Just as Pink Floyd’s popularity was exploding, founder Syd Barrett was imploding. Somehow, from these opposing forces, the band in transition managed to make this oddly beautiful record.
In one very real sense, A Saucerful of Secrets is actually the linchpin album of their cannon. It successfully brought to a close their early, lysergic whimsy while expanding the cosmic stage for what was to come. Not an easy feat. The grace with which they manage to pull this off isn’t simply assumed, it’s earned through their internal anxieties being exorcised aurally. “Jugband Blues” is the best, saddest epitaph anyone could write about Barrett’s exit from the band. It’s also amazing how quickly the day-glo tone of the first album transitioned so seamlessly into the insistently dark and foreboding space-rock era. Just as “Interstellar Overdrive” leads to the pulsating rhythm of “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” which is an organic progression towards “Echoes”.
What is even better than connections in hindsight, is that the songs are excellent! While “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” is probably the only timeless song, “Let There Be More Light” “Jugband Blues”, and the title track are objective classics, and “Remember a Day” and “Corporal Clegg” are forgettable, but fun.
Other interesting songs from the era (but not cuts on the album) include “Vegetable Man” and “Scream Thy Last Scream”, which are more last, manic vestiges of the Barrett era, fairly commonly available on a few boots. They aren’t for the feint of heart, and sit more comfortably with 1967 material.
So, Saucerful isn’t the best Floyd album. It may be the most important. It is a varied and rewarding listen, regardless of context, and absolutely worth having.
P.S.- I’m new at blogging, so here’s the ineloquent amazon associates disclaimer:
“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”
Basically, if you use my link to buy the album, I get a small cut!