Echoes: The Best Of Pink Floyd
Capitol Records, 2001
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/27/2002
With a catalog stretching over 30 years and a band history that is so filled with turmoil one's surprised VH-1 hasn't done a "Behind The Music" special on them (yet), Pink Floyd is a band who are prime material for a comprehensive best-of set. (I'd say they're due for a box set, but Shine On - essentially a re-packaging of many Floyd albums with one disc of rarities - takes that claim.)
But Echoes: The Best Of Pink Floyd proves one thing without a doubt: It's impossible to boil down the essence of Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Richard Wright and (in the beginning) Syd Barrett into a mere 150 minutes. Don't get me wrong, Echoes is a nice effort with plenty of material to please any level of Pink Floyd fan. But sometimes, it doesn't seem like it goes far enough.
No matter how producers broke up the tracks on this set, they had to know that someone was gonna get angry about what was included or excluded. A pretty good argument could be made for including all of Dark Side Of The Moon (even though four tracks are included among the 26 in this set), Wish You Were Here (two, including the whole "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" suite) and Animals (one meager track). I could argue for the inclusion of "On The Turning Away" (from A Momentary Lapse Of Reason) or one of the several rarities included on Shine On, such as "Point Me At The Sky". Cripes, this whole review could be a wish list, so let's stop there.
It is interesting to note that a few of Floyd's albums don't get any play on this set - namely More, Obscured By Clouds, Ummagumma and Atom Heart Mother. It's almost like that portion of Pink Floyd's career is forgotten about - though there were points on these albums where I could understand that approach.
As it is, Echoes runs pretty smoothly. Intermixed with many songs you've grown up with (and probably heard to death on classic rock radio) are some real gems. I was a bit surprised to see "Echoes" (taken from Meddle) included in this one, but in the big picture, it really does fit, since it helped to show the direction that Pink Floyd would move with Dark Side Of The Moon. And while I have never been a fan of The Final Cut, the angst-ridden 1983 album which spelled the end of Waters's tenure with Floyd, "The Fletcher Memorial Home" does pique my interest in the album again.
Other tracks I could question. I make no bones about Dark Side Of The Moon being a classic album, but including "The Great Gig In The Sky" is a tad questionable, since it mostly features a female vocal wailing over the band's music. Likewise, "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" is a bit too sleepy for me, though I can understand why it made the cut. I also would have dropped at least one of the three tracks culled from The Division Bell - most likely "Marooned," since it's a short enough piece.
In the end, though, I guess that's mostly nitpicking. It is interesting to hear the early days of Pink Floyd ("Arnold Layne," "See Emily Play," "Bike") go head-to-head with more modern selections ("Comfortably Numb," "Wish You Were Here," "Learning To Fly") - and what's interesting is that it all works together.
Pink Floyd will never be successfully contained in any sort of "greatest hits" package, no matter how hard anyone tries. Echoes: The Best Of Pink Floyd is a respectable enough effort at this, and is worth picking up, especially if you are new to the band and want to sample all the different flavors that have made up this band over the years.