Stardate 1967. Syd Barrett arrives at Sound Techniques studio in London’s Chelsea, to continue recording sessions on "Arnold Layne" and "Candy and A Currant Bun": “Hey guys, I had this amazing dream last night. I dreamt that I was all alone on this hill, overlooking London and I had this thing in my hand, it was like, the size of a cigarette packet but thinner and do know what - it was a phone! I could call anyone in the world and talk to them. No wires - the sound just went through the airways!”
“Yes, Syd,” grunts his bassist.
“No listen, there’s more. This thing wasn’t just a phone, it also played all my music! Yeah, that’s right, it had my entire record collection on it; plug your headphones in and you can listen to any track from any album! And there’s more! It also had a camera on it, I could take a picture, then send it to anyone in the world and it would come up on their own phone like magic!”
“Yes, Syd, sounds like one hell of a dream, man!”
No one in 1967 could’ve imagined that in less than 50 years we would all have these little gadgets. It really is amazing that you can carry your entire record collection around in your pocket, let alone call anyone at anytime on the other side of the planet.
Captain Kirk was the first person I saw with a mobile, when he was hiding behind some rocks on planet Zorba, being chased by some aliens. Whenever he was in mortal peril, he would whip the thing out, open it up and say those immortal words: “Beam me up Scotty”. Those guys at Star Trek knew what they were doing!
Meanwhile, back in the present day, I sat next to a young lady on a train the other day. I was surprised to see she had not just one phone but also two - an iPhone and a BlackBerry. She proceeded to talk on her iPhone for a full two hours whilst texting on her BlackBerry — at the same time. Now call me old fashioned, but I can't talk to anyone for that amount of time, and, apart for the odd 'I'll be home late tonight' text, I just can't be bothered to send any. Anyway, Syd would've been proud of her, all this modern technology, although she didn't look much like a Pink Floyd fan to me.
But the business is about to take a step forward. Apps and music are a match made in heaven, and I think they have to be the next step. Just like the interweb was a few years back when everybody had to have a web site, I think everybody will have to have an app.
Already some artists have made their latest offerings available only via an app, one of whom is Bjork. The Icelandic singer’s latest album was first made available exclusively on an Apple app before being released in that old fashioned CD format. Alice Cooper has released his latest effort via an app, complete with air guitar and drums so you can play along. Now that is clever! Last week Sting released a very smart looking app, which chronicles his impressive solo career, supplemented with images and messages close to his heart. And it’s free, (although it is sponsored, purportedly to the tune of a million dollars, by Chevrolet and American Express).
Back to Syd's dream, which has come true, at least in the shape of the This Day in Pink Floyd app, a celebration of the career of the one-time leaders of English psychedelic rock, from their humble beginnings to one of the biggest groups on the planet. The app lists the group’s gig history, recording dates, TV appearances and more. It also has an addictive quiz which shows you your knowledge (or otherwise ) of the group, as well as an informative trivia section. Did you know Floyd's The Dark Side Of The Moon spent a record-setting five years-plus on the US chart?
For my money, the most enjoyable section on the app is the 'Song Notes' section. This is a critique of the 160-odd studio recordings released by the band, which links to the user’s iTunes library. So, as you listen to "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" you can read exactly how (and why) Floyd recorded the track, and there’s more than 50,00 words of it — a book in itself.
The app also has links to the Floyd’s members’ web sites, plus stores and other links. And if you want to make your device more Floydesque, they've also thrown in free wallpapers and a ringtone, so when that girl on the train does eventually come up for air and your one and only friend calls you - she'll hear your Pink Floyd ringtone and wonder what it is.
This Day In Pink Floyd is a very smart app and at $2.99, is how much you would've paid to see Pink Floyd at the UFO club in London in 1967. Bargain!
Maybe apps are the new rock and roll?
[DISCLOSURE: Neil Cossar has a business interest in the This Day In Pink Floyd app. — Ed.]