Started: March 1st, 2017
Last updated: July 10th, 2017

Pink Floyd

With the recent release of Pink Floyd's Early Years boxed set, I've been on a bit of a Floyd listening binge for the last few months. They've been one of my favorite bands ever since I first dug deeply into their catalog in the mid-to-late 1980s, so it's kind of surprising that I still haven't put together an overly-opinionated web page about them. Time to correct that.

My background with Pink Floyd's music is one of hearing their popular songs - Time, Money, Another Brick in the Wall, Comfortably Numb - on classic rock radio growing up, but those songs didn't really turn me into a big fan of the band. It finally clicked for me when I borrowed a Dark Side of the Moon cassette from someone during my sophomore year in college and listened to it through headphones. Holy crap, that album blew me away and I started tryign to get everyone I knew to listen to it, only to find out that most people were already very familiar with the album and I was the one who was late to the party.

Fortunately some friends took pity on me and loaned me copies of Wish You Were Here and The Wall, and I was quickly hooked. There was a late-night party where I drunkenly watched the Wall movie and was both repelled by it and simultaneously drawn to find out more about this band.

A guy down the hall who still had a working record player came home one day from scouting the used vinyl sections of local music stores with a two-record set called A Nice Pair. I've never encountered that particular collection since (I just remember it had pictures of various things that come in pairs on the front, including boobs of course), but it contained the albums Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Saucerful of Secrets. Oddly, the studio version of Astronomy Domine on Piper was replaced by the live version from Ummagumma. When he first played the records, all the Floyd fans on our dorm floor gathered around to listen to it. None of us liked it. I remember telling him that whatever he had paid for that set, he had gotten ripped off. But soon I was back asking for a cassette dub of it. Needless to say, within a few months I was a big fan of Syd Barrett and the early Floyd. A store-bought cassette of the Relics compilation sealed the deal.

So piece by piece and bit by bit I became a huge Pink Floyd fan. There were late nights drinking and singing along with The Final Cut (we all knew the album so well we could even do the sound effects and background voices). There was the time I stayed up until sunrise with a friend who was obsessing over Roger Water's Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking so we could listen to each track at the time listed in the song title (4:30am, 4:33am, etc). By the time the Shine On boxed set came out in the early 90s, I had graduated from college and started an entry-level job where I barely had two nickels to rub together, but I managed to scrounge together enough cash to buy the expensive boxed set (despite already owning all the included albums on CD) just to get the bonus "Early Singles" disc. You could say I was a Floyd fanatic.

So, given all that, here's a walkthrough of all the albums in my Pink Floyd collection...

The Early Singles (1967-1968)

The Early Singles cover As fans learned from the Early Years boxed set, these weren't actually the band's earliest recordings. A year or two earlier they had recorded a handful of original songs that reflected the band's bluesy, American pop/R&B influences. But those songs weren't released at the time, so the tracks on Early Singles mark some of the first music the world ever heard from Pink Floyd.

It seems odd to someone from my generation who grew up with the album-oriented rock of the last quarter of the 20th century, but in the 1960s (especially in England) rock bands would usually start out by recording a single or two, and if those proved popular only then would the record companies commit to recording a full album. Even stranger was the fact that those popular singles were not included on the albums, and even after reaching popularity bands would continue to record and release non-album singles. Interestingly, with the advent of the digital-download era we seem to be moving back towards a model that focuses on singles. Some millennials probably don't even know what an "album" is.

Anyway, in Pink Floyd's case their first two singles were written by their original guitarist, vocalist and front man Syd Barrett. Both Arnold Layne and See Emily Play were popular enough to get the band an album deal, despite the former being banned from airplay by the BBC due to the lyrics being about a transvestite.

A third single, Apples and Oranges, wasn't as successful. When Barrett departed from the band, the remaining members tried two more singles - It Would Be So Nice and Point Me at the Sky - but quickly realized that the catchy single was more Syd's department. So they stopped doing singles and focused on becoming more of an album-oriented art-rock band. Any future singles such as Money or Another Brick in the Wall would just be excerpts from the full albums.

The Early Singles CD included both the A and B sides of these early psychedelic 45s, with the B-sides respectivly being Candy and a Currant Bun, The Scarecrow, Paintbox, Careful With That Axe Eugene and Julia Dream. Oddly, I find the B-sides of the last three singles to be much stronger songs than the A sides.

When I bought it, the only way to get the Early Singles disc was to buy the expensive Shine On boxed set which reissued the Meddle through Momentary Lapse albums (with a couple notable exceptions) in fancy new jewel boxes that combined to display the Dark Side of the Moon artwork when set side-by-side on your shelf. I don't know if this CD was ever re-issued as a stand-alone disc, but I hope not after I spent a small fortune to get it. Which was especially galling after I realized that about half this disc was already on Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Relics.

Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)

Piper at the Gates of Dawn cover This album, simply put, is a masterpiece of psychedelic rock. Syd Barrett was brilliant when he was on his game and he's at the top of his game here. As mentioned above, I strongly disliked this album the first time I heard it (and probably for a few listens after that) because it was so completely alien to anything my naive little classic-rock-and-80s-pop ears had ever heard before. But it kept drawing me back and eventually became a favorite. My wife still occasionally reminds me that she bought me my first CD copy of this album, and while she's never really warmed up to it herself she knows that it sparked a life-long obsession for me.

This album has everything that made the early Floyd so great - long, psychedelic freak-outs like Interstellar Overdrive, group jams like Pow. R. Toc. H., character pieces like Lucifer Sam and whimsical bits like The Gnome. Then there's Astronomy Domine that manages to combine the best of those elements in a single song. And Bike which is a perfect album closer with its bizarre rhyming scheme and concluding layers of sound effects.

