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The Division Bell 20th Anniversary

The artwork for Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell was executed in two versions: two heads, two covers. Two pairs of statues were therefore constructed, one in metal and one in stone. These stone heads are more elegant, less brutal than their metal counterparts. The line and curve were graceful, suited to carving rather than riveting, comprised of a single entity rather than several elements bolted together.This print, a silkscreen in 21 colours on Somerset UK white textured paper printed by Gresham Studios in Cambridge, is a beautiful record of the event and of the album itself. It makes a perfect companion, of course, for the Metal Heads print. The stone heads were the size of a two storey house and weighed half a ton. They were transported to a location in a ploughed field in front of a village church near Ely, not far from Cambridge. Photographs were taken for a few days but the location didn’t work. The heads were therefore had to be moved, and were carried by hand across the earth sodden field to a flatbed truck, and relocated to the same site as their metal sisters. They were erected 50 meters away, but angled slightly, so that the cathedral was visible in the gap between the statues as it was between the metal heads. They were then photographed over several days in freezing January weather in order to capture strong lighting and a dramatic skyscape. This design was used on the UK vinyl, on the cassette, for street posters and in the concert programmes. The album was released in 1994, reached no. 1 in the UK and the US, and has sold over 12 million copies. The Division Bell Stone Heads limited edition print was one of the very first selection of Pink Floyd album cover designs to be revisited and re-envisaged as an art print by Storm Thorgerson at the very beginning of this century.

Despite this, many fans have only just scraped the surface of Pink Floyd’s back catalogue, largely because it is very easy to get lost in the prog-rock noodling or conceptual construction of their work. So, to make things a little easier, we’ve ranked all of their albums in order of greatness so that you know where to begin and what the essence of the Floyd truly was.
Though Wish You Were Here is often thought of as the signal of Pink Floyd’s eventual demise, the album is also one of their finest creations. It’s a record that saw Gilmour and Waters at loggerheads but somehow the music didn’t suffer one single bit.The album sees a significant moment for the group. As the band began to experience life without their frontman Syd Barrett and their trusted producer Norman Smith, More was the album that showed there was light at the end of the tunnel.As well as it being Gilmour’s first album with the band it would also be Syd Barrett’s last LP with the group. As well as the strange and yet entirely masterful Barrett composition ‘Jugband Blues’, the album’s best moment was Waters’. The track ‘Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun’, is easily the greatest moment on the album and was a signal to their upcoming domination.

Instead, written for the Pink Floyd fans, the album is a deep dive into the creative interplay that made the band such a success. A landscape filled with the sonic strums of Gilmour, The Endless River is another largely instrumental record worth revisiting.
In 1967, as acid-rock began to hit the streets of London, there was one band who were seemingly soundtracking the new revolution. The band quickly became the sound of a new movement and started to construct the foundations of psychedelic prog-rock almost immediately.Of course, we couldn’t even begin to argue that The Dark Side of the Moon doesn’t deserve the top spot. While Pink Floyd fans have a propensity to indulge in the rarer moments of the band’s career, this album is undoubtedly the group’s greatest.

What happened to The Division Bell heads?
The artwork for Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell was executed in two versions: two heads, two covers. As tall as a double decker bus and weighing a ton, the metal heads were taken by flat-bed truck to a field near Cambridge, Pink Floyd’s home town, close to Ely Cathedral, on the edge of the Fens.
The record saw Waters and Gilmour move towards a more personal style of songwriting. Roger Waters explored the death of his father in ‘Free Four’ while Gilmour placed himself in the lyric hot seat for the first time on ‘Childhood’s End’. The record struggles against the rest of the catalogue but is a worthy album nonetheless.

The record is by no means a vintage piece of their back catalogue, but More is a reminder of the difficulties the band both faced and overcame to produce some of the finest albums of all time.
The group were at the top of their game when they released Animals in 1977. Using the concept of George Orwell’s Animal Farm as the base inspiration for the songs on the album was a piece of genius in itself, but the delivery of the songs is what makes it a classic album.

The band’s second record would see them once again assert themselves as the new kids on the block. While Britain had been positively swelling with the R&B bands desperate to capture the essence of the Delta blues, Pink Floyd’s sound was brilliantly weird and wonderful.
The record was originally written to be the soundtrack to The Wall film but was given its own release after Waters realised the album’s potential. A lot fo that spark came from Britain’s involvement in the Falklands War and therefore acted as a moment of global protest—something Waters would become very astute at.

A lot of fans have pointed to the record as being one of the more commercially driven albums of their career. After being called a “spent force creatively” by the departing Waters, the band went a long way to prove it with songs like ‘Dogs of War’, ‘Learning to Fly’ and ‘Sorrow’ not offering their usual spark of creativity.
It isn’t easy to imagine a world without the legendary outfit Pink Floyd. The band have been such an integral part of what made the sixties and beyond so powerfully creative, champions they were of the pursuit of artistic purity, that it feels as though they are an ever-present in our musical worlds.With the help of Waters’ lyrical narration, the story of Pink has become one of the most widely loved rock stories of all time and rightly deserves its kudos.

Is The Division Bell the best Pink Floyd album?
The Division Bell is ranked 7th best out of 37 albums by Pink Floyd on The best album by Pink Floyd is The Dark Side Of The Moon which is ranked number 2 in the list of all-time albums with a total rank score of 78,179.
Wright said of the album, “It felt like the whole band were working together. It was a creative time. We were all very open.” It is this openness and reflective sound that turned Pink Floyd from prog-rock pioneers into bonafide rock icons—untouchable.On Atom Heart Mother, the path of Pink Floyd was beginning to be laid out in front of them. They had moved away from the band’s incendiary moments and were now beginning to construct songs to deliberately engage with the intellect of rock. As well as the title track the record also features two classic songs in ‘If’ and ‘Fat Old Sun’.There’s a lot of iconography attached to The Dark Side of the Moon and it would seem all of the band members also agree on its validity as their greatest album. “I think that when it was finished, everyone thought it was the best thing we’d ever done to date, and everyone was very pleased with it,” remembered Nick Mason.

Is the Division 2 alive?
The Division 2 Isn’t Dead, But It Did Just Break In A Big Way.
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As the flipside to A Momentary Lapse of Reason, this album, comprised of the final recordings keyboardist and jazz enthusiast Rick Wright ever completed with the band, was intently anti-commercial.
This record was originally written for the soundtrack to the French feature film La Vallée and offers up a welcoming series of vignettes and stunning imagery as a series of short and sharp tracks.As punk was swelling around London, the idea that Pink Floyd had become flabby pensioners overnight was soon put to bed when this progressive album was released. The album’s cover may have a ludicrous story behind it but the rest of the album was dead serious. Many people would suggest that the loss of Waters make this album a lowly contender for a spot near the top of this list and while that is certainly a valid argument, we think the music made on this record outweighs the loss of lyrical storylines. In fact, it was the first steps towards their most beautiful records and without Meddle many of them would not have been made at all. This album is the foundation stone for all of that work and everybody else’s within the prog-rock arena.The band changed names several times before settling on Pink Floyd, and it was a propensity for evolution that permeated their music. Arriving on the psyche-rock scene in the mid-sixties as young upstarts, Pink Floyd, at the time, comprised of Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Richard Wright, quickly became the talk of the town as their wholly encompassing sound provided a fresh new take on rock ‘n’ roll.

