Rock music has come a long way since it’s inception in the late 1950’s. The impact which it has had is tremendous and mind boggling. This can be largely attributed to the fact that rock, in general, is raw in nature and yet melodic at the same time.
The Beatles were actually the first real contributors of making the genre popular. They had this unique catchy and poppy style which enabled them to reach the apex of this genre; rarely are there bands which can reach such heights. There were a lot of bands which originated around that time – The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, were all exceptional in the realm of rock music. And then there was Floyd. Pink Floyd.
Page 2-3 from the The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (EMI Records 1994 remastered issue) booklet.
Pink Floyd are one of those bands which everyone has heard of but not heard of.
What I mean is that everyone knows that Pink Floyd is good, but nobody actually realizes how good they actually were. Pink Floyd were one of the first to actually implement the surround or stereo sound system into their music. Just put on a good headphone or play Floyd on a decent music system and you would actually feel the music shifting around you. This feat was achieved in 1970’s. Pretty impressive, considering the field of sound engineering was still in its infantile stage.
While Pink Floyd are mostly known for their grandiose concept albums of the 1970’s, they started off as a very different sort of psychedelic band. Soon after they first began playing together in the mid-1960’s, they fell firmly under the leadership of lead guitarist Syd Barrett, the gifted genius who would write and sing most of their early material. Barrett heavily influenced the sound of Pink Floyd. Their 1967 album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn bears a testament to that. Psychedelic influences were the order of the day. The album brought about the first glimpse of what Pink Floyd could achieve.
Sadly this was going to be Barrett’s only contribution. His alarming mental instability and drug abuse made him impossible to work with. This paved the way to Gilmour’s addition.
Pink Floyd in January 1968, from the only known photoshoot of all five members. Clockwise from bottom: Gilmour, Mason, Barrett, Waters, Wright. B&W photo.
Anything after The Piper at the Gates of Dawn bears no resemblance to the former. This is because the album was produced under the leadership of Barrett. The addition of Gilmour had a tremendous impact on Floyd’s music though. Their 1971 album Meddle sharpened the band’s unique space rock sound.
Pink Floyd were always known for composing out of the box music. They came up with the idea of concept albums. Waters’ lyrical genius backed by his unique vocals, Gilmour’s melodious riffs and some prolific drumming by Mason made this possible. The Dark Side of The Moon was their first concept album which was released in 1973. The album artwork, wherin the prism represents the society, is arguably the best album artwork to be ever made. Simple and deep. The Dark Side of the Moon is arguably one of the best albums the world has ever heard. It had everything. Tantalising yet melodic noises, ethereal guitar solos, cracking vocals, heart pounding drums and amazing keyboard work. As a matter fact, every time one listens to this album carefully, you can actually hear a different sound in every song. The album was that good.
Once when Pink Floyd were in a discussion with a music manager, the suit was so oblivious that he asked which one of the band members was “Pink”. The members left the room without further discussion.
The concept album structure continued. Pink Floyd then released Wish You Were Here. The concept of this album was the burned out music industry and the ignorant suits who only wanted to make profits from music. The songs Welcome To The Machine and Have A Cigar portray exactly that. Once when Pink Floyd were in a discussion with a music manager, the suit was so oblivious that he asked which one of the band members was “Pink”. The members left the room without further discussion.
Then came the 1977 release Animals. According to me, this is the most underrated Floyd album ever. David Gimour’s guitar work is phenomenal and many well known guitarists started playing the guitar because of this album, most notably Edge (of U2). Animals talked about the various classes that the society is built of. The aggressive dogs, the ruthless pigs and the herd sheep. This album showcased the brilliance of Pink Floyd. The songs were named after the classes perceived by the society. The song Dogs showed us the sheer brilliance that Gilmour could produce with his guitar.
Then you have the well known 1979 release The Wall. The Wall comprised of some amazing lyrical work by Roger Waters. Pink Floyd took the idea of a concept album to a totally different level. The Wall marked the prime of Pink Floyd. Songs like Another Brick in the Wall, Comfortably Numb and Hey You were way above anyone’s league. Pink Floyd then went on to produce The Final Cut (1983) and The Division Bell (1994).
“Pink Floyd are one of those bands which everyone has heard of but not heard of.”
Pink Floyd were a band which were a class apart. Rarely does one see so many experimentation being done by any band. Even though they composed a variety of different kinds of music, their roots remained strong. Some of their earlier works like Atom Heart Mother and A Saucer full of Secrets were clinically organized yet creatively free. I have never seen any band do something like that. If one wants to just get lost into the never ending realms of music I bet Pink Floyd will offer you much more than that.