This documentary may not be under Eagle Rock’s Classic Albums banner, but every bit as good as any release in that excellent series. In parts, The Story of Wish You Were Here is just as much a tribute to Syd Barrett as the album itself it, but it focuses on how the rest of Pink Floyd related to Syd.
The film features new interviews with Roger Waters, David Gilmour and Nick Mason as well as excerpts from an interview with Richard Wright in 2001. Of as much interest as the band interviews are the additional people involved in the making of the album, including backing vocalist Vanetta Fields and recording engineer Brian Humphries, who reminds of how under-appreciated Richard Wright’s conclusion to Shine On You Crazy Diamond is. There is also an interview with music journalist Nick Kent, whose stinging review of the Pink Floyd gig at which they premiered Shine On You Crazy Diamond eventually spurred them to reassess their approach to following up The Dark Side of the Moon.
Roy Harper tells the story of he came to sing on Have a Cigar and mentions how it rankles not only that he sang on a hit single and everyone thought it was Roger, but also that wags keep calling out for it at his gigs.
Pink Floyd albums were all about the entire package though, so the film doesn’t just focus on the writing and recording of the music, but also features interviews with sleeve designer Storm Thorgerson, photographer Aubrey Powell and stuntman Ronnie Rondell, who is the burning man on the cover. The Wish You Were Here live shows marked the beginning of Pink Floyd’s collaborations with artist Gerald Scarfe, who talks about the animated films he created for the show.
Syd’s surprise visit to Abbey Road late in the recording of the album is discussed, but what it less well documented is the fact that Syd was persuaded to try making some new recordings at around the same time as Floyd were starting work on Wish You Were Here. A short snippet from these abandoned sessions is included in the film.
It’s unclear who commissioned this retrospective but by rights, this really should have been included with the Wish You Were Here box set, although that did have marbles and a scarf.
Extras are in the form of extended interviews and performances. Gilmour and Waters each play Wish You Were, with Gilmour layering both 12-string and lead. The interviews veer into more philosophical subjects than just the making of the album. Nick Mason makes a very interesting point that should have been in the main film, given the other theme of the album is the cynicism of the record industry, that if an album fails, then it’s the record company’s fault but if it succeeds, then it’s because of the artist.
Highlight: Isolating tracks on the master tapes
Feature: * * * * *
Extras: * *
Audio: Dolby 5.1, Dolby stereo, DTS