I've probably listened to Piper more than I've listened to Dark Side and it still seems fresh and original; it never seems to get old. Sadly, this would be the only full Floyd album to feature Barrett - a combination of excessive drug use, mental instability and lack of any desire to become a rock star lead to Syd growing stranger and stranger, and less likely to actually turn up at a gig and perform rationally. Soon the band brought in Barrett's friend David Gilmour, at first just to augment the band on Syd's bad days, but eventually as a permanent replacement.

One wonders what the band could have done if Syd had stayed healthy and interested. On the other hand, the psychedelic fad quickly faded with the end of the 1960s, so maybe the band would have faded into obscurity. Plus some of the band's most famous works were inspired partially or entirely by Syd's madness and departure, so...had he hung around many of Pink Floyd's greatest albums probably would have never gotten made. Who knows.

Tonite Let's All Make Love in London (1968)

Tonite Let's All Make Love in London cover This isn't really a Pink Floyd album per se, but I bought it because they appear on it, so I'm including it here. In the late 60s and early 70s the band did a lot of movie soundtrack work. Some of those soundtracks became stand-alone albums like More and Obscured by Clouds. This one isn't quite up to that standard, but it's interesting.

The movie was a documentary about the swingin' London scene of the 1960s (or so I've read - I've never actually seen it). The complete soundtrack features a handful of songs by bands that never really caught on in the States, plus a version of the Rolling Stones' Paint it Black and a whole bunch of interview snippets with famous actors and celebrities who were known to hang out in the London clubs.

But the reason I bought the CD is because it contains a lengthy live-in-the-studio recording of Interstellar Overdrive, plus a long, rambling improv called Nick's Boogie (named after Floyd drummer Nick Mason). They're both in mono and of only so-so recording quality. There's also a couple shorter excerpts from Interstellar Overdrive.

Are you missing anything if you've never heard this? No, not really. Is it worth tracking down if you're a fanatical Floyd completist like me? Yeah, it probably is.

A Saucerful of Secrets (1968)

A Saucerful of Secrets cover By this time Barrett's mental breakdown was pronounced enough that he only contributed a few songs to the sessions for this album. The only one the band used was "Jugband Blues", a strange tune in which Barrett sang "I wonder who could be writing this song?" and invited a Salvation Army band into the studio to improvise the middle section. The rest of the band had had enough and soon Syd was gone, replaced permanently by David Gilmour.

So how did the rest of the band fare putting together an album with their main songwriter and lead vocalist gone? Actually, they did pretty well. This disc is no Piper, but it's not bad. They continued in the psychedelic vein of their first album and got around the missing vocalist by making a large chunk of the album instrumental, with Waters and Wright doing any necessary singing.

The album kicks off with a bit of an underappreciated gem in Let There Be More Light, which starts with a wicked guitar (or is that bass?) pattern and eventually couples a trademark Floyd jam over a pulsing bass line with some sci-fi lyrics about an alien visitor. Another classic from the album is Waters' Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun, which features a hypnotic bass line under some mystic lyrics that Roger cribbed from a religious text. Another Waters track, Corporal Clegg, shows that the anti-military views that would come to the fore later in his career were already in place, although the somewhat goofy music (complete with kazoos) kind of turn it into a throwaway track. Wright contributed a couple songs - Remember a Day and See-Saw, and while they both kind of feel like lightweight filler (especially the latter), they're pleasant enough.

But the real showcase on this one is the title track, which sees the Floyd trying their hand at a massive, multi-section art rock piece for the first time. It's pretty avant sounding and took me a long time to warm up to, but looking back it's definitely a major building block for the band. Entirely instrumental, I read somewhere a long while ago that it's a musical representation of war. It starts with an eerie, organ-dominated section that evokes fog drifting across a battlefield as armies line up to charge each other. Suddenly the charge begins and Mason launches into a repeated, martial drum pattern as the rest of the band provide the clangs, clashes and bangs of battle. Eventually the battle ends, and we get a peaceful conclusion to the song, sort of a hymn to the dead who still litter the field.

Overall, this is a pretty good album that maybe doesn't get the attention it deserves. It might have helped if they had dropped "filler" tracks like See-Saw and used a couple more of Syd's mindbending songs like Scream Your Last Scream or Vegetable Man. Regardless, the album is definitely worth a listen.

Full of Secrets (recorded 1968, released 1995)

Full of Secrets cover I bought this disc when I was at the height of my Pink Floyd mania, buying anything with their name on it. I'm pretty sure this is just a bootleg thing, or at the very least not authorized by the band. Although whoever put it together sure tried to make it look like an official release.

The content is just a 15 minute interview with the band, conducted by a college student for his school's magazine. The recording is fairly rough, with a good bit of hiss and dropouts. The interviewer gets a little condescending and the band quickly turns on him, arguing with him and giving snarky replies. For example:

Interviewer: I just interviewed A Love Affair and they described you as an underground group.
Roger: Well, the Love Affair aren't really the foremost authorities on us, as it happens.
Interviewer: So you aren't an underground group?
Nick (?): We're not going to make it that easy for you.
Rick (?): What's an underground group? Moles or something?

A little later he asks "Who do you play for?" - three members say "I play for myself" and the fourth says "I play for the rest of the lads".

The interview part is interesting to hear once or twice, but the reason I keep the disc is because the shiny part of the CD has holograms engraved in it of prisms and rainbows, inspired by the Dark Side cover. It's very pretty.

More (1969)

More cover Pink Floyd's first real soundtrack album, this music comes from the cautionary tale More, about a young German college graduate who goes hitchhiking across Europe in order to see the world, falls in love with the wrong woman and ends up addicted to heroin. It doesn't end well. I probably never would have seen the movie if it hadn't been included in the Early Years 1965-1972 boxed set, and if you've never seen it you're not really missing much (apart from a lot of drug usage and nudity).

