A new Pink Floyd book has just been published (June 21st, 2010), which we've taken a detailed look at. "Pink Floyd: The Music and the Mystery" is described as "the ultimate illustrated discography of Pink Floyd,
[including] seperate sections on the work of Roger Waters and Syd Barrett". It is written by Andy Mabbett, publisher and editor of The Amazing Pudding fanzine (which ran at the same time as Brain Damage fanzine back in the 1980s/early 1990s), and contributer to a couple of
other books from Omnibus Press.
Read on for our full review of this 168 page book, which gets the BD recommendation. If you want
to add this to your Pink Floyd bookshelf, orders, at up to 32%
discount, are being taken at: Amazon UK, Amazon US/International, Amazon Canada, Amazon France, or Amazon Germany. You can also order it at Play.com.
In 1983 the curiously named fanzine The Amazing Pudding made its debut to Pink Floyd fans worldwide. Knowledgeable Floyd fans know The Amazing Pudding as the working title of their 1970 album Atom Heart Mother. Over the course of 10 years, Andy Mabbett edited and published 60 issues of this wonderful fanzine in Birmingham, UK, bringing Pink Floyd and Roger Waters fans an eclectic mix of exclusive interviews, archival documents and insightful editorials. It was published at the same time as Brain Damage fanzine, and provided us with a bit of friendly competition, which is never a bad thing and the BD gang are still in touch with some of the TAP writers.
I have very fond memories of The Amazing Pudding landing in my mailbox, but it was The Visual Documentary penned by Miles and updated by Andy for the 21st and 25th Anniversary editions (Omnibus Press) that still have a permanent place on my Pink Floyd bookshelf. Aptly named, the book is a large format visual tour-de-force chronicling the Floyd's activities through 1994. Then in 1995 Andy compiled The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd, a concise CD sized companion book to the often mysterious music we still love to unravel. Andy also contributed to the 1991 book Crazy Diamond - Syd Barrett and the Dawn of Pink Floyd and has written articles about the Floyd for Mojo and Q magazines. He also wrote the program notes for the Floyd's 1996 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Just out, Andy's new book - Pink Floyd: The Music and the Mystery is a complete illustrated discography that also includes sections on David, Nick, Richard, Roger and Syd. Each page is illustrated with black and white photos with an 8 page color center section arranged in chronological order [click thumbnail, right, for an example spread]. The 160 page paperback book is divided into four parts: Introduction, Timeline, The Group Recordings, and Solo Recordings. The graphical Timeline begins with the birth of the five principal group members and proceeds to document every important touchstone in the band's career. Events and facts such as pivotal concerts within tours, album recording sessions and release dates, film soundtracks and special performances, legal maneuvers, prestigious inductions and awards, and untimely passings are all meticulously illustrated through November 2009.
In his introduction, Andy recounts how Pink Floyd's Live 8 set rekindled the hope and possibility of a reunion, while the passing of Rick and Syd put the final seal on Pink Floyd's legacy. Meanwhile, Andy does not hesitate voicing constructive criticism of the Floyd's reluctance to open their recording vaults (as well as the BBC vaults) to fans. In his rich narrative interspersed with a refreshing dose of humor, Andy waxes nostalgic about the band's uncountable achievements in the studio, onstage and their impact on popular culture. He also introduces the viability of Pink Floyd cover bands performing the core Floyd canon of songs created in just 15 years. Summing up his sentiments with "Perhaps the brightest candles do indeed burn shortest".
The Group Recordings construct the bulk of the book. Starting with the first unreleased demo of 'Lucy Leave' and 'I'm A King Bee' recorded around Christmas 1964 to the commercial release of the Live 8 DVD in November 2005, The Music and The Mystery chronicles just how rapid the musical development of Pink Floyd was. Every Pink Floyd album is discussed in rich detail before it is broken down into its respective songs and a track by track commentary ranks the song's in their proper historical context. Before this sounds too dry, Andy has thrown in some surprises, for instance an entry for The Massed Gadgets of Auximines performance (a.k.a. The Man and The Journey) explains how this transitional live composition was very important to the development of subsequent recordings of Ummagumma, Atom Heart Mother, and 'Echoes'.
Fans and critics alike will agree that no self respecting Pink Floyd book would be complete without turning over yet another stone to look for something left under the Dark Side of the Moon, or as Andy says, "Without a doubt, this is the BIG one". One interesting fact he presents is a controversy regarding the source tape chosen to master the 30th anniversary edition of Dark Side on SACD. It turns out the source tape used was not the only or even the preferred one by some fans. Further on Andy breaks down the popular bootleg British Winter Tour (containing live recordings of 'Raving and Drooling,' 'You Gotta Be Crazy' and 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond') which contributed to the development of the Wish You Were Here and Animals albums. The Wall section is given special treatment by Andy: "Since Waters originally conceived the stage and film at the same time as the album, it would not be right to consider any one of them in isolation". The final Solo Recordings section brings us up to date and wraps up the book with Ca Ira and Live at Gadansk, but does not chronicle any live performances by either David or Roger.
Finding books exclusively about the Floyd back in the late seventies was challenging to say the least. We had the first editions of The Visual Documentary by Barry Miles and a small paperback simply titled Pink Floyd by Rick Sanders. Other than the international music papers, these two books were the only Pink Floyd in print until The Wall era spurred considerable interest in the band. In the three decades that followed, quality books written about the Floyd rapidly picked up momentum. A great Pink Floyd bookshelf today would contain an official biography as well as several un-official ones, an encyclopedia, visual and historical references, guides on live performances and collecting, also books on specific periods of their career, even books on artwork, cars and guitars. Several Pink Floyd fanzines appeared in the eighties, the two English language ones of course were Brain Damage and The Amazing Pudding. These wonderful magazines were self published and distributed in the pre-internet age and appealed primarily to the most hardcore fans and helped to network collectors around the globe.
I especially enjoyed reading Andy's new book The Music and The Mystery because it is primarily about the intangible gift of music five talented individuals created over the course of 45 years. Like most of us, I go through periods of time not listening to my favorite music. I have to say this book had me returning to my Pink Floyd collection checking things out. The Music and the Mystery reads more like an illuminating novel than a studio and performance logbook by establishing a smooth narrative flow. Any Pink Floyd fan will enjoy reading this book for the in-depth knowledge presented and newcomers alike can utilize it as the ultimate guide to certainly the world's most enigmatic band. Highly recommended for your Pink Floyd bookshelf.