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Studio album / Live album by
Released7 November 1969 (1969-11-07)
Recorded27 April and 2 May 1969 (live album)
StudioAbbey Road, London
  • 86:32 (in total)
  • 39:36 (live album)
  • 46:56 (studio album)
Pink Floyd chronology
Atom Heart Mother
Pink Floyd live albums chronology
Delicate Sound of Thunder

Ummagumma is the fourth studio album by English rock band Pink Floyd. It is a double album and was released on 7 November 1969 by Harvest Records.[4] The first disc consists of live recordings from concerts at Mothers Club in Birmingham and the College of Commerce in Manchester that contained part of their normal set list of the time, while the second contains solo compositions by each member of the band recorded at Abbey Road Studios.[5][6] The artwork was designed by regular Floyd collaborators Hipgnosis and features a number of pictures of the band combined to give a Droste effect. It was the last album cover to feature the band.

Although the album was well received at the time of release, and was a top five hit in the UK album charts, it has since been looked upon unfavourably by the band, who have expressed negative opinions about it in interviews. Nevertheless, the album has been reissued on CD several times, along with the rest of their catalogue.


The album's title supposedly comes from Cambridge slang for sex,[7][8] commonly used by Pink Floyd friend and occasional roadie, Iain "Emo" Moore, who would say, "I'm going back to the house for some ummagumma". According to Moore, he made up the term himself.[9]


The site of Mothers Club, above shops in Birmingham's Erdington suburb, where some of the live album was recorded (seen on 27 April 2019 – the 50th anniversary of the concert). Note blue plaque commemorating the venue.

Although the sleeve notes say that the live material was recorded in June 1969, the live album of Ummagumma was recorded live at Mothers Club in Birmingham on 27 April 1969 and the following week at Manchester College of Commerce on 2 May of the same year as part of The Man and The Journey Tour.[10][11] The band had also recorded a live version of "Interstellar Overdrive" (from The Piper at the Gates of Dawn) intended for placement on side one of the live album, and "The Embryo", which was recorded in the studio before it was decided that the band members each come up with their own material.[10]

The studio album came as a result of Richard Wright wanting to make "real music", where the four group members (in order: Wright, Roger Waters, David Gilmour and Nick Mason) each had half an LP side to create a solo work without involvement from the others.[10] Wright's contribution, "Sysyphus", was named after a character in Greek mythology, usually spelled "Sisyphus",[12] and contained a combination of various keyboards, including piano and mellotron. Although initially enthusiastic about making a solo contribution,[13] Wright later described it as "pretentious".[10] Waters' "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict" contained a variety of vocal[14] and percussion effects treated at various speeds, both forwards and backwards, and was influenced by Ron Geesin,[14] who would later collaborate with both Waters and Pink Floyd. Waters' other contribution "Grantchester Meadows" was a more pastoral acoustic offering and was usually played as an opening to concerts over 1969.[15] Gilmour has since stated he was apprehensive about creating a solo work, and admits he "went into a studio and started waffling about, tacking bits and pieces together",[16] although part one of "The Narrow Way" had already been performed as "Baby Blue Shuffle in D Major" in a BBC radio session in December 1968.[17] Gilmour said he "just bullshitted" through the piece.[10] He asked Waters to write some lyrics for his compositions, but he refused to do so.[10] Mason's three-part "The Grand Vizier's Garden Party" featured his then wife, Lindy, playing flute,[14] and Mason playing a seven-minute drum solo as part two of the piece.[10]


The album was the first album by the band released on the Harvest label. The cover artwork shows a Droste effect featuring the group, with a picture hanging on the wall showing the same scene, except that the band members have switched positions.[11] The cover of the original LP varies between the British, United States, Canadian and Australian releases. The British version has the album Gigi leaning against the wall immediately above the "Pink Floyd" letters.[11] At a talk given at Borders bookstore in Cambridge on 1 November 2008, as part of the "City Wakes" project, Storm Thorgerson explained that the album was introduced as a red herring to provoke debate, and that it has no intended meaning. On most copies of US and Canadian editions, the Gigi cover is airbrushed to a plain white sleeve, apparently because of copyright concerns, but the earliest US copies do show the Gigi cover,[18] and it was restored for the US remastered CD edition. On the Australian edition, the Gigi cover is completely airbrushed, not even leaving a white square behind. The house used as the location for the front cover of the album is located in Great Shelford, near Cambridge.[19]

