Pink Floyd Albums: Ranked from Worst to Best

Formed by London architecture students in 1964, Pink Floyd are one of the most beloved classic rock bands. While most attention is given to stadium-rock blockbusters like Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, they enjoyed a lengthy career on either side of the 1970s.

Pink Floyd started recording in the psychedelic 1960s, led by Syd Barrett. They debuted with the confident psychedelia of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, where Barrett was Pink Floyd’s clear leader. Barrett was replaced by vocalist and guitarist David Gilmour after burning out on LSD. After Barrett’s departure, the band recorded a series of experimental albums where they sometimes seemed directionless

In the early 1970s, bassist Roger Waters assumed control of the band, and his lyrical concepts took the band to new heights of popularity. Pink Floyd were at their best when Waters’ lyrical concepts were 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; 1982’s The Final Cut was effectively a Waters’ solo album. Gilmour took the band through three further albums, including their swansong, 2014’s The Endless River.

Here are the band’s fifteen studio albums, ranked.

Pink Floyd Albums Ranked

#15 The Endless River

2014
Pink Floyd’s final album was largely pieced together from outtakes of 1994’s The Division Bell. There’s only one song with vocals – the closing ‘Louder Than Words’. The other pieces are instrumentals, often mellow and ambient. It’s a respectable end to their career and a fitting eulogy to Richard Wright who passed away in 2008, but it’s still their least essential record.


#14 Ummagumma

1969
Pink Floyd’s most indulgent record, Ummagumma is a double LP. The impressive first half is a live disc with lengthy, spacy jams on tunes like ‘Careful With That Axe Eugene’ and ‘Set The Controls for the Heart of the Sun’. But the studio disc, made of individual tracks from the four members, is often trivial with oddities like Mason’s ‘The Grand Vizier’s Garden Party’ and Waters’ ‘Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict’.


#13 A Momentary Lapse of Reason

1987
Roger Waters left Pink Floyd in 1985, and David Gilmour took control of the band. Wright and Mason are involved, but their confidence was low after playing with a dictatorial Waters. Instead, Pink Floyd are often augmented by session musicians. It’s one of Pink Floyd’s most atypical releases, with a glossy 1980s rock sheen. It was successful with tuneful hits like ‘Learning to Fly’, introducing Pink Floyd to a younger generation.


#12 More

1969
Pink Floyd’s third studio album was the soundtrack for a countercultural film set in Ibiza. More suffers a little from a confused identity – it’s part fully-fledged songs and part background music. But the good songs are worth tracking down – the gentle psychedelia of ‘Green is the Colour’ and the Gilmour riff-rocker ‘The Nile Song’.


#11 The Division Bell

1994
The Division Bell is the most collaborative Pink Floyd album since the mid-1970s. With Wright back in the band, he’s a writing partner for Gilmour and his keyboards bring back the atmospheric sound of Pink Floyd 1970s pomp. The Division Bell drags a little with a 66-minute running time, but it’s very strong in places. The opening suite of songs, ‘Cluster One’ and ‘What Do You Want From Me’, recall the majesty of classic Floyd, and it’s easily their best Gilmour-led record.


#10 The Wall

1979
The Wall is one of Pink Floyd’s most iconic albums. With Roger Waters firmly in control, it’s a 2 LP rock opera about Pink, a rock star who isolates himself from society. There are classic songs like ‘Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2’, but much of the musicality comes from Gilmour’s brief cameos, like the soaring choruses and guitar solos on ‘Comfortably Numb’. Despite some of Floyd’s best moments, The Wall is too long – too much Waters ranting and not enough memorable songs.


#9 The Final Cut

1982
The Final Cut was Waters’ final album with Pink Floyd. He’s even more firmly in control than on The Wall, with Gilmour only allowed the spotlight on the ridiculous, yet excellent, ‘Not Now John’. But it’s a more manageable length and more conceptually interesting. It’s an anti-war album, inspired by The Falklands War and Waters’ loss of his own father in World War 2.


#8 A Saucerful of Secrets

1968
Pink Floyd’s second album is surprisingly coherent given the circumstances. Syd Barrett was on his way out of the band, only writing ‘Jugband Blues’, and contributing guitar to two other tracks. Yet the other members step up their songwriting, with Waters’ ‘Set The Controls for the Heart of the Sun’ and Wright’s ‘Remember A Day’ among a strong batch of songs.