The film uses perhaps the most Pink Floyd music of any of the movies they were involved with, so the soundtrack album makes for a good standalone early Floyd album, despite being a little scattershot and not really having any overarching theme. We get mellow psychedelic tracks like the opening Cirrus Minor next to incredibly heavy tunes like The Nile Song (possibly the most metallic track Floyd ever recorded). There are some filler bits like a track that's just a Nick Mason percussion piece that was used as background in a party scene. More Blues is just a short, Gilmour-dominated blues jam. A Spanish Piece is a flamenco guitar solo with (semi-racist) narration in a stereotyped Spanish voice. Quicksilver is a long, keyboard-oriented psychedelic jam, only a few seconds of which were actually used in the movie (while the main characters play with mercury in a bowl).

But in amongst the background tracks are some gems that would have been at home on any Pink Floyd album. Crying Song is a nice, mellow ballad. Dramatic Theme is a quality instrumental track. And in the middle of the album come two songs that the band would use in their live sets for years to come, Green is the Colour and Cymbaline. Both are great songs - in fact, they formed the basis for a concept piece called "The Man and the Journey" that the band played live a few times but never recorded (don't worry if you've never heard it - most of the individual parts of it were later recycled into various tracks on late-60s Floyd albums).

More might not have been the band's shining moment of the 60s, but it's a fairly solid album and an enjoyable listen.

Ummagumma (1969)

Ummagumma cover Cynics would say that this album and the soundtracks that surround it are signs of a band that was drifting without direction and without a clue of how to continue in the post-psychedelic era now that Syd was gone. They may have a point, but on the other hand this album offered fans a glimpse of the band's powerful live performances of the late 60s and some insight into what each member brought to the band, as well as showing their growth since the Syd Barrett days.

A double album, the first disc of Ummagumma was a live recording of four sprawling songs: Astronomy Domine, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun and the title track from Saucerful of Secrets. There's not a whole lot one can say about this live disc other than pointing out how good it is and wishing the band had released more of this sort of live material back in the day (fortunately the Early Years boxed set finally corrects this lack of early live material).

Anyway, the second disc of the set is a studio album, but an unusual one. Similar to the approach that Emerson, Lake and Palmer would later use on their 1977 album Works, each member of Pink Floyd got half an album side to record a solo work. The results are mixed, but personally I like this disc more than most seem to. Richard Wright contributed a multi-part, multi-layered organ and keyboard extravaganza called Sysyphus which may be a little too avant for some (and way too bombastic for others), but at the very least it makes for interesting listening. Waters finished off side one with two tracks, the wistful acoustic ballad Granchester Meadows and the bizarre, experimental Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict. The latter features rhythmic, sped-up animal sounds followed by someone shouting (telling a war story?) in the heavily accented Pictish language. One of the weirdest things in the Floyd catalog.

Side two starts with Gilmour's contribution, The Narrow Way. It takes a refugee track from the abandoned "Man and Journey" piece and expands it out into a three-part song full of stellar guitar work and odd effects. Another keeper. The album concludes with Nick Masons' Grand Vizier's Garden Party, a multi-part drum showcase that uses tape manipulation to cause the drums to stop and start suddenly and unpredictably. Mason's part of the album begins and ends with a flute solo that my daughter (an amateur flautist) loves - I just learned recently that it was performed by Nick's wife at the time.

While Ummagumma probably isn't going to top too many fans' lists of favorite Floyd albums, it's not as bad as some would tell you. It's worth hearing just for the live tracks if nothing else.

The Madcap Laughs (1970)

The Madcap Laughs cover If you're a Floyd fan who's not hardcore enough to track down every album related to the band, you might be wondering what the heck this is. It's the first solo album released by a member of Pink Floyd, that's what it is. Or, to be totally accurate, an ex-member.

By 1970 Syd Barrett was starting to show some signs of recovering from his breakdown (or whatever you want to call it), so his manager and record label were hoping he could get back in the rock star business via a solo album. It...did not go well.

Now, full disclosure - there is a vocal contingent of fans who think this is a great album. I have never been able to figure out what they see in it. Barrett sounds mostly incoherent and often seems like he's just making the lyrics up as he goes along. The band that he cobbled together as his backing group frequently sound like he just picked random people off the street and handed them instruments. To be fair, it would have been impossible for any musician to follow Syd's shambolic lead, but the band here doesn't even seem to be trying.

Further damaging things, the project was assigned to a still wet-behind-the-ears producer and when he was unable to get the album finished David Gilmour and Roger Waters were brought in to try to wring some decent music out of their old bandmate. But they had their own work to get to, so they kind of hurried things along and slapped together this half-assed album.

That's not to say the album isn't worth listening to at all. The track Golden Hair is nice. A few of the other songs tend to get stuck in my head after I've listened to the disc. You can almost hear Barrett the great songwriter struggling to come through. But overall this album just sounds like what it is - a sad attempt to pull one more hit out of a mentally unbalanced ex-rock star who probably should have just been left alone.

Zabriskie Point (1970)

Zabriskie Point cover Taking another film soundtrack gig, Pink Floyd contributed a ton of material to the film Zabriskie Point, but sadly only three songs ended up on the original soundtrack album. Heartbeat Pig Meat is a psychedelic number with a thumping, pulsing drum beat over which audio clips from the movie and TV shows combine with haunted house organ that comes and goes and creepy whisperings from Waters. Crumbling Land is a catchy little country-rock tune with some nice acoustic guitar work by Gilmour. And Come In Number 51, Your Time is Up is a thinly disguised remake of the band's early non-album track Careful With that Axe, Eugene. The rest of the soundtrack was devoted to other popular bands of the 60s.

In the 1990s the soundtrack was finally reissued with a second disc of bonus tracks that included four more Pink Floyd songs (the other bonus tracks were mostly noodley guitar solos by Jerry Garcia). The Floyd songs included Country Song, which as the title hints is another countrified tune (the band seemed to be really into country music at the time) with a recurring rat-a-tat-tat drum fill by Mason and lyrics inspired by chess. Unknown Song is an instrumental and yet another countryish tune that is almost entirely carried by layers of Gilmour guitar (acoustic picking and electric slide) until the drums and bass finally kick in. The last two tracks are both versions of a piece called "Love Scene", the first being a blues jam with guitar, bass, drums and piano and the latter being a sparse, melancholy piano solo.

