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Obscured by Clouds is the seventh studio album by Pink Floyd, released in 1972. It is their second full length soundtrack, for the film La Vallée (The Valley in English, and is called that on some copies of this album). Coming right between Meddle and The Dark Side of the Moon, this album is considered to be one of the more...obscure Pink Floyd releases, for better or worse. However, “Free Four” from this album was released as a single in the US, and was successful enough to pave the way for super stardom a year later. Despite the album’s obscurity compared to the band’s other work, it remains a fan favorite.

Preceded by Meddle. Proceeded by The Dark Side of the Moon.


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Tracklist:

Side One

  1. “Obscured by Clouds” (3:03)
  2. “When You’re In” (2:30)
  3. “Burning Bridges” (3:29)
  4. “The Gold It’s In The...” (3:07)
  5. “Wot’s... Uh the Deal?” (5:08)
  6. “Mudmen” (4:20)

Side Two

  1. “Childhoo’s End” (4:31)
  2. “Free Four” (4:15)
  3. “Stay” (4:05)
  4. “Absolutely Curtains” (5:52)

Principal Members:

  • David Gilmour – Lead vocals, guitar, VCS3
  • Nick Mason – Drums, percussion, tambourine, cymbals, tape effects
  • Roger Waters – Bass, backing and lead vocals, VCS3, tape effects
  • Richard Wright – Organ, backing and lead vocals, keyboard, piano, synthesizer, vibraphone, VCS3, tack piano

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Let me in from the cold, turn my tropes into gold:

  • Alliterative Title: "Burning Bridges" and "Free Four."
  • All There in the Manual: Obscured, like its earlier counterpart More, has a detailed plot synopsis in the liner notes. Justified as very few anglophones have seen it.
  • But Now I Must Go: "Stay:"
    I rise, looking through my morning eyes
    Surprised to find you by my side
    Rack my brain to try to remember your name
    To find the words to tell you goodbye
  • Call-Back: "Stay," penned by Rick Wright, is about the awkward morning after a one night stand, as is "Summer '68" from Atom Heart Mother.
  • Continuity Nod: In "Not Now John" from The Final Cut, Roger Waters references "Free Four."
  • Epic Rocking: Unusually for Pink Floyd, averted. All songs are under 6 minutes.
  • Grief Song: "Free Four:"
    Life is a short, warm moment
    And death is a long cold rest
    (...) The memories of a man in his old age
    Are the deeds of a man in his prime
    You shuffle in gloom in the sickroom
    And talk to yourself till you die
  • Instrumentals: "Obscured by Clouds," "When You're In," "Mudmen," and "Absolutely Curtains."
  • Intercourse with You: "Stay:"
    I rise, looking through my morning eyes
    Surprised to find you by my side
  • Lampshade Hanging: "Childhood's End:"
    And so all things, time will mend
    So this song will end
  • Left Hanging: The title of "The Gold It's in The..." doesn't finish the sentence.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Free Four" combines an upbeat, poppy melody with dour lyrics about aging to death.
  • One-Word Title: "Mudmen" and "Stay."
  • Out-of-Genre Experience:
    • The title track sounds more like a Kraut Rock song, with Nick Mason adopting a minimalistic "motorik beat" similar to Neu! or Can.
    • "The Gold It's In The..." is a hard rock song, similar to "The Nile Song" on More.
  • Pun-Based Title: "Free Four."
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sliding Scale of Realistic Versus Fantastic: "Childhood's End:"
    Your fantasies merge with harsh realities
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Roger Waters sings lead vocals on "Free Four." Richard Wright sings lead vocals on "Stay" and co-lead vocals on "Burning Bridges."
  • Take That!: The album was given its current title after the band fell out with the film company behind La Vallée. In response, the film was retitled La Vallée (Obscured by Clouds) upon its release.

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