Oct 052011

We all have one somewhere in our collection. An album that we love but the would-be tastemakers of rock and roll say we should shun like the plague. Some think Dylan‘s Self Portrait is a masterpiece. There are people who like the StonesDirty Work. Why, I know someone who actually thinks that Anderson, Wakeman, Bruford, and Howe is the greatest Yes album ever. I question his sanity, even as a devoted Yes fan myself, but there you are.

The year is 1987. Things were ugly in the Pink Floyd camp. Roger Waters and David Gilmour were no longer on speaking terms, Richard Wright was tooting up coke on his sailboat, and Nick Mason was polishing his prized and enviable classic car collection. Nothing had been done since the release of  the tepid and strained The Final Cut, in 1983, and Floyd seemed to have come to a bitter and acrimonious end. However, something unexpected happened. Gilmour had been working on a solo album, but he changed his mind and devoted his efforts to a revived Pink Floyd. Against admonishments by Roger Waters, he brought Mason and Wright back on board, brought in The Wall collaborator Bob Ezrin to produce, and released A Momentary Lapse of Reason in September. Waters snorted in derision as he prepared a lawsuit over Gilmour’s seemingly unauthorized use of the Pink Floyd name. Reviewers were not kind but buyers didn’t care: the album was a multi-platinum smash and the subsequent tour was a monster.

To this day, people have written off A Momentary Lapse of Reason as weak and unimaginative fake Pink Floyd,a glorified Gilmour solo album, and a patchwork affair overly dependent on outside help. Never mind that Pink Floyd used soul-sister vocal sweetening, guest vocalists, and horn players since Dark Side of the Moon, not to mention an orchestra on The Wall. Ignore the fact that The Final Cut was basically a Roger Waters solo album with Mason and Gilmore as backing musicians and Wright left out in the cold. Me? I think Reason, while not perfect, is a pretty good album overall that largely manages to capture the grandeur and weight of latter-day Pink Floyd at its best. I’d rather listen to it than The Final Cut, Atom Heart Mother, and at least half of The Wall.

So what do you folks think about A Momentary Lapse of Reason? Also, what other album do you love that you’re supposed to hate?


  55 Responses to “A Momentary Lapse of Reason or a Permanent Lapse of Taste?”

  1. I like Their Satanic Majesties Request better than Sgt Pepper.

  2. Trompe Le Monde is my favorite Pixies album.

  3. shawnkilroy

    Final Cut is missing Rick Wright and Lapse is missing Roger Waters. I don’t really like either album. I just act like The Wall is their last album. For that matter, Piper is missing Gilmour, and I don’t really care about that album either. It’s better than FC & MLOR, but it’s more like a novelty record to me.

    For years and years, people gave me shit for liking Tattoo You. It seems to have become more acceptable these days.

    All my punk friends derided me for digging Sandinista! They referred to it as “The Clash Smoke Pot” It also seems to garner less ‘tude these days.

    I like Face Dances and It’s Hard, the Kenny Jones Who records. Rock snobs may never warm to them!

  4. shawnkilroy

    White City by Pete Townsend
    Waiting by Fun Boy Three(why listen to that shit when you can listen to The Specials?)
    Syncronicity by The Police
    Dream of The Blue Turtles by Sting
    Blah Blah Blah & Soldier & New Values by Iggy Pop
    side 1 of Draw The Line by Aerosmith(i do draw the line! everything by them after

  5. As an aside, I’ve been listening to some of the remastered Pink Floyd in the new Discovery boxed set. From what I’ve heard so far, this seems to be remastering done right. Neither the basic sound nor the music have been really altered. There are no big surprises in store. However, the recordings have more clarity than ever before. Excellent sound, even on the early stuff.

  6. misterioso

    I can’t say I think anything about Momentary Lapse of Reason. Not on my radar at all. I vaguely remember that Learning to Fly song. Really vaguely. But this is more or less how I am about the majority of Floyd other than the Syd stuff.

    Perhaps not perverse enough, but Street Legal is pretty widely hated, maybe less so now than it was, but I think it is quite great; and I think Shot of Love, even as it is, without the great songs he left off it, is still a good record. I think Combat Rock is a fine record. I think U2’s Pop is good. And Elvis Costello’s Goodbye Cruel World is his best record. Just kidding. It’s awful.

  7. BigSteve

    I wasn’t coming up with a good example until something posted in another thread gave me an idea. This Is the Modern World is my favorite Jam album.

    I have no opinion on Momentary Lapse, other than that the very idea of ever listening to it fills me with dread.

  8. jeangray

    You’ve never listened to it?

    It was pretty huge in my social circle at the time, I was in College and new Pink Floyd was at least superior to the dreaded Bon Jovi. A lot of 20something drug-friendly activity went on with that album. Even got to see the tour, which was spectacular. Plus, Tony Levin was on it!