With that many Floyd tracks, this soundtrack almost could have been released as a Pink Floyd album, but what's really surprising is how much material they recorded that didn't get used - it fills nearly an entire CD of the Early Years boxed set. Makes me wonder why the band didn't just recycle those tracks into an album of their own.

Atom Heart Mother (1970)

Atom Heart Mother cover I have to admit that Atom Heart Mother is possibly my least favorite Pink Floyd album. I know some people love it, but it's just never grown on me much. The album cover doesn't help things - they intentionally wanted as "un-rock-and-roll" a cover as possible, so the album just features a picture of a cow without even any text listing the band or album title.

All of side one is given over to the twenty four minute long title track, which just plods along and never really seems to add up to much. Like the title track from Saucerful of Secrets it was a big stepping stone for the band, but unlike that song it doesn't really stand up as an interesting track to me. Obviously, others disagree. The live, rock-band-only versions I've heard of it make it sound like it could have at least been a pretty decent piece for the band to use for extended live improvisations. But at the time this album was made, the band had befriended composer Ron Geesin, and they invited him to add orchestration to this title track. Geesin went way overboard, slathering on a ton of brass, cellos, choir and even sound effects like motorcycles and sirens. The end result is a pretentious, bombastic mess. The band took the piece on tour, playing it with various orchestras and choirs, but that experiment was short-lived. Like I've said, there are some people who LOVE this track, but I'm definitely not one of them.

Side two on the other hand is pretty decent. It kicks off with a long, quiet ballad by Waters called If, on which he seems to be trying to come to grips with his confrontational personality ("If I were a good man, I'd understand the spaces between friends"). Sadly, it doesn't seem like he learned anything from his own song. Next is Wright's Summer '68, and upbeat and peppy tune that also takes advantage of the orchestra that was brought in to record the title track. Overall though, it's probably the least memorable song on the album. Gilmour gets the next song, Fat Old Sun. Apparently they had to lock him in the studio and refuse to let him out until he came up with a song, but the end result is a pretty tune that the band was able to greatly expand on in live performance, and which Gilmour revived in his latter-day solo tours. The album concludes with the thirteen minute long Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast which alternates musical bits (some of which are quite nice) with audio recordings of a roadie named Alan making his breakfast and talking about touring with the band. This track catches a lot of heat from fans for being a waste of space, but I kind of like it. I think if they'd released it with just the musical bits arranged in a suite, it would have a much better reputation, but as it is it represents one of the band's early forays into adding speech and sound effects to their music, something they'd perfect on Dark Side of the Moon.

The original vinyl version of the album ended by having the dripping of Alan's faucet go into an infinite loop in the final groove of the record. A neat trick, that. All in all, while this will never be one of my favorite Floyd albums, it's not too bad. I honestly don't think Pink Floyd ever released an out-and-out bad album.

Music From the Body (1970)

Music From the Body cover This is probably the weirdest album ever released by any member of Pink Floyd. Another soundtrack, this time for a documentary about the human body, on this disc Roger Waters teamed up with Atom Heart Mother orchestrator Ron Geesin to create an album of music performed largely via noises made by the human body.

The end result is...novel. If you enjoy the sounds of farts and percussion provided by slaps and claps, you'd probably dig this record. There's one track that's just the sound of someone snoring and then hysterical laughter (I'm assuming Ron and Roger pulled some trick on the sleeper). There are a few tracks where they had to break down and actually use musical instruments, such as the song Breath which many claim is a precursor to the Dark Side of the Moon track of the same name (although it doesn't sound much like it to me). There are also a couple songs about embryos that may have inspired (or been inspired) by the Floyd track of the same name. And there's also a song at the end called Give Birth to a Smile that features all of Pink Floyd.

In the end though, this is an album that's for fanatical Floyd fans only. If you never find a copy, you're not really missing that much. I've probably listened to the whole thing less than five times since tracking it down as an expensive import CD back in the 90s.

Barrett (1970)

Barrett cover Considering how the first attempt went, it seems like it was a bad idea to try to get another solo album out of Syd Barrett less than a year later. This time David Gilmour and Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright were the producers and they tried a strategy of getting Syd to explain the basic structure of the song, which they would then build into a respectable rock track. Once the professional sounding backing track was done, Syd would sing and play guitar over it.

The end result is an album that sounds way better than The Madcap Laughs, but still isn't likely to thrill most folks outside of the Syd Barrett fan club. If I had to choose one of the two albums to listen to though, Barrett is the clear winner. It has a few memorable songs like Baby Lemonade, Rats and Gigolo Aunt. Gilmour even paid tribute to Syd by reviving the song Dominoes on his latter-day tours.

But the track that really stands out for me is Effervescing Elephant. Some might dismiss it as a novelty tune or bit of fluff, but to me it sounds like it could have easily appeared on Piper and been one of the better tracks on the album. Amidst jungle noises, Syd starts strumming the guitar and telling the tale of an elephant who comes to warn all the little creatures that a hungry tiger is on the loose. The lyrics are clever and have great rhymes, such as the ending where the tiger shows up and informs the small creatures "You're all too scant...I'll eat the elephant". A charming but brief track at just over two minutes long.

Relics (1971)

Relics cover This was the band's first compilation album, which their record company released as a budget item in order to keep the band in the public eye while they worked on Meddle. It wasn't so much a "greatest hits" (because the band hadn't had many hits yet, at least not in the States) as it was a collection of early singles and rarities. The album has featured at least three different covers over the years (and according to Google Images, probably more than that). The original cover was a black and white drawing that Nick Mason made of an improbable musical machine. For the CD reissue, the guys from Hipgnosis had a real version of the machine put together and photographed for the cover, then presented it to Mason as a gift. In between there was a period where the cover showed a strange four-eyed mask (that was actually a bottle opener according to Wikipedia) - that's the version I originally owned on cassette.

