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Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd is the premier space rock band. Since the mid-'60s, their music relentlessly tinkered with electronics and all manner of special effects to push pop formats to their outer limits.

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Pink Floyd is the premier space rock band. Since the mid-'60s, their music relentlessly tinkered with electronics and all manner of special effects to push pop formats to their outer limits. At the same time they wrestled with lyrical themes and concepts of such massive scale that their music has taken on almost classical, operatic quality, in both sound and words. Despite their astral image, the group was brought down to earth in the 1980s by decidedly mundane power struggles over leadership and, ultimately, ownership of the band's very name. After that time, they were little more than a dinosaur act, capable of filling stadiums and topping the charts, but offering little more than a spectacular recreation of their most successful formulas. Their latter-day staleness cannot disguise the fact that, for the first decade or so of their existence, they were one of the most innovative groups around, in concert and (especially) in the studio.

While Pink Floyd are mostly known for their grandiose concept albums of the 1970s, they started as a very different sort of psychedelic band. Soon after they first began playing together in the mid-'60s, they fell firmly under the leadership of lead guitarist Syd Barrett, the gifted genius who would write and sing most of their early material. The Cambridge native shared the stage with Roger Waters (bass), Rick Wright (keyboards), and Nick Mason (drums). The name Pink Floyd, seemingly so far-out, was actually derived from the first names of two ancient bluesmen (Pink Anderson and Floyd Council). And at first, Pink Floyd were much more conventional than the act into which they would evolve, concentrating on the rock and R&B material that were so common to the repertoires of mid-'60s British bands.

Pink Floyd quickly began to experiment, however, stretching out songs with wild instrumental freak-out passages incorporating feedback; electronic screeches; and unusual, eerie sounds created by loud amplification, reverb, and such tricks as sliding ball bearings up and down guitar strings. In 1966, they began to pick up a following in the London underground; on-stage, they began to incorporate light shows to add to the psychedelic effect. Most importantly, Syd Barrett began to compose pop-psychedelic gems that combined unusual psychedelic arrangements (particularly in the haunting guitar and celestial organ licks) with catchy melodies and incisive lyrics that viewed the world with a sense of poetic, childlike wonder.

The group landed a recording contract with EMI in early 1967 and made the Top 20 with a brilliant debut single, "Arnold Layne," a sympathetic, comic vignette about a transvestite. The follow-up, the kaleidoscopic "See Emily Play," made the Top Ten. The debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, also released in 1967, may have been the greatest British psychedelic album other than Sgt. Pepper's. Dominated almost wholly by Barrett's songs, the album was a charming fun house of driving, mysterious rockers ("Lucifer Sam"); odd character sketches ("The Gnome"); childhood flashbacks ("Bike," "Matilda Mother"); and freakier pieces with lengthy instrumental passages ("Astronomy Domine," "Interstellar Overdrive," "Pow R Toch") that mapped out their fascination with space travel. The record was not only like no other at the time; it was like no other that Pink Floyd would make, colored as it was by a vision that was far more humorous, pop-friendly, and lighthearted than those of their subsequent epics.

The reason Pink Floyd never made a similar album was that Piper was the only one to be recorded under Barrett's leadership. Around mid-1967, the prodigy began showing increasingly alarming signs of mental instability. Barrett would go catatonic on-stage, playing music that had little to do with the material, or not playing at all. An American tour had to be cut short when he was barely able to function at all, let alone play the pop star game. Dependent upon Barrett for most of their vision and material, the rest of the group was nevertheless finding him impossible to work with, live or in the studio.

Around the beginning of 1968, guitarist Dave Gilmour, a friend of the band who was also from Cambridge, was brought in as a fifth member. The idea was that Gilmour would enable the Floyd to continue as a live outfit; Barrett would still be able to write and contribute to the records. That couldn't work either, and within a few months Barrett was out of the group. Pink Floyd's management, looking at the wreckage of a band that was now without its lead guitarist, lead singer, and primary songwriter, decided to abandon the group and manage Barrett as a solo act.

