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Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  2,193 ratings  ·  168 reviews
In July 2005 in Hyde Park, before a global audience of millions, Pink Floyd performed together on stage for the first time in 24 years. From the moment the metronomic pulse of a heartbeat thudded out to begin "Speak to Me" to the soaring guitar solo that climaxed "Comfortably Numb," these self-effacing men in their late fifties stole the show. Almost a year later, the deat ...more
Hardcover, 401 pages
Published December 31st 2007 by Da Capo Press (first published 2007)
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Michael Finocchiaro
I have been a Floyd fan since I started listening to rock-n-roll as a pre-teen when The Wall came out, screaming "We don't need no education" when it came on the radio (or MTV), but hardly new anything about the band. When I was in high school, Roger had split with the other three and, yet, I was blown away when I discovered Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and Animals and still have my vinyl and CD copies of The Wall. It wouldn't be until I made friends at university with more eclecti ...more
Karl
Aug 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
With "Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd, author Mark Blake gives the reader an intelligent biography of the band. Blake, a former editor with Britain’s Q Magazine and longtime contributor to Mojo.

This Biography is being marketed as “published to coincide with [Pink Floyd’s] 40th anniversary"

Lots of good stuff here, some nice Syd stuff, though leaning a bit towards the Roger Waters side of the story.

Pink Floyd revolutionized music and the live concert experience in the 1970s in a
...more
Sam
Feb 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Man, is this one going fast. I've neglected books I was reading just to zip through this one. I'll even be in bed, barely awake, and CANNOT put the fucker down.

I think I've read just about every book on PINK FLOYD, learning little bits of information along the way, filling in the gaps, sometimes even getting most of the same stuff with every book I read. First it was Miles' PINK FLOYD datebook from the 80's, then Nicholas Schaefer's A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS, then the recent Nick Mason autobio/unmi
...more
Sean Blake
Sep 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
If you're a huge Pink Floyd fan, like me, then this will be one of the most interesting books you'll ever read. Mark Blake's well-researched account of rock music's most innovative and timeless band is riveting, poignant and quite sad at moments, especially when recounting the mental deterioration of Pink Floyd co-founder Syd Barrett.
Edel Malene
This is extremely well researched, and a thorough telling of the band's tumultuous history up until today. But sadly a lot of times you'll be reading through 10+ pages packed with names of friends, groupies, coworkers you (I) don't really care about and just when you expect him to dive into the actual songwriting and creative processes, the author leaves a lot to be desired. I read the first half and then put it down for nearly two years before I actually got around to finishing it (and that was ...more
Peter
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
great insight into one of the greatest Rock bands ever... must read...
Scott Holstad
Jun 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow! After reading this book, I've come to the conclusion that Roger Waters was one of the biggest assholes who has ever lived. He was/is a freakin' monster! A bully. A grouch. Never happy. Always has to be right. Always has to win. Always has to have the last word. Confrontational. Critical as hell. A royal dick. To everyone. Especially to David Gilmour. And Richard Wright. He generally spared Nick Mason.

This is one of the most comprehensive rock bios I've ever read, starting out with the group
...more
Edmole
Feb 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alright, why do you read a biography about a band? To learn more about them? To get the historical context? To work out where you want to go upwards and sideways in the back catalogue? To see if the voice matches the actions and the lyrics match the life? To have a little more in the nerd armoury next time you get out to Pop Quiz? Because there's nothing better than the comfort of the satisfying rock bio arc; Young Blossoming/ Mass Market-Art Mastering/Coke Collapse and Crotchety Crack Up? To ma ...more
Brian
Nov 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: music, biography
I couldn't shake the feeling this book was written by a person who didn't particularly like Pink Floyd's music. Blake placed a distinct emphasis on the interpersonal relationships in the band: Who was insulted by whom, who belittled whom, what an egomanic Roger Waters was, etc... Much of this was rather boring for me. I can imagine that a reader who is not familiar with Pink Floyd would wonder why they ever bothered to record all those albums.

I would have preferred to read some thoughful reflect
...more
Clinton Sweet
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic!! I've really only "discovered" Pink Floyd about two weeks ago and what a treat to now go back through their full catalogue and tantalise my ears with "Echoes", "Comfortably Numb" and "Atom Heart Mother" - a song which takes up the entire first side of their same-titled LP!! This book was a remarkable read, detailing the absolute roller coaster ride of what David Gilmour aptly describes the "lumbering great behemoth" of Pink Floyd, shares incredible insights into the individuals evolvi ...more
Dave
Dec 14, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Part of me just likes to read about songs or albums that I like--the more mundane the details the better: my favorite book on the Beatles is "The Beatles: Recording Sessions," which is a day-to-day account of what went on while they were recording all of their records (who played what when and so on).