On the rear cover, roadies Alan Styles (who also appears in "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast") and Peter Watts are shown with the band's equipment laid out on a taxiway at London Biggin Hill Airport. This concept was proposed by Mason, with the intention of replicating the "exploded" drawings of military aircraft and their payloads, which were popular at the time.[11]

On the US and Canadian release there are additional titles of the four sections of the song "A Saucerful of Secrets". These titles did not appear on British editions, nor on any copies of the earlier album A Saucerful of Secrets.[20]

The inner gatefold art shows separate black-and-white photos of the band members. Gilmour is seen standing in front of the Elfin Oak. Original vinyl editions showed Waters with his first wife, Judy Trim, but she has been cropped out of the picture on most CD editions (with the original photo's caption "Roger Waters (and Jude)" accordingly changed to just "Roger Waters"). The uncropped picture was restored for the album's inclusion in the box set Oh, by the Way.[11]

Release history[edit]

Ummagumma was released in the UK and US on 7 and 8 November 1969, respectively.[4] It reached number 5 on the UK albums chart[21] and number 74 in the US, marking the first time the band reached the top 100 there.[22] Similarly in Canada, it was their first appearance on the charts, reaching number 78.[23] The album was certified gold in the US in February 1974 and platinum in March 1994. US versions of the cassette retained only "Astronomy Domine" from the live set and omitted the three other tracks.[24] In 1987, the album was re-released on a two-CD set. A digitally remastered version was issued in 1994.[25]

In 2009, to mark the 40th anniversary of the album's release, Thorgerson sold a limited number of autographed lithographs of the front cover.[26] Although the 2011 re-release campaign Why Pink Floyd...? presented all fourteen albums newly remastered in 2011, only the studio disc of Ummagumma was remastered – the live disc is the previous 1994 version. Both the live and studio album were re-issued in 2016 with Pink Floyd Records label.[27]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[28]
The Daily Telegraph3/5 stars[1]
The Great Rock Discography7/10[29]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music2/5 stars[30]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2.5/5 stars[33]
Tom HullB[35]
Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[29]

On release, Ummagumma received favourable reviews.[13][14] International Times were particularly positive about the live album, with the reviewer describing it as "probably one of the best live recordings I have ever heard".[4] Vox included the live half of this album on its list of "The Greatest Live Albums Ever".[29] Stylus Magazine were very positive towards the album, saying the live album was "as a visceral document of the early Floyd’s proclivity for atmospheric, energetic jamming, there's nothing else like it" and that the studio one "somehow transcends its fractured construction to make a full album-length statement".[36]

However, the band have since been dismissive and critical of the work. Recalling the album in later years, Waters said: "Ummagumma – what a disaster!",[37] while in 1995, Gilmour described the album as "horrible".[38] In a 1984 interview, Mason said: "I thought it was a very good and interesting little exercise, the whole business of everyone doing a bit. But I still feel really that that's quite a good example of the sum being greater than the parts ..."[39] Later, he described it as "a failed experiment", adding that "the most significant thing is that we didn't do it again".[40]

Paste, reviewing the 2011 re-release, described the album as "rock excess of the worst kind", although the writer praised the live version of "Careful with that Axe, Eugene".[32] Robert Christgau has suggested that the album's "hypnotic melodies" made it "an admirable record to fall asleep to".[41]

Dragonfly species[edit]

In December 2015 scientists named a new found insect of the genus Umma – a damselfly – Umma gumma after the album.[42][43]

Track listing[edit]

Double-LP edition[edit]

Record one – live album
Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Astronomy Domine"Syd BarrettGilmour, Waters, Wright8:32
2."Careful with That Axe, Eugene"Waters (whispered phrase, screaming) and Gilmour (scat singing)8:49
Total length:17:21
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun"WatersWaters9:27
2."A Saucerful of Secrets"
  • Waters
  • Wright
  • Mason
  • Gilmour
Gilmour (wordless vocals)12:48
Total length:22:15
Record two – studio album
Side three
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Sysyphus (Parts 1–4)"Wrightinstrumental13:28
2."Grantchester Meadows"WatersWaters7:26
3."Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict"WatersWaters (vocalizations)4:59
Total length:25:53
Side four
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."The Narrow Way (Parts 1–3)"GilmourGilmour12:17
2."The Grand Vizier's Garden Party (Part 1: Entrance; Part 2: Entertainment; Part 3: Exit)"Masoninstrumental8:46
Total length:21:03

