I’m not a great connoisseur or anything, but I’ve been jonesing for some Pink Floyd lately so I’m trying to put together a playlist, nothing more ambitious than a comprehensive Greatest Hits. It’s kinda tough because iTunes doesn’t really have much Floyd at all. I found this on Amazon:
Is that a pretty decent set? Are there better ones available? Is there any way to construct a decent playlist a la carte? What are the essential tracks? Digging through my old CDs, I find that I already own Wish You Were Here and The Division Bell.
I’m not a big fan of “best of” albums. For me the big hits from a band like Pink Floyd are so overplayed and overexposed that they lose a lot of their impact.
I think you should make sure to dive back into the Syd Barrett psychedlic era of Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Nothing wrong with the Waters/Gilmour era’s bombast, but Syd Barrett was something kind of special.
Avoid everything after Waters took completely control if you ask me, anything recorded after The Wall.
Why not buy a la carte from iTunes or something? You can preview the songs on youtube first or whatever.
Pink Floyd is as much about the album experience as it is about any individual songs. More so, I’d say.
I mean, there’s not a song on Dark Side of the Moon that I can exclude off the list. And that list would have them in order.
Any Floyd song, no matter how good, that isn’t better as part of the entire album, isn’t really Floyd. Learning to Fly is probably the best example; it’s a good song but it misses that magic that Waters and Gilmour had when they were together.
Moreover, I can’t even think of a definitive Pink Floyd song. Everything they do is Floyd, and it’s all so different from everything else. Wish You Were Here, Welcome to the Machine, and Time are as different from one another as entire sub-genres of rock. I don’t think I could even fit Breathe into a genre.
Pink Floyd really is an album band, so, in my opinion, they lose a lot when listening to their tracks a la carte, outside of the context of the album. Just given that you are asking the question, I would not make the foray in the Syd Barrett stuff initially. Plenty of much more accessible stuff to get started with.
You really should start with the two best:
Dark Side of the Moon
Those two should give you enough listening enjoyment to last quite some time.
Then move on to:
Wish You Were Here
Momentary Lapse of Reason
The Final Cut
From there, if you want more, pick up their remaining albums in reverse chronological order.
Others have already said it while I was writing this up, but I agree completely. The problem with trying to put together a Pink Floyd playlist is that basically everything after the Syd-Barrett-era stuff malphigian references works much better as entire albums than as singles. I find that when I want to scratch my Pink Floyd itch, I generally play either Wish You Were Here, Animals, Meddle or Dark Side of the Moon. If I were going to spend $27 and already had Wish You Were Here, I’d just pick up the other 3 of those albums.
That said, for the “best-of” approach, what you linked isn’t a bad starting point. I’d swap out these tracks:
The Great Gig in the Sky (They’ve already covered Money, Time and Us and Them. That’s enough Dark Side if you aren’t buying the album.)
The Fletcher Memorial Home
I’d add these:
On the Turning Away (probably my favorite post-“The Wall” Pink Floyd song. Leaving it off of this collection strikes me as trying too hard not to be obvious)
Fearless (Really, I’d just buy Meddle, but this is a great track if you don’t want the whole album.)
Mother (again, just not sure how you leave this off a “Best of” collection)
Pigs (I actually prefer this to Sheep, but they’re both good)
I haven’t listened to much of the really early Pink Floyd for a while, so maybe someone else can fill some of those in for me.
That sounds like good advice on going for the album experience. Didn’t Pink Floyd recently win some kind of lawsuit that prevented EMI from being able to sell their tracks a la carte for this very reason?
I’ll dig out my copy of Wish You Were Here, I think I have Dark Side of the Moon around somewhere too. I need to grab The Wall and Momentary Lapse of Reason.
If you do find yourself wishing to celebrate their entire catalog, make sure you check out the More album (after, of course the more mainstream recommendations). It really is a bit different that most of their other recordings in that it is mostly traditional 3 minute rock tunes and instrumentals from their earlier days before they achieved their patented sound. Typical 60’s stuff.