But another part of me is fascinated to read about the personalities that go into making the songs or albums I like--it's like a family saga, reading about John Lennon & Paul McCartney trying to get
...more
Erik Eckel
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Pink Floyd’s contributions to music, songwriting, motion picture scoring, motion picture authoring, arena rock productions, musicianship, engineering, production, lyricism and infighting are unsurpassed. Regardless your position or opinion debating the greatest band of all time, the greatest arena show performer ever or the greatest guitarist of all time, the facts remain: 250 million albums sold, Grammies, a BAFTA, Hall of Fame inductions, record-setting tours and a 14-year Billboard listing fo ...more
Gary
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Well written, well told. With some facts I knew little or nothing about. This book really pulls back the curtain on one of the most enigmatic groups of 70s to reveal what corporate rock looks like--not as corporate and professional as one might think. This is a story of the pitfalls of fame and fortune as much as it is a story about the iconic group.
Matthew
Sep 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Not as nerdy as I would have liked (would have liked to have more on the actual recording process) but an entertaining (and quick) read nonetheless.
David Catlin
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I believe this is what they call a 'weighty tome'.

Having not read any other Floyd biographies (of which there are many) I can't say how this compares. What I did think however was that if this turned out to be a good read, then it couldn't possibly score more than four stars.

It turned out that this was such a detailed but well written engaging read that it had me skipping to Google images and Google street view on many occasions which only enhanced the bio even further.

For music that I've grown
...more
Tobin Elliott
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm coming to realize I hold Pink Floyd almost to the same level as the Beatles. They're easily in my top five, along with Bowie, Steely Dan, and Tom Petty (and yeah, that's a list that fluctuates almost daily).

Anyway, for all of that, while I know the basic history of Pink, I've never delved deeply into it.

Until now.

Blake does an amazing job of corralling all the names and places and events and the times of the various decades of Pink Floyd, from back when they were the Barrett-led The Pink Flo
...more
Luke
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stunningly researched

Overall, this is a superbly researched and written history of Pink Floyd, the people involved and the complicated relationships within. It is particularly strong on the early years and Syd Barrett as well as the changing social and musical revolution. I considered dropping the star as I thought for a while that there was an unfair bias against Waters solo work but maybe Blake redeems himself towards the end...Overall this is an authoritative telling of the Floyd story and I
...more
Paul
Aug 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
Mark Blake covers a lot of ground in the span of 448 pages. The members of Pink Floyd have always been notoriously private which makes writing anything about the band difficult. Add to this the dual loss of Syd Barrett, mentally so many years ago and physically just a few years ago, and one wonders how Blake was able to pull off this project in the first place.

Despite these challenges, Blake has done solid work. His insights into the creative process of the three Pink Floyd's explain why it too
...more
Lois
May 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding! This book had me riveted from start to finish, much to my surprise (I'd anticipated that it'd be okay, at best). The author does a commendable job of balancing the story of the Floyd's fame and the group's personal lives including, most poignantly, Syd Barrett's. I now have even greater appreciation for their music, but I don't think one has to love Pink Floyd to find this an excellent read.
Rory
Oct 08, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Floyd die-hards
Shelves: memoirs-and-bios
This book did two things to me: 1. made me realize that the members of Pink Floyd aren't really that interesting, amusing or awesome (especially when compared to, say, the Beatles) and 2. make me miss my ex-husband. This book was not fun.
Daniel
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Note* only read 300 pgs. All in all, this book was interesting for those who are fans of the band and know the ins and outs of the band. I personally really love Pink Floyd, however I knew little about it's history, origins and members. For the good, I really enjoy getting a complete picture of the band. It was interesting to see why Pink Floyd is different from other contemporaries and current groups, however I really enjoyed seeing why it was different. For example, Pink Floyd grew out of the ...more
Emma Church
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Pink Floyd are my favourite band but I feel bad now that I don’t own all their albums, or it seems know how much other stuff they got involved with.

I love the Syd era but The Wall is my favourite end-to-end album... most of my knowledge of the early songs Syd did has come from compilations like The Early Singles and Relics. Having read this I will get hold of the official early albums, as the history of the band has somehow enriched and enhanced the appeal of the songs.