    Fast-forward to the present, and I can’t even bring myself to listen to more then one cut off it. That one cut is towards the end of side2, and is an istrumental neo-Fusion/New Age cut that suggests that Gilmour had been listening to a lot of Weather Report or Spyro Gyra–it even has a Climactic Sax Solo. Super great!

    Funny, how tastes change.

    Still love “The Final Cut.”

  9. Happiness Stan

    I’ll second that.

  10. Yep. I dug the tour too, and listened to the album a lot back then. But now? I no longer have a copy, nor do I want one.

    I can’t stand “The Final Cut” either, though, and I don’t think I ever need to hear “The Wall” again – but I actually like “The Division Bell.”

  11. misterioso

    Seriously? “This Is the Modern World” is a good song; “Standards” is good; nothing else leaves any impression at all.

  12. 2000 Man

    Here’s a third. There’s no clarinet songs to be found.

  13. misterioso

    I was in college, too, juangris, but, no, never, not once. I don’t remember if anyone I knew was interested. I don’t think so. But I was even less inclined to be interested in Floyd then than I am now. Mostly I find the post-Syd stuff unbearably ponderous and dull. With exceptions. I’ve come to terms with Dark Side and Wish You Were Here. I have no knowledge whatsoever of The Final Cut. Nothing! I can’t imagine how that is the case, but I don’t even know what is on it that I might have heard. I don’t even remember seeing the record cover. Funny, it’s not like I didn’t listen to AOR radio in those days.

  14. 2000 Man

    I like Dirty Work just fine. There’s a lot of bands who never get close to coming up with a song half as good as One Hit to the Body or Had it With You, and even Steve Lilywhite’s horrid production can’t wreck those songs. It comes close, but doesn’t quite wreck it.

    I just put a great looking copy of Momentary Lapse of Reason in my pile of stuff to go to the used record store for a trade in on some rock music.

    For me, I think the record that best fits this is Satanic Majesties, though. The Stones started recording before The Beatles started Sgt. Pepper, and the ony knockoff was the cover. TSMR is a lot harder and I think it holds up much better than most psych albums.

  15. tonyola

    The Final Cut got very little airplay in the US when it was released. There was a video for “Not Now John” that was shown a few times on MTV but that was just about it. Even though the album eventually went platinum, it was the lowest-selling Floyd album since Meddle in 1971. To this day Final Cut is still something of a “forgotten” record.

  16. misterioso

    True, but unfortunately on about half the record there are no songs to be found at all.

  17. misterioso

    2000 Man writes: “There’s a lot of bands who never get close to coming up with a song half as good as One Hit to the Body or Had it With You.”

    I read this as: “There are lots of bands that have recorded even shittier songs than these.”

  18. It’s the old “is this glass half-full or half-empty?” argument in play here. In the case of Dirty Work, it’s more like the backwash dampness in the bottom of the glass.

  19. misterioso

    tony, be careful: someone took a leak in that glass and wants you to think it’s pinot grigio.

  20. BigSteve

    I *love* Life from a Window.

  21. misterioso

    It’s okay. But it sounds like it was written by a 19-year-old, only not in the good way that This is the Modern World sounds like it was written by a 19-year-old. I don’t begrudge him coming off as jejeune, if only because it gives me a chance to use the word jejeune.

  22. I had a limited and not altogether positve veiw of Pink Floyd when MLOR came out. I knew the 4-5 songs that radio played all the time and knew that my Uncle dug the Wall and Final Cut, since the album covers were always in front of his Hi-Fi.

    My friends with older brothers all went to see this concert (the DVD was filmed at the Omni and they all swear they were on it..that’s MY hand!)

    I was more into The Replacements and Jason & The Scorchers and did not attend.

    I liked the singles from this record (Dogs of War, Learning To Fly) but I don’t think I owned it.

    I got into them a few years later and DID go to see them for the Division Bell tour. I knew that this record was worthless but was then into the Floyd history and wanted to see them before they broke up again.

  23. ..and I have always been a Dirty Work supporter. I though it was cool when it came out (better than Undercover or side 2 of Tattoo You) and again I did not know the old stuff as much (I had Let it Bleed and Some Girls and knew the hits)

  24. My brother and I recently shared that we had NO recollection of The Final Cut coming out at all. And this was when we were buying records every week.

  25. cherguevara

    I am apparently the only person who thinks “The Special AKA, In The Studio” is a good album. It is the Specials album that I listen to the most, the other ones mostly relegated into the “heard it a million times mostly at parties” heap, along with the 1st Violent Femmes album and any early REM album.

  26. Happiness Stan

    I’ve never heard it either, enjoy their albums up to Animals, disliked “The Wall” (and still do), and haven’t got around to listening to anything they did after that.