#7 Atom Heart Mother

1970
Atom Heart Mother is one of the most unlikely albums to top the UK charts. The entire first side is devoted to the ‘Atom Heart Mother suite’, a quasi-classical piece with choir and brass. Side two ends with the 13-minute ‘Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast’, partly a sound collage of the group’s commentating upon his morning meal. While ‘Breakfast’ drags a little, there are a bunch of strong songs on side two – especially Wright’s ‘Summer ’68’.


#6 Animals

1977
In the U.K.’s year of punk, Pink Floyd released their most aggressive album. Loosely based on George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the three main songs compare society to sheep, pigs, and dogs. A lot of the group’s collaborative spirit is gone, with Roger Waters dominating most of the writing and lead vocals. It’s fun to hear the group with a tougher sound on ‘Sheep’ and ‘Dogs’.


obscured-by-clouds-pink-floyd

#5 Obscured By Clouds

1972
Because it’s a soundtrack, it’s easy to overlook Obscured By Clouds. It’s from 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’, but there are a lot of strong songs that aren’t among the group’s standards, like the instrumental ‘Mud Men’ and the pretty ‘Stay’.


pink-floyd-the-piper-at-the-gates-of-dawn

#4 The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

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’ share space with enjoyably silly ditties like ‘Lucifer Sam’ and ‘Bike’. If you like it, remember to check out non-album singles like ‘See Emily Play’ and ‘Arnold Layne’ from the Barrett era. The title is taken from a trippy chapter in the children’s novel The Wind in the Willows.


pink-floyd-meddle

#3 Meddle

1971
The Dark Side of the Moon sold in much larger quantities, but Pink Floyd’s spacey sound was already in place for 1971’s Meddle. The first side features Floyd essentials like ‘One of These Days’, with Nick Mason’s famous line “One of these days, I’m going to cut you into little pieces”, and ‘Fearless’. The second side is taken up by ‘Echoes’, my favourite Floyd piece that serves as a bridge between their experimental work in the late 1960s and their commercial juggernauts in the 1970s.


pink-floyd-dark-side-on-the-moon

#2 The Dark Side of the Moon

1973
Pink Floyd enjoyed a lot of commercial success in the UK in the late 1960s and early 1970s – even the challenging Atom Heart Mother was a number one album. But The Dark Side of the Moon took the band to stratospheric heights of popularity. Roger Waters took control of the lyrics, moving the group away from hippiedom to mass appeal, while the production from Alan Parsons is pristine. It’s also fun to watch in synchronicity with The Wizard of Oz.


pink-floyd-wish-you-were-album

#1 Wish You Were Here

1975
It must have been intimidating following the hugely successful Dark Side of the Moon, but Pink Floyd bettered it with 1975’s Wish You Were Here. Folkie Roy Harper guests on ‘Have A Cigar’, and the title track is soulful and pretty. The main attraction is the multi-part suite ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’, built around a majestic four-note riff.


What are your favourite Pink Floyd albums?

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Aphoristical

Graham Fyfe is probably the only music blogger to appreciate Neil Diamond and Ariana Grande.

Aphoristic Album Reviews features many Reviews and Blog Posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.

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105 Comments

  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.

  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.

  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.”

  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?

  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.

    • 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?

    • 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.

  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

    • 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.

  7. I’m sticking with Dark Side, The Wall, Wish You Were Here. Meddle too maybe. I won’t be listening to them all as A) too lazy and B) worms ate into my brain.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

    • 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.

  10. If you dislike animals because Waters had too much control, how come it’s the album where Gilmour just blows the roof off? The guitar work in both Dogs and Pigs is ridiculous. Some of the darkest, deepest PF is the eerie, wordless part of Pigs. Plus the words are kind of interesting, and I think prescient, less preachy and more just kind of allegorically twisted observation about a world run amok with bands of opportunists.

    • It’s more Waters dominating the songwriting that I think is a weakness – I think Pink Floyd worked best when Waters wrote the lyrics and the music was a group effort, like on Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here.