Another record which saw the band deal with the loss of a member was 1987 effort A Momentary Lapse of Reason, which was the first post-Roger Waters album the group had produced.This was when Pink Floyd moved out of the traditional rock sphere and towards forging a new genre in prog-rock. Originally the group had been expanding the psyche-rock sound but now jumped out of the realm of rock and towards a new and progressive musical style.

Pink Floyd as a trio was never really likely to succeed, but on The Division Bell David Gilmour, Rick Wright and Nick Mason rallied together to create one of the band’s finest records. Lacking Roger Water’s narrative lyrics meant the LP felt dramatically different to the previous two albums.One caveat we must add is that thanks to the unique way Pink Floyd constructed and texturised their songs, there is almost certainly always somebody who has found happiness in their more obscure songs. The band prided themselves on being mercurial, and they certainly lived up to that ethos, even from the very beginning.

This record may well be one of the most overlooked albums on the list. As well as the transportation title track, a song that takes over the entire side one of the album is enough to assert its place in the top ten but the rest of the album is brightly polished too.
One album which showed off Roger Waters as a musical powerhouse in his own right was The Wall. Not only did it show off Waters’ musicianship, but the record was also his most personal album ever. It saw Waters open himself up to his audience and reflect on the pursuit and final loneliness of fame and fortune.

The album isn’t only a conceptual masterpiece but also sees the band provide some of their best singular songs too. As well as ‘Money’, ‘Time’ and ‘Breathe’, the album holds perhaps one of their most beloved tracks of all time in ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’. They are individually brilliant, but when the songs are sewn together, the tapestry created is that of legend.Rightly described as a ‘rock opera’, Waters and the rest of the band were once again carving out their own path as they moved away from the psychedelia which had set them up as a huge act and were now more pointed toward success on a commercial level.

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It’s something that can be easily heard in the album which sees the now-four members of the group allowing their own experimentation to supersede the pursuit of the band’s success.While it is wholly impossible to nail down everybody’s definitive ranking of their albums, below, we’ve got our ranking of all of Pink Floyd’s albums in order of greatness.

Will there be a new Division 3?
What To Do Instead In The Division. With no plans for The Division 3 on the horizon, players will have to continue to patrol Washington D.C., and New York City. For those who can’t wait for more content in the series overall, the spinoff The Division Heartland remains in development by Red Storm Entertainment.
Of course, Barrett’s time with the band would come to an abrupt end as he struggled with mental health and, after being supported by David Gilmour’s inclusion, was eventually replaced by him. That line-up would oversee some of the group’s best work in the studio and on the stage, much of which resides near the top of this list.After Syd Barrett was forced out of the group following his battles with substance abuse and growing mental health issues, Pink Floyd struggled to harmonise with one another in their new structure.

Why is it called The Division Bell?
The album was named after the division bell found in British parliament meetings, which is rung to announce a vote.
The Final Cut may well be one fo the band’s better efforts but it does hold a certain resignation which will not please avid Pink Floyd fans. The album represents a moment where David Gilmour gives up the ghost and lets Roger Waters run wild.

Noted by both Waters and Gilmour as their favourite Floyd album, the record is the distillation of what made Pink Floyd so brilliant. Wright and Gilmour are engines behind the music’s expansive sounds but the album will be remembered as the final moments of Roger Waters playing nicely with his bandmates.
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What is the most critically acclaimed Pink Floyd album?
The Dark Side of the Moon The Dark Side of the Moon (1973) While Pink Floyd fans have a propensity to indulge in the rarer moments of the band’s career, this album is undoubtedly the group’s greatest. The album isn’t only a conceptual masterpiece but also sees the band provide some of their best singular songs too.
Now an emergency fix has solved that issue, but Season 11 is still nowhere in sight. We have successfully created and deployed a server-side update,” the team tweeted on Friday. “This is now live and extends Season 10 content. We deeply appreciate your support and patience! More news about Season 11 and in-game compensation will be shared at a later date.”A great live-service culling at the start of 2023 killed a bunch of online games, but The Division 2 wasn’t one of them. Despite a period of malaise two years into its post-launch life, Ubisoft announced a series of modest updates coming to the game in a new content roadmap published last year. With some players still roaming the streets of a post-apocalyptic Washington D.C., Ubisoft has kept the lights on as it waits for a free-to-play spin-off, The Division Heartland, to finally ship. Whether we’ll ever get The Division 3 remains to be seen.“In preparing for Season 11, we began experiencing a series of delays in our localization process, consequently impacting the experience for many players around the world,” The Division 2 development team announced on February 3. “Therefore, after much discussion, we have made the difficult decision to move the release of Season 11 and the livestream to a later date.”

The Division 2 was recently due to get its season 11 update. Instead, the entire game ground to a halt after the tool the development team relies on to issue updates went completely offline. The damage is now being repaired, with “compensation” planned as players wait for the promised update. How did it happen? Ubisoft’s explanation is a fascinating window into the challenges and pitfalls of live-service game maintenance.
Normally, when a new Division 2 season is delayed, Ubisoft simply extends the existing one, looping the weekly mission and loot changes until the new content is ready to go live. “Unfortunately, this is not possible in the current situation,” the team explained, “as we are unable to make server- or client-side updates until the build generation system is restored.”

It seemed like a momentary hiccup and a temporary delay, but on Thursday the developers behind the Tom Clancy loot shooter revealed the damage went beyond just a single update. “This past Saturday, in the process of creating the update which would resolve the issue, we encountered an error that brought down the build generation system for The Division 2,” the team tweeted early yesterday. “As a result, we cannot update the game until this system has been rebuilt.”The leadoff to The Division Bell, the second post-Waters album, begins with almost a minute of rustling and other sounds, in order to show that this really was a Pink Floyd album. There’s then another minute of guitar noodling from David Gilmour, in order to ditto. Wright and Gilmour really get into it — so much so that they forget to include an actual song. Nothing ever happens. And the noodling isn’t that good.Big explosion to start things out, then some delicate strings as Waters rattles off some geopolitical ironies, very pleased with the ironic musical setting. Length: 1:17.Let’s note to begin than this song goes on too long; during an extremely enjoyable recent full listen to TDSOTM in the confines of a long car ride, that was a big takeaway. That said, it’s a very pretty song that does its job well on this terrific record. The song has its origins in some meditative music Wright contributed to Floyd’s work on the soundtrack to Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point, though it wasn’t used. (You can find it on Spotify on an album called The Early Years, if you’re interested.) Waters found a melody for it and a set of lyrics that is a standout on the record, a closely controlled series of ironies, travesties, and dichotomies marking the dead-end days of the early ’70s, as the memories of Kent State, the Weathermen, Cambodia, Altamont, and the psychedelic dreams of the ‘60s all sat soaking in the not-yet-discarded metaphorical bong-water resting on a generation’s crummy coffee table. Or something. Sung passionately by Gilmour and Wright on the chorus, it’s an authentic protest song that raises questions for those on both sides, marking a place and a time like few other songs. Pink Floyd always prided itself on its group vocal stylings; the choruses here are the apogee of all that, and funny how most of it (leaving aside the higher volume on the chorus) could be used as elevator music; it’s a quirky triumph. Richard Wright released a couple of uninteresting solo albums, but stayed with Mason and Gilmour through the two post-Waters albums (and the lucrative accompanying tours) and supported Gilmour live on his tours as well. He died in ’06 of lung cancer. The song “A Boat Lies Waiting,” off the Gilmour album Rattle That Lock, is a touching tribute to him — one of Gilmour’s best later solo songs.

