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Home arrow Reviews arrow Books arrow "Pigs Might Fly: The Inside Story Of Pink Floyd" - Mark Blake
"Pigs Might Fly: The Inside Story Of Pink Floyd" - Mark Blake Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Thursday, 13 December 2007

pigs might fly Mark Blake's new book, "Pigs Might Fly: The Inside Story Of Pink Floyd" has just been published, and joins a fairly groaning bookshelf full of books about the band. We know many of you will be wondering just why they should add this fairly weighty tome to the titles that you already own.

Drawing on his own interviews with all of the band members, plus almost a hundred new interviews with the group's friends, road crew, producers, designers, former housemates and university colleagues - some of whom have never spoken before - "Pigs Might Fly" ("Comfortably Numb" for the US market, published on December 31st) is from our perspective, a superb, incredibly detailed, and essential look at the band's history.

Mark was in contact with us about the book, and naturally we thought it might be interesting to get his view on how the book differs from others that have been published. He said: "The book is the first complete, up-to-date biography of the band (from a non-member of Pink Floyd!) since Nicholas Shaffner's Saucerful Of Secrets (I should add that I think of Glenn Povey and Vernon Fitch's fantastic books as something different...).

"The way it differs from other Floyd books, is that I wanted to concentrate more on the personalities of the people making the music, and the memories and impressions of those that were around them at the time. This meant trying to speak to as many people as I could. I offer my own take on the music and on some events, but the bulk of the book is based on what I have been told by those that were there at the time. It's very much their story..."

Having been a fan of Pink Floyd since the late '70s ("one of the first gigs I ever saw was The Wall at Earls Court in August 1980") Mark had a good grounding in his subject. There were a couple of things that surprised him though, during his research: "I went in planning to question some of the myths and stories around Syd Barrett; only to end up encountering even more. Nobody knows or can recall exactly what happened. The discrepancies and contradictions are fantastic, and, I'm afraid, only add to the legend."

He was also surprised to find out "just how integral Rick Wright was to Pink Floyd's sound. It wasn't until you spoke to engineers, producers, ex-managers, ex-band members that I realised just how much other people thought Rick contributed."

The first thing that strikes you when you pick up the book is that it is no slender pamphlet. Running to more than 400 pages, plus some sixteen pages of, in some case previously unseen, pictures, it has room to provide proper coverage to their history. On the subject of the pictures, there's some cracking early shots which we've not seen before, including early David Gilmour shots (such as him entertaining his family at home on Christmas Day, 1965!), along with some more contemporary pictures running up to the present day.

Mark's talk, above, of the "discrepancies and contradictions" can be seen in the text. Rather than many previous authors have done, Mark shies away from making his own judgement on what actually happened in one of these confused situations, instead giving the main protagonists' own points of view and letting the reader make up their own mind as to what occurred. For me, this was a sensible approach, and it puts into some perspective the conflicting information found in older books which have tended to side with one band member's recollections or points of view.

One of the other issues I have with a number of the other books is the segmentation of events. For my money, this is the first time that the band's story has really been told within a proper timeline, showing how side projects and personal life have impacted, and influenced, matters and music alike. For too long, things like the movie soundtrack projects have been mentioned in isolation as a side note almost, without showing that they were actually key events in the development of the band's direction and sound. Mark has very ably addressed this and for once, public and personal events are interwoven and can be seen as the major influences that they indeed were. And thanks to Mark's many years in the music press arena, it isn't a dry, or "trainspottery", read either - die-hard fan and uninitiated newcomer alike will thoroughly enjoy the book!

As mentioned earlier, there is plenty of competition when it comes to Pink Floyd books. Mark has done a fine job, and "Pigs Might Fly/Comfortably Numb" in our mind deserves to be considered one of the three or four essential books about the band to be on your shelves.

MORE INFORMATION & ORDERING:
Mark's website will be updated soon with more information on the book, and can be found at www.markrblake.com. The book - which we've really enjoying reading - can be ordered from Amazon UK, Amazon.com (US), Amazon Canada, Amazon Germany, or Amazon France. Orders of any items at Amazon after entering their stores through our special links help towards the running costs of this site, and we really appreciate it!

 
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