I have a love-hate relationship with Andrew Lloyd Webber. That is, I don’t love him, and I bet he bloody hates me. Not half as much as Roger Waters, though; when he heard the piece that titles this post he said:
Yeah, the beginning of that bloody Phantom song is from Echoes. *DAAAA-da-da-da-da-da* [sic]. I couldn’t believe it when I heard it. It’s the same time signature – it’s 12/8 – and it’s the same structure and it’s the same notes and it’s the same everything. Bastard. It probably is actionable. It really is! But I think that life’s too long to bother with suing Andrew fucking Lloyd Webber.
Didn’t you mean ‘short’, Roger? In any case, you have a point and a half, buddy. The greasy bard, who was stupid enough to let Sarah Brightman go, has made his fortune from lifting melodies from either classical or popular pieces and getting away with it. I remember a biting ballad from Kit And The Widow which laid clear his debt to other people’s efforts (one such, that I never realised until they pointed it out, is that the opening line of Memory is a direct steal of Ravel’s Bolero).
And why am I pontificating at length about Sir Andrew? Simply because everything that is worth saying about today’s piece, Pink Floyd’s galactic tone poem Echoes (FF 1976 #4) has already been said here. Taking up the entire second side of Meddle, this was not entirely unknown in an era that produced endless monstrosities such as Emerson Lake And Palmer and Yes; but it has a special place in my heart, due to the fact that it does the prog long song bit better than just about anything else. I admit to finding the album a bit of a hodgepodge, veering as it does from solid rock thumping (One Of These Days) to football homage (Fearless) to Noel Coward pastiche (San Tropez). Yet it is all redeemed by that 23 minute long trip undersea, to the sky and back again. The band even had the cheek to recycle the bird calls on The Wall. But then again, they did actually write the source material. Unlike some others. From this point on, their sound merely proceeded skywards, and I defy you not to fall under the spell of this, and wonder whether 2001: A Space Odyssey would have been the better with this instead of Ligeti.