The Pink Floyd album Nick Mason refused to perform on

The unspoken norm in every band is the expectation that each member contributes to the creation of their records. Although enduring the rigors of extended tours can be demanding, spending time in the studio is generally viewed as a reasonable request, even if it entails working on songs that may not align with individual preferences. The challenges faced by Pink Floyd during the recording of ‘The Final Cut’ were substantial, but the band’s experience with ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason’ proved to be an even more formidable ordeal, prompting drummer Nick Mason to abstain from active participation in the project.

Mason, long recognized as one of the premier drummers in the industry, had established his prowess years before the band ventured into their first post-Roger Waters album. Reflecting on footage from their live performances in Pompeii, Mason’s drumming prowess shines through, particularly in scenes featuring the song ‘One Of These Days,’ where he unleashes an unparalleled intensity on his drum kit.

As the band delved into albums like ‘The Wall,’ Waters began questioning everyone’s abilities. Beyond compelling the band to bring his envisioned songs to life, no member, excluding Waters, was immune to his critical scrutiny. Richard Wright eventually faced dismissal from the band due to Waters’ dissatisfaction with his contributions.

While Mason retained his position for ‘The Wall,’ he relinquished the opportunity to record the song ‘Mother’ midway through the sessions. Driven by the band’s commitment to meeting deadlines, Mason took a back seat, allowing Toto drummer Jeff Porcaro to lay down the distinctive groove.

If ‘The Wall’ was a challenging labor of love, ‘The Final Cut’ proved to be an agonizing experience. Following an extensive touring cycle, Waters proposed using the remaining studio time to work on songs that didn’t make it onto ‘The Wall.’ The resulting project resembled a collection of glorified B-sides rather than a cohesive album.

Although Waters’ departure should have signaled a new chapter for the band, Mason was notably absent from most of the recording sessions. His years spent working with cars instead of drums fueled self-doubt, leading him to believe he wasn’t up to his standards. Reflecting on this period, Mason expressed regret for not trusting in his abilities to handle all drum parts. In his book ‘Inside Out,’ he wrote, “In hindsight, I really should have had the self-belief to play all the drum parts. As a result, it is a very ‘careful’ album with very few risks taken. These things together make me feel ever so slightly removed from ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason,’ to the point that it doesn’t always sound like us.”

Despite Mason’s partial absence, he did contribute in various ways. Drum veterans like Jim Keltner and Carmine Appice stepped in for certain tracks, while Mason added value with sound effects and occasional electronic drum parts. Despite his willingness to contribute in any capacity, ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason’ takes on the semblance of a David Gilmour solo album, with Mason’s presence feeling like an appendage rather than an integral part of the ensemble.

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