Is Pink Floyd more popular than the Beatles?
The upshot: Pink Floyd has sold more albums worldwide than the Beatles. Floyd recorded over a longer period, of course, but both groups have released about the same number of albums, and had about the same span of decades to sell their work to new generations — and in new configurations.
Talk about musique concrète — the slabs of sound here are massive; this is one of the greatest sci-fi rock songs of all time. The words track the childhood of what seems to be a rock star in the making — “You bought a guitar / To punish your ma” — with ominous results. The mix of the high electronics and prominent acoustic guitar sets up a tension; you wait for the vocals to come and buttress the acoustic instrument. Instead, they are a mechanical scream. (It’s another one of Gilmour’s most amazing vocal performances.) One of the great parts of the Pink Floyd story is how Waters became everything he’d written about. He acted out his bildungsroman even as he wrote it. He fired Wright, whom he’d known since he was a teen. He fell out with Hipgnosis, the design firm that had done the album covers since Saucerful of Secrets. Finally, he divorced himself from the people who’d made everything he’d wanted to do possible, often despite his, Waters’s, best efforts to sabotage it all. Why, it’s almost as if he were building a wall around himself, becoming the machine he once railed against. That, Ms. Morissette, is what you call ironic.

This is somewhat sunk due to the clotted lyrics, but other than that it’s a functional bit of The Wall, underscoring the damage, physical and emotional, of World War II.
(It’s one of those “creeping” subways, I guess, and what exactly was the tightrope supposed to be doing?) But it’s a focused and memorable chorus, and sung powerfully. Ends with two minutes of noodling.

Some actual energy evinced on this standout track from The Final Cut. It’s not really a Pink Floyd song — this was, after all, really a Roger Waters solo album, with all of the pinched sarcasm you’d expect, not to mention the overdone backing vocals — but it’s decent even for a Waters solo track, and having Gilmour finally singing (his only vocal on the entire album) improves the listening experience immensely. The song itself is a coherent blast at what Waters saw in British society at the time, among other things the crushing of workers’ rights using dubious rationales. (“Fuck all that / We’ve got to get on with these / Gotta compete with the wily Japanese.”) In the end, I really don’t get what The Final Cut is about, though I am given to understand that the cut in question was an unkind one indeed, though not as unkind as the one Waters was about to get from his longtime bandmates. Gilmour said good-bye to Waters but kept the name and successfully beat back Waters’s legal challenges. The fired Wright was brought back as a for-hire member, and two very bad Waters-free albums resulted, as we have seen. But they each sold more than 10 million units! (And that’s not to mention 12 million in live album sales, and those cost basically nothing to record.) To top it all off, Gilmour led the band into the era of the modern high-end rock tour — and grossed about $400 million in the decade after Waters left, enough money to make even Waters’s songwriting royalties look small.
It’s an actual blues, a first for the band. You can tell their heart isn’t in it though; it feels like they forget what they’re doing now and again. It lasts for barely more than two minutes. This is a downright comical example of how bad Pink Floyd was immediately post-Barrett. Waters’s junk heap of dumb musical ideas marries wan Beatle-isms to wacky rhythms, a circusy break, and sideways lurches into psychedelia, all recorded poorly and overlaid with a dreadful set of lyrics. These might have been meant as a jaunty McCartney-esque picaresque, but they come off as cruel; Waters’s own experience with the war (which took his father when he was a tot) surely argues against reading this as a mocking take on a war amputee, but it’s not entirely clear why or how. This is a funereal, slow march, a forceful tribute to how Waters’s father lost his life in the war. Not a subtle endeavor, but I’m not going to criticize it. Originally done for The Wall; while it did not make the album, it was used as the opening scene in the film, and was even reprised. Probably for space reasons it wasn’t on The Final Cut either, but was included on a 20th-anniversary CD rerelease of it.

Sung by Wright, who wrote it; a pretty scene-setting thing. Again, it’s hard to square this exceedingly simple love plaint with the band’s harder-edged and sonically meaningful stuff that would give it its reputation. Could almost be a Neil Young composition, or even Carole King, though it would have a stronger melody. And better production.Like The Wall, The Final Cut tells a story. It is about the effects of the Falklands War, seen through the prism of the Second World War, which of course hurt the country deeply, and included the tragic death of Waters’s father. Here, we have a man returned from the previous war, becoming a schoolteacher, and watching the war cries begin for the Falklands. That conflict, forgotten now, started when the dictator running Argentina occupied some British-held islands in the South Atlantic, mostly to ramp up patriotic fervor on the home front. Margaret Thatcher dispatched some warships and the world watched for a week or so as they chugged their way down the globe. The absurd conflict that resulted included the senseless sinking of an Argentine ship, which cost more than 300 lives. To Waters, this represented an enormous betrayal on the part of the British government, whose rabble-rousing for the war overlooked the terrible cost of the last one. Anyway, that’s all fine. But this song is a puzzlement. It’s another hugely bombastic number, the album’s penultimate track. At this point in The Final Cut, you deeply, deeply never want to hear Roger Waters’s voice again. His big, climactic line, “Or is it just a crazy dream,” delivered in a porcine squeal, is just this side of painful. But that’s not what makes this song inexcusable. For some reason I can’t comprehend, Waters inserts himself into the story; that’s the only way one can interpret this song’s key line, which, having no relevance to the rest of whatever story Waters was trying to tell, has the distinction of being the worst single lyric in the Pink Floyd oeuvre, and that includes the one about the albatross hanging motionless upon the air: “If I open my heart to you / And show you my weak side / What would you do? / Would you sell your story to Rolling Stone?” This from the guy who might never have even been quoted in the magazine over the real Pink Floyd’s existence. Hey, Rog: It’s a small sacrifice. Lie back and think of England. The argument against Syd Barrett is that, to use a turn of phrase he might have heard in his Cambridge days, even his best songs are curate’s eggs — parts, that is to say, are excellent. But that’s as far as it goes with all but a few of the songs he’s left behind. I respect the Barrett amen corner; but the plain truth is that it’s hard to come up with one Barrett song that’s as good as, say, “Waterloo Sunset” or even “Pictures of Matchstick Men.” This song is the flip side — a track where his charms don’t manage to manifest in any way, and you realize you’re listening to a rock song about a gnome named Grimble Crumble. This, the first track of The Wall, isn’t exactly an overture — it doesn’t reference any of the pop potpourri Waters had in store for us. It is an honest intro, however: It’s bombastic, screechily voiced, filled with a leaden humor, and ridden with angular and overwhelming theatrical dynamics — just like the work it’s the intro to. Reprised, without the question mark, on the fourth side. Listen close to the beginning, and you can hear the mournful accordion from the work’s last track, “Outside the Wall,” and the words “… we came in?”, which complete the last words you hear on the album, “Isn’t this where…”

After some scratchy radio-dial turning, à la “Wish You Were Here,” we get the intro to Waters’s dreary post-Wall indulgence. Way too much echo on his voice. We can see from the start this will be a much less subtle (!) operation than The Wall. I don’t have the time or the mental energy to chart the disparate tonal and geopolitical shifts in this short, 16-line intro. And that’s before we get Waters, full-volume, shrieking, “Whatever happened to the postwar dream?”
Here the hero-teacher of The Final Cut, back from the war, ruminates on his new charges, how he can’t talk to his wife, and how the memories of the war won’t leave him. Aside from some U2-like delay on the guitar, it’s pretty unmemorable, though it works all right as a bit of plot.

