Interestingly, the first complete album with David Gilmour as a member was a soundtrack. Syd Barrett was out of the group with Gilmour taking over on guitar and main vocalist. Gilmour had joined the group during recording of A Saucerful of Secrets, released the previous year.
Let’s get in our time machine and go back 51 years. Yes, I said 51 years.
More (1969), a film by Barbet Schroeder, presented an interesting option for the band, writing songs to fit into a film, rather than an organic set of tunes for a studio album. More is hardly Dark Side of the Moon or even Meddle, but it does contain a few gems.
Pink Floyd were no strangers to film scores. In addition to More, their music was featured in The Committee (1968) and Zabriskie Point (1970) and La Vallee (1972), the soundtrack for which was their album Obscured By Clouds.
More is not your father’s Pink Floyd album, this was their really experimental phase and that’s what Schroeder was looking for in his drug-themed film. This film was a solid marriage of the downward spiral of the young man in the film and Pink Floyd’s spacey and and disjointed music. There are several really nice ballads, folky and Earthy acoustic songs. From hard rocking to acoustic ballads with a trip through outer space, this soundtrack shows some maturity for the group, able to adapt their ideas to a screen story. On this project, the band produced themselves, not working with engineer Norman Smith and setting up camp in a different recording studio.
Waters wrote the lyrics even if he didn’t sing them. The band in various groupings wrote the music. With Syd gone, Waters would move into the vacuum to chart the band’s direction.
“Cirrus Minor” Nature effects to an acoustic guitar and organ. Deep echo on the vocals. Very late 1960s in texture. Richard Wright is featured on the song, repeating a melody line on the organ as the sound changes around him.
“The Nile Song” is a real rocker, it has a lot of aggression. This could have been a punk song a decade later. In terms of quality, it lack much that make it memorable.
“Crying Song” A soft acoustic song with gentle vocals. Nice electric guitar work by Gilmour later in the song along with Wright on vibraphone.
“Up the Khyber” Heavy drums, a la Ginger Baker, with piano and organ by Wright. A jazz textured song without vocals. A frenetic pace with the sound bouncing between channels.
“Green is the Colour” is an English folk song, with some fancy picking by Gilmour. The other side of Floyd was a soft, melodic, romantic band. You didn’t hear this side very often. If you were going to keep one song from the album, this would be it.
“Cymbaline” is a soft acoustic song, very 1960s with strummed guitars and percussion, something you might get from Donovan or the Lovin’ Spoonful. It is quite lovely and a bit aching. The band used a lot of reverb on their instruments and vocals.
“Party Sequence” is a short song, just percussion with a recorder, to match the film.
“Main Theme” is indicative of the band’s earlier use of sound effects and production wizardry to follow on Meddle and Dark Side of the Moon. Percussion guides the rush of sound from one stereo channel to the other and spacey guitar and keyboard sounds.
“Ibiza Bar” reminds me of the Alice Cooper Group in their early days. This is a heavy rock song, with a very good bass groove by Roger Waters. Gilmour contributes some very distorted guitar. The vocals are mixed so far in the background you cannot understand what is said, but it is an enjoyable three minutes and nineteen seconds of power rock.
“More Blues” is David Gilmour on his electric guitar, heavy echo, with drums occasionally playing through. There are many comments from listeners that this previewed “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” Maybe.
“Quicksilver” The longest “song,” over seven minutes. It is a really a soundscape for various sound effects and pieces of solo music. As a stand-alone song it does not add much.
“A Spanish Piece” A nice piece of guitar music with dialogue from the film on top. If the music had been expanded it might have made a decent song.
“Dramatic Theme” Prominent bass line drives the melody, the other instruments support Waters’ playing. Gilmour’s guitar does bounce off of the walls.
Critical reviews were mixed, but many Pink Floyd fans embrace this album as a part of their development and upward trajectory. Gilmour slid into the guitarist position rather easily and you can hear his experimentation with sounds and effects, a hallmark of the band’s evolving sound. The cute, poppy ballads of early period were replaced by more ambitious compositions and sound experimentation. Think of More as a pencil drawing of the band and Dark Side of the Moon as a high definition photograph. There were still three studio albums to go before Dark Side of the Moon revealed itself.