Print Reviews

Echoes: The Complete History of Pink Floyd

By Glenn Povey

Chicago Review Press


There are fans, there are super groupies, and there are obsessive-compulsive stalkers like Glenn Povey who track bands, hunt down ephemera, and build shrines to the groups you like but don’t have time to research on your own. For a mere $40, Povey informs you of every knowable fact about the band Pink Floyd, and you’ll never have to deal with a restraining order. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the ultimate fanmag: Echoes: The Complete History of Pink Floyd.

Povey has gone above and beyond the call of duty, documenting every single Pink Floyd concert along with setlists from their earliest days as Geoff Mott & The Mottoes (1962) to Waters and Mason’s 2006 tour. While there may be minor gaps from the very early days when the Floyds were in architecture school, it’s hard to imagine a more thorough collection of dates, rumors, posters, ticket stubs, third-tier newspaper reviews, and photos of the band. Best of all, they are all tied together with a history of the band that ranks as the best rock journalism I’ve ever read. Povey tells the band’s story without taking sides and gives details in a balanced, intriguing fashion, and only delving in to the sex, drugs, and destroyed hotel rooms when absolutely necessary. All in all, this book is 20 times better than any Wikipedia or Public Broadcasting recollection of a band. This book isn’t just worth reading, it’s worth owning.

So here’s the thumbnail: Waters, Gilmore, and Barrett form an art school band in London, and draw fans that might, under peer pressure, indulge in psychotropic medication. Rock and roll fame intrigues the boys, but a respectable career in architecture is a valid option. They band play gigs, change names, and eventually release a single (“See Emily Play”) that completely misrepresents their style. Syd Barrett goes psycho and they end up with a huge fanbase, tour the world, and release one of the biggest-selling albums of all time. Then, the band slowly self-destructs but produces several more significant albums, and eventually reforms for a reunion tour. Their career is about as good as it gets.

The details are much more extensive, of course, and I recommend reading through this coffee table book. The reviews show the changing attitudes toward rock and roll, from early rejection of their noisy style, mid-career condemnations of the drugs and incipient riots their fans could partake in, and later reviews that revere them as demigods. This is rock and roll history at its best.

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