  11. Wow. Ambitious. I give you credit if you sat down and plowed through all these. As much as I like Pink Floyd, my knowledge of most of their albums is sketchy. DSOTM will forever be my favorite, followed by Wish You Were Here and then The Wall. After that, flip a coin. I like pieces of each but can’t easily narrow it down. I’ve never heard Endless River and frankly, I tend to like the Rogers-driven band over the Barrett one. For the record, I still have tickets to go see Waters from 2020. He is rescheduled till 2022 due to COVID.

    • I listed to the Gilmour-led ones especially for this list – I knew the other ones already. I’ve never seen Waters live – I’ve seen our local Floyd tribute band. The frontman thinks that Barrett stuff like ‘See Emily Play’ doesn’t count as real Floyd.

      • That’s funny. We saw ‘The Wall’ a few years back. I’m still debating if I want to go to the show or just give my son and one of his friends the tickets.

        • I’ve seen the tribute band live. Some of the members actually go to the church where my wife grew up – we went there for an event a while back, and lots of the bricks from the wall were lying about the place.

  12. Dark Side of the Moon is the only one I like all the way through. But I like parts of most of the other ones, especially Animals. But I wish they would have kept making albums with Alan Parsons. They should have made 4 or 5 more Dark Side of the Moons instead.

    • I feel like they had their best configuration when Waters wrote the lyrics but let the others contribute musically – mainly DSOTM and Wish You Were Here.

  13. Having The Final Cut ahead of the The Wall is quite a bold move! I am bit sad to see my favorite (Animals) ranked out of the Top 5, by Pink Floyd has so many classics in their discography that it is a tight battle for those top spots.

  14. I am really not much of a Pink Floyd fan- I have listened to most of their albums- I was surprised you had The Wall so low though.

      • well done– ranking stuff is tough– a well known album like The Wall–doesn’t necessarily mean its the best–I’d say the same with Sgt. Pepper- maybe the most famous album ever-but I don’t think The Beatles best .

        • Abbey Road is The Beatles album I’ve never connected to – like The Wall, it comes from late in the band’s run. I don’t think you’ll agree though!

  15. I am not a huge PF fan. Anyway, I agree with you that WYWH is their best. Probably because it was a true team collaboration and they were at their best moment. Also, it sounds like a genuine and emotional homage to their former bandmate. Both, RW and DG were not that good working alone with all the control.

    • I think the balance they found around DSotM and Wish You Were Here was ideal – Waters writes the lyrics while everyone works on the music together.

  16. 1. Dark Side of the Moon
    2. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
    3. second side of Atom Heart Mother
    4. A Saucerful of Secrets
    5. Meddle or Animals or Wish You Were Here

    Like you, I think The Wall is overrated. I like the lyrics of Wish You Were Here, especially “Shine On,” which honors Syd.

  17. Good list, though I would have put “The Wall” closer to the top and “Dark Side of the Moon” number one. One amusing note about “Animals” is my ex wife wouldn’t allow me to play it in the car because she said it was music to slice your wrists to.

    • It is pretty dark – although probably less dark than The Wall and The Final Cut. My old workmate used to say that about her husband’s music – he had great taste (he died young and I inherited his old Husker Du albums) while hers was questionable.

  18. Like lots of others, I am a bit surprised you’ve got The Wall so low. I like it a lot but perhaps it is put on a pedestal for a lot of people given the nostalgia and memories tied to it. I remember liking the film a lot too… but that’s another story.

  19. My favorite has to be The Piper at the Gates of Dawn…I finally connected with Pink Floyd through that album. I do like select songs from other ones…but it seems I understood…for the lack of a better word them with that one. The ones that would follow would be
    Wish You Were Here, Dark Side of the Moon, and The Wall .

    • I would have certainly expected that from you. You might like Obscured By Clouds – it’s more concise than most Floyd stuff.

      • I will check that out very shortly…I’ve wore out their debut album. I never felt connected to them before until I heard that one.

  20. Good on you for tackling this. Some surprises as I didn’t expect The Wall to be so far down, but the top 2 I did expect, but I don’t know enough about Floyd to even attempt this. I really only know 3-4 albums.

