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Music / A Saucerful of Secrets

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"One inch of love is one inch of shadow/Love is the shadow that ripens the wine/Set the controls for the heart of the sun..."

"And the sea isn't green
And I love the Queen
And what exactly is a dream?
And what exactly is a joke?"
"Jugband Blues"

A Saucerful of Secrets is the second studio album by Pink Floyd, released in 1968 through EMI Columbia Records in the UK and Tower Records in the US. It marks a turning point in Floyd's history, as it's their last studio album to feature the ailing Syd Barrett and their first studio album to feature David Gilmour. Barrett would only appear on 3 songs off the album, one of which he wrote ("Jugband Blues"), and another ("Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun") which is the only song to ever feature the 5-man line-up of Pink Floyd.

Preceded by The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Proceeded by More.


Side One

  1. "Let There Be More Light" (5:38)
  2. "Remember a Day" (4:33)
  3. "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" (5:27)
  4. "Corporal Clegg" (4:12)

Side Two

  1. "A Saucerful of Secrets" (11:59)
    1. "Something Else" (0:00 – 3:57)
    2. "Syncopated Pandemonium" (3:57 – 7:04)
    3. "Storm Signal" (7:04 – 8:38)
    4. "Celestial Voices" (8:38 – 11:52)
  2. "See-Saw" (4:36)
  3. "Jugband Blues" (3:00)

Principal Members:

  • Syd Barrett – guitar, lead vocals
  • David Gilmour - guitar, backing and co-lead vocals, kazoo
  • Nick Mason - drums, percussion, backing and co-lead vocals, kazoo
  • Roger Waters - bass, backing and lead vocals, percussion, gong
  • Richard Wright - lead vocals, piano, organ, mellotron, vibraphone, xylophone, tin whistle

Let There Be More Tropes:

  • Aliens in Cardiff: The aliens in "Let There Be More Light" make contact with the human race at RAF Mildenhall.
  • Alien Invasion: One interpretation of the track "A Saucerful of Secrets" (due to the 'Saucer' in the title). Another is simply any general war/invasion scene. There's the lead-up and feeling of dread/the invader(s) appearing (Something Else)....then the invasion/battle (Syncopated Pandemonium)....then surveying the damaged wasteland/Aftermath (Storm Signal)....then the mourning of the dead (Celestial Voices). Whenever from Extraterrestrials or an Earthly military, the song is definitely a depiction of an invasion scene.
  • Alliterative Name and Alliterative Title: "A Saucerful of Secrets", "Corporal Clegg'', "Jugband Blues", "Storm Signal".
  • Artificial Limbs: Mentioned in "Corporal Clegg".
    Corporal Clegg had a wooden leg
    He won it in the war, in 1944
  • Changing of the Guard: The album was literally recorded in the midst of Syd Barrett leaving and David Gilmour joining. Indeed, "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" is the only track in the entire Pink Floyd discography to have both of them on it together. The trope also shows in the music- having elements of both Piper and the later albums.
  • Compilation Rerelease: Saucerful was reissued in 1973 alongside The Piper at the Gates of Dawn as A Nice Pair.
  • Darker and Edgier: In comparison to The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, that is.
  • Deadpan Snarker: "Jugband Blues".
  • Demoted to Extra: This pretty much happened to Syd Barrett as the album was being made.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The album cover, the first designed by Hipgnosis.
  • Epic Rocking: The 12 and a half minute Title Track.
  • Foreshadowing: "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" actually name-drops The Wall, and parts of the song's lyrics come surprisingly close to what would come later on the albumnote . Also Self-Plagiarism when Roger Waters recycled the basic riff of "Set the Controls" for the three parts of "Another Brick in the Wall".
  • Grand Finale: "Jugband Blues" to Syd Barrett's time with Pink Floyd.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: The Japanese release of Saucerful changed both the name of the album and the song to 神秘 (shinpi), which means "Mystery".
  • Homage: Roger Waters admitted in an article shortly after the release of Saucerful that the lyrics to "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" were borrowed from a book of Chinese poetry, specifically A.C. Graham's translation of Poems of the Late Tang.
  • Kazoos Mean Silliness: "Corporal Clegg" has kazoos on the chorus for a darkly humorous effect, to match the sardonic lyrics about a Shell-Shocked Veteran.
  • Lampshading: "Jugband Blues"
    And I'm wondering who could be writing this song?
  • My Nayme Is: On the original vinyl and early CD issues Saucerful, David Gilmour's name was misspelled as "David Gilmore". The mistake was corrected starting with the 1994 remastered version.
  • New Sound Album: Saucerful, while still very much psychedelic, is not only a lot darker, but the title track in particular is a predecessor to their later progressive epics.
  • One-Word Title: "See-Saw".
  • The Power of the Sun: "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" is sung with an almost mystic admiration for the sun.
  • Put on a Bus: Syd Barrett during the Saucerful sessions.
  • Sanity Slippage: Happened to Syd Barrett during the album's recording sessions, and the song "Jugband Blues" is about his experiences with schizophrenia. The song effectively serves as his Take That! to the other members of Pink Floyd and everyone else around him for their treatment of him.
  • Scatting: "A Saucerful of Secrets".
  • Shout-Out:
    • The album cover is a heavily modified version of a page from the Doctor Strange comic "The Sands of Death", from Strange Tales #158 (published the previous year).
    • "Jugband Blues" namedrops "I Don't Care If the Sun Don't Shine" by Patti Page.
    • To "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" by The Beatles on "Let There Be More Light".
      For there revealed in glowing robes
      Was Lucy in the sky
    • Many of the lyrics of "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" are lifted directly from classical Chinese poetry, much as many of the lyrics of "Chapter 24" from the previous album were taken directly from the I Ching.
  • Something Blues: "Jugband Blues".
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Syd Barrett sings lead on "Jugband Blues". Roger Waters sings lead on "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" and co-lead vocals on "Let There Be More Light". David Gilmour sings co-lead vocals on "Let There Be More Light", "Corporal Clegg" and "A Saucerful Of Secrets". Nick Mason sings co-lead vocals (on one of the select few Pink Floyd songs he even sings on) on "Corporal Clegg".
    • Unusually, this is the only Pink Floyd album in which the majority of the lead vocals is done by Richard Wright.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "See-Saw".
  • Title Track: "A Saucerful of Secrets".
  • Troubled Production: Mainly because of the problems they were having with Syd Barrett at the time.