Pink Floyd: David Gilmour (vocals, guitar); Richard Wright (vocals, keyboards, VCS3 syntheszier); Roger Waters (vocals, bass); Nick Mason (drums).
Additional personnel: Roy Harper (vocals); Dick Parry (saxophone); Venetta Fields, Carlena Williams (background vocals).
Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London, England from January-July 1975.
The breakthrough success of Dark Side of the Moon made Wish You Were Here a crucial follow-up in strictly commercial terms. Further pressure came from it being Pink Floyd's first recording for a new label, Columbia. Yet the demands on the band only provided Roger Waters more fodder for his lyrics, which glanced at the band's roots as well as their new responsibilities. The mechanized throb of a VCS3 synthesizer, fed through a repeat-echo unit, signals the opening bars of "Welcome to the Machine," a diatribe against an industry more concerned with money than creative music-making. "Have a Cigar" further establishes Waters' contempt by bringing in singer Roy Harper to play the role of a "faceless suit," who none-too-innocently asks, "Which one's Pink?" The remaining songs indirectly look back to the first casualty of Pink Floyd's growing fame, the group's founder, Syd Barrett. The 20-minute-plus "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" has its roots in earlier pieces like "Atom Heart Mother Suite" and "Echoes." But rather than just another Floydian soundscape, its lyrics make it a paean to Barrett's genius and a requiem for his subsequent breakdown. The first five of the song's nine movements open the album with sax player Dick Parry wailing as effectively as he did on Dark Side of the Moon. The final four sections, which close the album, form a reprise that starts with the sound of wind and David Gilmour's guitar screaming and crying. The band then settles into a laid-back jam that ends with Richard Wright's billowing synth delicately fading out. The title track deals also with Barrett, as well as the tension the idealist Waters was feeling in battling the greed that surrounded the band's success. The themes of disillusionment planted throughout Wish You Were Here would eventually sprout full-blown on The Wall.
Q (6/00, p.72) - Ranked #43 in Q's "100 Greatest British Albums" - "Stuck with the impossible task of following DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, Pink Floyd did it with panache....'Shine On You Crazy Diamond' is the mellifluous rock-gospel opener, but there's weirder stuff here..."
Q (Magazine) (p.120) - "[The music] has a magnificently ethereal quality, with David Gilmour's guitar and Rick Wright's keyboards sounding like meteorites gently pinging around some far-off galaxy."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.87) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "WISH YOU WERE HERE remains the classic mid-period Floyd album that still partially clung to their MEDDLE template; but two of the album's four songs revealed the bleakness that would be part of Floyd's new vision."