UK cassette edition[edit]

Side one
2."Astronomy Domine"8:32
3."Grantchester Meadows"7:26
4."Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict"4:59
5."Careful with That Axe, Eugene"8:49
Total length:43:14
Side two
6."The Narrow Way"12:17
7."Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun"9:27
8."The Grand Vizier's Garden Party"8:46
9."A Saucerful of Secrets"12:48
Total length:43:18

US cassette edition[edit]

Side one
1."Astronomy Domine" 
2."The Narrow Way: Parts I, II, III" 
3."Grantchester Meadows" 
Side two
4."Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict" 
5."Sysyphus: Part I, II, III, and IV" 
6."The Grand Vizier's Garden Party: Part I: Entrance, Part II: Entertainment, and Part III: Exit" 

CD edition[edit]

Disc 1 (live album)
1."Astronomy Domine"8:29
2."Careful with That Axe, Eugene"8:50
3."Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun"9:26
4."A Saucerful of Secrets"12:48
Disc 2 (studio album)
1."Sysyphus (Part 1)"1:08
2."Sysyphus (Part 2)"3:30
3."Sysyphus (Part 3)"1:49
4."Sysyphus (Part 4)[a]"6:59
5."Grantchester Meadows"7:19
6."Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict"5:01
7."The Narrow Way (Part 1)"3:25
8."The Narrow Way (Part 2)"2:54
9."The Narrow Way (Part 3)"5:51
10."The Grand Vizier's Garden Party (Part 1: Entrance)"1:00
11."The Grand Vizier's Garden Party (Part 2: Entertainment)"7:06
12."The Grand Vizier's Garden Party (Part 3: Exit)"0:38


Pink Floyd

Additional personnel

  • Lindy Mason – flutes on "The Grand Vizier's Garden Party" Parts 1 & 3 (uncredited)
  • Brian Humphries – engineering (live album)
  • Pink Floyd – production (live album)
  • Peter Mew – engineering (studio album)
  • Norman Smith – production (studio album)
  • Hipgnosis – sleeve design and photographs



Region Certification Certified units/sales
France (SNEP)[52] Gold 100,000*
Italy (FIMI)[53] Gold 50,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[54] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[55] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ On compact disc, part one was split into two halves, labeled "Part I" and "Part II". Consequently, the original part two became "Part III", while parts three and four became "Part IV".



