[Review] David Gilmour: About Face (1984)

This edges out The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking as the best of the pink flawed following The Final Cut.

Kronomyth 2.0: A momentary act of treason.

The Final Cut was made, the battle was over, but a new war was brewing: Pink vs. Floyd. Waters’ Hitchhiking had more cons than pros, all of the acerbic intellect of Cut but none of its musical charm. In a grab for the same brass ring Pink was last seen holding, David Gilmour enlisted an epic storyteller (Pete Townshend) and their epic producer (Bob Ezrin), beating Waters to market with About Face. More ambitious than his first solo album, this was the great grab for solo credibility, enlisting a wide cast of players (Michael Kamen, Steve Winwood, Jon Lord) and even The National Philharmonic Orchestra (Ezrin never did anything by halves). The result is closer to the Pink Floyd lite that fans could reasonably expect (e.g., “Near The End,” the instrumental “Let’s Get Metaphysical”) and in fact received when Gilmour won the right to re-form the band.

With the emphasis on songs rather than instrumentals, About Face yields more memorable moments than its predecessor: “Love On The Air,” “Cruise,” “Murder.” Nothing on here will change your world, and despite the presence of Ezrin it’s not a concept album, but it’s nice to see Gilmour step out of the shadows and get the star treatment he deserves. Yes, the tart guitar licks are still there, but the guitarist is more interested in establishing himself as a singer and songwriter on About Face since, if there was to be life after Pink, a solo career of endless soloing wouldn’t cut it. Fortunately, we’ll never know if Gilmour could have sustained a solo career. Fans went to Waters first for inspiration, but Hitchhiking was a momentary lapse of judgment and, by the time radio stations warmed to KAOS, A Momentary Lapse of Reason had re-captured the imagination of Pink Floyd fans.

Thus About Face serves as a sign of what might have been, and truth be told it wasn’t as interesting as the convoluted Waters or the reconstituted Floyd. If the space between The Final Cut and Reason represents a void in your life, About Face and Radio KAOS should fill the gap nicely. Otherwise, embrace the space and use the opportunity to discover a new band, like Porcupine Tree or Mostly Autumn.

Original LP Version

A1. Until We Sleep (5:58)
A2. Murder (4:58)
A3. Love On The Air (Pete Townshend/David Gilmour) (4:18)
A4. Blue Light (4:35)
A5. Out of the Blue (3:36)
B1. All Lovers Are Deranged (Pete Townshend/David Gilmour) (3:14)
B2. You Know I’m Right (5:04)
B3. Cruise (4:39)
B4. Let’s Get Metaphysical (4:09)
B5. Near The End (5:43)

All songs written by David Gilmour unless noted.

The Players

David Gilmour (guitar & vocals), Ian Kewley (Hammond organ & piano), Pino Palladino (bass guitar), Jeff Porcaro (drums & percussion) with Sam Brown (vocals), Vicki Brown (vocals), Ray Cooper (percussion), Anne Dudley (synthesizer), Bob Ezrin (keyboards, orchestral arrangement), Mickey Feat (vocals), Roy Harper (vocals), Louis Jardine (percussion), Michael Kamen (orchestral arrangement), The Kick Horns: Simon Clerk, Roddy Lorimer, Tim Sanders, Barbara Snow (horns), Nick Laird-Clowes (special thanks), Jon Lord (synthesizer), National Philharmonic Orchestra (orchestra), Steve Rance (Fairlight programming), Pete Townshend (special thanks), Steve Winwood (piano & organ). Produced by Bob Ezrin & David Gilmour; engineered by Andrew Jackman, Kit Woolven, Eric Tomlinson; mixed by James Guthrie.

The Pictures

Photography by Davies/Starr, Jill Furmanovsky. Design and production by STd.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette in February 1984* in the UK (Harvest, SHSP 24-00791-), the US (Columbia, FC/FCT-39296), Argentina (CBS, 20.506), Brazil (CBS, 138587), Germany (Harvest, 1C 064-2400791) and Japan (CBS, 28AP-2826) with lyric inner sleeve; reached #21 on the UK charts and #32 on the US charts (RIAA-certified gold record). (*Announced in 2/18/84 issue of Billboard.)

  1. Re-issued on elpee in the UK (Fame, FA 3173).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in the US (Columbia, CK 39296), Australia (CBS, 465038 2), Canada (Columbia, WCK 39296) and Japan (Harvest, CDP 7 46031 2).
  3. Re-issued on compact disc in 1994 in Japan (Sony, SRCS-6406).
  4. Re-issued on compact disc in 2006 in Europe (Parlophone, 70842) and on September 27, 2006 in Japan (Columbia, MHCP 1050).
  5. Re-packaged with David Gilmour on 2-for-1 2CD on October 14, 2008 in the US (Columbia Legacy).

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