Umphrey’s McGee

Video – “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” Live at Red Rocks


Photo by Phil Clarkin
Photo by Phil Clarkin

By Tripp Demoss

Wish You Were Here was one of Pink Floyd’s masterworks. A chef d’oeuvre of progressive rock in its 1970s heyday, the album-while not a stereotypical rock opera or concept album- nevertheless carried a theme throughout of love and loss in remembering the band’s original leader and majordomo, Syd Barrett. The album was bookended by the inspiring and moving prog-rock piece Shine On You Crazy Diamond. 

We miss Pink Floyd and other bands of the progressive millieu- Yes, Genesis, Jethro Tull, Zappa and the Mothers- if for no other reason than their brand of rock and roll was improvosational, yet symphonic. The free-wheeling jazz and blues that inspired the Grateful Dead and others was not lost on these masters of music, but theirs was a refined and regimented rock and roll, bred in classical training and born in a world unfamiliar to a 25 minute song.

There aren’t a lot of great prog rock acts around these days. Fewer tour regularly. Even fewer have a massive, devoted following- of course Phish comes to mind, but then, we hear more of Frank Zappa in Trey’s soloing. And it’s great to hear Dweezil Zappa paying tribute to his father’s work as well with Zappa Plays Zapp. And yet, when it comes to Pink Floyd’s space rock, only a few acts could attempt to do it justice, and fewer still excel- like UMPH. It is a real treat to hear Joel Cummins channel Richard Wright, and Jake Cinninger David Gilmour. Shine On is a great piece because it brilliantly encapsulates everything we love about Pink Floyd- soaring guitar work, colourful keyboards, and pensive lyrics- and who better to bring this ethos back to our attention than UM?

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