A standout from the More soundtrack, which works well in the party scene. Great melody! Nothing Shakespearian here, though; in fact, the lyrics could have been written by Christopher Guest, not Marlowe:Pink Floyd rocks out! How this track fits in with anything else the band was doing or ever would do isn’t clear, but let’s thank heaven for small favors. This is a genuinely bashy triumph in a compact three-and-a-half-minute package; if you’re not paying attention, you could mistake it for the New York Dolls, though not as focused or tight. (Pink Floyd didn’t do tight. Or focus.) Gilmour kicks ass in the last minute or so. What Waters is talking about I have no idea.This really isn’t terrible, and it could be. There’s almost something reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann’s Taxi Driver opening. Things get a little aimless and some of the riff seems to have been lifted from “Set Your Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” but it’s a credible piece of music and works terrifically in the film itself.This was the lead-off track to Piper — more evidence that Barrett also had something to say on guitar. The beginning here is as dramatic as anything Pete Townshend was coming up with at the time. The vocal track is much less interesting, but there’s something big and powerful coming out of Barrett’s crazed brain. It’s unquestionably a major song, its hints of chaos and even danger a landmark in the development of psychedelic rock. The descending guitar line is a little trite — compare it to the thunder of “Sunshine of Your Love,” for example — but its low-fi nature has its own charms, and almost a punk feel. And it really worked live. (Not sure who told Syd “domine” needed an accent, though.) Unfortunately, Barrett’s beginning was his end. By the time the band had finished its first album, it was obvious Barrett was damaged. There’s no official diagnosis of his condition, but based on the surviving record it seems safe to say that Barrett was an early acid casualty. “He completely disappeared into himself,” a friend said. And when, temporarily, he came out, he did things like trade away his car to a passerby for a pack of cigarettes. His ability to contribute deteriorated to the point where the band brought on Gilmour to play guitar for him; they even thought they might pull off a Brian Wilson arrangement, where Barrett could stay offstage and write the songs. But that couldn’t happen. Eventually the band stopped picking him up for performances, and Gilmour stepped up to become the group’s main vocalist.Tucked in between the two (unnecessary) “parts” of “A New Machine,” this tepid instrumental could almost be on a Kenny G album, what with the dulcet dual saxophonal stylings of Tom Scott and John Helliwell. At this point, the second side of Momentary Lapse was shaping up to be by far the least interesting side of music the band had offered up since the dreadful days of Ummagumma.

An absolutely awesome intro to part two of “Another Brick in the Wall” and by far Waters’s greatest fragment. This is also the point at which Waters gave up and took ownership of his throttled squeak of a cartoony voice. Life isn’t fair; Waters probably deserved a voice to put across his best songs; instead he had this narrow, theatrical thing, which could at least find a place articulating the thoughts of some of the morally throttled characters in The Wall. The ending Sweeney Todd–like whistle works fabulously. “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2),” incidentally, is one of the most-played rock songs on American radio over the past nearly 40 years; this intro is played with it about half the time, making it played on the radio more than all but a few classics from bands like the Beatles and Led Zeppelin.
This is a song about being “poles apart”! Well-produced track, but its lackluster (and sometimes overly literal) melody and dopey (and sometimes overly literal) lyrics sink it. The song is credited to Gilmour, a guy from Dream Academy (which had the hit “Life in a Northern Town”), and one Polly Samson, Gilmour’s then-fiancée, playing the part of Jeanine Pettibone.A nicely de-romanticized love plaint from Pink. (“I need you, babe / To put through the shredder / In front of my friends.”) Roger Waters is a talented guy, but he has an awful voice. He did what he could with it for a long time, but at a certain point he just decided to go with its screechy essential nature. Around this point in The Wall, listeners could be forgiven for finding it trying. You can make the case for it — the singer’s psyche cracking up as we listen, the warped interior of the English mind, I get it, I get it — but it doesn’t make any of these tracks an easy listen.

The first sung words of this iconic album are bracing — “Breathe / Breathe in the air.” Gilmour is strumming his guitar almost carelessly; Waters’s bass is mixed high up serving as a contrapuntal melody line; but the MVP here might be Wright, driving his organ and pulsing other keyboard sounds into the mix. This is a plainly electronic album, but much of what we hear sounds human, organic. Waters seems to have read — or at least intuited — some philosophy, and makes clear his sympathies with positivism, among other things. While TDSOTM is often called a song cycle, in my mind it’s the first side where that is unquestionably the case. On the label of the original release, “Speak to Me” (the fragment that begins the album) and “Breathe in the Air” were designated parts one and two of the first song, indicating a clear narrative of the chaos of a birth and then this exultant order to breathe — and by extension live. And the side ends with an orgasmic rise to heaven (or maybe just to orgasm) with “The Great Gig in the Sky.” Speaking of label arcana, the original title of The Dark Side of the Moon included the initial “The,” but it has sometimes disappeared in later releases. Similarly, the song was titled “Breathe in the Air” on the original label, but was called “Breathe” on the lyric sheet inside the original album’s gatefold. On later releases it was formally detached from “Speak to Me” and generally shortened to just “Breathe” but now and again styled “Breathe (in the Air).”
Another minute or so of guitar noodling — reminiscent of, but much less dramatic than, the stuff on “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” — begins this tepid construction. It gets really irritating when the song takes on a sort of prancing rhythm. I hate that. Meddle is a poorly produced record, but this — credited to all four members of the band — is another signature Pink Floyd song, one that boasts sounds that no other band was producing. The band finally revisits the elemental force Barrett found on “Interstellar Overdrive” and “Astronomy Dominé”; harnessing that to an electronically altered piano noise makes this a high point of ’70s progressive rock. Gilmour steps up, too. It’s big and focused, grand and rocking. An early Waters track from the second album. He was still searching for a songwriting voice — which lord knows he eventually found. But there’s a rockin’ groove here at the beginning, and then things go south quickly. There’s a little homage to “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” but a lot of bullshit about “flowing robes” and “mighty ships.” Still, for Floyd at the time, really not a bad song. Has drama and force and isn’t terribly produced.

Fairly rocking — a little Kinks-y, and little Who-y, and even some early space-rock-y sounds from Barrett, highly derivative of “Eight Miles High” but fine even so. This is a Waters composition, but it’s another one of those early Pink Floyd tracks that makes you wish you could have seen how Barrett would have kept the band
in line had he stayed with them. One more thing. I know I sound a little puckish when it comes to Pink Floyd’s pre-TDSOTM work. But compare this to, say, “I’ve Seen All Good People,” by Yes. Yeah, it’s a suite; yeah, it’s whimsical; and yeah, you want to slap Jon Anderson. But it’s highly musical, undeniably catchy, everyone in the band is operating at full gear … and it sounds great on the radio to this day. Leaving aside a rare spin of “See Emily Play” on an oldies station, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a pre–Dark Side Pink Floyd song played on commercial radio.
After “Breathe in the Air” came this delectable sound collage. Note the sequencer programming; a simple melody is programmed in and then distorted and manipulated (here, obviously, sped up, among other things). It’s one of the earliest examples of the uses of this eerie and powerful new tool, which various companies were making and with which Pete Townshend and Brian Eno, among others, had been experimenting. The brilliant synth wizard Richard Wright programmed the notes and transformed them into this spectacular — just joking. It was actually Waters and Gilmour. The pair does a great job of not just using the effects to wow listeners, though they do that, but also subordinating them into the meaning needed by the song, presumably the demands and vicissitudes of modern life, right down to being chased by helicopters. Among other things, you could make the argument it’s an important step on the way to ambient, and Dark Side would not be the album it is if this track were absent.