As if the various covers weren't strange enough, the music chosen for the compilation was certainly an unusual collection of songs. As might be expected, the band's two early hit singles (Arnold Layne and See Emily Play) were included, but also included are three b-sides from early singles (Paint Box, Julia Dream and Careful With That Axe, Eugene). From the actual albums, it seems like whoever compiled this thing went out of their way to pick the oddest tracks - from Piper we get Interstellar Overdrive and Bike. Interstellar I can understand, but Bike? That seems like a really odd choice. From Saucerful we get Remember a Day (why not Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun?) And from the More soundtrack come the first two tracks, Cirrus Minor and The Nile Song, instead of Green is the Colour or Cymbaline. Oddly, the collection ignores Ummagumma and Atom Heart Mother completely. Maybe those albums were still selling well enough that the record company felt they didn't need to be promoted via this collection.

To make sure completist fans (like me) would buy the album, they threw in an unreleased track - a studio version of Biding My Time. It had previously been performed live (under the title Afternoon) as part of the unreleased "The Man and the Journey" suite, but this is the only official studio version. It's kind of a shame that it's hidden away on an obscure disc of early rarities because it's actually one of my favorite Pink Floyd songs. It starts out as a bluesy little number about trying to avoid working nine to five and quickly builds up into a big band showstopper. Great tune.

All in all, this is just a strange bunch of songs that, on paper, doesn't seem like it should amount to much. But the crazy thing is that this album adds up to more than the sum of its parts. I first heard it back when I was digging into the band's earlier material and I'm not sure if I even realized it was a compilation. It quickly became one of my favorite "early Floyd albums" and I listened to it a ton during my college years.

Meddle (1971)

Meddle cover If one had to draw a line between the early psychedelic/experimental Pink Floyd and the later "mature" Pink Floyd, this album would probably be that line. The album cover was meant to represent sound waves entering an ear (by overlaying a close-up of an ear with ripples caused by water droplets), but unless you owned the original vinyl fold-out cover it was hard to tell that's what you were supposed to be seeing. The cover of the original CD release that I owned was particularly bad, with the picture somewhat blurry and the color completely washed out. I had no idea what I was looking at.

But while the cover may have been botched, the music inside was some of the best that the band had come up with so far. It opens with One Of These Days, in which multitracked and reverberated bass guitar provides an edgy energy that really propels the song along, until it reaches the point where Nick Mason threatens to cut you into little pieces and the track explodes into a frenzy. That madness is followed up by a couple beautiful, folky acoustic tracks and a tongue-in-cheek upbeat little number about vacationing in San Tropez. Side one is rounded out with a blues tune about an old hound dog named Seamus, with the novelty of having the dog howl along.

But the real showcase of this album is side two, which entirely taken up by the song Echoes. This track both showed how far Pink Floyd had come since the Syd Barrett days and gave a strong hint of what was to come. The band cobbled it together by going into a studio and recording whatever ideas they came up with and then arranging them into one long piece. Given that birthing process, it's kind of surprising that the song flows as one coherent whole as well as it does, although you can still kind of hear the individual bits. It starts out with a keyboard ping that sounds like sonar, and then gradually builds up an instrumental opening. There are some ocean-themed lyrics about waves, coral caves and things that are green and submarine, and then the song goes into a more energetic instrumental section with pulsing bass. That eventually gives way to a section of eerie drones and screaming guitar that sounds like possessed seagulls flying over a haunted beach at midnight. Once that bit fades away the music starts building up again and eventually reaches a section of multi-tracked guitar parts that make Gilmour sound like a one-man orchestra. Then a final refrain of lyrics that end with throwing the windows wide and calling across the sky before waves of angelic voices that seem to be ever-rising in pitch carry us off to the final fade-out.

If you're like some of my friends from college who were big fans of Dark Side through The Wall but never dug any further back into the band's catalog, you really should give Meddle a try. It's a worthy prequel.

Live at Pompeii (1972)

Live at Pompeii cover This concert film almost makes up for the fact that the pre-Dark Side Floyd never put out a live album (apart from the first record of Ummagumma). Shot mostly in an ancient, empty amphitheater in Pompeii, this hour-long movie does a nice job of capturing great live performances of early standout tracks like Echoes, One of These Days, Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun, Careful With That Axe Eugene and Saucerful of Secrets. The catch is that it's not entirely "live" - most of the songs are stitched together from multiple takes and some of the footage has a staged look, with performances that seem almost too perfect. But the guy who directed the film did a nice job of using long zoom-ins, adding atmospheric shots of Pompeii, filming whichever player was currently the focus of the music and creating an overall otherworldly performance.

Later the movie was expanded to 80 minutes with the addition of interviews and studio footage, filmed while the band was recording Dark Side of the Moon. Can't get better than that.

Unfortunately the director thought he could do better, so decades later in 2003 he decided to create a "Director's Cut" and release it on DVD. He changed the aspect ratio to fit widescreen TVs (which ruined the composition of a lot of shots) and overlaid a lot of the original footage with computer-generated graphics that stick out like a sore thumb. Fortunately the original hour-long version was included as a bonus feature, but it would have been nice if the original 80 minute version had been on there too. That Director's Cut is a travesty.

And then to add insult to injury, when the expensive Early Years boxed set came out it included yet another version of the movie which took the Director's Cut and chopped it up, editing the two parts of Echoes (which originally perfectly bookended the film) into a single song (by crossfading part 1 into part 2) and dropping the unique, howlin' dog blues track Mademoiselle Nobs entirely. On the plus side, the audio was remixed into 5.1 surround sound, but even that had some of the keyboard parts overdriven and distorted. It seems like each time a new version of this movie comes out, it craps a little more on the earlier versions.