    • The 1970s ones are the ones everyone knows, but they’re consistently interesting. There’s a big gulf between the weird indulgences of Ummagumma and the stadium rock of Momentary Lapse.

  21. Wow you’re brave, not sure I’d take this one on lol. You did a good job, though, of explaining, getting it across without needless extra. I’ve been in a Division Bell mood for the longest time, so I’d rank it (and Endless River, by extension) higher, but that’s probably just because of the zone I’m in… probably. I do love Division Bell, though… DSotM is good but it never spoke to me in the same way as everyone else seems to enjoy it. I dunno, I came to Floyd late, I’m probably missing a ton of context.

  22. Ranking Floyd is that most subjective and dangerous of experiences. Everyone has a favorite. You are not alone in placing The Wall so low down I think it’s supremely overrated and just about any album prior would top it for me including UmmaGumma which would never be allowed to be made by a major label now so stands more as a tribute to the halcyon days of music making. The Endless River works as a tribute to Rick and as a nice float late at night. Thanks for this it’s always refreshing to see others take on a favorite band.

    • Floyd got away with a lot, right? Atom Heart Mother was a UK number 1. I think you could easily do Ummagumma now, but not on a major label. It’d be labelled bedroom pop or something.

  23. Always good to see Obscured By Clouds getting the love it deserves. The Wall is one of those albums I always think is good but then realise I’m only thinking of four songs on it and the rest is tripe. Personally I rank Division Bell a lot higher and don’t rate Final Cut but when you’ve got such an undeniable wealth of great music in that central period it’s always a joy to listen to

    • I have a live set of The Wall, and in the liner notes Gilmour says the best bits are his spotlights. Often this would be arrogant ego talking, but I think in this case he’s totally right – Comfortably Numb, Run Like Hell, Young Lust are the best bits.

      • Is that ‘Is The Anybody Out There?’ ? I have that one – I can’t disagree with him. Given that came out in 2000 when relations were still very frosty (not that they aren’t now) I think I need to go back and see what Roger’s take was. I caught an interview with Nick Mason recently in which he was asked to opine on Waters’ claims of having been bullied in Pink Floyd, I think the eye-roll and ‘Stalin was bullied’ sums up how strained relations were and still are.
        I also think Not Now John is an outstanding track and only discovered it (relatively) recently as The Final Cut doesn’t feature in my collection.
        The combo of Waters’ lyrics and the music of the group (as opposed to pure Waters rants) was solid gold and its disappearance after WYWH was noticeable – though even on that album Gilmour was starting to balk at singing Roger’s rants.
        I sometimes wonder what The Division Bell would have sounded like had it featured Waters’ lyrics, given the collaborative nature of the music, but the line ‘they tell me to please go fuck myself’ is apparently Waters’ response to Gilmour’s suggest of just that

        • There’s a story about selecting material for Division Bell, where Wright rated all his material 10/10 and everyone else’s 0. Also sounds like Wright and Mason were pretty shaken from the later Water years and lost confidence.

          • Yeah absolutely – it’s mentioned in Pigs Might Fly but given how light hearted and relaxed those sessions were (in comparison to the AMLOR which were tense thanks to ongoing legal fights and Waters interfering) I don’t think it was meant or taken in any way seriously.
            Neither Mason or Wright played much of anything in AMLOR. Mason was both rusty after years off and shot of confidence after the final years of Waters’ control and Wright came in a little too late to contribute and he, too was still suffering in confidence. I think the new mix of the album – with both of their parts restored and overdubbed – brings it much more to life and into the Floyd sound

  24. Ooo, another good one. My list would go like this (right now, anyway) . . . I know I’m a bit of a Floyd heretic for not valuing “Piper” and “Wish” as highly as most do . . .

    #1. Dark Side of the Moon
    #2. The Wall
    #3. Animals
    #4. Meddle
    #5. Obscured By Clouds
    #6. Wish You Were Here
    #7. The Piper At the Gates of Dawn
    #8. Ummagumma
    #9. The Final Cut
    #10. A Saucerful of Secrets
    #11. A Momentary Lapse of Reason
    #12. More
    #13. The Division Bell
    #14. Atom Heart Mother
    #15. The Endless River

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