What did Roger Waters say about division bell?
Roger Waters, who left Pink Floyd in 1985, dismissed The Division Bell as ”just rubbish … nonsense from beginning to end.”
Heavens! An actual guitar riff. This could be a (second- or third-tier) Kinks song. Am I the only person who thinks Mason is a weak drummer? Film exists of him actually playing actual rock ‘n’ roll drums, but as time went on he seemed to try less and less. This song tries to rock, but it drifts a bit. Here’s the thing about Syd Barrett; besides those goofy personal compositions, he had a way with the Big Rock Song, too, and the band could actually show up when he needed them to. The first two minutes of “Interstellar Overdrive” are as good as it gets. The bass is great. The various guitar tracks are great. But the last six or seven minutes are rough going, and the physical tape-cut back to the main riff at the end of the song is done incompetently. Barrett, meanwhile, was growing more erratic. A film clip, now available on YouTube, shows him wandering around a garden on acid. But the rest of his life was getting darker. He beat up a girlfriend or two, or would manage to lock himself in a bathroom and be unable to get out. And it’s possible this perennially popular band has had its popularity underestimated. Over the years, I’ve become extremely impressed with an amateur music-industry analyst who lives in France, Guillaume Vieira. He obsessively collects worldwide sales data. Not sales claims; sales data. You can read his 51 pages of Pink Floyd sales data here. The upshot: Pink Floyd has sold more albums worldwide than the Beatles. Floyd recorded over a longer period, of course, but both groups have released about the same number of albums, and had about the same span of decades to sell their work to new generations — and in new configurations.

A highly credible song, from the sharp guitar attack to, for once, an appropriate setting for Waters’s cartoony voice. This is a model assemblage sonically; who doesn’t get excited when the guitars get into gear? (Pigs Might Fly says that jazz ace Lee Ritenour is playing on the track, incidentally.) And there’s some insane stuff going on in the electronics in the back. There are a lot of hard-rock classics from the late 1970s and early 1980s; hard to think of one that can touch the production schema here, possibly Waters and Ezrin’s finest moment. This is the climax to the movie, when Pink’s imaginary fascist boys go out and start roughing folks up.
Another good example of just how disparate the music was that the band was making in the early 1970s. This is a purty little ballad, sung delicately, with some actual bite in the lyrics. “There’s no wind in my soul / And I’ve grown old.” (That was a pretty taboo rock-star subject in 1972.) There’s a tinkling piano, a whining organ, and a strummed guitar, and all produced just this side of adequately, nothing more. At the same time, these goofballs were working on The Dark Side of the Moon! I don’t understand the title either. A timekeeping song from The Wall, with an extended classical guitar segment. Pink’s behind the wall, asking for help. In the film it ends with the highly cinematic scene of Bob Geldof shaving his chest. Unsuspecting viewers wouldn’t know that this is a Syd Barrett reference: During the recording of Wish You Were Here, a strange man manifested himself in the control room at Abbey Road. He was portly and quiet, with his pants belted high over his stomach, his head and eyebrows shaved. It took a while before his crushed friends recognized their former bandmate. A forgotten track from the first album. Some nice moments here but it’s not exactly light on its feet, and nor is it the song you’d play for someone to show off Syd Barrett’s reputed genius. But there is something real and engaging about the chorus. A Richard Wright song, one of the band’s early singles, done amid the immediate post-Barrett chaos. Has everything a pop song should have — gossamer stylings, la-la-la’s, Beach Boys–y lilts — except a melody, or a point. Waters kicks off Animals with an 85-second deliberately acoustic number, apparently written from the point of view of two of us sheep, hating each other and watching the “pigs on the wing” overhead. His sarcasm on Wish You Were Here was somewhat tempered by the loving nature of the title song and “Shine On” — not to mention having Roy Harper sing on “Have a Cigar.” But by the time of Animals, there’s something off here; his vocal is highly unsubtle, and he’s too obviously relishing in the images. The casually strummed acoustic guitar and his natural vocals contrast too sharply with the electronics that will follow.The longest of the Ummagumma live tracks is probably the most trying, though there’s a pretty credible psychedelic freakout after the four-minute mark. Maybe I’m being unfair, but I swear, whenever I really concentrate on some of this band’s “heaviest” stuff, I come away thinking, Jesus, the drummer and keyboardist are sort of low energy.A bruising commentary on the music business, sung with convincing authority by Roy Harper, an odd British folk musician from the ’70s. (Gilmour refused to sing the thing because his feelings about the industry were not as ferocious as Waters’s, and why would they be?) I love how the amiable funk laid down by the band is overwhelmed by the (impressive) electronic washes of sound in the intro, just as our lonely artiste is swamped by the industry. “Oh, by the way / Which one’s ‘Pink’?” is, in Floyd legend, an actual line an industry weasel had asked the band. The soundscape here in its own way is as brutal as that of “Welcome to the Machine.” And it’s funny all the way through; choose your own favorite line. (Mine is “We’re so happy we can hardly count.”) Gilmour’s fantastic and the chorus is epic, and the outro to “Wish You Were Here” is one of the most touching pieces of studio manipulation of the era. Docked 20 notches because the band, worldwide superstars on the heels of what would become the second-largest-selling album of all time, stiffed Harper, who wasn’t rich, on payment. (Harper himself never cashed in on the track either; it’s not on any of his live albums.) And docked another 20 for the fucking irony.

Again, we can see the band take a somewhat flaccid studio track and turn it into something that, if you squint your ears a bit and forget about the dumb title, you could imagine passably blowing a few minds among sufficiently impressionable and adequately chemicalized London youth at the time. Nice to hear Gilmour working it on out. This track is one of the more enjoyable extended Floyd offerings on record. See also: Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii.
And finally, ten-plus minutes of sheep, fronted by almost two minutes of wan jazzisms courtesy of Wright. The song has one thing to recommend it: Waters’s own vocal attack, which threads the needle of his difficult voice, which is weak when it’s normal and shrieky when it’s not. Here, it’s lacerating — one of his best vocals — particularly on the neat effect at the end of the first line of each verse. Still, this is another song that could have benefited from some song doctoring; Waters’s sense of subtlety is disappearing by the minute, and there are a lot of minutes here. “Meek and obedient / You follow the leader.” (We get it, Rog. The song is called “Sheep,” for chrissakes.) Things get a bit tedious in the middle four minutes or so. At the end, the sheep rise up, only to become, climactically, Animal Farm–style, the new oppressors. (That’s how I read it, anyway.) This is accompanied by some appropriate and long-overdue actual rock at the end — Gilmour pulls a great-sounding guitar sound out of his ass — and you can even hear Mason breaking a sweat. (Sometimes you actually feel for Waters when it comes to his lazy bandmates.) To sum up: Animals is nothing to sneer at, an authentic work of defiant misanthropy by a man facing the Me
Decade on one side and on the other a snotty new generation of punks whose contempt for Pink Floyd (however misconceived) became a cliché of the era. Some people like it. YMMV.

