Who Knew The Nile Rocked So Hard

Pink Floyd – The Nile Song from More

This song came up for me twice in the past week while shuffling on the iPod and it reminded me of how fascinated I was by this song when I first discovered it.  Not regarded as one of their better albums, this was a soundtrack album the Floyd did for an obscure French hippie movie in 1969.  Given their psychedelic pedigree from their first two albums, this doesn’t seem like an odd choice.

The songs, though, are a hodge-podge of acoustic ballads, a few spacy numbers, and a few straight out blues-based rockers.  You’d think that a song entitled the The Nile Song would possibly be the first or second type, but instead it’s the latter.  It’s not the only surprise about the song.  The vocals are by lead guitarist David Gilmour (who actually sang all the songs on this album), the last time he would get those duties until Roger Waters left the band.  The song also contains no contributions from keyboardist Rick Wright, who was a key element of the psychedelia of their first two albums.

That’s because this song has no time for whiny organs or plinky keyboards.  This is straight-up heavy rock, all riff-erific and pounding drums.  It’s rather jarring if you’re a fan of the majority of their music; once you get over the shock you can just enjoy it for what it is.  The lyrics (by Waters) are about meeting a woman, who then is flying to the sun, as the protagonist watches her shackled in his earthly abode and, oh crap, the lyrics are pretty nonsensical, but Gilmour belts them out with gusto, throwing in impassioned wooos, yeahs, shrieks that would make David Lee Roth or Robert Plant proud.  The more I listen to this song, the more I think it’s something that could have found its way onto an early Zeppelin album or at least a Cream disc if they had decided to invent heavy metal.

Floyd would never really repeat this straight up rock again.  Given this was their first effort entirely without any contribution from Syd Barrett, maybe they decided to try some numbers they had given up when Syd took them from bar band to outer space.  While the direction the band went in the 70s can’t be argued with from a monetary and legacy view, it’s interesting to think what would have happened if they took this heavy blues sound up against some of the other 70s monsters of rock.

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2 Responses to “Who Knew The Nile Rocked So Hard”

  1. Adam McKay-Allen Jarvis Says:

    I just love those post-Syd/pre-Dark Side Pink Floyd records. There are some real gems to be found on them if you are willing to give them the time. “The Nile Song” is good, as is its sound-alike, “Ibiza Bar.” Other songs in this era that I love are “Fat Old Sun,” “The Narrow Way,” and the entire Meddle album. Good post!

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