Pink Floyd by Marcus Hearn Book Review

The latest release from Titan Books covers everyone’s favorite band to do drugs to: Pink Floyd. Aptly titled Pink Floyd, the book by Marcus Hearn follows Britain’s eponymous psychedelic acid rock act from their first photo session in 1967 to their reunion at the Live 8 festival after a bitter split some years earlier. Conceived in the early 60’s by Roger Waters and Nick Mason, the band has sold over 250 million records and reached superstardom with a slew of classic albums released in the 70’s, including The Darkside of the Moon and The Wall.

Between their surrealist imagery and genre bending music, Pink Floyd is an act that has been hopelessly imitated by any band that dare call themselves progressive rock, and influenced any band that’s played rock music since the 1970’s. From their privacy and mystique to their bitter feud and breakup, there is tremendous opportunity to explore them in a book, whether through photo or text, but Pink Floyd by Marcus Hearn doesn’t do much of either.

There are varying tid-bits of information scattered at random intervals between the pictures, but make no mistake, this is a picture book. The actual band is generally covered in a brief, glazed over manner. Even stranger, there are mini-biographies of all the original members of the band, but nothing on David Gilmour, who is arguably their most popular member. If you’re looking for an extensive biography on the band or an in-depth look at their albums and music, this isn’t what you’re looking for. Take this excerpt about the after effects of the reunion at Live 8.

“Since Pink Floyd’s triumphant performance at Live 8 an uneasy truce has existed between Gilmour and Waters. Events conspired against another reunion at the band’s induction to the UK Music hall of Fame on 16 November 2005. Mason and Gilmour collected the group’s award at London’s Alexandra Palace, but Waters’ commitments to his new opera Ca Ira meant he appeared via a video link from Rome. Rick Wright’s absence was due to illness.”

Although the book claims to boast more than 150 rare and previously unreleased images, a simple Google search turned up similar (and sometimes identical) results, so the rarity of the images is dependent upon the amount of research you’ve done on the internet. In fact, with a cache of over 60,000,000 results, I don’t think it’s a knock on the book, but a result of today’s technology. Any medium that gives us the power to find anything with the click of a few keys is bound to render more than a few things obsolete.

What the book could have capitalized on was an inclusion of large, full-page spreads of their album covers, which have become iconic in their own right and staples of the rock genre, but unfortunately there are none included. Who can listen to The Dark Side of the Moon without picturing a beam of light shining into a triangle and bursting through the other side as a rainbow?

If you’re an absolute die-hard fan that collects everything Pink Floyd, this would be an interesting coffee table book to have on hand, but nothing new if you’ve done any sort of poking around on the internet. Those general listeners (like myself) who are fans of The Dark Side of the Moon and their popular radio hits won’t find much of a use for it. Ultimately, Pink Floyd by Marcus Hearn is a bland, but well put together photo album, and those expecting anything more will be disappointed.

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