the time. This was part of ‘The Man & The Journey’ under title of ‘Doing It’. 

The Riot Scene – Most probably the most famous un-released track from these sessions. this piano track was later taken from the archives, given some lyrics and called ‘Us & Them’. It would be included on the classic ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ LP.

Country Song – the second song to contain lyrics, this would ultimately not appear in the film. 

Come In Number 51, Your Time Is Up – The afore mentioned reworking of ‘Careful With That Axe, Eugene’, this would take centre stage at the conclusion of the film. 

On The Highway – A shorter version of ‘Crumbling Land’

Side A

  1. Love Scene (Version1)
  2. Aeroplane
  3. Unknown Song (Take 1)
  4. Crumbling Land
  5. Love Scene (Version 7)
  6. Auto Scene (Version 2)

Side B

  1. Heart Beat, Pig Meat
  2. The Riot Scene
  3. Love Scene (Version 4)
  4. Country Song
  5. Come In Number 51, Your Time Is Up
  6. On The Highway

This is not the best Pink Floyd album by any stretch of the imagination, but it still has its merits. It showcases the band as being able to tackle many genres as well as working to a schedule, something that would go out of the window after the success of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’. I think there is a more constant feel to this album, compared to ‘More’ and the two vocal tracks (not including ‘On The Highway’ here) were really good. This though is a nice bridge between the first phase of Floyd and the beginnings of their soon to be world domination period. 

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