AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson’s AXS TV series Brian Johnson: A Life On The Road will make its US debut on Sunday, September 15 at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT. The network has acquired the first two seasons of the program from Eagle Rock Entertainment, featuring a combined total of 12 unforgettable episodes never seen before in the United States. “A Life On The Road” joins a star-studded Sunday night lineup that also includes the new music series “Paul Shaffer Plus One”, hosted by musician and television personality Paul Shaffer, premiering September 15 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT. Watch the trailer below. Early episodes feature Sting, (The Police) Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin), Roger Daltry (The Who), Joe Elliott (Def Leppard), Lars Ulrich (Metallica) and Nick Mason (Pink Floyd). Continue reading
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I have waited my entire writing career, and maybe my entire life to review a Pink Floyd album.
I just wish it wasn’t The Endless River (Parlophone/Columbia).
Anyone who knows me personally or via music journalism knows “The Floyd” has been a huge part of my life, certainly as much as any metal band, and encoded to my musical DNA since I was a small child. While some people have personal relationships with deities, I have them with music and bands. Their music has meant an enormous amount to me, helped colour my worldview at a young age, and even my own attempts at musical endeavors for twenty-five plus years in one form, or another.
With the passing of Rick Wright in 2008 and David Gilmour’s reluctance to use the moniker any longer, fans have long been resigned to the fact the band was long gone. The tracks that would become this album came from a series of sessions that didn’t make it on to The Division Bell (EMI) in 1993 and from a side project called “The Big Spliff” (lol), both including a ton of Wright penned and recorded pieces for make a four sides of a record. Considering the history of Wright’s ouster from the band by Roger Waters in 1980 following The Wall, the idea of sending out a final recording in tribute to Rick, is a nice touch. The Endless River, from the bands point of view, is a way to demarcate the finish line of their long, weird journey.
The problem with the album is that it is not fully realized musically at all. At this stage Gilmour, and his co-producers Youth, Phil Manzanera, and Andy Jackson (this thing needed four producers?) should know how to make a Pink Floyd album sound, right? However, what you get is even less than a collection of half-finished songs and more like a pastiche of Floydian tropes. The slide guitar from Meddle, the delay pedal from ‘Another Brick In The Wall Part I’, the Hammond B-3 swell from ‘Great Gig In The Sky’, the backing singers, a dusky saxophone, jazzy Nick Mason back-beats from Animals and Wish You Were Here, the dour analog synth sounds of ‘Welcome To The Machine’, the space-rock “musiq concrete” of Dark Side of The Moon, the Stephen Hawking sample from The Division Bell; all carefully placed here as if someone made a “greatest hits” mixtape for you, just in case you forgot what they sounded like. Another bad mis-step is the awful ‘Louder Than Words’, the one song with full vocals on the album. This ‘Comfortably Numb’–lite track is feeble, but a well-meaning attempt to wax philosophical on life, death and the space in between. These were all topics better served lyrically by Syd Barrett’s insane whimsy and Waters’ wounded psyche rage-a-thons. This is the band that wrote ‘Bike’, ‘Childhood’s End’, ‘Echoes’, ‘Time’, ‘Eclipse’ and ‘Mother’ to name a few similar-themed tracks. By comparison, the baby boomer dribble of the hackneyed lyrics from Gilmour and wife Polly Sampson (please, just stop) wrecked it for me.
On the plus side, it’s great to hear Rick’s playing and writing one final time. Often imitated, instantly recognizable and shining brightly: he was the glue that held their music together. His peers from the 60s and 70s were concerned with virtuoso technique and speed, and making the keys sound as un-keyboard like as possible. Meanwhile good ol’ Rick knew well the balance between laying the foundation for moods, and driving the rhythm with just a few tasteful cadences and a deft touch. Along with Dave’s occasional simmering guitar solos and tasteful inflections, this helps overcome some of the tracks. Contributions from past collaborators like Bob Ezrin, Anthony Moore and Guy Pratt are all welcome. These are some of the reasons the album is not a total wash.
The Endless River is not wholly unenjoyable. Take it for what it is: an album of so-so out-takes, released in tribute to a fallen great, and the end of one the greatest bands ever with a messy thud.
KEITH (KEEFY) CHACHKES