In ful­l, Set the Con­trols for the Heart of the Sun by (the very ear­ly) Pink Floy­d. While Floyd writ­ten some beau­ti­ful mu­sic, if you want some­thing that’s new to, well, any­one, you pret­ty well have to go way back in time to be­fore Dark Side of the Moon. Set the Con­trols is an easy, pleas­ing, soar­ing lis­ten, with or with­out the help of hal­lu­cino­genic drugs.

A Saucerful of Secrets Ummagumma

The al­bum ver­sion of Set the Con­trols is unique in that it has in­put from all five Floyd­s, no­tably fea­tur­ing gui­tar from both David Gil­mour and Syd Bar­ret­t. That’s on Floyd’s sec­ond al­bum, Saucer­ful of Se­crets, but I hard­ly know it be­cause I’m a huge fan of the live take on Um­magum­ma; not sur­pris­ing since I like live record­ings gen­er­al­ly. Ummagumma’s con­tro­ver­sial; you’ll hear a lot of peo­ple, even Floyd fan­s, dis­miss­ing it as self-indulgent wank­ing.

Any­how, Set the Con­trols is sim­ple enough  —   a rise-and-fall vo­cal thren­ody throbs over and over and over above a hyp­not­ic drum rhythm with a very pure mallets-on-tom-toms sound. This leaves lots of space for key­board and gui­tar ex­cur­sions in all the best Six­ties psychedel­ic fla­vors. Not everyone’s kind of thing, but worth hear­ing oc­ca­sion­al­ly when done well, which it is here.

Speak­ing of live, there’s an ex­cel­lent DVD of a full Floyd per­for­mance, sans au­di­ence, in the ru­ins of Pom­pei­i, which has a first-rate Set the Con­trols.

This is part of the Song of the Day se­ries (back­ground).

Links · The Saucer­ful of Se­crets ver­sion: iTunes, Spo­ti­fy, Ama­zon. The Um­ma Gum­ma ver­sion: iTunes Spo­ti­fy, Ama­zon. There’s quite a bit of early-live-Floyd video out there, but let’s stick with Set the Con­trols live at Pom­peii.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Paul Morriss (Jan 24 2018, at 01:32)

It's also got a great title. The Pompeii film appeared on TV recently in the UK, so I can recommend it.


From: Mike Loukides (Jan 24 2018, at 05:13)

Sad comment that, if you want to find something new to people, you have to go to Floyd pre-Dark Side. The first albums (through Meddle) were really the best, IMHO. (And I love Ummagumma, though I agree it's very uneven.)


From: Rob (Jan 24 2018, at 22:22)

Maybe it says something about our respective characters, or perhaps about our choice of substances, but back in the day I was always rather more partial to Careful With That Axe, Eugene. Me, I do like me some serious screaming with my guitar and keyboard noodling. They played it slower and lower as the years progressed too, there are some truly killer concert takes out there.


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