Doo-wop vocals, synthesized drum rolls, and melodramatic lyrics. (“I didn’t mean to let them take my soul!”) One of the problems with The Wall is that it’s really not clear who the bad guys are. Why did Pink let anyone take his soul? The world Waters and Ezrin were now inhabiting was so far removed from the Floyd of old that Toni Tennille — of “Love Will Keep Us Together” Captain & Tennille fame — was brought in to do backup vocals. One of my favorite moments in the Pink Floyd story is when, after Animals, the other guys in the group decided they’d had just about enough of Roger Waters’s overbearing dominance. They were emboldened by the fact that they’d just recorded two of the biggest albums of the era, and were feeling pretty good moneywise. They’d done what they’d set out to do, and now was the time to let Waters know they were through with his Great Artiste act. Boy, was he going to be surprised! If this were a scene in This Is Spinal Tap, the band would be assembling in a room to give Waters the bad news when … the phone would ring, informing the members that — due to incoherently planned and overambitious tours, a lack of tax planning, bad investments, and inadequate oversight of their accountants — they were basically broke. At which point the members were all ears to hear what their resident genius had on tap for them next. “A two-record rock opera about an unhappy rock star rather like yourself, you say? Sounds intriguing!”

One of the more effective tracks on The Wall, a spooky and evocative foreshadowing of the full “Another Brick in the Wall,” which would of course become the album’s centerpiece and a fluke hit single. (A massive hit single.)

Again, you see a good but troubled band put aside the fights, collaborate on a good song, and then record it in a way that makes the sound of it still timeless, more than 40 years on. “Wish You Were Here” is of course a funerary for Barrett, again, but it’s also a love song, and it’s also a meditation on life and ambition and a quest, and also finally about what we don’t know, which is everything. Waters had moved on from the ridiculous lyrics of Floyd’s earlier work, and passed even the plain speak of Dark Side; on WYWH, he finally achieves something like good rock poetry — which is to say, words that make it clear what they mean, even if that meaning isn’t there on the page — and here manages to deliver them that way, too. “Wish You Were Here” was sturdy enough, and magnanimous enough, to serve the band one final time, in the group’s one reunion appearance together, at the Live 8 concert in London, where it was clearly about them as well. Waters, older and wiser, clearly regretted the dissolution, and felt it was a time to hug and make up; but it was also clear that Gilmour was having none of it. After The Final Cut, Roger Waters pressed on with a series of cranky, crackpot rock operas. (Radio K.A.O.S. is about a kid named Billy, who is “almost a vegetable,” but who has some sort of telekinetic powers, or something. It’s all a little unclear, but apparently the kid, a friendly radio DJ, and a mad scientist who gets turned around by Live Aid join together to … avert a nuclear holocaust. Whew!) Waters then bore the humiliation of taking the accompanying dog-and-pony show around to smallish venues the same summer his former bandmates played stadiums. The years have mellowed Waters somewhat; he is older and even handsomer now. He remains highly politically principled and, now, since he actually gives interviews, you can hear how smart he actually is. And yet, he can probably still walk down most streets in the world and not be recognized. He actually seems happy now. We should have his problems.

More of Pink Floyd’s incoherent aesthetics. How does the dynamic and forceful “Astronomy Dominé” square with the tuneless whispering (from Waters, who wrote it) and rudimentary guitar-plucking of this?
Waters could have probably come up with a less clichéd title for this, which closes off the first half of his two-disc epic. He could also have come up with more ideas; it’s just a 75-second throwaway, right after the 75-second throwaway that was part three of “Another Brick in the Wall”; on the other hand, as noted elsewhere, the chore of marshaling the complex story meant that Ezrin and Waters had to just throw in some tracks to make certain narrative points. The point here isn’t that Pink is committing suicide, just that he had completed building the psychological wall around him. On the tour the band did to accompany the album, the first set ended with its famous wall completed across the stage. It’s a great iconic image. The tour was conceived with such grandiosity that it could only be staged over multiple nights in just a few cities, with a lot of “Stonehenge,” Spinal Tap-esque problems along the way. Meanwhile, Richard Wright’s contributions to the band had become marginal. As the band had to hustle to get The Wall ready for a 1979 release, Wright bridled at losing some of a planned vacation. (Note that it had been two-and-a-half years since Animals had come out.) Waters fired him — or rather, made his manager fire him, a great rock-star dick move — and the other band members, with one eye on their suffering bank accounts, went along. Amazingly, the band hired Wright back as a session player for the shows. In his autobiography, Nick Mason notes that Wright was in fact the only person who made money on that tour; the combination of the excessive conception and limited shows cost the others a small fortune.

A percussion-y tack of incidental sounds. More was the first film by Schroeder, a minor player in the French New Wave. It’s not a great movie, but it does capture a world fairly well, and it’s de-romanticized without moralizing. It’s about a male French college student who goes to Paris on an adventure. He gets into some wild stuff and then runs off to Ibiza with a female friend. Threesomes result, but so does heroin addiction, and things don’t end well. Schroeder went on to direct some U.S. commercial fare, including Single White Female and Reversal of Fortune.
This is the band’s first single, released in March 1967, just before Sgt. Pepper. This is one of a handful of quintessential Syd Barrett songs, but it was also, as we have seen, something not of a piece with the sounds the band was developing (or rather, had developed) in its performances in the underground scene of London at the time. So the single’s aesthetics are somewhat unstable. That said, it’s a very merry tale of a guy who goes around stealing women’s undergarments (I’m sorry, “pinching knickers””) off his neighbors’ clotheslines. There’s a pretty radical video that goes with it. Barrett fans incessantly point to this and “See Emily Play” as evidence of Barrett’s pop brilliance, but again I think they are confusing genius with promise. I don’t know if this is as good as “Happy Jack.” I don’t know if it’s as good as “In the Year 2525.”

Named after a spot near a river in Cambridge, where Waters grew up. This isn’t a terrible song. It goes on too long, of course, but there’s something sweet and lulling about it. The usual issues of tonal consistency for the band at this point, however, still apply.
Waters finally goes full-on Joel Grey — or is it Angela Lansbury? — in The Wall. At this point, after two discs of this stuff, you really want to put a sharp stick in your eye before listening to this Sondheim pastiche. That said, in the film, with the animation, and the collage of Pink’s terrifying memories — for impressionable teens at least — the result is something close to a spectacle.