  1. ^ a b c d McCormick, Neil (20 May 2014). "Pink Floyd's 14 studio albums rated". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  2. ^ Doyle Greene (17 February 2016). Rock, Counterculture and the Avant-Garde, 1966–1970: How the Beatles, Frank Zappa and the Velvet Underground Defined an Era. McFarland. p. 159. ISBN 978-1-4766-6214-5.
  3. ^ Toby Manning (2006). The Rough Guide to Pink Floyd. Rough Guides. p. 160. ISBN 978-1-84353-575-1.
  4. ^ a b c Povey 2007, p. 115.
  5. ^ Povey 2007, p. 74.
  6. ^ Alistair Lawrence (2012). Abbey Road: The Best Studio in the World. A&C Black. p. 14.
  7. ^ Schaffner, Nicholas (2005). Saucerful of Secrets: The Pink Floyd Odyssey (New ed.). London: Helter Skelter. p. 157. ISBN 1-905139-09-8.
  8. ^ Manning, Toby (2006). The Rough Guide to Pink Floyd (1st ed.). London: Rough Guides. p. 160. ISBN 1-84353-575-0.
  9. ^ Blake, Mark. Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd. Da Capo Press Inc. p. 137. ISBN 978-0306817526. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Schaffner, Nicholas (2005). Saucerful of Secrets: The Pink Floyd Odyssey (New ed.). London: Helter Skelter. p. 156. ISBN 1-905139-09-8.
  11. ^ a b c d e Mabbett 2010, p. 160.
  12. ^ Mabbett, Andy (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd. London: Omnibus Press. p. 27. ISBN 0-7119-4301-X.
  13. ^ a b Mason, Nick (2011) [2004]. Philip Dodd (ed.). Inside Out – A Personal History of Pink Floyd (Paperback ed.). Phoenix. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-7538-1906-7.
  14. ^ a b c d Manning, Toby (2006). The Rough Guide to Pink Floyd (1st ed.). London: Rough Guides. p. 161. ISBN 1-84353-575-0.
  15. ^ Mason, Nick (2011) [2004]. Philip Dodd (ed.). Inside Out – A Personal History of Pink Floyd (Paperback ed.). Phoenix. p. 130. ISBN 978-0-7538-1906-7.
  16. ^ Fielder, Hugh (2013). Pink Floyd: Behind the Wall. (via Google Books}. Race Point Publishing. p. 48.
  17. ^ "BBC – Radio 1 – Keeping It Peel – 02/12/1968 Pink Floyd". Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  18. ^ Umphred, Neil (1994). Goldmine's Price Guide to Collectible Record Albums (Fourth ed.). Krause Publications. p. 548.
  19. ^ Povey 2007, p. 29.
  20. ^ Ummagumma (Media notes). Capitol Records. 1969. STBB-388. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  21. ^ "Pink Floyd | Artist | Official Charts". Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  22. ^ DeRisto, Nick (25 October 2014). "45 Years Ago: Pink Floyd Tries to Find Its Way With 'Ummagumma'". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  23. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles - March 21, 1970" (PDF).
  24. ^ Ummagumma (Media notes). Capitol / EMI. 1973. 4XVV 388. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  25. ^ "Ummagumma – Pink Floyd : Releases". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  26. ^ "Pink Floyd News :: Brain Damage – Pink Floyd's Ummagumma – 40th Anniversary Marked with New Memorabilia". Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  27. ^ "Pink Floyd to Launch Massive Vinyl Reissue Campaign". Rolling Stone. 6 May 2016. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  28. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Ummagumma – Pink Floyd: Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards: AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  29. ^ a b c "Pink Floyd Ummagumma". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  30. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Omnibus Press. ISBN 9780857125958. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  31. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 872. ISBN 1-57859-061-2.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  32. ^ a b Deusner, Stephen (29 September 2011). "Pink Floyd: Ummagumma ("Why Pink Floyd?" Reissue) :: Music :: Reviews :: Paste". Paste. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  33. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2 November 2004). "Pink Floyd: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media, Fireside Books. Archived from the original on 17 February 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  34. ^ Campbell, Hernan. "Pink Floyd Ummagumma". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
  35. ^ Hull, Tom. "Grade List: pink floyd". Tom Hull - on the Web. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  36. ^ Howard, Ed (1 September 2003). "Pink Floyd – Ummagumma – On Second Thought". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  37. ^ "(CD) Pink Floyd: Ummagumma". Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  38. ^ Wolfgang Huebel and Thomas Huetlin. "Total Silence or War". Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  39. ^ "Gilmour, Waters, Mason, Wright: Shakes of Pink – The Source, 1984 – All Pink Floyd Fan Network". Archived from the original on 27 September 2012. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  40. ^ "Pink Floyd". Omnibus. November 1994. 60 minutes in. BBC.
  41. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Pink Floyd: Atom Heart Mother". Consumer Guide. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  42. ^ Klaas-Douwe B. Dijkstra, Jens Kipping, Nicolas Mézière: Sixty new dragonfly and damselfly species from Africa (Odonata). Odonatologica 44 (4), Dezember 2015; S. 457–461. doi:10.5281/zenodo.35388.
  43. ^ Schaurig, schön und skurril,, 23. Mai 2016, abgerufen 23. Mai 2016. (German) – picture
  44. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 3767". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  45. ^ " – Pink Floyd – Ummagumma" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  46. ^ " – Pink Floyd – Ummagumma" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  47. ^ "Pink Floyd | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  48. ^ "Pink Floyd Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  49. ^ " – Pink Floyd – Ummagumma" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  50. ^ "Les charts francais (01/11/2011)". Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  51. ^ " – Pink Floyd – Ummagumma". Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  52. ^ "Les Certifications depuis 1973: Albums". Retrieved 10 July 2020. (select "Pink Floyd" from drop-down list)
  53. ^ "Italian album certifications – Pink Floyd – Ummagumma" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 14 June 2016. Select "2016" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Ummagumma" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Album e Compilation" under "Sezione".
  54. ^ "British album certifications – Pink Floyd – Ummagumma". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 9 June 2016. Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Ummagumma in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  55. ^ "American album certifications – Pink Floyd – Ummagumma". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 9 June 2016. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 


External links[edit]