Columbia Records, 1995
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/27/1998
When Pink Floyd released Pulse, their second double-live album, I found myself in the aisles of Best Buy asking myself, "Didn't these guys just do a double live album?"
After all, it had only been a few years since Delicate Sound Of Thunder had been released, and in that span of time, David Gilmour and crew had only released one new studio album, The Division Bell. What kind of sheep, I wondered, would buy this double album just four years or so after the last one?
What sets Pulse apart from its predecessor is the complete performance of The Dark Side Of The Moon, something I don't think that Pink Floyd had done since Roger Waters was in the band. Admittedly, a lot of these songs have been played to death on classic rock radio. It's gotten to the point where if I hear any portion of Dark Side Of The Moon played on the radio, I make the kamikaze dive for the station selector.
But when heard in its entirety live, Dark Side Of The Moon takes on a whole new light - fact is, all ten songs were meant to be played together, not as selected singles on oldies radio. I would question if they needed the extended jam on "Money," but still the suite of songs is flawlessly performed.
The other big surprise on Pulse is the performance of "Astronomy Domine," culled from Pink Floyd's first album The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. (Last time I heard this song live was on 1969's Ummagumma.) This song is literally a breath of fresh air that has been injected into what is now a stagnant set list. The 1995 version isn't nearly as spacy as the original, but it still is a lot of fun to listen to.
Unfortunately, this is where the praise for Pulse stops. How many times are we going to be subjected to "Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)," "Comfortably Numb" and "Run Like Hell"? I'm sorry, but I'm sick of these songs (thanks, again, in no small part to classic rock radio), and it would be nice if Gilmour and crew could ditch these numbers, even for one lousy tour, and put in some songs that don't get played nearly as often.
And the material from The Division Bell that makes its way into the live set takes up too much time in the set. Yes, I know the shows were from the tour for The Division Bell. But when you don't like the original album in the first place, the live versions aren't going to help matters much. (It would have been nice to hear "Take It Back" - I wonder why they didn't include it in the set?)
And again, I have to wonder why Pink Floyd bothered to release two live albums in the span of about four or five years. It wasn't like there was nothing on the market, for Jah's sake. They didn't make many improvements over Delicate Sound Of Thunder, so it wasn't a matter of putting out a better live show. Perhaps they thought this would be a cushion in case they never came out with another studio album - or maybe it was to fill out a contract requirement. Fact is, I dunno, and unless Gilmour himself chooses to respond to this (yeah, like he's reading this -- would be nice), we'll never know.
The diehard Floyd fans will no doubt want to snag Pulse if they haven't already. If you're a big fan of Dark Side Of The Moon, you'll want to pick this album up over Delicate Sound Of Thunder. Otherwise, if you already own Delicate Sound Of Thunder, then buying Pulse is an exercise in redundancy.