This was the band’s fifth album. For the record, “Atom Heart Mother” doesn’t mean anything; it was taken from a newspaper headline. And the cow on the cover is a similar piece of absurdism. It’s just a cow. All that you can forgive. But this nonsense begins with faintly recorded horns as an intro into a six-part not-so-magnum opus. Are there passages that are vaguely interesting? Yes, but nothing to excuse the excessive length. These days the term “progressive rock” is generally used to denote ’70s aggregations that proffered hyper-noted assaults with lots of show-offy musicianship, abrupt stops and starts, and all other manner of awfulness. In the mid-to-late ’60s, though, the genre was pioneered by bands like the Nice (which featured Keith Emerson, later of Emerson, Lake & Palmer), the Soft Machine, and Pink Floyd, who were basically just poking around with what was possible. (King Crimson came along soon, too. There was even a time Fleetwood Mac, originally a blues band, was a considered a prog-rock outfit.) But truthfully, Pink Floyd guys never had the pure musicality, not to mention the vision, to pull anything like this together. About nine minutes in, in the part that I think is called “Mother Fore,” a stentorian choir comes in. It’s possibly the band’s most Spinal Tap–y moment. And in the next section, “Funky Dung,” the band lays down some hot grooves.
Another long, droning, musically undistinguished track from this surpassingly lame album. It is perfect, however, in one regard. It’s a perfect mediocre song to fill out six-plus minutes on a mediocre album.There are six normal songs on Dark Side, and each one has a coherent point. The words are all colloqui
al, honest, and about something, and the meaning is underscored by the music, and the production, on every track. One key ingredient was an engineer named Alan Parsons, who seems to have been the catalyst for turning a band whose very existence was on the verge of pointlessness into the sensational creators of Dark Side and Wish You Were Here. (Parsons went on to have hits of his own, in the guise of an annoying pop-prog outfit called the Alan Parsons Project.) Floyd’s album originally hit number one (in the U.S.) that summer for just one week. It took a while, but industry folks started noticing at some point that the album was still bouncing around in the lower reaches of Billboard’s albums chart, where it stayed for 14 or 15 years. Dark Side was certified 15 times platinum in 1998 — after everyone rebought copies of it on CD — and has sold about 23 million copies in the U.S. to date. Worldwide, its total is 43 million, making it the second-largest selling album of all time, after Thriller.Silence, then a heartbeat, then a cash register, a few words, and then a few seconds while the madcap laughs — and then screams. Barrett genuinely haunted the band, and was never far from their minds in their best work, here the first minutes of TDSOTM. Credited to Nick Mason. The jump in sound from Meddle to TDSOTM was arresting, nowhere better than here. This was an unaccountable pop hit in the United States. (Not top ten, as is often erroneously said, but it was top 15, and it unquestionably helped turn a new audience onto the charms of the album. For some reason “Money” wasn’t a single at all in the U.K.) The song is built on what should have been an indigestibly clumsy riff, supposedly rendered in 7/4 time. Someone — Waters? — coaxed out of Gilmour a remarkably tough vocal, somehow combining cynic and everyman, sage and naïf; listen closely and you can hear a very human voice straining to break out of the unnerving, unrelenting rhythm’s constraints. The single is as unconventional a hard-rock record as the era produced. The album version, six-and-a-half minutes long, slides effortlessly out of the puzzling 7/4 into a long and dazzling 4/4 Gilmour jam filled with piercing guitar lines that both undergird and de-romanticize the singer’s plaints. The ride back into the main beat is a thrill and a half. This is what the band could do when it worked together — not for nothing, one of the few Pink Floyd songs, long or short, that leaves you wanting more. Another suite from the band’s dreariest period, on an album that had already given us 20-plus minutes of the title song, in no less than six parts. This one comprises a comparatively restrained three parts, and includes the sounds of an actual breakfast being made, complete with dripping faucet, which turns out to be kinda irritating. Gilmour noodles guitars in the middle, with a poorly recorded bass interfering. The third part is mostly keyboard, mixed horribly. The band actually used to play this nonsense live. The titular Alan, incidentally, was a roadie; the title is another example of the band’s jolly jocularity. The argument for this junk, I suppose, is that the band, despite its space-rock leanings, was much more down to earth and organic, as opposed to the flights of high electronic fantasy offered by your King Crimsons and the other, more energetic progressive-rock outfits of the time. Part of the reason it doesn’t work for me is the anonymity of the players. If this is supposed to be organic, there’s no personality to the music.The band’s second single, originally presented at (and named for) a psychedelic event on the south side of the Thames, Games for May; Barrett later changed the title. Stories differ as to why. The result is an interesting amalgam of then-current styles, including Merseybeat, that lurches into a plainly psychedelic mélange. Barrett’s classic early psychedelia lyrics — “You’ll lose your mind and play,” etc., etc. — cut deep. There’s a wonderful black-and-white video to accompany it, too.

Gilmour’s solo career has been listenable, because the albums are what they are; earnest excursions into songs he obviously couldn’t get recorded in his day band, with appropriately different tones and approaches, and if you like Gilmour’s guitar playing (I do) you get to hear him play a lot. This is basically just a Gilmour solo song on a Pink Floyd album. (His co-writer contributed just lyrics.) The musical world it’s constructed in, and the persona of the singer, are substantively different from what Pink Floyd had been doing previously. That’s fine, but then you have to point out that there’s a reason it would have ended up on a solo album: It wasn’t good enough to be on a Floyd release.

What does The Division Bell represent?
In some of the Commonwealth realms, a division bell is a bell rung in or around parliament to signal a division (a vote) to members of the relevant chamber so that they may participate.
Another fun bashy track. “That cat’s something I can’t explain” — another imagistic Barrett vision that for some reason stays with you. The tune is a juicy and credible bit of garage rock, with some silky guitar and a rumbling below. The first two tracks of Piper are groovy indeed.This song, coming toward the end of what was the first side of The Final Cut, is where you throw up your hands. The Second World War was a terrible event in world history, and took a devastating toll. This song is an acknowledgment that there were reasons for the war. But all of its victims deserve much better than this labored, clotted, and overwrought assault on the finer sensibilities of just about anyone who might actually listen to it. (Confidential to Roger W.: Constructions like “Take heed” went out with Keats.) And if you think there’s nothing worse than hearing Waters whimper, lugubriously, the line, “And no one kills the children any more,” just wait till he repeats it for effect. This was one of two grand statements on The Division Bell. Supposedly about the fall of the Berlin Wall. The lyrics, provided by Gilmour squeeze Samson, contain convoluted constructions like “change, that even with regret, cannot be undone,” whatever that means. Odd that during the recording process no one suggested they be improved. This song has always struck me as overly derivative of Springsteen’s “Independence Day.” Samson wrote the lyrics for Gilmour; they may be, in their high inartfulness, about the then-ongoing feud between the guitarist and Waters: “So I open my door to my enemies / And I ask could we wipe the slate clean / But they tell me to please go fuck myself / You know you just can’t win.” Hazy were the visions overplayed. Just what we needed, a pastoral, gossamer bit of wispy melody and fairy-tale vocalizing. A horrifyingly bad Wright composition from the band’s second album. The backing vocals are a parody of themselves. In Waters’s conception of The Wall, and it’s not a terrible one, Pink has put an emotional wall up around himself. I like the idea, because it’s hard; back then, “the Wall” was symbolic of the Soviet Union. I liked how Waters wrested the symbol away and tried to make a statement about personal isolation. Anyway, here, Pink gets a groupie and proceeds to get a little weird. Something like chillin’ piano jazz, with some hot organ overlaid. And Nick Mason hitting the skins in the background. Maybe some expert in improvised avant-garde jazz can disagree, but it seems a bit random and forced to me. Nice eerie instrumentalizing as the pressures start to close in on poor little Pink, but it’s really just there to set up “Young Lust” — and give Roger Waters another publishing royalty. Here’s another bit of songwriter-royalties trivia, if you care: In crude terms, with The Wall, Waters almost certainly holds the record for the greatest songwriter windfall from one album in rock history. With a lot of short fragments like “Empty Spaces,” he had the equivalent of 24 solo songwriting credits on The Wall, which, with more than 30 million copies sold worldwide, is in the top-20-biggest-selling albums of all time. No other album close to that rarefied air has so many songwriting credits from one person. Again, given his stature, he should have been netting 3 cents per song, or about 75 cents in total, per record sold. Let’s say CBS had a cap on publishing points that took it down by 10 cents. (Foreign rates vary, of course, but he probably got more than that at least in Europe, where songwriters get 10 percent of the wholesale price.) Sixty-five cents times 30 million copies sold is pretty close to $20 million in gross songwriting royalties from just one album release. That’s probably equal to about what he made from being a member of the band, and he had royalty points as a producer in addition.This is supposed to be the big statement on Momentary Lapse. You can tell by the big swells of muzak and the highfalutin lyrics: “The silence that speaks so much louder than words,” etc., etc. Again, we have the droney sounds with some Gilmourian ruminations up top, again going on for minutes. Then comes something like a beat, which on inspection comes from a poorly programmed friendly local synthesizer rather than, you know, the band’s actual drummer. Latter-day Floyd records sound so samey; Gilmour’s sometimes effective, but generally weak, voice can’t hold things together when there’s no actual artistic spark, however perverse, somewhere in the background. Docked ten notches for its excessively dreary (8:45!!) length, even by Pink Floyd standards.

