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Ummagumma

“What does ‘ummagumma’ mean?”

[From David Schuetz and Steven Dobbs:] “Ummagumma” was a slang term for knockin’ boots. (Knockin’ boots of course being a slang term for doing the Wild Thang; which is, of course, slang for having sex.) Of course, Rock and Roll was a slang term for — you get the picture. So, looked at that way, the album “Ummagumma” could simply mean “Rock and Roll.”

The pronunciation of _Ummagumma_ also seems to be a little up in the air, BTW. On the BBC Omnibus Pink Floyd special, Nick Mason pronounces it “oo-mah-goo-mah,” but there’s also a RoIO where Roger announces a song from “uh-ma-gum-a.”

“Album art”

The album seen leaning on the wall in some pressings is the soundtrack to “Gigi.” It was deleted in US pressings due to copyright ownership problems. The US pressing had a “Special Buy” label on the cover.

The picture on the back is taken at Biggin Hill airfield. The roadies on the picture are Alan Stiles (the same referred to in Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast) and Pete Watts (an interview with him is in one of the song books, and is available on at http://ultra.gawth.com/~rjones/floyd.

On the _Ummagumma_ album cover, the last “reflection” in the wall is of the cover to _A Saucerful of Secrets_.

The “Jude” listed alongside Waters is Judy Trim, Roger’s first wife.

“MFSL release”

MFSL had announced their plans to release Ummagumma on their ultrasound series, but later withdrew those stating that the quality of the master tapes were below quality. Unconfirmed rumors have it that Pink Floyd withdrew their permission because they were going to rerelease Ummagumma themselves.

Other Ummagummas”

Specialized Bicycle Components makes a series of tires with a grayish, ultra-grippy, ultra-soft rubber compound they call UmmaGumma. It is used for the company’s “extreme application” tires.

“Live recordings”

[Thanks to Glenn Povey and Ian Russel’s excellent book] Contrary to what the album itself lists, Ummagumma was recorded at 3 live venues:

26apr69 Bromley Technical College, Bromley Common, Kent
27apr69 Mothers, Erdington, Birmingham, Warwickshire
2may69 College of Commerce, Manchester, Lancashire
Starting a long-standing Floyd tradition, studio overdubs were added later.
“Original intention”

The original intention of the band was to include those songs as a sort of “farewell” gesture. They would release the live version of those songs, and then stop playing them. However with the popularity of the album, the public kept wanting to hear the songs from Ummagumma live, and so they stayed in their set lists.

“Interstellar Overdrive”

A version of Interstellar Overdrive was also recorded and mixed with the intention of being included on the album, but was eventually not included. John Peel received an acetate of it, which he liked very much, but this was stolen. What happened to it is unknown. RoIOs (or tapes) boasting to include this rare version are usually just sporting the version from the BBC sessions.

“The studio side”

The idea behind he studio side was to give each member half a side to do his thing, and do it all by himself (play all the instruments, write his own lyrics &c). Nick Mason probably cheated as the flute is most likely played by his wife.

“Several Species”

First off, what *is* a Pict?

Pict : A member of a possibly non-Celtic people who once occupied Great Britain, carried on continual border wars with the Romans, and about the ninth century became amalgamated with the Scots.
As to what’s being said, that’s hard to say. The following are two interpretations, the first by Brian Tompsett, and the second by Mike Merriam.

Brian Tompsett

Aye an’ a bit of Mackeral settler rack and ruin
ran it doon by the haim, ‘ma place
well I slapped me and I slapped it doon in the side
and I cried, cried, cried.

The fear a fallen down taken never back the raize
and then Craig Marion, get out wi’ ye Claymore out mi pocket
a’ ran doon, doon the middin stain
picking the fiery horde that was fallen around ma feet.

Never he cried, never shall it ye get me alive
ye rotten hound of the burnie crew.
Well I snatched fer the blade O my Claymore
cut and thrust and I fell doon before him round his feet.
Aye!

A roar he cried
frae the bottom of his heart that I would nay fall but as dead,
dead as ‘a can be by his feet; de ya ken?

…and the wind cried back.

Mike Merriam
Aye an’ a bit of Mackeral (Fagger, wreck’n) fear
Ran it doon by the (haim)
And I (flew).
When I (slapped) me,
And I flopped it doon in the shade,
And I cried, cried, ‘n cried.

The fear o’ fallen down ‘a taken, ne’er back t’ raise.

And then cried Mary,
And I took that weighted claymore right out of (—),
And ran doon, doon the mountain side,
And back unt’ the fiery horde that was fall’n round y’ feet.

Never, I cried,
Never shall ye take me alive,
Y’ rotten hound and the (—– –rew).

Well I (snapped fore) the blade o’ my claymore,
Cut and thrust,
And I fell down before him.
Right at his feet. Aye!

A roar, he cried,
Fr’ the bottom of his heart,
That I would nay fall

But as dead,
Dead as I can, by feat
(D’ ya ken?)

And the wind cried Mary.

There has been much discussion on echoes as to whether he is saying “and the wind cried back” or “and the wind cried Mary” in that last line. I guess just listen real closely, try to isolate the left and right channels, and make up your own mind…
Also, from Adam Winstanley: Regarding Several Species… the most recent edition of the Amazing Pudding has a short piece on that. [Editors note: This was TAP number 8, published before Echoes existed] Waters does most of it but if you have one of those old record players that can do 16rpm you can hear Gilmour in the middle somewhere (“This is pretty avant-garde isn’t it…”) and if you speed it up to 78rpm you can hear “bring back my guitar.” Ron Geesin isn’t on the track although he parodied it on a track called “To Roger Waters, Where-ver You Are.”

Actually, Roger Waters does all of it himself. The weird sounds are obtained by playing human voices back at various speeds, whereas the drumming sounds are created by Water drumming with his hands on his body and a table (or something similar).

There has been some discussion on Echoes whether the Ron Geesin track actually is a parody on this track or not. The jury is still out on that one.

“Sysyphus”

On Rick Wright’s Sysyphus you can hear the opening melody of Silent Night, Holy Night.

Sysyphus, more commonly spelled as ‘Sisyphus,’ was a figure of Greek mythology who was punished by being made to roll a rock up a hill for all eternity.

1 response on the “Ummagumma” page

  1. June 19th, 2014 at 5:20 pm


    Carlos Pascual mejia

    thank you very much for information, its very important for me specially the lyrics about the pict. the explanations are clear. i m from mexico city. i m visual artist and poet. how i can keep in touch with ”pink floyd’s administrators or managers ? thank you once again and big hug !

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