I’m not fond of the Syd Barrett era, the “psychadelic” music just mostly sounds like noise to me. If you’re going to listen to early stuff, I’m really fond of “Summer of '68” and “If” off of Atom Heart Mother. I like “One of These Days” and “Fearless” from Meddle, as well.
Other than that, Dark Side of the Moon is a classic for a reason, and Wish You Were Here is arguably just as good. Those are albums that I think work best as albums, rather than individual tracks.
I do enjoy Animals and The Wall, but feel they mark a transition to what I think of as Waters’ more strident period, which resulted in The Final Cut and The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking, which I do not like.
I agree with “Summer '68” and “If” - “Fat Old Sun” is great as well.
Regarding The Final Cut, I almost made it my number one recommendation after The Wall & Dark Side. But I realize it is not quite as accessible as some of their others. It is pretty focused thematically and it might not work for others as it does me. Having said that, I can’t see how anyone cannot appreciate “The Gunner’s Dream” or “Southampton Dock” or “The Final Cut”.
Dark Side of the Moon
Wish You Were Here
That’s the cream of the crop right there.
The Syd Barret stuff has some good tracks (like Atom Heart Mother or Interstellar Overdrive), but musically it’s like a different band. You’ll find very little in common between these two versions of Floyd.
Also, Animals must be listened to in album form. Separating them is just a crime against music. The Wall also greatly benefits from not breaking up its tracks.
Atom Heart Mother is post-Barret - it’s their orchestral album (surprisingly cool).
The two Barret albums are Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Saucerful of Secrets, then it’s the Waters/Gilmour lineup until ‘Momentary Lapse’ (a very different band at that point) when Waters leaves and does his solo stuff.
Meddle (third album?) is great, mainly for the searingly awesome ‘One of these days’ and ‘Echoes’.
Personal favourite overall is probably Animals (the whole album) as it’s very understated and some of Waters’ best lyrics.
Dark Side of the Moon is a classic for a reason, particularly the proto techno of ‘On the Run’ and the orgasmic ‘Great Gig in the Sky’.
The Wall is good, but the relentless self pity of the lyrics does start to wear on one. ‘Comfortably Numb’ and ‘Run Like Hell’ are probably the standouts.
Saucerful of Secrets isn’t really a Barrett album. He only wrote Jugband Blues (great song,) and it was the only song he performed on. I think Saucerful is up there with Dark Side of the Moon as one of their best albums. It retains some elements of the Floyd of the first album, but mixes in what’s going to come over the next few years. The song A Saucerful of Secrets has the same jam vibe of Interstellar Overdrive going, but is much more dreamlike. And Remember a Day is what most would recognise as Pink Floyd at their best. And although written by Wright, who wrote very little, his signal to noise ratio is immense.
To be honest, with Pink Floyd people are going to differ on everything. The two broad categorisations you can make are whether you prefer Barrett era or their main era. If you prefer Barrett, you’re going to be disappointed, because there’s one album, a couple of singles and B-Sides, and Jugband Blues off Saucerful. Then you have to head to Barrett’s solo works (which are amazing in their own right.) If you prefer what most would recognise as Pink Floyd. I’d go for Dark Side of the Moon as the starting point, then get Saucerful of Secrets so you might be able to go back to Relics and The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and see why their earlier stuff makes for such a great different Pink Floyd.
I’m a huge Floyd fan and a big advocate of their earlier works. The Barrett led band is certainly an acquired taste. If you don’t like other experimental music of the 60s then it might be a tough listen. Astronomy Domine and Interstellar Overdrive are the two most successful in modern tastes and should be required listening.
Floyd didn’t come from nowhere and make Dark Side, so if you enjoy it get Meddle at the very least. Atom Heart Mother is less pop friendly but the first great example of Floyd’s album-oriented experience. I love it.
The greatest hits albums like Echoes and Works are just a confusing jumble to me, jumping around in decades without any elegance. Relics, More and Ummagumma are better compilations that aren’t ‘hits’ minded.
For me after The Wall, it gets a bit boring. It’s perfectly listenable but without the edge that made it Pink Floyd. (Water’s solo stuff was even worse imo.)