The bio
...more
Brendon
Jul 07, 2020 rated it liked it
TL;DR version: well researched and written book, but can get bogged down in minutia. Certain names are mentioned and then come back later in the story. Ending feels abrupt and stops in 2006 or so (so no material about "Endless River" or Roger Water's tours of the Wall and "Us+Them" (most recent tour).

Longer version:
This book is very well researched and written. Blake has an easy style to follow, but the amount of detail can become a bit overwhelming. Strengths: capturing the personalities of th
...more
Joab Jackson
Dec 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Some interesting tidbits here on the dissolution of founder Syd Barrett -- who just wasn't cut out for the mundanity of pop star life -- but the true tragedy was how the growing ego of Roger Waters came to dominate, and then destroy, his band, aided by the growing disinterest of the other members, suffering from boredom just as they found a worldwide audience.

In the late 1970s, the band Pink Floyd kept its image amazingly pristine, releasing an album only every few years (giving regular listene
...more
Chris Thorley
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This took me a little while to get through, perhaps because I was not as familiar with all of Pink Floyd's albums (particularly the earlier ones) as I should have been, although I have mostly educated myself during the process of reading the book. One of the things that stands out most is how much the band didn't get on throughout most of their career together (or rather how everyone didn't get on with Roger Waters who didn't get on with 'the muffins' as he took to calling the rest of the band), ...more
Hala
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this to learn a bit more about Pink Floyd and the musicians behind the songs. I certainly did learn a lot! This was a very entertaining look back through all the high and lows of their career from their psychedelic beginnings, through the prog rock era of the 1970s and the inevitable acrimonious break up in the early 1980s. Running parallel to all this is the sad story of original member Syd Barrett who had to leave the band due to mental illness. His decline seemed to inspire a lot of th ...more
Tim
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great book if you're a Pink Floyd fan (as I am). A bit dense and tedious throughout and especially towards the end as we hear about every single solo album and tour any one of them ever did. Post-Momentary Lapse of Reason, for instance, could have been trimmed down significantly with a focus just on the Division Bell and Live 8 reunion. However, if you're even a casual fan, the story of Syd Barrett's mental issues, and the inner dynamics of the band during the 1970's (Gilmour vs. Waters) make ...more
Simon Walpole
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A superb informative read for anyone wanting an in depth look into the career (up until 2012 anyway) of one of the most important, unique and successful rock bands of all time. It is written from a clear position of interest and understanding of why the band endures as well as not shying away from talking about the uglier sides of internal (and later external) drama of each member and within the band that manifested in legal disputes, sniping in the press and more. One criticism I would give thi ...more
TMcB
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An indispensable reference for Pink Floyd fans. Lots of due reference to original singer/songwriter/guitarist and cofounder Syd Barrett who’s haunting presence and descent into madness provided material for “Dark Side of the Moon,” “Wish You Were Here,” and “The Wall.” Bassist/lyricist and later band dictator, Roger Waters, comes off as the asshole and overrated musician of which many consider him. Highly recommended. I had the good fortune to see guitarist/vocalist David Gilmore and keyboardist ...more
Ben
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music-books
This book transformed me from being neutral on Pink Floyd to an actual fan. Some thoughts:

-Roger Waters sounds like the most difficult coworker ever
-David Gilmour can’t write decent lyrics
-The keyboards were a huge part of their sound
-They (mainly Waters) never made it easy on their audience. Seriously, read how it was from like 1976-1980 and watch some of the concert footage.
-Lots of Syd Barrett was-he-crazy-from-drugs speculation, which were the least interesting parts.

Sometimes when listenin
...more
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“There’s a bit in “Echoes” we call “the wind section” where it all falls apart, and then comes back in,’ explains Guy Pratt. ‘Some of the younger players, mentioning no names, couldn’t get their heads around it not being a set number of bars. It was like, “You have to feel it and know instinctively when to come back in.” David’s great line about that was, “The trouble with modern musicians is that they don’t know how to disintegrate.” 2 likes
“On the original tour, Pink Floyd had only 35mm cine-projectors with which to beam an image a maximum of 80ft wide in the middle of the wall. Waters now had twenty-three projectors beaming images across the full width of the 240ft wall, and on to a circular screen behind the stage. It was a visual feast, with Gerald Scarfe’s ghoulish animations now brought to life in eye-watering” 0 likes
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