“Quite a clever forgery,” was Roger Waters’s judgement on 1987’s A Momentary Lapse Of Reason, the first post-Waters, David Gilmour-led Floyd record. Clever enough, in fact, that it didn’t merely echo the formulas and tones of 1975’s Wish You Were Here, it cut to the quick of Floyd’s entire modus operandi.
Just as Meddle and The Dark Side Of The Moon had refined psychedelia into grander statements that hovered above – rather than at the centre of – prog rock, Momentary Lapse was a cultured take on the synthetic sheen of the 80s; sleek-shelled but containing meat. Its accompanying stadium tour was a similarly smart update, combining Floyd’s by-then traditional circular screen, a third eye into the mind of this sonic enigma, with the wire-flying inflatables they’d pioneered for Animals and The Wall.
Their 1988 live album Delicate Sound Of Thunder – expanded to encompass the full 140-minute set on this remix initially released in 2019’s The Later Years box – sounded so stellar it became the first record ever played in space. Fitting, since only aliens unfamiliar with earthling culture would fail to spot the folly of pitting the first disc, a near-complete run through of Momentary Lapse, against the combined might of the Floyd canon compiled on disc two.
Opening with a reassuringly vaporous Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1-5), the Momentary Lapse disc, now with the A New Machine/ Terminal Frost cycle included, has its moments.
The strident, pop-funk Learning To Fly and oppressive blues The Dogs Of War are among Gilmour’s finest Floyd contributions, and On The Turning Away, for all its Hasselhoff schmaltz, tugs at the same emotional knots as Wish You Were Here.
However, with its gated drums and slap bass it is very much of its era. Which can’t be said of the timeless ‘hits’ of the second set. Here, a monstrous One Of These Days gives way to the bulk of Dark Side, reunited with its centrepiece in a staggering The Great Gig In The Sky, and the slick stadium gleam giving way to a dense, heady euphoria.
If grudgingly firing up only three obvious tracks from The Wall seems like a thumbed nose at Waters, it also helps highlight Gilmour’s own through-line within peak-era Floyd, from Us And Them to a barnstorming Run Like Hell and Comfortably Numb totally owned by Gilmour’s ugly/beautiful guitar playing. Provenance secured.