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Atom Heart Mother

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Atom Heart Mother
Atom Heart Mother
Released October 10, 1970
Recorded March - August 1970 Abbey Road Studios, London
Genre Progressive Rock
Length 52:44
Label Harvest, EMI
Producer(s) Pink Floyd, Norman Smith
Atom Heart Mother is a 1970 progressive rock album by British band Pink Floyd. It is named after its title track, which was originally titled "The Amazing Pudding". The song's name was changed after the band came across a newspaper article about a pregnant woman with an atomic pacemaker with the headline "ATOM HEART MOTHER." The album was recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London, England. It reached number 1 in the UK and number 55 in the U.S. charts and went Gold in the U.S. in March of 1994. A re-mastered CD was released in 1994 in the UK and 1995 in the U.S.

The original album cover shows a very ordinary cow standing in a very ordinary pasture, with no text nor any other clue as to what might be on the record. This is, in fact, due to the "space rock" imagery associated with Pink Floyd at the time of the album's release; the band wanted to explore all sorts of music without being limited to a particular image or style of performance. They thus requested that their new album have "something plain" on the cover, which ended up being the image of the cow. Storm Thorgerson has said that he simply drove out into a rural area and photographed the first thing he saw. The cow's name is Lulubelle III. The longest two tracks are a progression from Pink Floyd's earlier instrumental pieces such as "A Saucerful of Secrets"; the Atom Heart Mother Suite is split into six parts and features a full orchestra while there are three distinct segments of Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast which are joined by dialogue and sound effects of then-roadie Alan Stiles preparing, discussing and eating breakfast as the acid starts to take over. The musical gestures and "mental sound track" that Alan narrates, co-mingled with sounds of preparing the meal in the latter song give an almost visual, humorous representation of the feeling of the first glint of the halluciongen, to which the song's title refers, as he goes through his normal routine.

The reason the songs are split is because in the early 1970s, bands only received royalties based on how many tracks were on an album. The original LP ends with the constant sound of a dripping tap in the inner groove. Also included are three five-minute songs: one by each of the band's three resident songwriters. Roger Waters contributes a folk ballad called "If'" which he would play frequently at live shows in support of his Radio KAOS album. This is followed by Rick Wright's brass-heavy "Summer '68", a critique of the "rock 'n roll" lifestyle that would soon become characteristic of Pink Floyd. Finally, there is David Gilmour's "Fat Old Sun", which spent two years as a key part of the band's live set and is a staple of Gilmour's various solo tours.

Track Listing

  1. "Atom Heart Mother" – 23:39 (Gilmour/Mason/Waters/Wright/Geesin)
    • "Father's Shout"
    • "Breast Milky"
    • "Mother Fore"
    • "Funky Dung"
    • "Mind Your Throats Please"
    • "Remergence"
  2. "If" – 4:31 (Waters)
  3. "Summer '68" – 5:29 (Wright)
  4. "Fat Old Sun" – 5:24 (Gilmour)
  5. "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" – 13:00 (Gilmour/Mason/Waters/Wright)
    • "Rise and Shine"
    • "Sunny Side Up"
    • "Morning Glory"

Personnel

  • David Gilmour - vocals, guitar, bass on "Fat Old Sun" and "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" (Morning Glory), drums on "Fat Old Sun"
  • Roger Waters - vocals, bass, acoustic guitar on "If", tape effects, tape collage
  • Richard Wright - vocals, keyboards, orchestration, bass on "If"
  • Nick Mason - drums, percussion, tape edits, tape collage, additional engineering on "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast"

also:

Quotes

"Atom Heart Mother is a good case, I think, for being thrown into the dustbin and never listened to by anyone ever again! [...] It was pretty kind of pompous, it wasn't really about anything." - Roger Waters - Rock Over London Radio Station, March 15, 1985, for broadcast April 7/April 14, 1985.

"Some of it now, like Atom Heart Mother, strikes me as absolute crap, but I no longer want or have to play stuff I don't enjoy." - David Gilmour - November 1994

"What do you think of your early records like Atom Heart Mother and Ummagumma today?"

"I think both are pretty horrible. Well, the live disc of Ummagumma might be all right, but even that isn't recorded well." - David Gilmour - German news magazine "Der Spiegel" No. 23 - June 5, 1995

"It's an averagely recorded album but a very interesting idea, working with Ron Geesin, an orchestra and the Roger Aldiss choir. Roger and I were quite friendly with Ron. I think I met him through Robert Wyatt. The thing that Ron taught us most about was recording techniques, and tricks done on the cheap. We learned how to get round the men-in-white-coats and do things at home, like editing. Ron taught us how to use two tape recorders to create an endless build up of echo. It was all very relevant to things we did later. Now I listen to it with acute embarrassment because the backing track was put down by Roger and me, beginning to end, in one pass. Consequently the tempo goes up and down. It was a 20-minute piece and we just staggered through it. On the other side, Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast was another great idea -- gas fires popping, kettles boiling, that didn't really work on record but was great fun live. I've never heard Roger lay claim to it, which makes me think it must have been a group idea." - Nick Mason / Haircut extrordinare

"At the time we felt Atom Heart Mother, like Ummagumma, was step towards something or other. Now I think they were both just a blundering about in the dark." - David Gilmour

"I didn't have anything, really, to do with the start of Atom Heart Mother, and when I asked them what it was about, they said they didn't know themselves. It's a conglomeration of pieces that weren't related, or didn't seem to be at the time. The picture isn't related either; in fact, it was an attempt to do a picture that was unrelated, consciously unrelated." - Storm Thorgerson - Guitar World - February 1998

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