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Music / Ummagumma

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"That was pretty avant-garde, wasn't it?"

Ummagumma is the fourth studio album and debut live album by Pink Floyd, released in 1969 through Harvest Records, marking the band's first release on the label. Although the live half of the album remains popular to this day, the studio half of the album generates strong mixed feelings and is often viewed (even by the band itself) as a failed experiment. Whether it was or not, it remains an oddity in the Floyd catalogue, particularly because it's essentially four solo albums in one; each member got half an album side (about 10 minutes or so) to play with. Despite its eccentricities, the album remains a fan favorite and one of the best-selling pre-Dark Side releases, going platinum in the U.S. (sales of at least one million copies) in 1994, likely because the first disc was the only official live album from that era available until the release of the Early Years box set.

Preceded by More. Proceeded by Atom Heart Mother.


Live Album

Side One
  1. "Astronomy Domine" (8:32)
  2. "Careful with That Axe, Eugene" (8:49)

Side Two

  1. "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" (9:27)
  2. "A Saucerful of Secrets" (12:48)

Studio Album

Side Three
  1. "Sysyphus (Parts 1-4)" (13:28) (Richard Wright solo)
  2. "Grantchester Meadows" (7:26) (Roger Waters solo)
  3. "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict" (4:59) (Roger Waters solo)

Side Four

  1. "The Narrow Way (Parts 1-3)" (12:17) (David Gilmour solo)
  2. "The Grand Vizier's Garden Party (Part 1: Entrance; Part 2: Entertainment; Part 3: Exit)" (8:46) (Nick Mason solo)

Principal Members:

  • David Gilmour - lead vocals, guitar, bass, piano, organ, drums
  • Nick Mason - drums, percussion, mellotron, xylophone
  • Roger Waters - lead vocals, bass, guitar, gong, cymbals, tape effects
  • Richard Wright - organ, backing and co-lead vocals, vibraphone, piano, mellotron, keyboard

Careful with That Trope, Eugene:

  • Brief Accent Imitation: Roger Waters imitates a Scottish accent on "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict", an imitation he reuses for the shouting teacher and cook in The Wall. No doubt helped by the fact that his mother was Scottish.
  • Careful with That Axe: "Careful with That Axe, Eugene" is the Trope Namer, thanks to Roger's sudden shrieks.
  • Distinct Double Album: One half of this album is live, the other is recorded in the studio.
  • Droste Image: Played with on the Hipgnosis cover of this album. The pictures show each of the four band members switching positions and occupying the same place, save for the final one, which is the cover of A Saucerful of Secrets.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: A major example from their post-Syd Barrett years. Less psychedelic or progressive (though the concept of the album at least is progressive), more experimental and avant-garde. The album cover also actually features the band members.
  • Epic Rocking: Really, the only song on the entire album that isn't an example is "Several Species of Small Furry Animals". All the others are at least 7:26 long.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict" is indeed several species of small furry animals (a sped-up Roger Waters making animal noises) gathered together in a cave and grooving with a Pict (Waters again).
  • Face on the Cover: The group shown in a Droste Effect, in the final example of this in their studio album discography (Meddle and A Momentary Lapse of Reason would feature photos of the band in the gatefold interior, but not on the front cover).
  • Gratuitous Panning: At the end of "Grantchester Meadows", a bee buzzes from speaker to speaker, followed by a person trying to swat it.
  • Limited Lyrics Song: "Careful with That Axe, Eugene" has exactly one verbal line, a Title Drop, followed by Roger Waters shrieking his lungs out.
  • Live Album: One half of the album was performed live.
  • Non-Appearing Title: The album title doesn't appear.
  • One-Word Title: The album itself and "Sysyphus".
  • The Power of the Sun: "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" is sung with an almost mystic admiration for the sun.
  • Scatting: "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict".
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Sysyphus" is a reference to the Greek mythological character of the same name, who was forced to push a rock up a hill until eternity in the Underworld.
    • The album cover for the soundtrack of Gigi appears on the cover of this album. Out of fear of copyright infringement, it was airbrushed off the cover on the original version in some regions.
    • "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict" quotes Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary".
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Richard Wright sang co-lead vocals on the live tracks "Astronomy Domine" and "A Saucerful of Secrets".
  • Soprano and Gravel: "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" and "Grantchester Meadows" shows us that Waters could sing soft, sweet and whispery.
  • Unperson: Waters' then-wife, Judy Trim, was cropped out of the band photos on later editions of the album after she and Roger divorced.


Video Example(s):


Careful With That Axe, Eugene

This Pink Floyd song provides the Trope Namer, complete with Roger Waters' high-pitched scream.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / CarefulWithThatAxe

Media sources: