Zabriskie Point (1970)

Pink Floyd

"The eagle flies in clear blue skies ..."

"Zabriskie Point," directed by Michelangelo Antonioni ("Blow-Up") wasn't the first film soundtrack Pink Floyd had recorded. The second recording session the band ever participated in, Oct. 31, 1966, at Thompson Private Recording Co. in Hemel Hempstead, became the soundtrack to a film called "San Francisco."

Two years later, the group contributed material to the infamous Peter Sykes film "The Committee," starring Paul Jones from Manfred Mann. The film was never officially released. The band recorded the music for the movie in May 1968, one of the first sessions that incorporate David Gilmour, but a legitimate version of the soundtrack never existed. The next best thing was a 1985 bootleg, which, unfortunately, was taken straight from the film, and apparently includes dialogue over much of the meager 17-minute recording.

Pink Floyd's third album was a soundtrack to the French film "More," directed by Barbet Schroeder. A movie about heroin use, the film didn't make many waves in the United States, but apparently was wildly successful in France, where it has become analogous to "Easy Rider." The movie's success in France gave the Floyd an early, strong foothold in that country.

Sweeping the cutting room floor

While the band was commissioned to produce the entire soundtrack to "Zabriskie Point," to hear the Floyd tell the story, director Antonioni was more than a little fussy about the material the band came up with. In the end, he used only three Floyd numbers in his film — most memorably "Come in Number 51, Your Time Is Up," a variation of "Careful With That Axe, Eugene," during the film's final explosion scene — and filled out the rest of the soundtrack with artists as diverse as The Grateful Dead and Patti Page.

Antonioni's finicky nature would benefit Floyd in at least one way. While the band contends it could have recorded the entire soundtrack inside of a week, the director stretched the sessions on to nearly a month, while the group enjoyed the good life of being put up in first-class accommodations.

Lost tracks restored on 1997 reissue

Furthermore, when Antonioni rejected a piece keyboardist Rick Wright composed, with a working title of "The Violent Sequence," the band would be left with a fine number for its 1973 "Dark Side of the Moon," when the song resurfaced as "Us and Them."

What's more, Antonioni's fussiness made for a welcome reissue in autumn 1997, when Rhino Records teamed with Turner Classic Movies Music to re-release the soundtrack as a double disc. Disc one was the soundtrack as it was originally released. Disc two contained four previously unreleased Jerry Garcia improvisations, as well as four previously unreleased Floyd tracks, some of the music rejected by the director.

If the titles of "Country Song," "Unknown Song," "Love Scene Version 6," and "Love Scene Version 4" seem to indicate the tracks were less than complete, not many of them sound it. "Country Song" is Floyd at its best and the only number with vocals. "Unknown Song" is a light guitar instrumental. Both of the "Love Scene" takes are vastly different attempts by the group to give Antonioni something to use during the desert love scene — some would call it orgy. Version 6 is a standard 12-bar blues number, while version four appears to be keyboardist Wright solo, tickling out something that would sound quite at home on the Windham Hill label.

As if the new Floyd numbers weren't enough to be happy about, the previous CD issue of the album had been unavailable domestically in the United States for some time, and sold for approximately $20 (American) as a European import. Collectors in the states could now get twice the music for about $27.
zabriskie point album cover

Release date

May 30, 1970 (UK)
Apr 12, 1970 (US)

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Track listing

  1. Heart Beat, Pig Meat
    03:12 (Wright/Gilmour/Mason/Waters)
  2. Crumbling Land
    04:16 (Mason/Waters/Wright/Gilmour)
  3. Come in Number 51, Your Time Is Up
    05:02 (Mason/Waters/Wright/Gilmour)
  4. Country Song
    04:41 (Mason/Waters/Wright/Gilmour)
  5. Unknown Song
    06:03 (Mason/Waters/Wright/Gilmour)
  6. Love Scene (Version 6)
    07:29 (Mason/Waters/Wright/Gilmour)
  7. Love Scene (Version 4)
    06:36 (Mason/Waters/Wright/Gilmour)