Delicate Sound Of Thunder

Pink Floyd

Columbia, 1988

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Did anyone ever wonder why Pink Floyd never released a "proper" live album in their career, not including the one disc of Ummagumma?

Maybe it's because David Gilmour and company knew that their music translated well onto the concert stage, but something essential was lost between actually seeing the band perform and hearing the "souvenir" disc from the show. This has to be the case, because Delicate Sound Of Thundermy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 , the first full-length live release from Pink Floyd (which documented the "reunion" tour in 1987), is about as interesting as watching paint dry.

Don't get me wrong, I love Pink Floyd, critical as I may be of some of their work. But this disc is flat-out, one hundred percent boring as hell. The musical precision is there, to be sure, but if you don't have the heart and emotion behind the playing, then technical ability and precision isn't worth a thing.

Possibly part of the problem is that the band expanded from a four-piece (substituting Guy Pratt on bass for the departed Roger Waters) to an almost uncontrollable assortment of musicians. Quite possibly Gilmour is trying to overcompensate for Waters's absence with the same cornucopia of sounds that he twisted out of the studio for A Momentary Lapse Of Reason, masking the fact that the band was barely treading water.

Or maybe it's just the realization that the new material just didn't have the same lasting power or panache as the classic Floyd numbers. The band really doesn't seem to come alive until the second disc, when "One Of These Days" kicks in -- by which time the listener has invested over 45 minutes of time and been nearly bored to tears. (Criminally missing is the one real good song off of Momentary Lapse -- "One Slip." I know they played it on this tour -- it was documented on the home video from this time, as well as on bootlegs of this tour.)

Whatever the reason, there is one undeniable fact: even with the magic of home video, nothing will replace the true spectacle and magic of seeing Pink Floyd in the flesh. (This coming from someone who has never seen Pink Floyd in concert, but who has heard enough stories.) Like so many other bands, Pink Floyd quickly discovers that it's damned near impossible to recapture the magic of the live performance on plastic disc, and Delicate Sound Of Thunder ends up being a throwaway release from a regrettably throwaway time in Pink Floyd's career.

Rating: D-

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