Anyway, if you're a fan of early Floyd and have never seen this movie, you need to track down a copy ASAP. Just don't watch the Director's Cut version or the Early Years version until you've seen the original.

Obscured by Clouds (1972)

Obscured by Clouds cover Considering that Obscured by Clouds came out just months before Dark Side of the Moon, it's a surprisingly overlooked entry in the band's catalog. My wife recently bought me a glossy magazine that was all about Pink Floyd and proclaimed on the cover "THE STORY BEHIND EVERY ALBUM"! Guess which album isn't mentioned even once in the magazine? Yep, Obscured. They even had a page for the More soundtrack, so I don't know how they forgot about this one.

This album is also a soundtrack, for the mostly French-language film "La Vallee". Other than the title track over the credits and little snippets here and there of other songs, the movie doesn't actually feature that much music. So Pink Floyd decided to release the music as their own album and changed the title from "La Vallee" to "Obscured by Clouds". In response, the filmmaker re-titled the movie "La Vallee (Obscured by Clouds)".

I've always had a soft spot for this disc. It hangs together really well as an album, and to me sounds like a logical precursor to Dark Side. There are some great individual songs on this one like Burning Bridges and "The Gold It's In the...". "Wot's...Uh the Deal" is a particular favorite with its breezy acoustic guitars and lyrics about coming to grips with getting older. Waters' Free Four is another good one, with really upbeat, almost bouncy music set against lyrics about death - singing lines like "You shuffle in the gloom of a sick room, and talk to yourself as you die" in a peppy, happy voice used to be a bit of a running joke amongst my friends in college. The Wright-sung tune Stay sounds on the surface like a beautiful love song until you realize it's about a guy who just had a one night stand and now can't even remember the girl's name.

The album also features more instrumentals than most Pink Floyd albums. It opens with the moody title track, and just when you think that's over track two begins with staccato drum hits that bring the main theme roaring back. Mudmen is another track without lyrics, and the album closes with the odd instrumental Absolutely Curtains, which features the natives of the valley singing something (in the movie it sounds like Kumbaya, on the album it just sounds like eerie chanting).

This is yet another Pink Floyd album with an interesting cover - it looks like a very out-of-focus shot of a shirtless man lunging forward (for some reason I always assumed it was a young David Gilmour). According to Wikipedia, it's a blurry still frame from the movie of one of the characters sitting in a tree. I'll have to keep an eye out for that if I ever watch the copy of the movie in the Early Years boxed set again.

Like Meddle, this is an album that more fans of the latter-day Floyd should hear. Although it started life as the soundtrack to a French film, it morphed into a surprisingly strong Pink Floyd album.

Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

Dark Side of the Moon cover By this point, what can one say about Dark Side of the Moon that hasn't already been said a hundred times over? One of the most influential and bestselling records of all time, this album spent 736 weeks in a row on the Billboard top albums chart, from shortly after it came out in 1973 until 1988. That's 15 straight years as one of the top selling albums, and it only dropped off briefly before the popularity of the CD format put it back on the list for another 100+ weeks. Here in the 2010s, more than 40 years since the album first came out, I still see kids at music festivals that have Dark Side t-shirts, blankets, patches, you name it.

So what makes an album that universally popular? Well, in my opinion, this is the Pink Floyd recording where everything came together. Great concept (the things in life that cause stress and can drive you mad) mixed with fantastic music, songs that flow perfectly from one to another, great playing, great use of electronics and synthesizers, a beautiful mix (one of the best headphone albums of all time) and best of all those judiciously applied audio clips of everything from people talking about madness and death to chiming clocks, jingling coins and beating hearts. I'm currently listening to the quad mix of the album and I'm still hearing bits that I never noticed before.

So many of the individual songs here are classic Floyd - Time, Great Gig in the Sky, Money, Us and Them. There's a really good and oft-overlooked instrumental (Any Colour You Like) and some of Waters' best lyrics in the pair of tracks that end the album (Brain Damage/Eclipse). As an aside, when my daughter was born the doctor told us we could play music in the delivery room if we wanted to. I brought along Dark Side. I was hoping she'd be born during "Breathe in the Air", instead she delayed until "Brain Damage". Fortunately the song title was not prophetic, and my daughter loves that story and has told it to most of her friends. After the delivery, the doctor turned to me and said "That was nice music, what was it?"

If there's one "flaw" in the album, it's the song On the Run. Don't get me wrong, the song on the album is great and a wonderful use of early sequencer technology. But the album started life as a live concert piece called "Eclipse", and originally On the Run was an instrumental jam that featured some fantastic guitar work. After hearing bootlegs of that version, I really wish the band had either kept it or found some way to work both versions into the album. Oh well.

That stark, graphically perfect cover of a light beam entering a prism and emerging as a rainbow probably also helped the album's popularity. As one of the band members (Mason?) once said, it would have been the perfect album cover no matter what album it went on, the fact that it suits Dark Side so well is just a bonus. I saw an interview with designer Storm Thorgerson where he said he presented ten different cover concepts for the album and the band instantly chose the prism cover. He said "I spent a lot of time on this, could you at least look at the other nine?" and they said "Nope, that's the one we want". And they were absolutely right.

If, somehow, you've gotten this far in life without hearing Dark Side of the Moon I want you to close this page right now and go buy yourself a copy. And don't just download the music off iTunes or whatever - you need a physical copy of this album. It's a necessity of life.

Wish You Were Here (1975)

Wish You Were Here cover After Dark Side's massive success, the pressure was on Pink Floyd to deliver a worthy follow-up album. How did they respond? By crafting another absolute classic.

