|David Gilmour - Today (Single 2015) (Courtesy: Billboard)|
WHEN THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD SLIDES AWAY
When David Gilmour‘s first self-titled solo album(1) was released in 1978, it sounded not surprisingly like the guitar parts from Pink Floyd. As always with Gilmour, the guitar playing was distinctive and lively, but I missed the songs, Nick Mason‘s echo-y drumsticks on the tom-toms and particularly Richard Wright‘s expansive organ sound. By the time of Living on an Island(2), Wright was more in evidence and, when I watched it soon after his untimely death, his performance on Echoes for the Live in Gdansk DVD brought a tear to my eye. Fearing the disappointment of listening to recycled out-takes for The Endless River (2014), I have not been able to face hearing the last Floyd album. Rattle That Lock, the forthcoming solo album is different because, without the direct involvement of Richard Wright, it more closely resembles the first solo record.
The second single from Rattle That Lock, Today, opens with a choir that sings for 50 seconds before the guitar riff appears, sounding like Young Lust, the heaviest track on The Wall (1980). Gilmour’s lead vocal melody is more reminiscent of that on Learning to Fly, the first single from A Momentary Lapse of Reason in 1987. His guitar solo, when it appears, after four-and-a-half minutes (the single is nearly six minutes long), is also like that for Learning to Fly. Mark Beaumont in his favourable review of the album, for October’s Classic Rock magazine, said parts are, ‘Like a Jive Bunny megamix of 70s Floyd moments.’ Anyone who remembers the rapid sequencing of the Jive Bunny records would take this as ironic, but he has a point.
The funky bass is from long term collaborator, Guy Pratt, while the relatively quiet drums are by touring musician, Steve DiStanislao. The excellent organ and electric piano are by Gilmour himself, and show the influence of his late, great Floyd bandmate. Apparently, some of the material on the RTL album is taken from the ‘barn jams’ with Richard Wright, but I am unsure of what this constitutes. Doubtless, it will be made clear when the album is released. Today has more of a Gilmour band feel, than the guitar parts from Floyd, as there are vocals/songs, and the line-up have become more of an integrated group. He even throws in a few ‘Oh, yeah’s.
The cover art for the single has mostly black-feathered birds flying from an open cage cage laying in the grass: crow, blackbird, starling, magpie and others. They fly towards a black cloud filled sky, with a lake and mountains in the distance. It may relate to the opening line of Today, ‘If you should wake and find me gone.’ It definitely reflects verse four, ‘Let’s forget all the skies cast over and grey.’ I find it refreshing to hear Gilmour sing Polly Samson‘s lyrics(3) with an English accent. The official RTL animated video also has the black clouds, a winged Icarus-figure and a black bird rising from the sea, along with various other pieces of Classical imagery. RTL seems a bit more catchy than Today, making it a better choice for the first single.
As was the case with David Gilmour’s previous solo album, Living on an Island, the advance tracks show promise. Even without Richard Wright, judging by the title track and Today, it seems Rattle That Lock will be well worth exploring.
(1) Listening to David Gilmour again for this review, reminded me of what a good album the guitarist was able to make away from the protective umbrella of Pink Floyd.
(2) Living on an Island is David Gilmour’s third solo album, released in 2006. It featured Pink Floyd keyboard player, Richard Wright, who joined Gilmour on the tour (2006), the record of which was later released as Live in Gdansk with a DVD (2008). The interplay between Gilmour and Wright on Echoes from Meddle (1971) is fantastic.
(3) Polly Samson’s lyrics have been compared unfavourably with those of Roger Waters, but I have no problem with them. There is an interview with David Gilmour, for the Wall Street Journal, on his working relationship with Polly Samson that is quite charming: http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2015/09/14/david-gilmour-interview/