Such calamities would have proven insurmountable for 99 out of 100 bands in similar predicaments. Incredibly, Pink Floyd would regroup and not only maintain their popularity, but eventually become even more successful. It was early in the game yet, after all; the first album had made the British Top Ten, but the group was still virtually unknown in America, where the loss of Syd Barrett meant nothing to the media. Gilmour was an excellent guitarist, and the band proved capable of writing enough original material to generate further ambitious albums, Waters eventually emerging as the dominant composer. The 1968 follow-up to Piper at the Gates of Dawn, A Saucerful of Secrets, made the British Top Ten, using Barrett's vision as an obvious blueprint, but taking a more formal, somber, and quasi-classical tone, especially in the long instrumental parts. Barrett, for his part, would go on to make a couple of interesting solo records before his mental problems instigated a retreat into oblivion.

Over the next four years, Pink Floyd would continue to polish their brand of experimental rock, which married psychedelia with ever-grander arrangements on a Wagnerian operatic scale. Hidden underneath the pulsing, reverberant organs and guitars and insistently restated themes were subtle blues and pop influences that kept the material accessible to a wide audience. Abandoning the singles market, they concentrated on album-length works, and built a huge following in the progressive rock underground with constant touring in both Europe and North America. While LPs like Ummagumma (divided into live recordings and experimental outings by each member of the band), Atom Heart Mother (a collaboration with composer Ron Geesin), and More... (a film soundtrack) were erratic, each contained some extremely effective music.
By the early '70s, Syd Barrett was a fading or nonexistent memory for most of Pink Floyd's fans, although the group, one could argue, never did match the brilliance of that somewhat anomalous 1967 debut. Meddle (1971) sharpened the band's sprawling epics into something more accessible, and polished the science fiction ambience that the group had been exploring ever since 1968. Nothing, however, prepared Pink Floyd or their audience for the massive mainstream success of their 1973 album, Dark Side of the Moon, which made their brand of cosmic rock even more approachable with state-of-the-art production; more focused songwriting; an army of well-time stereophonic sound effects; and touches of saxophone and soulful female backup vocals.

Dark Side of the Moon finally broke Pink Floyd as superstars in the United States, where it made number one. More astonishingly, it made them one of the biggest-selling acts of all time. Dark Side of the Moon spent an incomprehensible 741 weeks on the Billboard album chart. Additionally, the primarily instrumental textures of the songs helped make Dark Side of the Moon easily translatable on an international level, and the record became (and still is) one of the most popular rock albums worldwide.

It was also an extremely hard act to follow, although the follow-up, Wish You Were Here (1975), also made number one, highlighted by a tribute of sorts to the long-departed Barrett, "Shine On You Crazy Diamond." Dark Side of the Moon had been dominated by lyrical themes of insecurity, fear, and the cold sterility of modern life; Wish You Were Here and Animals (1977) developed these morose themes even more explicitly. By this time Waters was taking a firm hand over Pink Floyd's lyrical and musical vision, which was consolidated by The Wall (1979).

The bleak, overambitious double concept album concerned itself with the material and emotional walls modern humans build around themselves for survival. The Wall was a huge success (even by Pink Floyd's standards), in part because the music was losing some of its heavy-duty electronic textures in favor of more approachable pop elements. Although Pink Floyd had rarely even released singles since the late '60s, one of the tracks, "Another Brick in the Wall," became a transatlantic number one. The band had been launching increasingly elaborate stage shows throughout the '70s, but the touring production of The Wall, featuring a construction of an actual wall during the band's performance, was the most excessive yet.
In the 1980s, the group began to unravel. Each of the four had done some side and solo projects in the past; more troublingly, Waters was asserting control of the band's musical and lyrical identity. That wouldn't have been such a problem had The Final Cut (1983) been such an unimpressive effort, with little of the electronic innovation so typical of their previous work. Shortly afterward, the band split up -- for a while. In 1986, Waters was suing Gilmour and Mason to dissolve the group's partnership (Wright had lost full membership status entirely); Waters lost, leaving a Roger-less Pink Floyd to get a Top Five album with Momentary Lapse of Reason in 1987. In an irony that was nothing less than cosmic, about 20 years after Pink Floyd shed their original leader to resume their career with great commercial success, they would do the same again to his successor. Waters released ambitious solo albums to nothing more than moderate sales and attention, while he watched his former colleagues (with Wright back in tow) rescale the charts.