    Most of the music I used to take quite serious abuse for enjoying seems to have undergone a critical upgrade in the last twenty years, (or perhaps I only hang out with my own species these days), so it’s a bit tricky to separate albums which used to empty rooms from those now acclaimed as buried treasure.

    Albums I listen to with great pleasure (at least occasionally) include:

    Unconditionally Guaranteed – Capt Beefheart (Does Trout Mask Replica count, or is the mythology such that one is supposed to claim to enjoy it even if one doesn’t? Bluejeans and Moonbeams is the only one at which I draw the line, but UG has some great pop songs on.)

    An Evening With – Wild Man Fischer

    Adrenaline and Richard – Pip Proud

    Which Way Are You Going Billy – The Poppy Family

    Seasons in the Sun – Terry Jacks

    pre-disco Bee Gees (although now that Noel Gallagher has admitted their influence it’s probably ok to listen to them in public)

    anything by The Incredible String Band

    God Bless Tiny Tim (and his Second Album)

    A Tramp Shining – Richard Harris

    Mrs Happiness would doubtless say that this is why we don’t get many visitors. I played most of these at some volume while she was dozing of an afternoon or evening with our firstborn in the womb. Firstborn son has always displayed excellent musical taste, although Mrs H still grumbles about waking up to Trout Mask Replica).

  27. While I might look askance at Tiny Tim, Terry Jacks, or Wild Man Fischer, I have no problem at all with pre-disco Bee Gees. In fact, I prefer their early stuff to the disco era. For about six years (1967-1972), the Bee Gees made some wonderful pure pop. I have 14 hand-picked classics of theirs (up to “Nights on Broadway”) in my music collection and I’m not ashamed to say I listen to them fairly regularly.

    “Trout Mask Replica” has been used as an example here of what is known as the Emperor’s New Album. https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/index.php/bullshit-on-captain-beefheart/

  28. As many of you know, I went through a big Pink Floyd phase in my middle- and high-school years, a phase I largely rebuke now. At the time, I had agreeable feelings towards Pink Floyd’s ’80s albums. I was always on Team Gilmour, so I preferred Momentary Lapse. I haven’t heard them in years, but my current view on both albums is perhaps predictably dim. The Final Cut had some pungent insights on war and humanity, but I still feel like Roger Waters is pretty limited musically and (especially) vocally. The album’s not rock, it’s not prog, it’s… an anti-war Broadway musical for the tone-deaf? On the other hand, Momentary Lapse is pretty MOR. Like Yes and Genesis in the ’80s, it sounds mainly like an advertisement for its state-of-the-art synthesizers et al. I can’t emphasize how attractive that music can be when you’re growing up in the suburbs, playing in the marching band (and trying to fit in there), and still trying to form your personality. A little while ago, I heard “On the Turning Away” in the Bellevue food court (it’s a Philly hotel/mini mall, not an insane asylum) and I was almost instantly transported back to my old summer job.

    I’m still kinda fascinated by the band and their dry, reserved, very-English exteriors barely hiding some serious personality conflicts. (They probably could’ve used an HR department to sort out all the rancor.) But I try to avoid their music. I still like Meddle and some other songs here and there.

  29. shawnkilroy

    “an anti-war Broadway musical for the tone-deaf”

  30. 2000 Man

    Thankfully for me I don’t drink white wine. I still think Dirty Work is a fine little rock n roll record, and I think if you don’t like a song like had it With You, you probably don’t like bands like The Stones.

  31. 2000 Man

    Seasons in the Sun – Terry Jacks

    I think you should go to the doctor. I’m pretty sure this is a sympton of early onset something or other.

  32. misterioso

    2kman, I love the Stones. But just because they can crank out songs like “Had It with You” in their sleep doesn’t mean they should do just that, which is what it sounds like.

  33. misterioso

    Or else late stage something or other.

  34. Like Paul’s grandfather, it’s very clean. It didn’t really appeal to me then and it never made any impression afterward. I actually like Pink Floyd and Gilmour okay, but I would not count myself as a huge fan. I do think Meddle is one of my favorites. There’s some good stuff in there.

    I always tout Townshend’s Chinese Eyes record as a personal fave that only I seem to like. I can’t explain why that single album has had such an influence on my own writing and general attitude. It’s not regarded as Pete’s finest and it usually gets okay reviews. I’ve never met anyone who loves it as much as I do, though.

    I’m usually one to find merit in any of my favorite artist’s lesser work. I even gravitate toward the overlooked albums as opposed to the classics. But, even in that, I would put Chinese Eyes over the rest of Townshend solo and probably even The Who if I were shipped to that desert island.


  35. cliff sovinsanity

    I’ve been told that I’m the only person on earth that likes Ryan Adams’ Rock and Roll album.

