When the legendary rock band Pink Floyd put out The Later Years box set in 2019, it gave them the chance to go back and revisit an underrated period from the band’s now-57-year-long existence: the David Gilmour-led era from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Videos by American Songwriter
Among the records that were remixed and updated for The Later Years was A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987), the first album the band made sans bassist and co-lead singer, Roger Waters (who split from the group in 1985). With highlight tracks like “Learning To Fly” and “On the Turning Away,” the album captures the classic Pink Floyd sound, while translating it into a distinctly late-20th century, early-digital feel. Now, Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason have gone back and entirely revamped the project.
With new drum performances, new mixes, previously-unheard keyboard parts from the late Richard Wright, and dazzling 360 Reality Audio and Dolby Audio mixes, the new version of A Momentary Lapse of Reason isn’t merely a “remaster” or “reissue,” but a genuinely new way to experience this vibrant collection of songs. The updated version will be out on October 29.
“Some years after we had recorded the album, we came to the conclusion that we should update it to make it more timeless, featuring more of the traditional instruments that we liked and that we were more used to playing,” Gilmour said. “This was something we thought it would benefit from. We also looked for and found some previously unused keyboard parts of Rick’s which helped us to come up with a new vibe, a new feeling for the album.”
For his part, Mason—now 77 years old—agreed, explaining that it was Wright’s keyboard parts that provided so much of the heart for the band over the years (even though Wright himself was an “on-again, off-again” member of the band). The opportunity to open the hood on this album and shine a light on different aspects of its musicality was a thrill.
“Initially, it seemed a bit odd to start re-assembling a record after 35-odd-years, but the public’s appetite for alternate views of the same work has undoubtedly increased immeasurably over time,” Mason said. “Inevitably, the opportunity to revisit earlier work from a period where digital technology was the ‘brave new world’ became increasingly interesting. There’s little doubt of the advantages in being able to find new elements within the music or more often uncovering elements that became overwhelmed with all that new science… I think there is an element of taking the album back in time and taking the opportunity to create a slightly more open sound—utilizing some of the things we had learned from playing so much of the album live over two massive tours. It was also nice to have an opportunity to enhance some of Rick’s work. Again, that positive tidal wave of technology just might have provided too many digital opportunities to overwhelm the band feel. Hopefully, that’s one of the benefits of this remix!”
And, of course, getting time to go back and re-do drum parts was incredibly fulfilling. “I enjoyed re-recording drum tracks with unlimited studio time!” Mason continued. “Momentary Lapse had been recorded under considerable stress and time constraints, and indeed some of the final mixing was done at the same time as rehearsals for the forthcoming tour.”
It’s true—the album was born out of a very strange time for Pink Floyd. Waters had left the group amidst a legal fight, and when the record began, it was actually just a side project Gilmour was working on for himself in his house boat-turned-studio, Astoria. Eventually, with the help of producer Bob Ezrin, it grew into a much bigger project.
“Bob Ezrin had worked on The Wall with us back in ’79 and on some solo albums with me,” Gilmour said. “I learned a lot from Bob and he’s a valuable person to have on board. We started working on pieces of music that I had been writing and, come Christmas, we knew it was going well. One day, I felt this ‘thing’ coming on me that became ‘Sorrow.’ I wrote five verses one evening. They just flowed out from nowhere in one of those great serendipitous moments that you recognize later as having been very valuable…. I knew that we were on a good roll and that this thing was going to work.”
Now, the updated version of A Momentary Lapse Of Reason offers fans an immersive new way to celebrate these cherished music-makers. From the crisp, modernized fidelity to the overall feel, it’s a brilliant remodel. Even the Storm Thorgerson-designed cover art—the now-famous photo of 500 hospital beds—got a revamp, thanks to the late Thorgerson’s creative partner, Aubrey Powell.
“I was looking to update the iconic five hundred beds picture my partner in Hipgnosis, Storm Thorgerson, had designed,” Powell said. “On looking through the archives I discovered a version where the sea was encroaching on the set, just before Storm shut down the shot worried he would lose all the beds. I also wanted to make something more of the microlight. There were no shots of the plane in close up, so I hunted one down that was similar but white, and had Peter Curzon retouch the fuselage with the right coloring—red—then strip the microlight into the picture in an upfront position. David Gilmour and Nick Mason gave their approval and, voila, a fresh approach to an original favorite”.
Perhaps it’s that final quote that best summarizes the new edition of A Momentary Lapse Of Reason: “A fresh approach to an original favorite.”
The remixed and updated version of Pink Floyd’s 1987 album A Momentary Lapse of Reason is out October 29—preorder HERE and watch the music video for the remixed “Learning To Fly” below: