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Pink Floyd: Favourite Five Albums

I’m not sure that Pink Floyd need an introduction – they’re one of the most loved classic rock bands. Most attention is given to their 1970s stadium rock blockbusters like Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, but they also had a lengthy career on either side.

The band started recording in the psychedelic mid-1960s, led by Syd Barrett, but he was replaced by vocalist and guitarist David Gilmour after burning out on LSD. After the confident debut The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, where Barrett was Pink Floyd’s clear leader, the band underwent a series of interesting albums where they tried different styles, but sometimes seemed directionless and self-indulgent.

In the early 1970s, bassist Roger Waters assumed control of the band, and his lyrical concepts took the band to new heights of popularity. I find that Pink Floyd are at their best when Waters’ lyrical concepts are enhanced by the musical abilities of Gilmour, keyboardist Richard Wright, and drummer Nick Mason. As the 1970s wore on, Waters became more dominant, and limited the contributions of the other members, and 1982’s The Final Cut was effectively a Waters’ solo album. Gilmour took the band through three further albums, including 2014’s The Endless River.

Here are my picks for the five best albums from Pink Floyd.

Obscured By Clouds

obscured-by-clouds-pink-floyd#5, 1972
As a soundtrack, it’s easy to overlook Obscured By Clouds – but it’s right from the middle of my favourite era from the band, and it works well as an album, a relaxed collection of overlooked songs. Waters starts to explore the themes that would dominate the group’s later 1970s work on songs like ‘Free Four’.


The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

pink-floyd-the-piper-at-the-gates-of-dawn#4, 1967
Syd Barrett’s only full album with Pink Floyd is an often stunning distillation of his psychedelic vision – spacey jams like ‘Astronomy Domine’ and ‘Interstellar Overdrive’, and nightmarish fairy tales like ‘Lucifer Sam’ and ‘Bike’. If you like it, remember to check out non-album singles like ‘See Emily Play’ and ‘Arnold Layne’.


Meddle

pink-floyd-meddle#3, 1971
The side long ‘Echoes’ is my favourite piece that Pink Floyd ever recorded, while the first side features essential songs like ‘One of These Days’ and ‘Fearless’.


The Dark Side of the Moon

pink-floyd-dark-side-on-the-moon#2, 1973
Pink Floyd enjoyed a lot of commercial success in the UK in the late 1960s and early 1970s – the challenging Atom Heart Mother was a number one album there. But The Dark Side of the Moon took the band to stratospheric heights of popularity, helped by the new lyrical focus with Waters taking control, and the pristine production from Alan Parsons. It’s also fun to watch in synchronicity with The Wizard of Oz.


Wish You Were Here

pink-floyd-wish-you-were-album#1, 1975
It must have been intimidating following the hugely successful Dark Side, but Pink Floyd bettered it with 1975’s Wish You Were Here. Roy Harper guests on ‘Have A Cigar’, the title track is acoustic and beautiful, while the multi-part suite ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ is beautiful and memorable.


What are you favourite Floyd albums? I’m aware my list is a little odd ball – many lists would include 1977’s Animals (which would have been my number 6) and The Wall (which I find too much of a Roger Waters solo album), and Obscured By Clouds is something of a left field choice.

45 thoughts on “Pink Floyd: Favourite Five Albums Leave a comment

  1. Hmm. “Dark Side” is my favorite Floyd album and, IMHO, one of the greatest albums of all time. As to the remaining five, I’d have to think about that. “Wish You Were Here” and “The Wall” will definitely make it. After that I’ve gotta think about it.

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  2. When I think about it, I think your top 2 would be the other way round for me… Animals would maybe scrape into the 5, cause I do quite like that one. As for the others, I couldn’t really give them a ranking, as I don’t know them well enough… Piper third, perhaps.

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  3. I’m pretty much with you here. If I would have to select one track only, it would be “Echoes” as well – an absolute masterpiece, in my opinion, which foreshadows the brilliance of “Dark Side Of The Moon” and “Wish You Were Here.”

    When it comes to entire albums, my first choice would probably be a tie between the two aforementioned records. I’ve listened countless times to each over the years and still do so fairly frequently.

    I think my third choice would be “Meddle.”

    I’m less sure about the two remaining spots. I’d probably go with “The Wall” and “Piper.”

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  4. Did named Piper as fave on my blog a while back, I think number two would A Saucerful of Secrets, number three would be Ummagumma and number four A Momentary Lapse of Reason and then number five would Animals so that’s my top 5 now! As a teenage it would have been The Wall, Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Division Bell but I think I over did all those ones then and don’t think I’ve listened any of those for years now, if you wanna know?
    https://a1000mistakes.wordpress.com/2016/10/21/classic-albums-the-piper-at-the-gates-of-dawn-by-pink-floyd/ That’s a very old post now, i hope it’s that bad if you do check it out?

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  5. It’s a good list and I’d have three of these in my own Top Five for sure. Nice to see Obscured by Clouds get a shout out, I love Wot’s… Uh the Deal?, definitely in my Floyd Top 10 songs.
    Personally, though, I think Roger Waters was on a slow journey up his own arse that really gathered momentum as the 70’s wore on and he still hasn’t pulled his head from that dark place.
    I’ve got a lot of time for Gilmour as a player and singer and I’d put Division Bell in my own Top Five.

    Oh… and to be contentious: I don’t count Piper at the Gates… as a Pink Floyd album. It’s so wildly different to everything else in the catalogue and so very much a Syd album I consider it as a Syd Barrett ‘backed by his mates who’d go on to form Pink Floyd’ album.

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    • I feel like around Animals, Waters took too much control. I liked him writing the lyrics, but it was best when the others weer involved in the music more.

      Is Obscured in your Top Five?

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    • Very well thought out, sir. Somebody once gave me a DVD made by a Floyd tribute band who took it upon themselves to pontificate about the band and pull in some of their mates as pundits. And one of them dismissed Syd with the words “The real genius of Pink Floyd is Dave Gilmour”. I’m sure not even Gilmour would agree with that, but as you say, Piper does feel like a predecessor and if someone wasn’t around at the time they wouldn’t be aware of how astonishing it was.

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  6. From my limited Pink Floyd exposure so far, Wish You Were here would be my favourite album of the 1001 inclusions.
    A friend was raving about The Final Cut recently, I gather it’s not usually regarded as one of their best though

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    • Yeah, it’s a relatively recent discovery for me – I’ve known most of their Waters-era stuff for a long time, but had to fill in a few gaps. I also learned enjoying about Saucerful of Secrets and More, but Obscured By Clouds is my favourite of the new ones.

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  7. CB, a Discman? Those things weigh 38 pounds. Come on, man, streaming on your phone is the way to go. BTW, A, while we’re talking about Yes, I recall you were not thrilled with Jon Anderson’s lyrics, specifically “Roundabout.” You might find this little blurb from Wikipedia informative:

    The song originated in March 1971 when the band were on tour promoting The Yes Album (1971), travelling from Aberdeen to Glasgow after a gig in Aviemore, Scotland. They encountered many roundabouts on the way; Anderson claimed “maybe 40 or so”, which inspired Anderson and Howe to write a song about the journey as they sat in the back of the band’s transit van, and include the roundabouts and the surrounding mountains into the lyrics.
    Anderson had smoked marijuana during the trip, “so everything was vivid and mystical”.[5] Anderson added: “It was a cloudy day, we couldn’t see the top of the mountains. We could only see the clouds because it was sheer straight up … I remember saying, “Oh, the mountains–look! They’re coming out of the sky!”,and began to write the song’s lyrics in his notebook in a free-form style with minimal edits

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  8. I’ve never been a huge Wish You Were Here fan. I still respect it, but I find myself rarely, if ever revisiting it! I ranked every Pink Floyd record on my page awhile ago, if you’d like to see my opinions! But I do enjoy your list a lot! Crazy to see how differently people view the same band and discography.

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    • Thanks for commenting! I don’t think it’s too surprising in a large, rich discography that people have different opinions. On RateYourMusic the top 5 studio albums are Wish You Were Here, Dark Side of the Moon, Animals, Meddle, and Piper, so we’re both largely similar to those.

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