Pink Floyd still had a huge fan base, but there's little that's noteworthy about their post-Waters output. They knew their formula, could execute it on a grand scale, and could count on millions of customers -- many of them unborn when Dark Side of the Moon came out, and unaware that Syd Barrett was ever a member -- to buy their records and see their sporadic tours. The Division Bell, their first studio album in seven years, topped the charts in 1994 without making any impact on the current rock scene, except in a marketing sense. Ditto for the live Pulse album, recorded during a typically elaborately staged 1994 tour, which included a concert version of The Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety. Waters' solo career sputtered along, highlighted by a solo recreation of The Wall, performed at the site of the former Berlin Wall in 1990, and released as an album. Syd Barrett continued to be completely removed from the public eye except as a sort of archetype for the fallen genius.

by Richie Unterberger

Discussion Forum

Pink Floyd / The Early Years 1965-1972: dream 27-disc box set coming in Nov 1 Reply


Tags: rock, bottom, classic, rjhog, box set

Started by RJhog (Admin). Last reply by Scott Jul 30, 2016.

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Comment by Scott on March 5, 2015 at 7:10am

Not sure this excites me much...  Love his first two solos albums and then he went into extreme mellow mode...  His last one was hard to get all the way through it was so mellow and calming

Comment by Jon on March 4, 2015 at 5:45pm

from Rolling Stone

David Gilmour Plans New Solo Album for Fall

Pink Floyd frontman David Gilmour will put out his first solo album in nine years later this year. Although he revealed no other details about the as-yet-untitled LP on his website, he has scheduled a number of tour dates in the U.K. and Europe for this September that will coincide with the LP, suggesting a fall release. Gilmour will kick things off with a three-night engagement at London's Royal Albert Hall, beginning September 23rd.

Last October, Gilmour told Rolling Stone the record was, at that point, still coming together. "It's coming along very well," he said. "There are some sketches that aren't finished, and some of them will be started again. There's a few months' work in it yet. I'm hoping to get it out this following year. Then I'm hoping to do an old man's tour, not a 200-date sort of thing."

The new record follows up Gilmour's 2006 solo outing, On an Island, as well as Pink Floyd's farewell album, The Endless River, which came out last year. That record was mostly instrumental and contained songs that he and drummer Nick Mason had worked on from their Division Bell sessions so as to include the contributions of late keyboardist Rick Wright. "I think we have successfully commandeered the best of what there is [and] I suspect that it is," Gilmour said of that release in a BBC 6 interview at the time. "It's a shame, but this is the end."

Gilmour's most recent live appearance was at a Bombay Bicycle Club gig at Earls Court last December, where he played Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" with the group. He also played that band's "Rinse Me Down" with them.


Comment by Jon on July 8, 2014 at 7:46am

Oh, Mike. Join another band.

Comment by RJhog (Admin) on July 8, 2014 at 7:32am


In a post on his Facebook page, veteran drummer, and self-proclaimed huge PINK FLOYD fan, Mike Portnoy (THE WINERY DOGSTRANSATLANTICDREAM THEATER) weighed in on the idea of a new PINK FLOYD record, writing: "What's this about a new PINK FLOYD album? Last I checked, Waters is no longer in the band and Wright and [SydBarrett are dead. If these are leftovers from 'The Division Bell' sessions, then just put 'em on a 'The Division Bell' special-edition release! It's disrespectful to Roger and everything he built for all those years! Just do a solo album, Dave."

He added: "In my opinion, the PINK FLOYD heyday was 'Atom Heart Mother' through 'The Wall', and those were mainly driven by Roger (conceptually, musically, everything). 'A Momentary Lapse Of Reason' and 'The Division Bell' are essentially David Gilmour solo albums 'as' PINK FLOYD (granted, just as 'The Final Cut' was a Roger Waters solo album 'as' PINK FLOYD).

"If you really want, I'll meet you, Gilmour fans, halfway and at least concede with saying, okay, 'real' PINK FLOYD is really only when Waters and Gilmour work together."

Comment by RJhog (Admin) on July 8, 2014 at 7:14am

I'm not the biggest Pink Floyd fan.  I'm sure this is great for the die hard fans.  It's something that I'll definitely check out, hopefully through NMC.

Comment by Jon on July 7, 2014 at 6:35pm

from the Washington Post:

Well, so much for a press release. It appears your favorite Pink Floyd cover band is going to have some new music to learn soon.

