David Gilmour “On an Island”


Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#620 in the Series) is David Gilmour, On an Island

I have never been one to think you had to choose between Roger Waters and David Gilmour. They were both part of the prime of cool bands and though it ended not as either wished, I recently saw a documentary that said they were both at peace about it. Gilmour said there were three versions of the band, one with Syd, one after Syd, and one after Roger. If I am forced to choose whose solo career I enjoy more, I choose Gilmour and it is largely due to this record. Waters of course has been much more prodigious, but my favorite solo of his was Amused to Death and I have to admit a big reason was Jeff Beck’s contribution to many of the tracks.  But it is On an Island I wish to express myself about, and the best word I can use to describe it is stunning.

It is equally hard for me to realize this record was released almost six years ago as it is to think it had been 22 years between solos (About Face). I am not the only one that thinks great things when he hears the work.  Planet Rock Radio had their fans vote this the greatest solo album by a former Pink Floyd member. You may have heard Gilmour owns a houseboat in which he has a recording studio and much of this record was recorded there, hence the title.

The opening sounds pretty typical with an orchestration filled instrumental and Gilmour’s unmistakable guitar tone. “Castellorizion” was written based on a night he spent in on tiny Greek Island  Kastellorizo.  As the opening track segues into the title track, it feels like you were brought there by boat on a warm sunny summer day. Of course he has incredible guests featured throughout, this song has Graham Nash and David Crosby on background vocals. The number just sounds so right, I almost thought it to be a rework of some earlier mastery.

The rest of the album has some real surprises as well as the sweetest pop song I have ever heard (though its highest Billboard rank was #72 on the UK Singles chart). “Smile” is a song that has me feeling emotional when I hear it. Incredible strumming of the acoustic, punctuated softly by steel guitar, upraising vocals, meaningful lyrics, it is Gilmour at his solo best. By the way, guitar great Phil Manzanera is on much of the record. It is amazing to me that someone as great a player as Gilmour is not the least bit shy about inviting someone else with immense talent in the same craft.

I was desperate to see this show live in the spring of 2007 and he played a relatively small venue in the Chicagoland area (Rosemont Theater). I had convinced myself not enough people had heard “Island”, so I wouldn’t have to wait in line for tickets like the old days. (I saw Pink Floyd 3x), but alas , I missed the show, but it’s available on DVD and sure enough he plays the entire record from start to finish, and it will move you like no other Floyd concert can.  I don’t think David Gilmour is holding out hope to rejoin Roger Waters on his Wall tour, but I don’t think you could make them out to be Lennon v. McCartney . When Paul has to fly  into Liverpool, he has fly into The John Lennon Memorial airport. The irony with the two front men of Pink Floyd is, David Gilmour spends much of his time these days on the water. At least they are calm waters if this masterpiece is to give us any indication.

— John Driscoll, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Track Listing

  1. Castellorizon (Gilmour) 3:54
  2. On an Island (Gilmour, Samson) 6:47
  3. The Blue (Gilmour, Samson) 5:26
  4. Take a Breath (Gilmour, Samson) 5:45
  5. Red Sky at Night (Gilmour) 2:51
  6. This Heaven (Gilmour, Samson) 4:24
  7. Then I Close My Eyes (Gilmour) 5:27
  8. Smile (Gilmour, Samson) 4:03
  9. A Pocketful of Stones (Gilmour, Samson) 6:17
  10. Where We Start ( Gilmour) 6:46


  • David Gilmour – Bass, Bass Harmonica, Cumbus,  Guitar, Organ, Percussion, Piano, Sax, Vocals
  • David Crosby – Vocals
  • Caroline Dale – Cello
  • Georgie Fame – Organ
  • Rado Klose – Guitar
  • Chris Laurence – Double Bass
  • Ged Lynch – Drums
  • Alasdair Malloy – Harmonica
  • Phil Manzanera – Keyboards, Piano
  • Leszek Mozdzer – Piano
  • Graham Nash -Vocals
  • Andy Newmark – Drums, Percussion
  • Guy Pratt – Bass
  • Polly Samson – Piano, Vocals
  • Chris Stainton – Organ
  • Chris E. Thomas – Keyboards
  • Lucy Wakeford – Harp
  • Richard Wright – Organ, Vocals
  • Robert Wyatt – Cornet, Percussion, Voices


Back to the Cool Album of the Day Homepage

Give the studio versions of One an Island a listen in its entirety below.

Here are live versions as well, again, in its entirety.

Check out these Prog-Rock albums while your here.

[jcarousel source=”cat=25″ link=”permalink” size=”100×100″ limit=”100″ items=”4″ speed=”400″ margin=”10″]

Posted by Larry Carta

Leave a Reply

Before you post, please prove you are sentient.

what is 4 + 8?