Where we Start
Monday 6th March 2006 was a milestone day in the life of
Rock ‘n’ Roll. It was David Gilmour’s 60th birthday, the day he chose to
release his third album under his own name ‘On An Island’. His first solo
album for eighteen years, and his first significant studio recording since he
recorded with his old band ‘Pink Floyd’ their swansong album ‘The
Division Bell’ in 1994.
The results are staggering, easily the best solo album to be
recorded by a Pink Floyd member as a solo artist including his own two solo
efforts ‘David Gilmour’ (1978) and ‘About Face’ (1984). There was also
a live DVD and video put out.
David Gilmour joined ‘Pink Floyd’ in 1968 when Syd
Barrett was becoming just a little too spaced out to work with. Since then he
has worked on eleven (if you count the studio half of Ummagumma) studio albums
by the band, including ‘The Wall’ in 1980 (the best two songs on the album
were co-written by David Gilmour, ‘Comfortably Numb’ and ‘Run Like
Hell’, which featured some of David Gilmour’s finest guitar work and
vocals), as well as two magnificent soundtrack albums.
In 1985 Roger Waters declared the demise of Pink Floyd and
the commencement of his solo career, it never occurring to him that the others
might carry on without him. But after a quick breather that’s exactly what
they did. Gilmour and Mason quickly recalled Wright, and now with Gilmour
firmly at the helm of the good ship Pink Floyd, the greatest Space Rock band in
history started off on another journey where no man has gone before under its
Of course there were then many tedious court battles as to
whether Pink Floyd could continue without Roger Waters and who owned what, far
too many to go into here, but suffice to say that the Gilmour led Pink Floyd
released two studio albums, ‘A Momentary Lapse Of Reason’ (1987) and
‘Division Bell’ (1994), both of which topped the charts all over the world
whilst the tours sold out all across the face of the planet, and any other
planet that would have them. Two double CD live albums were released to
celebrate each tour, ‘Delicate Sound Of Thunder’ (1998) and ‘Pulse’
(1994), which also went number one across the oceans, finally ending up triple
platinum sales, and will only be officially released as an extended DVD this
year twelve years after the event. Meanwhile, Roger Waters career went slowly
down a black hole, with ever decreasing crowd attendances at concerts and
dwindling album sales.
Hatchets did get buried long enough for Pink Floyd to
reunite (without Syd) for an appearance at Live 8 last year to play 4 songs
(you cannot count ‘Speak To Me’). But any thought of a complete reunion
tour or new Pink Floyd recordings are the mere pipe dreams of the fanciful.
But here we have ten tracks from David Gilmour that could be
in all but name the follow up to ‘The Division Bell’. David Gilmour has
surrounded himself with some of his musical friends and come up with an
absolute corker of an album. The album has gone straight into the international
charts at number one and long may it stay there.
Track by Track, the album opens up with an instrumental,
‘Castellorizon’ (“what else” as Basil Fawlty would say), which drifts
in with ambient sounds, leading us into a beautiful languid David Gilmour
guitar, where the notes pour out like liquid gold; pure magic.
The title track features the gentle harmonies of David
Crosby and Graham Nash, before a big guitar finish. ‘The Blue’ rather sets
the tone for the album leading us away from Pink Floyd and into the blues.
‘Take a Breath’ is a fully fledged rock song with the whole band wigging
out over the riff with Gilmour’s guitar excelling. ‘Red Sky At Night’ is
a heavily orchestrated instrumental with a lot of the credit going to the
orchestration skills of Zbigniew Preisner and the production work of Chris
Thomas and Phil Manzanera. It is also the first track that David Gilmour has
ever played Saxophone on.
‘This Heaven’ is almost touching rhythm and blues
territory, with the band giving David Gilmour plenty of space to show off what
a great blues guitarist he is. There is also a stunning cameo organ solo from
sixties star Georgie Fame. ‘Then I Close My Eyes’ leads us back into
slightly more familiar Floydish material, part of its charm comes from David
Gilmour playing a cumbus, a six stringed Turkish instrument resembling a banjo.
For ‘Smile’ the mood stays quiet but uplifting, and for
someone who likes Pink Floyd music this could put a smile on your face. ‘A
Pocketful Of Stones’ is the album’s central piece around which the album is
built and could come straight from ‘The Divisional Bell’ itself; another
great guitar work out number.
‘Where We Start’ in the cyclical nature of this set
piece of an album is borne out by the title of this album closer. David Gilmour
wrote all the lyrics, and plays all the instruments apart from the drums, very
On six of the songs, as in ‘The Division Bell’, David
Gilmour is helped in the lyrical flow by his partner Polly Samson who gives the
lyrics a very poetic feel. ‘On An Island’ is given an extra Pink Floyd
touch by Richard Wright appearing on some of the tracks. There are many other
star musicians and friends on the album including B.J. Cole, Chris Stainton,
Willie Weekes, Robert Wyatt, Jools Holland, and Andy Newmark, but all in all
this is a David Gilmour album, and what’s more David Gilmour at his very
best. ‘On An Island’ must finally put David Gilmour up there with his peers
Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck as one of the greatest rock guitarists on the