20 Songs That Represent The Career Of Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd live in Pompeii - HDPinkFloyd / Youtube
For first-time listeners of the band, one would think how Pink Floyd ever managed to become a mainstream act. They dabbled with eccentric compositions, lengthy jams, and themes less explored than others. But it’s this particular uniqueness that made them the phenomenon that they are. With that, here are 20 tracks that defined Pink Floyd’s extensive career.
“A Saucerful Of Secrets” – Ummagumma (1969)
From the highly-experimental endeavor that is Ummagumma came the haunting cut, “A Saucerful of Secrets”. Pink Floyd capitalizes on the placid minutes before diving into a maniacal orchestration that takes this song into a whole new level of occultism.
“Any Colour You Like” – The Dark Side of The Moon (1973)
Taken from the band’s most successful release, “Any Colour You Like” provides a transition point between songs thanks to Rick Wright’s amazing synths that are responded to by David Gilmour’s tasteful lead parts.
“Cymbaline” – More (1969)
Pink Floyd was obviously tired of the draining music industry fanfare that’s been cyclic for decades, using a great treble and bass element interaction to reproduce a nightmare episode in the modern setting.
“Mother” – The Wall (1979)
Roger Waters projects his childhood woes and injects satire into it with 1979’s “Mother”. It follows a power ballad structure that made it quite a hit with classic rock fans at the time of its release.
“Welcome To The Machine” – Wish You Were Here (1975)
The band once again explores themes of the industry treating artists as mere fodder with “Welcome To The Machine”. The track capitalizes on eerie instrumentation to replicate a real machine while representing the metaphorical aspect with such ingenuity.
“Pigs (Three Different Ones) – Animals (1977)
Now used a political armament in the modern setting, “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” really shows the band’s capabilities to set timeless templates that could fit into any other era just fine.
“Speak To Me/Breathe” – The Dark Side of The Moon (1973)
Aimed as a preview to the entire album chock-full of sonic symbolism, “Speak To Me/Breathe” works with such temperance that it’s mentally debilitating to the listener to guess if the next track would go all out or stay calculated and mindful.
“Brain Damage/Eclipse” – The Dark Side of The Moon (1973)
Pink Floyd’s lyricism in this album closer is so intense that it builds up on the “lunatic” getting closer and closer, perhaps a reference to Syd Barrett’s condition. It ends up on a celebratory tune that lists down everything under the sun, only to be eclipsed by the moon.
“Astronomy Domine” – Piper at The Gates of Dawn” (1967)
Still at their psychedelic days, “Astronomy Domine” greets the listener with random babbling of humans and instruments that eventually piece their way into the track, making for a spacey sound that trademarked their early years.
“Echoes” – Meddle (1971)
Once again, the band proved their mettle with 1977’s “Echoes” being a lengthy jam that had it all, from vibrant musical flourishes to stark moments that, quite frankly, shone through the generic rock babble of the time.
“The Great Gig in the Sky” – The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
Rick Wright goes ham with his piano on “The Great Gig in The Sky”, accentuated by guest singer Clare Torry’s otherworldly vocal performance – without lyrics at all! She owns the track even if Waters didn’t provide any information on it except that it was about death.
“Set The Controls For the Heart of the Sun” – A Saucerful of Secrets (1968)
One of the most memorable tracks for any Pink Floyd fan is “Set The Controls For the Heart of The Sun”, featuring all five members to acts as a transition between Barrett and Gilmour’s era. While the track doesn’t really have contrasting textures, its controlled quality makes the listener yearn for more.
“Shine on You Crazy Diamond” – Wish You Were Here (1975)
A tribute to their founder Syd Barrett, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” featured some of Gilmour’s most ominous yet reassuring guitar work, one that would represent Barrett’s mental condition and how the band coped with it.
“Learning To Fly” – A Momentary Lapse Of Reason (1987)
Carrying the burden of the recent lawsuits that the band faced following Waters’ departure, “Learning To Fly” has Gilmour reaching out to his pastime and converting it into an indulgent track that proved Waters wrong when he said that he was Pink Floyd.
“Sheep” – Animals (1977)
Sinister and conflicting, “Sheep” takes the listener into a barrage of ravenous imagery that would sizzle and crack until a resolution of triumph ends it all. While this isn’t a new format, “Sheep” does it so well that it’s hard to not do a double-take.
“Another Brick in The Wall (Pt.2)” – The Wall (1979)
Gaining both controversy and acclaim for its themes, “Another Brick in The Wall (Pt.2)” takes listeners to a funky, chorus-laden composition that doesn’t take much to keep listeners from chanting, “We don’t need no, education!”.
“Interstellar Overdrive” – Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (1967)
Pink Floyd’s space rock endeavors can’t really be summed up in just a few songs, but “Interstellar Overdrive” comes close. Taking the form of an instrumental jam, the song complements gritty riffs with glassy guitar and organ parts for that nebula-jumping experience.
“Wish You Were Here” – Wish You Were Here (1975)
Encased in a subtle acoustic progression, “Wish You Were Here” is another Syd Barrett tribute that punches just as hard as its fuller-orchestrated counterparts do. It tugs at the heartstrings as every note rings, invoking a feeling of peace laced with longing.
“Us and Them” – The Dark Side of The Moon (1973)
Ethereal yet searing at the same time, “Us and Them” paints war’s puppets with such soul that it’s hard to ignore how Pink Floyd came up with it. From the rich organ thumping to the tasteful sax accents, every inch of the song inflicts primal emotions no matter the mood.
“Comfortably Numb” – The Wall (1979)
Hailed as one of rock music’s greatest solo carriers, “Comfortably Numb” balances lyrical imagery with sonic reproduction. Waters and Gilmour trades vocal lines in the song to contrast the emotions within, concluding in a piercing guitar solo that definitely blows contemporaries out the water.