Bargain Bin Book Review of “Saucerful of Secrets- The Pink Floyd Odyssey” by Nicholas Shaffner

Saucerful_of_secrets_2_2 Few bands have as much flair for the dramatic, both on stage and off as do Pink Floyd. From their days as psychedelic wunderkinds to their eventual place as rock royalty, the Pink Floyd story is as close to a rock and roll soap opera as you can get. In “Pink Floyd: A Saucerful of Secrets” noted rock writer the late Nicholas Schaffner has manage to lay out all the intertwined stories of how “The Pink Floyd” started, how psychedelic boy wonder Syd Barrett lead the band to an early critical success behind “See Emily Play” and “Arnold Layne” followed up by the seminal “Piper at the Gates of Dawn” an album which even had the Beatles intrigued. Unfortunately for both the band and rock and roll in general, Barrett tragically descended into an acid fueled psychosis which not only caused him to drop out of music entirely but also severely damaged his psyche to the point where he could barely function as an adult. From there the story shifts to the era of “Dark Side of the Moon” and “Wish You Were Here” behind the twin talents of David Gilmour and Roger Waters until that relationship soured to the point of Waters leaving the band in which he was so instrumental in creating. Toss in some incredible financial mis-management reminiscent of the failed Apple Corps by the Beatles and an ever growing (and very often times petty) rivalry on the one hand between Waters and on the other the remaining three members of Floyd and you have a very entertaining, though somewhat sad read. Pink Floyd to me always seemed to be a group just on the verge of chaos, never quite enjoying their time in the rock and roll spotlight. “Saucerful of Secrets” certainly answers a lot of the questions I had about Pink Floyd, mostly revolving around, perhaps morbidly Syd Barrett and it fills in a lot of information about the infamous “Wall” album and tour but quite frankly you begin to shake your head after a while at how such a talented bunch of individuals could fracture to the point of endlessly lobbing lawsuits at each other. All in all a good read and certainly worthy of more than the bargain bin price that I paid for it. If in fact the rumours are true and Waters and Gilmour have buried the hatchet, perhaps there is one more chapter that somebody will be able to add to Schaffner’s book, one that may in fact have a happy ending. Only time will tell but I wouldn’t place any bets on it. Highly recommended.