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Wish You Were Here

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Wish You Were Here
Wish You Were Here
Released September 15, 1975
Recorded January-July 1975
Genre Progressive Rock
Length 44:28
Label Harvest, EMI
Producer(s) Pink Floyd
Wish You Were Here is a concept album by Pink Floyd, widely regarded as one of their greatest albums. It was recorded at Abbey Road Studios between January and July, 1975 and released on September 15, 1975.

Overview

The album is largely a tribute to Pink Floyd's former guitarist and chief songwriter, Syd Barrett. Barrett's mental illness and erratic behaviour made it impossible for him to contribute effectively to the band after the album A Saucerful of Secrets. Originally, Wish You Were Here was to consist of three songs that the band had been playing live over the previous two years: "Shine On", "Gotta Be Crazy" and "Raving and Drooling". "Shine On" was preserved as "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", while Roger Waters decided to drop the other two, which later became, respectively, "Dogs" and "Sheep" on the Animals album. In their place, Waters wrote new material that documented the band's current condition (the title track) and caricatured the negative aspects of the record business ("Welcome to the Machine" and "Have a Cigar").

Wish You Were Here was also Pink Floyd's first album with their new label Columbia Records for most of the world, save Europe (where they remained with EMI), which they signed with in 1973 for a reported $1 million after the success of Dark Side of the Moon and also because Capitol Records in America underpromoted the band prior to Dark Side. The deal with Columbia (and CBS Records/Sony Records outside America and Canada) gave the band complete artistic control and also ownership of their recordings (every Pink Floyd album since Wish You Were Here was copyrighted to Pink Floyd Music Ltd, Pink Floyd (1987) Ltd, or the individual band members).

The crafting of the album saw tensions rise within the band. The Dark Side of the Moon proved to be a phenomenal success, bringing Pink Floyd back into public spotlight, and the band members were worried about how they could ever follow up such a record. Wish You Were Here would be the last Pink Floyd album to see a writing credit for Rick Wright until The Division Bell in 1994, and essentially the last Pink Floyd album where the whole band actively contributed to the process of creation. An angry Waters strengthened his grip on the band's output, and this increasing pressure and hostility would eventually tear Pink Floyd apart.

Artwork

The packaging for the original vinyl release was intended to be an anonymous, completely black cover. Record companies didn't like the idea, so an additional image sticker featuring the band name with a robotic handshake over a theme of four elements was included. Tearing through this stickered, all-black wrapper would then reveal the proper artwork with its now-famous man-on-fire handshake. The U.S. publisher of the album (Columbia Records) was utterly appalled that they had to hide the album art with a wrapper (which on the U.S. release was blue). They wanted to sell an obviously Pink Floyd record.

Beneath the outer cover, Columbia originally released the LP with a slightly different sleeve, using an alternative picture showing the burning man standing up straight (instead of leaning toward the businessman) and taken from a lower angle. Columbia started using the more familiar EMI artwork in 1984 for their CD reissue and kept using it, with the only exception of the SBM MasterSound Collector's Edition.

The picture label on the album had the robotic handshake logo with a black and blue background.

Syd Barrett's Studio Visit

According to the book Saucerful of Secrets: The Pink Floyd Odyssey, Barrett himself actually turned up at the studio in the middle of a recording session of the backing vocals for "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" on 5 June 1975, which was also the day David Gilmour married his first wife, Ginger. He arrived unannounced and had put on so much weight that some of the band did not recognise him at first. He had also shaved off all his hair, including his eyebrows (which was alluded to in The Wall). Jerry Shirley mistook him for a Hare Krishna devotee. Others were close to tears: Waters later confided that he cried. They played a song for him (Mason says he doesn't remember which but mentions some "legends" alluding that it was "Shine On You Crazy Diamond"). When they were done, Barrett sat motionless. When someone said to play it again, Syd asked what would be the point, as they had already just heard it. They also played him "Wish You Were Here", and asked him what he thought, to which he replied, "Sounds a bit old". He asked at one point if there was anything he could do and that he was available if needed. Later on, one of the band's technicians, Phil Taylor, saw Syd looking for a lift. Avoiding an awkward situation, Taylor ducked down in the car as he passed and it is not known how Barrett managed to get back home. Barrett hadn't been seen by the band in five years, and wasn't seen again after that point. Echoing Barrett's presence, Rick Wright plays a subtle refrain from "See Emily Play" in the final seconds of the album.

In a July 2006 interview with a New York City radio station before Barrett's death, Gilmour indicated he had not talked with Barrett since 1975.

