* charted version is actually live cut from 1988’s Delicate Sound of Thunder
A Momentary Lapse of Reason
This was the Pink Floyd album that divided its fans into two camps – those who thought the now-departed Roger “Waters’ unifying vision and lyrical ability” (Ruhlmann) was the heart and soul of the band and those that preferred “the kind of atmospheric instrumental music and Gilmour guitar sound typical” (Ruhlmann) of Floyd in its heyday.
With respect to those in Waters’ camp, 1983’s The Final Cut made it clear it was time for Waters to go. He was pushing music that lacked the accessibility of Floyd’s previous efforts. Even as monstrous as 1979’s The Wall had been, it suffered under the weight of Waters’ over-reaching concept. Still, that album worked because the rest of the band reigned him in. By The Final Cut, Waters had reduced his fellow bandmates to session players on what was effectively his first solo album. Compare the liner notes of The Final Cut and Waters’ first solo album, 1984’s The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking – about the only difference between the numerous players on the two albums is the absence of the other Floyd members on the latter (and the presence of some guitarist named Eric Clapton).
When Gilmour and Co. decided to soldier on as Pink Floyd, Waters did a lot of whining about who had rights to the name and even took his ex-bandmates to court, but, truth be told, neither incarnation bore the same sound as classic seventies Pink Floyd. The resulting A Momentary Lapse of Reason is arguably “a David Gilmour solo album in all but name” (Ruhlmann), but it offered up exactly what album rock radio wanted – big anthems that would rock stadiums alongside the band’s stellar classic rock catalog. Heck, regardless of whether you attach the name “Pink Floyd” to it or not, who can argue with whether or not songs like Learning to Fly, On the Turning Away, One Slip, and The Dogs of War weren’t perfectly suited for radio stations needing some nice slabs of classic rock?