Between the space-rock ascensions of Ummagumma and the obvious mega-success of Dark Side Of The Moon, Pink Floyd drifted, strangely, getting away with a great deal.
1970’s Atom Heart Mother (7⁄10) is the sort of indulgence that could kill a band; topped and tailed by a stilted chamber suite and Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast, in which deliberately inconsequential instrumental episodes punctuated the sound of a roadie preparing a fry-up. And yet it was No.1 in the UK, its cow cover has become totemic and later ambient outfits such as KLF and The Orb took revolutionary inspiration from it decades later.
Meddle (8⁄10), from 1971, is much more serious business, mainly for the mountainous Echoes, and its hugely ambitious phases including a whale-song interlude. Yet it’s counterbalanced by more whimsical pieces such as San Tropez and Fearless the latter segueing into the Liverpool Kop singing You’ll Never Walk Alone.
1972’s Obscured By Clouds (6⁄10) comprises the soundtrack to the film La Vallée. It opens with the bracingly filmic title track, notable for the snarling, rippling synth effect, before settling down into the sort of dappled, desultory, often bland fare of which the Floyd produced a great deal in this era. Only Roger Waters’s Free Four, a song about his dead father, breaks up the sun-kissed torpor.
After this, Waters would assume the conceptual reins when he left the group in 1985; the remaining group members, led by David Gilmour, merely resumed their roving across the lazy, languid expanses they charted on these albums, to multimillion-selling effect.