Reissues And Remastering

Wish You Were Here was originally released on Harvest Records in the UK and Columbia Records in the US. It was first digitally remastered and released in 1992 for the box set Shine On. In 1993, Sony Mastersound released a 24 Karat Gold CD of the album which was remastered from the original master recording, and also had all of the original art work from the record LP. Sony Mastersound issued this gold-plated CD in both a longbox and regular CD form with a cardboard covering. Then, the 1992 remaster was made available in 1994 as a CD in its own right in the UK and Europe, on the EMI label. In 1997, an updated remastered version was released by Columbia for the rest of the world. The album was subsequently re-released on April 25, 2000 in time for for its 25th anniversary, on the Capitol Records label in the US, and on the EMI label for the rest of the world using the 1997 remaster but featured the 1994 European remaster artwork.

Wish You Were Here was planned to be re-released as a dual-layered Super Audio Compact Disc in late 2005 to commemorate the album's thirtieth anniversary, but the release has been pushed back into 2006. Dark Side of the Moon had received the same treatment in 2003 for its own thirtieth anniversary.

Press Coverage

In 1998, Q magazine readers voted Wish You Were Here the 34th greatest album of all time.

In 2003, the album was ranked number 209 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. This happened twenty-eight years after the magazine initially panned and trashed the recording. Reviewer Ben Edmonds wrote in the November 6, 1975 issue "Passion is everything of which Pink Floyd is devoid."

Track Listing

  • "Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts I-V" (Gilmour/Waters/Wright) – 13:34
  • "Welcome to the Machine" (Waters) – 7:31
  • "Have a Cigar" (Waters) – 5:08
  • "Wish You Were Here" (Gilmour/Waters) – 5:34
  • "Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts VI-IX" (Gilmour/Waters/Wright) – 12:31

Various re-issues simply list both "Shine On You Crazy Diamond"s as "Part 1" and "Part 2", respectively.

Personnel

  • David Gilmour – Vocals, guitars, lap steel guitar, EMS Synthi AKS, additional bass guitar, additional keyboards, tape effects.
  • Roger Waters – Vocals, bass guitar, additional guitar, VCS3, tape effects.
  • Rick Wright – Keyboards, VCS3, background vocals
  • Nick Mason – Drums, percussion, tape effects

with

  • Roy Harper – Vocals on "Have a Cigar"
  • Dick Parry – Saxophone on "Shine on You Crazy Diamond"
  • Venetta Fields – Background vocals on "Shine on You Crazy Diamond"
  • Carlena Williams – Background vocals on "Shine on You Crazy Diamond"
  • Stephane Grapelli – Violin on "Wish You Were Here"

plus

  • Brian Humphries – Engineer
  • Peter Christopherson – Design Assistant (see Hipgnosis)
  • Peter James – Engineer, Assistant Engineer
  • Hipgnosis – Design, Photography
  • Storm Thorgerson – Re-design
  • Phil Taylor – Additional Photography (Remaster)
  • Jill Furmanovsky – Additional Photography (Remaster)
  • George Hardie – Illustrations
  • Richard Manning – Design Assistant
  • Howard Bartrop – Design Assistant
  • Jeff Smith – Design Assistant
  • James Guthrie; Remastering producer
  • Doug Sax; Remastering
  • Gerald Scarfe; "Welcome to the Machine" Music Video

Singles

  • "Have a Cigar"/"Welcome To the Machine" - Columbia 3-10248; released November 15, 1975
  • "Wish You Were Here"

Chart And Sales Success

Wish You Were Here peaked at #1 on Billboard's USA Pop Albums chart (where it stayed for two weeks in October, 1975) and stayed on the charts for a year. The album has, to date, sold over six million copies in the US and was certified Gold on September 17, 1975 in the US and as Sextuple Platinum in the US on May 16, 1997 by the R.I.A.A.

Quotes

"Wish You Were Here was a very good title for that album. I've often said what that album should have been called was Wish We Were Here because we weren't really." – Roger Waters, July 1989, In the Studio with Redbeard for Making of The Wall.

"It was a very difficult period I have to say. All your childhood dreams had been sort of realized and we had the biggest selling records in the world and all the things you got into it for. The girls and the money and the fame and all that stuff it was all...everything had sort of come our way and you had to reassess what you were in it for and it was a confusing and sort of empty time for awhile but...I for one would have to say that it is my favourite album, the Wish You Were Here album. The end result of all that, whatever it was, definitely has left me an album I can live with very very happily I like it very much," – David Gilmour, December 1992, Shine On box set 2-part episode of In the Studio with Redbeard(parts 1 and 2 aired in December of 1992) and Wish You Were Here episode of In the Studio with Redbeard(first aired in September of 1995).

"It just happens to be the album for that from the moment it starts 'til it finishes, it flows, the songs flow into each other and it just has a wonderful feeling in it". – Rick Wright, March 1994, World Premiere of The Division Bell and Wish You Were Here episode of In the Studio with Redbeard(first aired in September of 1995).

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