Inspired by Syd Barrett's departure from the group and descent into (relative) madness, the album features a more-than-side-long suite called Shine On You Crazy Diamond. It was so long it had to be split across both sides of the original vinyl, taking up the first three quarters of side one and the second half of side two. The piece begins with synthesizers (and ringing wine glasses) doing a long, long fade-up out of absolute silence. I still remember how thrilled a friend of mine was in college when he got this album on CD and could finally hear that beginning without tape hiss. The long, nearly-static synth notes finally give way to Gilmour's reverb-drenched guitar playing a simple four-note motif that perfectly sets the tone of the piece. After some inspired, blues-based guitar soloing Waters' plaintive voice finally kicks in with lyrics about Syd's genius and how it just wasn't suited for fame and the pressures of the world, a theme continued from Dark Side and run with throughout this album. After the lyrics there's a sax solo and a couple more minutes of instrumental music before the first section of the song fades out and gives way to the more conventional songs.

The middle of the album is made up of three songs, Welcome To the Machine, Have a Cigar and Wish You Were Here. The first track (complete with machine-like sound effects) sounds like it could have been a leftover from Dark Side, but would have been equally at home on The Wall. The lyrics are about someone (Syd?) torn between remaining a child (provided with toys and "Scouting for Boys") and becoming a big rock star, playing a mean guitar and driving a fancy car. In the end those dreams are chewed up and spit out by the machine that is the rock and roll industry. And in case you didn't get the message, the next song works the same theme, with a smarmy music executive offering the band cigars and raving about their sales numbers ("You gotta get an album out! You owe it to the people! We're so happy we can hardly count.") all the while thinking the lead singer's name is actually Pink. The cynicism is reflected in the cover's photo of a handshake in what looks like a movie lot, with one of the parties literally getting burned (and taking a piece of the frame with him).

The bitter edge that the album achieved through the previous two songs lets up for the heartfelt acoustic ballad that is the title track. A simple tune about missing their former bandmate, this was the first song I ever learned how to play on acoustic guitar, and probably the only one I could still fumble my way through. The message of the song kind of contradicts what went before though - if the music business is such a greedy hassle, why would they want Syd to come back to that? Ironically, while they were recording the album Barrett showed up out of the blue at the recording studio. It had been so long since anyone had seen him that the band didn't even recognize him at first. From the story I read, Syd showed up with some song ideas, as if he assumed he was still part of the band and had no idea that they had moved on without him. Once he realized the situation, he snuck off when no one was looking. A sad story, really.

At any rate, the album concludes with the second part of Shine On, opening with wind effects and gradually building into another long instrumental with a middle section that reprises the opening lyrics. Overall this is a really strong album, and depending on mood and which one I've heard more recently, I might even rate it over Dark Side of the Moon. Oddly though, I rarely find myself reaching for Wish You Were Here. Maybe I burned myself out on it by listening to it too many times in college. Still a fantastic album though.

Animals (1977)

Animals cover Out of the string of bestselling Floyd albums, this one often seems overlooked by casual fans. Possibly because it's one of the darkest and harshest things Pink Floyd ever put out. But damn, is it a good album. Based loosely on Orwell's book Animal Farm, the lyrics break society down into three types of people - Pigs (politicians and people who take things by manipulating the system), Dogs (the military and people who take things by force) and Sheep (the poor rabble preyed upon by the Pigs and Dogs - in other words, most of us).

The album contains five songs, although the first and last (Pigs on the Wing parts 1 and 2) are basically just short acoustic ballads that act as an intro and conclusion to the concept. Of the three big songs on the album, two of them had been around for a while and had been performed in concert as "Raving and Drooling" and "You Gotta Be Crazy". In fact, Gilmour had wanted to put those two songs on Wish You Were Here, but Waters foresaw that they would fit nicely into this concept album format, so he successfully argued for saving them for the next album.

Musically this is probably Pink Floyd's rawest album. A lot of reviews say that the band was influenced by or trying to keep up with the rising popularity of punk rock, but this album doesn't sound punky at all. It just sounds like very angry, very energized Floyd. Gilmour contributed a lot of blistering, crunchy guitar work to the album, particularly the big wall-of-guitar climax to Sheep (I once told a friend that that was my favorite part of the album, and he replied "That's everyone's favorite part of the album"). Waters is very active on bass. Mason's not quite as noticeable on drums - some have pointed out that his drumming style was more suited to the band's early improv/psychedelic style and less to their later "arena rock" style. Kind of hard to argue that point, really. Over the band's history, he had contributed a lot of the tape manipulation and sound effects to Floyd albums, so maybe he's the one that added the grunting pigs and braying sheep.

One of the musical highlights of the album is the keyboard work. From the pastoral electric piano that opens Sheep to the acidic tones and odd fills of the rest of the album, there's some fantastic playing here. Was it all done by Rick Wright? I'd like to think so, but a lot of it doesn't sound like his style, and he was pretty much on his way out of the band at this point, so I wouldn't be surprised if it was mostly Waters or Gilmour or a session guy providing those keys.

Wright wasn't the only one having troubles in the band. Although their musical output was still strong, behind the scenes things were getting tense. Waters had been providing most of the band's lyrics since Dark Side of the Moon and was gradually assuming a dictatorship over the group. Gilmour wasn't happy about Roger pushing him into a supporting role, and this dissatisfaction would grow over the next couple albums.

Wet Dream (1978)

Wet Dream cover Finding himself on the verge of being pushed out of Pink Floyd, Rick Wright decided to record a solo album - the first from a member of Pink Floyd since the attempts to get a record out of Syd Barrett almost a decade earlier. And while Wet Dream doesn't come up often in discussions of Floyd-related music, it's actually a pretty good album. No, strike that - it's a really good album. I wonder if the album's title didn't scare off potential buyers. I understand that it's a pun based on Wright's love of sailing, but really...what self-respecting rock-and-roller wanted to take a record called Wet Dream with a picture of a guy's ass on the cover up to the counter for purchase?

