Heaps of firsthand source material and a genuine love for his subject distinguish U.K. music scribe Blake’s venture into oft-plowed rock territory.
Like virtually all the 1960s British invaders who ultimately became classic-rock radio staples, Pink Floyd has a story: personnel shifts, stylistic waffling, original leader bails in a haze of drugs, new lineup succeeds musically without compromising its sound, masterpiece album stays on Billboard chart for years, co-leaders engage in numerous hissy fits, more personnel shifts, less interesting music, original leader dies, renewed interest in band, etc. Floyd’s story isn’t as compelling as those of the Beatles, the Stones or the Kinks, but that doesn’t mean an up-to-date band biography isn’t welcome. Since Roger Waters, David Gilmour and the other members were never particularly shy with the press, there’s already plenty of decent band literature out there; ace music biographer Barry Miles released the well-executed, if scant, Pink Floyd: The Early Years less than six months ago. But Blake (Dylan: Visions, Portraits, & Back Pages, 2005, etc.) does a nice job of transforming his research into a compelling narrative. Another plus is that his attitude toward the band is respectful but not reverential, which makes for better reading than, say, Stephen Davis’s over-appreciated Stones bio/love letter Old Gods Almost Dead (2001).
Chances are you probably won’t see another Pink Floyd book on the shelves anytime soon because this one gets it right.