  36. Happiness Stan

    That’s an interesting thread, and I’ve no desire to spark a re-run (even though I’ve gone back a fair way into the archive I’ll admit to not yet making it back to 2008).

    I can understand, absolutely, why people do not like it, to the point of being provoked into violence in all probability, but just as people are moved by Joni Mitchell or Van Morrison or Mahler or Benjamin Britten and all the other folks who are widely well regarded but leave me longing for fingernails scraping down a blackboard in preference, I honestly and genuinely enjoy it in a way that transcends any other listening experience, although I’d still not recommend it while driving.

    The first dozen or so times I listened to all or some of it I would have agreed with most of what was said on that thread, and everyone else I know (not many) who enjoy it as I do can remember the almost physical sensation of shock and disbelief that anyone could listen to it all the way through. Compared to this, Metal Machine Music (which I used to listen to regularly but doubt I could face any more) is background music for shopping centres.

    I can clearly remember the first time I “got” it: it was like a lightbulb being switched on, and compares with the visit I had to the National Gallery in London, seeing Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in an empty room with sunlight streaming through the windows, and after years and years of wondering what the fuss was all about could finally understand and appreciate that sense of wonder described by so many.

  37. Happiness Stan

    I unearthed it about five years ago, soon after finding the Poppy Family album. His songs are so ridiculously and deliciously bleak, his delivery so sincere, voice cracking and sounding perpetually on the edge of tears, the album makes “Songs of Love and Hate” sound like the soundtrack to a teddy bear’s picnic. Plus great tunes.

  38. tonyola

    I wouldn’t put Chinese Eyes over Empty Glass or the first two CDs of Lifehouse Chronicles, but I do think it’s a good and underrated album.

  39. Momentary Lapse was a pretty decent album.

    Goodbye Cruel World
    Shot of Love, Empire Burlesque, Slow Train Coming
    Bare Trees, Future Games
    The Queen is Dead

  40. Many reasons why I shouldn’t love Bryan Ferry’s slick solo stuff, but it works! Midway through tonight’s set at the Beacon and all systems go. Now get me The Price of Love!

  41. BigSteve

    Man, this is like interviewing the manager in the dugout during a postseason game.

  42. I’m totally 21st century. My friend and I had to split before the encore to catch the last train out of NYC. Very good show. Friend of the Hall Chris Spedding and PAUL THOMPSON wete in the band.

  43. jeangray

    Gots to agree with misterioso, “Had it with You” blows!

    The only two cuts worth a spit on Dirty Work are “Too Rude” & “Sleep Tonight,” both featuring Keith & guest vocalists. Hmmm…

    Plus, I love Steve Jordan.

  44. While traveling yesterday I did not get a chance to welcome tonyola to The Main Stage. Well done on your first thread generated!

  45. 2000 Man

    It blows? Can you tell us how you really feel?

    I’d have chosen the two Keith songs as well, but there’s no getting past his voice to a lot of people. Had it With You is a nice little rocker and Jagger actually sings it like he likes the song, something he certainly doesn’t do on some of the other songs. It’s just a little rock and roll song to dance to and it does a good job of it.

  46. bostonhistorian

    In the Studio is a good album, although I prefer More Specials.

  47. When the background vocal repeats “Fuck All That” over and over it limits your airplay.

  48. The version used in the video and radio single replaced “fuck” with “stuff”.

  49. I’m a pretty uncritical Townshend fan but Chineese Eyes is extremely pretentious. I’d take Empty Glass or White City (look: David Gilmour) over these.

    I can mount a defense for Robert Plant’s Pictures at 11. I was never a huge fan of ultra-bombastic Zeppelin but listened to a lot of that smoothed-out Robbie Blunt guitar while studying in College and Grad school.

  50. I remember when Roger came out with ‘Pros and Cons’ and I tried so hard to dig the album. I played it in my car and in my room but I could not “dig” it in any real tangible way. The album was, to me, musings spoken with few tunes, melodies, etc…Plus, no date of mine would want to make out to it!

    Now when Momentary Lapse came out I was excited, but felt a little cheated since the songs were there, but without the depth of previous Pink Floyd albums, obviously in the lyrics department. But there were songs! Maybe not great songs, but I could drive around in my car or make out on a date to them without feeling like I had to change the tape out.

    BTW, Undercover is the last Stones album that I have sat and listened through to the end. All since then are too difficult to do so.

  51. White City is a great record. Rocks remains my favorite Aerosmith, but Draw The Line is #2.

  52. Chinese Eyes is a favorite. I like it and White City better than Empty Glass.

  53. Panorama is my favorite Cars album!


  54. jeangray

    Pink Floyd has always been great make-out musik.

  55. jeangray

    It’s like digging through shit for corn.

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