Reinventing Pink Floyd Packed with Enough Info to Leave You Comfortably Numb

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Reinventing Pink Floyd

REINVENTING PINK FLOYD, published by Roman & Littlefield, is written by Bill Kopp, who, as the book denotes, is a lifelong music enthusiast, musician, collector and, since the 90s, a music journalist. The book covers the Pink Floyd's history from the time founding member Syd Barrett left the band in 1968 through the release of the album DARK SIDE OF THE MOON in 1973, detailing how the band members interacted, grew, and evolved along the way.

For those only familiar with Pink Floyd from DSotM, it may be hard to grasp why someone would write a book concerning such a narrow, though important, time frame, when everything they did since kind of went along the same path. But as you dig into early Floyd and listen to the music from that time period, you realize the music was indeed very different pre-DSotM, as with THE PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN, A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS, ATOM HEART MOTHER, and others, highlighting the eccentricities of the group's leader, Syd Barrett.

It doesn’t take one long to come to the conclusion that Mr. Kopp is all those things the brief bio says he is.

The length and breadth of the details surrounding those times (now over a half century old some, of them) is nothing short of encyclopedic. It is as if he lived all those days one by one with them. The research that must have gone into this undertaking, and being able to put it in order to make it readable, is something indeed. I’d say it is almost exhaustive in its completeness (one need only peruse the extensive bibliography to think this).

That amount of detail though can have is pitfalls though.

If you are a superficial Pink Floyd fan, or perhaps even a huge fan but not to the extent of fanaticism, you might find the reading a bit arduous--almost like reading a history book, albeit a lot cooler.

That aside there is so much here to drink in, from the development of the music style pre- and post-Barrett, to the development of the individual performers themselves.

Kopp details everything from the radio shows and concerts they did before and after PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN to the albums and then down to the songs on every album, getting into the minds of every member of the band--what they were going through, what they were trying to accomplish, and how all this was received by critics and fans alike, even going into the solo albums Barrett did during those years.

I found many interesting things in it that I was not aware of, such as how many soundtracks they did in those early years, mostly for indy films like MORE and ZABRISKIE POINT.

Of course having all the studio albums mentioned here, it begged that I A/B PatGoD to DSotM--and in doing so, the book made me realize the distinct differences between them. While no musician myself, I can’t tell one technical musical aspect from another. But as one who appreciates music based on the sum of its parts, the author paints a very vivid picture here of how the band morphed, and as I played the other albums in progression, it became clear that the author is spot on.

I also liked how Kopp spent time leaping ahead, giving a synopsis of the band from DSotM forward.

Lastly, it was interesting for me to read in print something I had always felt but never read before--that being how many people, while feeling differently about the music Pink Floyd did with Barrett and without, prefer the band’s music more one way than the other, for one reason or another, but still appreciate the band’s music as a whole.

That’s where this book does a nice job of bridging that gap, explaining what went on and and how it happened, giving a new appreciation to those who sit on one side of the fence or the other. I have always appreciated Pink Floyd for being Pink Floyd, and never really gave any thought to how or why they developed the way they did. I just felt they did what they did because that’s who they were. Its nice to have a new perspective…

So if you’re a really dyed-in-the-wool fan, you’ll eat up the information contained herein like candy. If you’re just a real fan of the music, you”ll find a lot to enjoy too. If you're just getting into there music, it might be a little tough not knowing who’s who, or what's going on, but I believe it will whet your appetite for more Floyd. In any case, I suggest buy the book, buy the records, sit back, listen and see if you can hear with your ears and sense with your mind that which yours eyes have read.

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0