This book is Mason’s account of his life and times as a member of Pink Floyd, from its very beginning until the recent Live 8 reunion. As the only person who’s been a member from the start until the present day, Mason’s arguably well-placed to give a sense of the bigger picture.
And he does so pretty well; from the swirly psychedelic start at UFO and other London underground clubs to the grottiness of touring, he gives decent insights into the way various albums (and sometimes individual songs) evolved, with an amusingly dry modesty. The book wouldn’t be complete without references to the departures from the band – Syd Barrett and Roger Waters – and he doesn’t take the opportunity to pretend to be blameless in either situation, which I feel is a good thing. The book ends on a happy note, with the paperback containing an epilogue about the Live 8 reunion, but even without this it would be a good read, and it’s interesting to note just how the Floyd went from being improvisational and free-form to very ordered and regulated in their work (the overabundance of that from Waters sounding like the problem when it came to ‘The Final Cut’ album, I fear).
A very decent read, thankfully free of muso-style pretension or similar excesses of music writing, and definitely worth a read if you’re a fan of the band in any of their incarnations (I like most of it, though the Waters-led period suits the often rather adolescent nature of my concerns, but if you like the Barrett or Gilmour eras, these are just as well covered).
Postscript: Just this weekend (though I didn’t attend), Mason was special guest as Waters performed The Dark Side Of The Moon in Hyde Park. Nice to see the rapprochement continuing. But I would question the appropriateness of the heading under which this concert took place (see picture above) – Ambassadors of Rock? Rock doesn’t have ambassadors, with their polite diplomacy and Ferrero Rocher chocolates. Rock comes in without being invited, drinks milk from the bottle in the fridge, puts its hand on your bum without apology, and wipes bogies on the curtain before leaving, the door banging as it goes.
‘Ambassadors’. Tch. Rock’s not like it used to be in my young days, clearly…