40 Years Ago Today…
On the 1st of May 1971, Pink Floyd visited the Abbey Road studios to record parts for the Meddle album. They were under pressure from EMI to release a new record; indeed EMI released Relics later in the month (14th May) to help fill the gap of new material.
Starting in early January, Pink Floyd made 14 separate 1971 visits to recording studios in creating Meddle. On Saturday 1st May ’71 they made their 7th visit to Abbey Road that year. The band had recently returned from a European tour of Atom Heart Mother, and were back in the UK for a string of university gigs, before another planned European tour again in the summer.
Earlier the same week they had made their 6th 1971 visit to Abbey Road for Meddle recordings, and it was just over a week since their last gig in Norwich at the Norwich Lads Club. The set that night led out with the current release, as usual, Atom Heart Mother as the first half, followed by the favourites of the time:
Atom Heart Mother / Fat Old Sun / Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun / A Saucerful Of Secrets / The Return Of The Son Of Nothing
The last song that night, the debut of ‘The Return Of The Son Of Nothing’, was later entitled Echoes after the main recording was finished, and in time for the Japanese tour in August ’71 (the band’s first tour to Japan, a place they would return to on many occasions and owe the earliest Pink Floyd CDs to, and followed by 2 dates in Australia).
Echoes was the main event of Meddle, being the whole second half. Meddle was Floyd’s 5th studio album, released on 13th November 1971, but it lacked a central concept. All four members of the band contributed ideas, which were pieced together in a fragmented manner to create the longer atmospheric piece wanted: these small pieces started with ‘Nothing Part 1’, and ‘Nothing Part 2’, then ‘The Son Of Nothing’, and altogether parts 1-24 became ‘The Return Of The Son Of Nothing’.
Meddle was later described as the Floyd’s “first good record” by Nick Mason, and “Half good” by Roger Waters, referring to Echoes as it displayed the style of music that was to manifest into their next studio album. The lyrics of compassion and empathy would later lead into The Dark Side Of The Moon: “Strangers passing in the street by chance two separate glances meet, and I am you and what I see is me.” – this idea is revisited in the tour film for ‘Us And Them‘ with images of commuters walking passed one another, and is an example of the more real and relevant issues that would be at the heart of Waters’ lyrics thereafter.
The first half of Meddle, whilst including what was to become a favourite ‘One Of These Days’, is a series of smaller songs that seem only support the mainstay of the album on side two.