Pink Floyd’s return to the studio in 1987 brought about some interesting changes. A Momentary Lapse Of Reason would be their first album without Roger Waters, but it also saw the return of keyboardist Richard Wright. Therefore, three quarters of Pink Floyd set about recording the album. In many ways, the resulting album felt more like a proper Pink Floyd album than 1983’s The Final Cut, which is more reminiscent of a Roger Waters solo effort.
Although David Gilmour is clearly leading the way, Wright and drummer Nick Mason contribute much in the same way as they had in the past. Even though the band is augmented by several outside musicians (most notably Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera) and writers (Patrick Leonard, Anthony Moore, Jon Carin and co-producer Bob Ezrin), it still sounds like Pink Floyd.
Pink Floyd released their massive The Later Years box set in late 2019, covering all the band’s output from 1987 to 2014. The centerpiece of that set was the newly-remixed Momentary Lapse. Gilmour, Ezrin, and original engineer Andy Jackson were not happy with the original mix and 80’s production style. They ultimately chose to alter the album by restoring Wright’s keyboards and having Mason re-record some of the drum tracks. Gilmour and Ezrin noted that in doing so, they “restored the creative balance between the three Pink Floyd members.” The differences between the original stereo mix and the remix are quite noticeable, especially in classic songs like “Learning To Fly” and “Sorrow.” To my ears, it is a vast improvement over the original album.
Though A Momentary Lapse Of Reason isn’t a purely conceptual album like Animals or The Final Cut, the individual songs are interesting and easily flow into each other. Give a listen to “Round and Round,” a very short instrumental that bridges “Yet Another Movie” and “A New Machine Pt. 1.” It is not only beautiful, but essential and necessary. The song opens the door to more sounds and experiences. Such moments create a wonderful flow throughout.
“Terminal Frost,” another instrumental, is arguably one of the best songs Gilmour has ever written. It’s pure Pink Floyd, complete with a stunning saxophone solo. Elsewhere, one is treated to songs such as “On The Turning Away,” “The Dogs Of War” (a concert favourite), and “One Slip,” which proved that Gilmour could write consistently strong, accessible hits.
Nearly two years after the release of The Later Years, the band have seen fit to reissue the Momentary Lapse stereo & 5.1 remixes outside the boxed set. The new reissue contains a CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray disc. If there ever was a band whose music felt like it was made for 5.1 surround, it is certainly Pink Floyd, and previous releases have proven this point. A Momentary Lapse Of Reason has never sounded better. For me, the new 5.1 remix has become the only way to listen to the album.
The Blu-Ray disc also features three live tracks - “The Dogs Of War,” “On The Turning Away,” and “Run Like Hell” - recorded in Atlanta, Georgia in 1987 that were originally released as B-sides to the singles from the album. Although they are not mixed in 5.1, they still sound fantastic. These versions are different from the ones found on 1988’s A Delicate Sound Of Thunder), which documents the tour to promote A Momentary Lapse of Reason.
A Momentary Lapse Of Reason was a pivotal album for Pink Floyd. Could three quarters of the band move on without Waters, their chief lyricist? The answer proved to be a resounding “yes.” The new three-piece lineup went on to make music that equalled or perhaps even rivalled what came before. The new stereo & 5.1 remixes allow fans to hear the music in a different light and appreciate what the band had created. This reissue serves not only as a reminder of the brilliance of Gilmour, Wright, and Mason, but the incredible music produced with and without Waters.