Books

Mind Over Matter 4: The Images of Pink Floyd

Do consider this book as a gift for the Floydian in your life ... just make sure she only looks at the pictures.


Mind Over Matter 4

Publisher: Omnibus
Subtitle: The Images of Pink Floyd
Author: Storm Thorgerson
Price: $34.95
Length: 208
Formats: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781846097638
US publication date: 2008-10
Amazon

If you are a certain age, or have an older sibling who was a music freak, doubtless you spent many hours staring at Hipgnosis album designs. You may not remember this very well, possibly due to an altered state of consciousness at the time. Of course, your consciousness is never altered any more: you’re all grown up now, a hockey mama or golf dad. So consider Mind Over Matter a stroll down a hazily recalled lane, a road lined with the Storm Thorgerson’s work on Pink Floyd records.

Reviewing an art book presents an interesting dilemma. Most purchasers of these expensive books, arguably “niche” specialty items, buy them for the photographs. Only die-hard fans, reviewers, and art students are likely to study the text in any depth. So let me say that the art is exquisite, compelling, and fascinating, even for people who think Pink Floyd is a kind of mixed drink. Like certain magazines, you should buy it for the pictures, of only for stunning images from Dark Side and Wish You Were Here. You might also gaze upon the photographs of a youthful Floyd, as Thorgerson obviously does, with great sadness, for poor Syd is gone and Richard Wright, the band’s keyboardist, died last month.

Thorgerson is resolutely, unabashedly old-fashioned in his views, an alternately charming and irritating stance. He barely knows how to use a computer. He hates “automatic” cameras. He tells us all of the bullshit written about the 1960s was true. He is especially poignant on the subject of Syd Barrett:

“One of the many extraordinary things about Syd was that he was not so extraordinary -- at least not to us at that time ... It’s amazing what you don’t notice because it’s right next to you.”

Referring to Dark Side’s explosive fame, he continues:

“By this time, however, Syd had long departed, orbiting wildly into regions unvisited by the rest of us ... I hope you’re alright wherever you are, Syd, though I sadly doubt it. We have your music, and the purity of your words to remember you by. God speed.”

These hankie-evoking words contrast with his views of women, which are hidebound indeed: girls are strictly ornamental. I could overlook this if Thorgerson could just shut up about it, but he can’t. He mentions Floyd’s 1975 tour, wherein typical bad behaviors abounded, speaking out righteously regarding the infidelities that transpired. Yet in writing about A Nice Pair:

“I hate to admit it, but I think it (the title and cover art) could be an example of male chauvinism. Perhaps the title, illustrates, in part, what I think might be the band’s misogyny (or my own) -- like a lot of men, they love women but see them sometimes as objects, as affection turns to mistrust and respect turns to fear.”

Pangs of conscience prevented him from allowing the nice pair in question to be the sole cover image, admitting this doesn’t exonerate him. I was almost prepared to forgive until I reached the “Back Catalogue” section, wherein remastered Floyd CDs were advertised on British television. The ad features six naked women, seated on their bottoms beside a pool, their backsides painted with Floyd covers. Though the original mock-ups included male models, Thorgerson admits to “the old misogyny” and tossed the guys, going on to mention the “charming, friendly, and gentle atmosphere” created by the women during the shoot.

Color me disappointed.

There are some Spinal Tap moments. Consider the shoot for Animals. On day one, the inflatable pig succumbed to technical difficulties. One day two, high winds knocked it free, shooting it skyward into incoming air traffic from Heathrow, freaking out numerous pilots before returning to earth on a Kent farm. Then there was the bed image from A Momentary Lapse of Reason. In a momentary lapse of reason, Thorgerson felt seven hundred beds on an English beach was just the thing, so the beds were trucked in and set up, but England being England, it began to rain.

There are some awkward spots. Thorgerson stumbles when writing about Roger Waters’ acrimonious split from the band and the impact it had on both the music and his design work. The Wall, with artwork by Gerald Scarfe, is hardly mentioned, possibly for legal reasons. Still, there is so much work -- 40 years worth -- that Thorgerson manages to move forward, into current work -- Pulse, The Delicate Sound of Thunder. There are plenty of alternative designs, t-shirts, commercial stills, and other Floyd art paraphernalia to keep the fanatic fan happy. Do consider it for as a gift for the Floydian in your life ... just make sure she only looks at the pictures.

6

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image