In the period immediately after the dismissal of Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd embarked on a half-decade search for their new artistic identity. Experimentation became the law of the land, with all four band members throwing differing ideas at the wall to see what would eventually stick. The band’s lack of direction eventually took its toll on David Gilmour, who looked back derisively at one of the band’s most experimental efforts, 1970’s Atom Heart Mother.
“We didn’t know where we were going in terms of recording. But we were pretty good live. We were very good at jamming. But we couldn’t translate that onto record,” Gilmour told Mojo in 2001. “Gradually, a direction revealed itself to us. A line that began with the ‘Saucerful of Secrets’ track all the way to ‘Echoes’, via the long piece ‘Atom Heart Mother’”.
“That was a good idea. But it was dreadful. I listened to that album recently. God, it’s shit, possibly our lowest point artistically,” Gilmour claimed. “Atom Heart Mother sounds like we didn’t have any idea between us. But we became much more prolific after it.”
The Floyd attempted to stage a few live performances of the ‘Atom Heart Mother’ suite, including one at Hyde Park the year that it was released. However, even though the band were taken with the idea of a full suite of songs and compositions, ‘Atom Heart Mother’ wasn’t the vehicle that would fulfil their desires.
“All I’ve ever tried to do is play music I like listening to. Some of it now, like ‘Atom Heart Mother’, strikes me as absolute crap,” Gilmour told The Word in 2008. “I no longer want or have to play stuff I don’t enjoy”.
However, one song from the album did manage to get in Gilmour’s good graces: his folk composition ‘Fat Old Sun’. “It’s fantastically overlooked,” Gilmour told Prog in 2022. The guitarist even wanted the song included in the 2001 compilation Echoes, but he was denied. “Tried very hard to push the others… but they weren’t having it.”
“It’s one of those songs where the whole thing fell together very easily,” Gilmour told Uncut in 2017. “I remember thinking at the time, ‘What have I ripped this off? I’m sure it’s by the Kinks or someone.’ But since whenever it was – 1968, ’69 – no one has ever yet said, ‘It’s exactly like this.’ It’s a nice lyric, I’m very happy with that.”
Fat old sun -Live is just fantastic