Weekend Musical Break: Pink Floyd

No posts this weekend, so this one is going up early.

Pink Floyd is a hard band to sum in in three paragraphs. One can make the case that three very different bands have performed under that name: the original band led by Syd Barrett, the later Roger Waters-led effort that produced the band’s most memorable albums, and the post-Waters David Gilmour Pink Floyd which stayed Prog to a great extent but which had a wholly different sound. One funny thing is that pretty much nobody has ever managed to duplicate the sound of any of the three Pink Floyds, and there are those who have tried – Queensryche comes immediately to mind as the most successful attempt – to ape this very influential act.

One of the reasons that Floyd remians so distinct is that they didn’t craft songs so much as whole albums, and consuming radio staples like ‘Money’ or ‘Comfortably Numb’ is a totally different experience than sitting down to listen to The Wall, Wish You Were Here or Dark Side of the Moon in their entirety. The last of these was so successful that it stayed on the sales charts for over fourteen years, and was only removed from that list when the rules changed. To this day, no other album is as thematically cohesive and complete as Dark Side.

The early Floyd albums The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and A Saucerful of Secrets predate their best known work, but would introduce science-fictional themes in tracks like ‘Astronomy Domine’, ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ and ‘Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun’ that the band would revisit in later years to a lesser extent. Such concepts would be widely adopted by acts as diverse as Blue Oyster Cult and David Bowie, and would launch a movement within Prog that would eventually become an entire branch of its own. Space Rock would be very much the child of Pink Floyd.

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5 responses to “Weekend Musical Break: Pink Floyd

  1. I found a book of Pink Floyd sheet music in a music store. Not sure why they had that or how it came to be there, but it was full of music from Piper through Saucer, Meddle and More, up through some stuff from Dark Side of the Moon.

    I hadn’t yet made the jump from piano to woodwinds, so I had a piano/synth arrangement that couldn’t have been more perfect for playing Pink Floyd.

    Sometimes, when the kids were asleep and the house was quiet, I’d open the book up to Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun, and go Rick Wright for hours with those amazing chords of his and the full Hammond sounds turning the midnight darker.

  2. Oh yeah, the book also had See Emily Play in it, Floyd’s first hit, which they perversely didn’t include on their albums. It’s out on some compilations now, but until I played it from the sheet music, I’d never heard it. It also had the Gnome song 🙂

    There was actually a lot of Barret songs there.

  3. Do I smell some Hawkwind in the air?…hehe

    I had a period where I was melancholy in my early life, and Dark Side was my album (along with Genesis “Lamb lies down…”), but I never really grabbed onto these guys either.
    I enjoyed their work, but was never fanatic.
    Luckily that translates to if I ever hear them nowadays, I can sit and listen to them without turning them off from the sheer boredom from listening to them over and over.

    When I think of Floyds sound today, I think of Mogwai. Great stuff. (Better Blip those guys…hehe)