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Book Review: Echoes: The Complete History Of Pink Floyd by Glenn Povey

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Glenn Povey's Echoes: The Complete History Of Pink Floyd comes exactly as advertised. It is not only a detailed, complete historical account on the meteoric rise of the band that practically invented both the space-rock and prog-rock genres — but also the pictorial souvenir that fans have long been salivating for.

Povey, a long-time, die-hard Pink Floyd fan and historian, has compiled the sort of lavish coffee-table book guaranteed to satisfy the hunger of these very same long suffering fans.

Lavishly illustrated with hundreds of never-before-seen photographs, Echoes is further augmented with the most exhaustively researched discography of the band's recordings ever assembled. Everything from pre-Pink Floyd efforts, to original band recordings, to solo albums and appearances by individual members on various projects, is lovingly assembled with the sort of care that can only be the product of a true fan's devotion. If nothing else, Echoes is definitely a labor of love.

Where it gets really interesting though is when Povey delves into the setlists of nearly every live performance Pink Floyd has ever done.

Having seen the band myself a few times during their seventies heyday, I found it particularly interesting to go back and read through their setlists in Seattle and Portland during the Wish You Were Here and Animals tours, as well as the performance where I saw them playing Dark Side Of The Moon in full many months before the album was actually released. For the most part, the setlists for these shows were exactly as I remembered them.

But the real treat here is the graphics, which include not only hundreds of rare photos, but also all kinds of things like ticket stubs, concert posters and the like spanning the band's entire history. Thumbing through these alone makes Echoes a treasure trove of memorabilia both for long-time fans as well as for those too young to have witnessed the phenomenon first hand.

As for Povey's narrative, the author hits all the usual points from Syd Barrett's tragic, premature drug-induced flameout, through the glory years of the seventies, to the bitter split and resultant legal battles between primary members Roger Waters and David Gilmour during the eighties and nineties.

To his credit, the author maintains a largely neutral stance throughout, although his portrait of Roger Waters (and particularly the way he treated band members like Richard Wright) is often less than flattering. What hardcore fans will find far more interesting is Povey's detailed accounting of Pink Floyd's early concert history billed under names like the Tin Cup as well as pre-Floyd bands like Jokers Wild.

The author's bonafides speak for themselves. Povey is the founder of the respected Pink Floyd fanzine, Brain Damage, as well as a contributor to publications like Mojo and Record Collector. He is also the author of a previous Pink Floyd book, In The Flesh: The Complete Performance History.

As both historical document and pictorial record, Echoes: The Complete History Of Pink Floyd more than lives up to its advance billing. This is the definitive account Pink Floyd fans have long waited for.

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About Glen Boyd

Glen Boyd is the author of Neil Young FAQ, released in May 2012 by Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard Publishing. He is a former BC Music Editor and current contributor, whose work has also appeared in SPIN, The Rocket, The Source and other publications. You can read more of Glen's work at The Rockologist, and at the official Neil Young FAQ site. Follow Glen on Twitter and on Facebook.
  • http://emm-media.blogspot.com/ Emm

    See now, I was most enjoying this review until I read “Having seen the band myself a few times during their seventies heyday” and then I just got jealous.

    You’re obviously a lifelong Pink Floyd fan (as am I but I’m just younger than you!)_ so I’m going to take your word for it and put this on my wishlist. I think you’re right and that Glenn Povey’s credentials speak for themselves.

    I wonder why it took them three years to bring the book out in the uS?

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    Thanks for the comment Emm. What really sucks for younger fans like yourself, is that Floyd never produced a live document from those years (outside of Ummagumma and the Live at Pompeii film). Povey (and the band members themselves) actually comment at some length about this in the book.

    Thanks for the comment, and yes, if you are a Floyd fan you need to add this one to your list.

    -Glen

  • Tatha

    Hi Glen,

    After a lot of search i found your review on this book. I am looking for a book on Pink Floyd, which goes deep into the psychology of the band members and the history behind the famous albums and may be somewhat explains the idea behind each song and their metaphorical meaning. Would you recommend this book for my quest? Is there any other book which would provide such details. Looking forward to your reply. Thanks