Fifty years ago this week Pink Floyd released their 2nd album A Saucerful of Secrets (June 29, 1968). It was the only Floyd album to contain all 5 legendary members, Roger Waters/bass, vocals, David Gilmour/guitar,vocals, Richard Wright/keyboards, vocals, Nick Mason/drums, and Roger “Syd” Barrett/guitar, vocals, and was produced by Norman Smith, recorded mostly at Abbey Road Studios.
At the time, Pink Floyd were riding the psychedelic wave of the 60s, and this sophomore release houses some of that along with their ‘space rock’ direction in the later years. It was the last contribution by Barrett, who until then was writing and composing most of the material but his behavior was getting erratic and was let go after. His understudy Gilmour makes his debut on this record taking over where Barrett left off.
The album opens with Let There Be More Light, a hypnotic bass riffing by Waters leads into psychedelic keyboards behind plodding vocals and a distorted guitar solo by new boy Gilmour near the end.Track 2 Remember a Day was a song written and sung by Wright for the first album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, but was added to this set and is clearly a ‘flower power’ approach, “Dream yourself away/Why can’t we reach the sun/Why can’t we blow the years away/Blow away”. Barrett plays a slick slide here, along with lead and acoustic effects, making the most melodic number on the record. He would likely have used his legendary Harmony Sovereign acoustic H1260 on this track.
Barrett’s wrote just one pìece for the album, called Jugband Blues, a haunting number where he contemplates his own death…”and I’m wondering who could be writing this song…”. Roger Waters Corporal Clegg was Floyd’s first song about war, and more specifically his father’s demise in it. Ironically it is a fun song featuring wah wah guitar work, a kazoo, and Nick Mason sings lead vocals.
The dreamy See Saw was also penned by Wright, and floats around on some acidic organ work, along with vibraphone, xylophone, a mellotron, which provide for the spacey direction the band was moving in. The title track A Saucerful of Secrets, is the eeriest number on the album, a dark 12-minute trip, with some neat riffing by Gilmour possibly on his 1961 Fender Telecaster, a brilliant touch on piano by Wright and what was described as “syncopated pandemonium” fuelled by Mason’s drum loop. It had been hailed as a “masterpiece of psychedelic rock”, by Classic Rock Review.
A Saucerful of Secrets is not a remarkable album, but did reach the top 10 on the U.K. charts. It was the end of Syd Barrett and the dawn of David Gilmour when Pink Floyd would go on to greater things becoming one of the greatest rock bands in history.