Wet Dream by Richard Wright

Release date: July 28, 2023
Label: Rhino / Parlophone

On July 6th, 1977, Pink Floyd finished up their Animals tour, ending with the infamous Montreal gig at Olympic Stadium where Roger Waters spat on a fan during the climax of ‘Pigs (Three Different Ones)’. The band took a long hiatus as David Gilmour and Richard Wright released their debut solo albums the following year in 1978 whilst Roger wrote the band’s next album which was to be their magnum opus, the granddaddy of ‘em all, The Wall.

But this is not about The Wall. This is about Richard Wright. Rick at times doesn’t get the credit he deserves for the work he put in with Pink Floyd’s music. Whether it’s the 4-part nightmarish beauty of ‘Sysyphus’, the mystery and wonders of ‘Echoes’, the psych-pop take of ‘It Would Be So Nice’, or the ambient sci-fi textures on ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’, Rick put his heart and soul behind those classics.

But when it came to Wet Dream, it was under the radar. Originally released on the Harvest label in the UK, and on Columbia in the States on September 22nd, 1978, Wet Dream is often in my opinion, an unearthed album that’ll hopefully get the recognition Rick deserves.

His love of jazz is everywhere the moment ‘Mediterranean C’ begins. It starts off with a levitating rise to the heavens as Rick, Snowy, and Mel climb towards the majestic wonders of continuing where the ‘Shine On’ sessions had left off by extending the finale with Collins’ sax improv. But for Mel, the game has only just begun.

On ‘Cat Cruise’ you can hear the early genesis of ‘Wearing the Inside Out’ which would later be on the Floyd’s 1994 release The Division Bell. Collins goes in for the jugular as Rick gives him ideas and lets him flow throughout before White’s bluesy climax reaches the light at the end of the tunnel.

 

When I think of ‘Summer Elegy’ it reminded me a bit of a song the Eagles had written during the time they were songs from the Desperado sessions. There’s a country element, the sliding pedal steel guitar, and reflecting the writer’s block routine to come up with the next paragraph.

Meanwhile, ‘Holiday’ reaches at all-time high where Rick is deciding where his future is between as a family man, and with the Floyd as they were about to enter the studio to work on The Wall. “How was I to know quite so soon that dreams can turn a life around it seems / There is no single way to live our days / Between these lines I know you see a man / Who’s not quite sure who he is / Or where he stands”.

He has the whole weight on his shoulders at that time before reaching the chaos and madness behind the recording sessions of the double-album, and the clash between him and Waters. With ‘Holiday’ there’s a Dennis Wilson approach to the song as he tries to sail away from the insanity, and moving away from Roger’s dictatorship.

‘Drop from the Top’ returns to the underground years when the Floyd were a cult band at the time before achieving superstardom with Dark Side of the Moon. There’s a Bo Hansson approach to the composition as Wright channels the Swedish maestro with his bluesy texture and going into a prog-like climb.

The album itself was so far ahead of its time when it was released in the fall of that year. And then, it went unnoticed. There had been reissues of this album in the ‘90s in the States, and then 15 years ago in Australia after Rick’s passing. Now in 2023, the album has been given a new mix done by Steven Wilson.

In an interview with Anil Prasad from his website Music Without Borders: Innerviews posted on September 19th this year, promoting The Harmony Codex, Steven describes on why this album never got the recognition it deserves, and why it wasn’t reissued properly. “It wasn’t that well mixed to begin with, but it was recorded. And that’s the best combination of all because you know that you’re going to get a multi-track recording that’s really beautifully captured, but you’re going to be able to better the original stereo version”.

For whatever reason, the original mixer or engineer had been rushed or wasn’t experienced enough, so it sounded a bit flat. In this sense, I think it was a gift of an album to be redoing. Wet Dream is also an album that’s never been given a proper reissue. It was previously put out on a boutique Sony side label on CD, probably using a third-generation copy master, with no real promotion behind it. The original album wasn’t that well-promoted either. This was a golden opportunity to redress it”.

For Wilson’s mix behind Wet Dream, it adds this lucid portrayal and mysterious wonder, making sure that Rick is given the welcoming handshake he properly deserves. This was also a dream come true for Steven to tackle the Floyd catalog. Yes, he’s done the remixes for King Crimson, XTC, Jethro Tull, and Gentle Giant, but this was the icing on the cake for him to tackle Rick’s solo album.

I hope one day he gets a chance to tackle both Ummagumma and Atom Heart Mother in 5.1 and Dolby Atmos sound. But for now, Wet Dream is the big foot in the door to give Richard a handful of wings, and fly towards the heavens.

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