The legendary British rock band is releasing a new album in October called “The Endless River.” The news first trickled out via Twitter from Polly Samson, the novelist and “Division Bell” lyricist who is married to guitarist and vocalist David Gilmour. Samson tweeted Saturday, seemingly appropos of nothing: “Btw Pink Floyd album out in October is called ‘The Endless River’. Based on 1994 sessions is Rick Wright’s swansong and very beautiful.”

This sent rabid Pink Floyd fans into a frenzy, as user Mike Cecchini characterized with this response to Samson:

“The Endless River” will be the first new Pink Floyd studio album since “The Division Bell” was released in 1994 and will feature music from keyboardist and co-founder Rick Wright, who died of cancer in 2008 at age 65. Samson is a lyricist on “Endless River” as well as Gilmour’s solo album, “On An Island.” One of Pink Floyd’s backup singers, Durga McBroom-Hudson, confirmed the news in a Facebook post as well. Of course, that meant she was quickly deluged with posts asking about/requesting a reconciliation between Gilmour and band co-founder Roger Waters. The Independent once called theirs the “Greatest Feud in Rock.”

It’s not clear whether Waters will be on the new album — but it seems unlikely, as “Endless River” is a continuation of sessions started during the recording of “Division Bell,” though the music is all unreleased, McBroom-Hudson said. Waters didn’t appear on “Division Bell,” either.

Initially, Mason called the project “The Big Spliff” — which seems prescient, given that listening to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” became something of a rite of passage for many a college freshman. Just like you figured out your peak blood alcohol threshold, how to ace a midterm while hungover and how to ditch your bad writing habits so you could actually do well in freshman English comp, you got stoned and watched “The Dark Side of Oz” — “The Wizard of Oz,” muted, while listening to “Dark Side of the Moon” and contemplating why the two sync up so well and what that has to do with the meaning of life. Years later you realize, yes, Pink Floyd is a great band, but mostly it was the weed talking.

The new music also doesn’t seem to signal any new developments in the feud between Waters and Gilmour, which McBroom-Hudson addressed in a Facebook post Sunday:

Hey folks – Please stop asking me to tell David to tour here or there, or to reconcile with Roger, or to perform your son’s bris, etc. I do not tell David what to do, or make suggestions, or anything. I am damned lucky to be working with him, and I do what HE says. Understand? Over and out. Thanks!!

Waters left the band in 1985; since then, fans have been treated to a smattering of surprise reunions, including a 2005 Live 8 concert, but nothing consistent. Recently, Waters and Mason stepped into a heated controversy when they asked the Rolling Stones to cancel a tour date in Tel Aviv in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) protest against Israel.

Pink Floyd has inspired a range of artists, but one of the most interesting takes on its music might be the Scissor Sisters’ uptempo re-imagining of “Comfortably Numb,” which you can check out below. It’s fitting the Scissor Sisters were able to take one of Pink Floyd’s marquee tracks and make it their own; they’re an American band so British in their sensibilities that they’re more popular in the United Kingdom than in the States.

Comment by RJhog (Admin) on March 13, 2013 at 9:24pm


Roger WatersJason Kempin, Getty Images

Former Pink Floyd maestro Roger Waters may be riding high with a hugely successful touring version of ‘The Wall,’ but that doesn’t mean he would ever consider touring with his former band again. In a recent interview, the singer-songwriter and bass player spoke succinctly about the matter, saying, “It was over in 1985, and it’s still over.”

Waters spoke to Britain’s Sun newspaper about his preparations for staging his touring spectacular at Wembley Stadium in September, and when asked if he could ever see performing again with Floyd’s surviving members, David Gilmour and Nick Mason, he didn’t hesitate. “I can’t,” he replied. “I left Pink Floyd for very good reasons, and it was the right and proper thing to do.”

After Waters left, Floyd went on to record and tour without him, which exacerbated their already deep-seated differences. But against all odds, the band re-formed in 2005 for a one-off gig at Live 8. Keyboardist Richard Wright passed away in 2008, and though Waters says Mason would “jump back in a heartbeat,” he just doesn’t see it happening.

In fact, he was initially reluctant to even undertake ‘The Wall’ again. When his wife suggested the idea, Waters dismissed her outright. “I said, ‘Be quiet, you don’t understand,’” he laughingly admits. “Then I started  figuring out whether it was possible. Eventually I told her, ‘You know what? You were right.’”


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