While enjoying some much-needed respite from the claustrophobic Pink Floyd machine, David Gilmour summed up his fraught situation with one of his best solo efforts and the great ‘missing’ Floyd song: ‘There’s No Way Out of Here’ – but it was a cover!
It’s no secret there were a lot of tensions within Pink Floyd during the making of Animals (1977), and while the band had completed a successful yet gruelling tour of North America, Gilmour and increasingly dominant bassist Roger Waters, were becoming restless within the group restrictions. In fact Gilmour was already turning out a solo album.
The guitarist had a yearning to get together with a bunch of guys in a room, play some tunes, “knock ’em down”, and put out a record. So, he teamed up with former colleagues Rick Wills and Willie Wilson, with whom he played in Joker’s Wild back home in Cambridge before he joined Pink Floyd (later to be part of the “surrogate band” during Floyd’s The Wall dates), and recorded his first solo album at Super Bear Studios in France; the bluesy, rocky outing, David Gilmour (Columbia, 1978).
The album finds our hero in relaxed and enthusiastic form, and is filled with confident, mid-tempo rock songs, highlighting Gilmour’s mesmeric guitar prowess in tone and style, and smouldering vocals. The sessions proved to be an important part in the overall Floyd story. While not included on the album, ‘Comfortably Numb’ was composed during these recording sessions, and sections of the instrumental ‘Raise My Rent’ were later adapted for The Wall centrepiece ‘Hey You’.
“The whole process of compromise is vital for a group, but it was nice not to have everything vetted.”
Stepping out of Pink Floyd’s shadow, Gilmour had championed the British folk-rock band Unicorn, around the time of Wish You Were Here, producing their very good third album Too Many Crooks (1976). One of the tracks on it, ‘No Way Out of Here’ penned by Unicorn bandleader Ken Baker, impressed Gilmour so much that he covered it for inclusion on his solo album, modifying the title to ‘There’s No Way Out of Here’, but preserving the feel, structure and tone of the original. It was even released as a single and Gilmour staged an excellent live performances to help promote it, however without the Pink Floyd ‘handle’, it flopped in the charts.
The track demonstrates just how much of the Floydian sound comes directly from Gilmour. Featuring a simple, yet powerful shifting chord structure, an attractive acoustic slide guitar/harmonica hook, soaring female backing vocals, and guitar fills of crystalline perfection, the cold melancholy of ‘There’s No Way Out of Here’ is easily the finest moment on David Gilmour, and arguably his definitive solo track, cover or not.