The B-side to the band’s last Barrett single, “Apples and Oranges.” It sounds like exactly what it is, a slightly aimless, minor song from a minor British pop band. Written and sung by Wright, it’s not terrible, though his voice isn’t strong enough to carry it.
Just a chorus, really; this fragment from the soundtrack to The Wall should probably be part of the “Vera” sequence. The Wall was Waters’s magnum opus and highly biographical. The story is about a rock star named Pink, raised in the damaged postwar period and forced through a pointlessly rigid schooling system. (Waters’s own school teachers, he said later, “were absolute swine.”) Pink grows up to be a rock star, but finds out it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Waters gets that pampered rock stars don’t really have problems, but viewing his own history (he grew up in Cambridge raised by his mother; his father had been killed in the war), and his own emotional deficiencies, he thought he could craft something like a rock opera around some of the alienation he was feeling, even though he should have been content. Logistically, it really wasn’t a Pink Floyd album; it was created largely by Waters and the messy but talented hard-rock producer Bob Ezrin, who had overseen decent albums by Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, and Peter Gabriel. This was a herculean task, given the vast demands the album would make on a band that didn’t really have the manpower (or the talent) to pull it off.One of the great early Floyd songs, and the hits just keep on coming on Piper. There’s something majestic here in the verses. The skeptical will note that the chorus gets whimsical and aimless, and doesn’t do the verses justice, which makes you wish Barrett had either (a) had a collaborator or a strong producer to help him take his songs to the next level or (b) done a Guided-by-Voices thing 30 years earlier, and just put out short songs with his limited number of undeniable riffs in them. Note that Wright has a songwriting credit here, but I bet it was the chorus.

In its massive confusion, this accounting — which, whether we like it or not, hangs above our cultural world, as the band itself might have put it, motionless upon the air, like an albatross — is a testament to the good humor of the gods of rock, which now and again smile upon otherwise unemployable, gangly British nitwits.This is filler from the unmemorable Momentary Lapse. A weird vocal, machine-y thing. Goes nowhere but nowhere, and stay tuned for “Part 2.” Gilmour was demonstrating he’d learned a thing or two from Waters when it came to solo-credit snippets on Pink Floyd albums. And damned if that unmemorable album didn’t sell 10 million worldwide.

Why did Pink Floyd break up?
Waters had left Pink Floyd to establish a solo career following the group’s 1983 album The Final Cut, and considered his departure in 1985 to mark the end of the band. Gilmour and Mason disagreed, resulting in the final break in a badly frayed relationship.
Relics was put out early in the band’s career (note the mocking title) to collect the Barrett-era singles, the accompanying B-sides and a few album tracks. This was the only unreleased track on it. One of the most distinctive things about Floyd at the time was how haphazard their sound was. This starts out as a sort of lazy blues, which segues into a sort of ’30s jazz feel, and then all the blues get all electrified … and then the thing goes on for another three minutes. In fairness, though, a lot of the experimental bands at the time would put out albums with oddly disparate tracks on them. (Think of “Anyone for Tennis,” on Cream’s Wheels of Fire.)The leadoff to the first post-Waters album begins, fairly cynically, with a “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”–like dramatic intro … and continues in that vein for minute after minute. I suppose the defense of the song would be that Gilmour wanted to make it clear he was taking the band’s focus back to the TDSOTM and WYWH era, not that of The Wall or The Final Cut. There’s a production sheen, sure, and some sound effects. But it displays none of the lucidity of the first parts of “Shine On,” and really just sounds like the band tuning up. And in any case any such attempt would be fraud, because it was not that band anymore, as the outside songwriters attested.

And yet … the band’s famous works were recorded over an extremely short period, in a recording career that has now stretched nearly to five decades. Much of the rest of it was filled by wildly veering musical approaches, big misfires, aesthetic excesses, pratfalls, and wide-ranging acts of buffoonery you wouldn’t find surprising in a This Is Spinal Tap outtake reel. The list that follows ranks all of the band’s officially released studio work, from the worst song to the best.
While Pink Floyd should be given credit for improvisation and the aural pleasures that sometimes resulted, particularly in a live setting, it’s not clear that any of them, this early in their career, were thinking outside the box musically. Case in point is this lazy Wright/Gilmour composition. Wright, supposedly the band’s secret musical weapon, rarely produced an actual good, you know, song. It’s painfully plain how simple both the chords and progressions are. The lyrics are all about “ancient bonds” and “gilded cages.” In one sense, maybe this isn’t any worse than an embarrassment like Crimson’s “Moonchild,” but those guys had real chops. This feels aimless and uninventive.

This is the final song on the final album by the band people feel is the “real” Pink Floyd. It was a watershed moment in the group’s career: Bassist Roger Waters, whose expanding vision and growing songwriting talents had given the band The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, and The Wall, had become (by all accounts including his own) a hellacious asshole — he’d even insisted that the band fire its original keyboardist, Richard Wright, during the recording of The Wall. After The Final Cut, Waters himself left the band, and announced that Pink Floyd was over. Right about then, the two remaining members, guitarist David Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason, realized that they controlled the name of one of the biggest entities in rock — and that, with that prick Waters gone, the conditions of actually being in that band had just improved remarkably. As for this song, to end the dreary song cycle of The Final Cut — subtitled “Requiem for the Post-War Dream by Roger Waters” — Waters rolls out a nuclear holocaust, a kablooey ex machina, and sings about it in a pinched little whiny voice that is an aesthetic holocaust just by itself. Speaking of disasters, Rolling Stone gave this overwrought, self-important, and almost unlistenable album five stars.Lots — way lots — of cutesy percussion, which passed for experimental back in those days. Syd Barrett grew up in Cambridge, which was relatively protected from the damage the war did to England. He knew both Gilmour and Waters from a young age. Waters, who’d gone to architecture school in London, wound up in a band with keyboardist Wright and drummer Mason and eventually brought Barrett in. The group was into being wildly “creative” — they’d play “Louie Louie” for 30 minutes, improvising — but soon found themselves following the lead of the charismatic Barrett. (Barrett christened them the Pink Floyd Experience; this was soon shortened, but you can still find contemporary references to the band as “The Pink Floyd.”) He was an intriguing, protean figure — a cosmic rock-and-roll griffin, made of equal parts Ray Davies, Sebastian from Brideshead, Morrissey, and Lewis Carroll — considered by all to be brilliant and charming. His disarming off-kilter creativity early on was evidenced in things like a handcrafted book he titled Fart Enjoy. This is one of his second-tier songs. All of his tricks are here; the lines stuffed full of words, the uneven rhythms and gay little asides, the marveling at the wondrous world around us. It’s all fine but he could do a lot better.