October 2, 1970 – Pink Floyd released their fifth album “Atom Heart Mother” in the UK

OCTOBER 2, 1970 – Pink Floyd released their fifth album “Atom Heart Mother” in the UK (October 10, 1970 in the US). It was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London, England, and was the band’s first album to reach #1 in the UK, while it reached #55 in the US, eventually going gold there. A remastered CD was released in 1994 in the UK and the United States, and again in 2011. Ron Geesin, who had already influenced and collaborated with Roger Waters, contributed to the title track and received a then-rare outside songwriting credit.
Although it was commercially successful on release, the band, particularly Waters and David Gilmour, have expressed several negative opinions of the album in more recent years. Nevertheless, it remained popular enough for Gilmour to perform the title track with Geesin in 2008.
Pink Floyd started work on the album after completing their contributions to the soundtrack for the film “Zabriskie Point” in Rome, which had ended somewhat acrimoniously. They headed back to London in early 1970 for rehearsals. A number of out-takes from the Rome sessions were used to assemble new material during these rehearsals, though some of it, such as “The Violent Sequence,” later to become “Us and Them,” would not be used for some time.
The original album cover, designed by art collective Hipgnosis, shows a Holstein-Friesian cow standing in a pasture with no text nor any other clue as to what might be on the record. Some later editions have the title and artist name added to the cover. This concept was the group’s reaction to the psychedelic space rock imagery associated with Pink Floyd at the time of the album’s release; the band wanted to explore all sorts of music without being limited to a particular image or style of performance. They thus requested that their new album had “something plain” on the cover, which ended up being the image of a cow. Storm Thorgerson, inspired by Andy Warhol’s famous “cow wallpaper,” has said that he simply drove out into a rural area near Potters Bar and photographed the first cow he saw. The cow’s owner identified her name as “Lulubelle III.” More cows appear on the back cover, again with no text or titles, and on the inside gatefold. Also, a pink balloon shaped like a cow udder accompanied the album as part of Capitol’s marketing strategy campaign to “break” the band in the US. The liner notes in later CD editions give a recipe for Traditional Bedouin Wedding Feast on a card labelled “Breakfast Tips”. Looking back on the artwork, Thorgerson remembered: “I think the cow represents, in terms of the Pink Floyd, part of their humour, which I think is often underestimated or just unwritten about.”
In the mid-1970s, a bootleg containing rare singles and B-sides entitled “The Dark Side of the Moo” appeared, with a similar cover. Like “Atom Heart Mother” the cover had no writing on it, although in this case it was to protect the bootlegger’s anonymity rather than any artistic statement. The album cover to The KLF’s concept album “Chill Out” was also inspired by “Atom Heart Mother.”
“Atom Heart Mother” was released in the quadraphonic format in the UK, Germany and Australia. A remastered CD was released in 1994 in the UK and the US. Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab released a 24KT gold CD in the US in 1994, while a LP version was released in the US in the same year. As part of the “Why Pink Floyd…?” campaign, a remaster was released in 2011. Then the album was re-issued again in 2016 on the band’s own Pink Floyd Records label.
Critical reaction to the suite has always been mixed, and all band members have expressed negativity toward it in recent times. Gilmour has said the album was “a load of rubbish. We were at a real down point … I think we were scraping the barrel a bit at that period” and “a good idea but it was dreadful… ‘Atom Heart Mother’ sounds like we didn’t have any idea between us, but we became much more prolific after it.”
Similarly, in a 1984 interview on BBC Radio 1, Waters said “If somebody said to me now – right – here’s a million pounds, go out and play ‘Atom Heart Mother,’ I’d say you must be f***ing joking.” Alec Dubro of Rolling Stone gave “Atom Heart Mother” a negative review, ultimately stating “if Pink Floyd is looking for some new dimensions, they haven’t found them here.”
1) Atom Heart Mother
I. Father’s Shout
II. Breast Milky
III. Mother Fore
IV. Funky Dung
V. Mind Your Throats Please
VI. Remergence
2) If
3) Summer ’68
4) Fat Old Sun
5) Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast
I. Rise and Shine
II. Sunny Side Up
III. Morning Glory

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