If you did buy it, you were in for a treat. I'm guessing that Wright had a backlog of musical ideas that were either rejected by Waters or just didn't fit in with the albums that Pink Floyd were making. All of those ideas came flooding out (no pun intended) on this disc. The album is about an even mix of instrumentals and songs with lyrics, and while the music is melodic and often beautiful, the general mood is a melancholy that seems to be Wright's preferred style. Many of the lyrics deal with loss such as the ending of a romantic relationship. There's even a longing tribute to Syd Barrett called Pink's Song. While Wikipedia categorizes the album as progressive rock or jazz fusion, I wouldn't really say it fits into either of those - it's just well composed, mostly relaxed rock music bordering on easy listening. Maybe too mellow for some, but a great album to chill out to while having a few drinks on a summer day.

Even though this is a keyboardist's solo album, the keys aren't always the featured instrument. There's a good bit of tasteful keyboard work, but it's often in the background under saxophone solos and some nice guitar work. While Wright was a multi-instrumentalist who probably could have played most of the parts himself, he decided to bring in Mel Collins on sax and Snowy White on guitar. A wise choice.

If this is one of those Floydian albums that slipped under your radar, it's worth tracking down (unless you have to pay an arm and a leg for it). It's a nice addition to any Pink Floyd collection.

David Gilmour (1979)

David Gilmour cover Like Wright, Gilmour was increasingly frustrated by Waters' growing control over Pink Floyd and the subsequent lessening of his songwriting input. So he also decided to record a solo album. And like Wright's Wet Dream, the self-titled David Gilmour is a really nice mix of instrumentals and lyrical songs. The difference is that the focus here is mostly on the guitar as one would expect, with most tracks featuring Gilmour playing both backing parts and lead solos. The songs are generally blues-based and often upbeat and rockin'. It seems like both musicians used their first solo album to record appealing, melodic rock music that just wouldn't have quite fit on a Pink Floyd disc (although Gilmour reportedly wrote a demo for this album that eventually became Comfortably Numb).

For this record Gilmour got back together with the members of his pre-Floyd band Jokers Wild. If this is an example of what that band would have become if Dave hadn't joined Pink Floyd, it just adds to the tragedy of the Syd Barrett story. If Syd had stayed in Floyd, we might have gotten two great bands. The bass work on David Gilmour is particularly good, with Rick Wills sticking to the structure of the songs but throwing in a lot of neat little fills here and there. The track Short and Sweet was co-written by Roy Harper who had sung the song Have a Cigar on the Wish You Were Here album.

If you're one to read into song titles, you might guess that tracks like There's No Way Out of Here and I Can't Breathe Anymore were indicative of how Gilmour felt about Pink Floyd at the time. But that's pure conjecture.

I can't think of much else to say about this album. It's a great collection of music. It's one of those albums that only gets played occasionally, but when I do pull it out I'm always left wondering why I don't listen to it more often. A solid first solo effort from David Gilmour.

The Wall (1979)

The Wall cover As Pink Floyd's fame grew over the course of the 1970s, their concert venues got bigger and bigger until they were mostly playing huge stadium shows. Waters (who would later become king of the huge stadium spectacle show) wasn't happy about this. He was used to the smaller venues from the band's early days, where people actually came to listen to the music. It seemed to him that big stadium shows mostly drew people who couldn't care less about the music and were just there to get drunk and make nuisances of themselves (an opinion I wholeheartedly agree with, which is why I only went to a handful of stadium shows in my youth and then gave up on them). He reached a tipping point during the Animals tour when a particularly obnoxious fan tried to climb up on stage, causing Roger to spit at him. That shocked Waters to his core and eventually lead to the concept of artists being so alienated from their fans that they could actually build a wall between the band and the crowd...hmm, there might be something to that...

The end result was The Wall, an album that is about 80% Waters, 20% Gilmour and maybe a bit of Nick Mason. Wright plays some keyboards on the album, but the others (especially Waters) felt that he wasn't pulling his weight, so by the time the album was finished he was officially kicked out of the band. To maintain appearances he was hired as a "session musician" for the Wall tour. Ironically, the tour turned out to be so expensive that the other three lost a considerable amount of money on it, but since Wright was getting a salary he's the only one who turned a profit.

Depending on who you talk to, some will tell you that The Wall is far and away the band's best album, while others will say it's a bloated, self-pitying piece of junk. I think it depends largely on when you first hear it. In my teenage college days, I loved this album and identified with its theme of alienation caused by oppressive forces. Can't say it's one I listen to much anymore, but when I do I'm reminded of what a strong album it is.

The band's only double studio work (Ummagumma was a double, but it was half live), this is a true rock opera. It tells the tale of a rock star named Pink, who is a lightly fictionalized version of Waters himself. Pink has fame and fortune, but he also has a lot of problems and baggage. He never got over his father dying in World War II, his mother was overprotective and domineering, he pictures his school years as being shoved through a meat grinder, his manager keeps him pumped full of drugs so he can keep touring and now his wife is cheating on him. All of these things become metaphorical bricks in a wall that Pink builds to protect himself from life, and once the wall is completed, things get really weird. Pink slips into some sort of fascist fantasy, picturing himself as a Hitler-like leader, and his fans as his blindly loyal followers. In the end he puts himself on trial in his mind and the judge decrees that the wall must come down.

One could criticize the album for being a little heavy on lyrics and concept but light on actual music - the most noticeably musical tracks are ones that Gilmour contributed to like Comfortably Numb and Run Like Hell. But there are other good individual songs - Another Brick in the Wall, Mother, Goodbye Blue Sky, etc. In fact, there are probably enough good songs here that this could have been a very solid single album, but expanding it out to a double added some filler and allowed Roger to indulge in his worst excesses. That said, there's a reason this is one of the band's most popular albums - if you're into raw angst and emotion, The Wall has it in spades.

The album spawned a feature film that combines live action with disturbing animation to tell the tale. The movie stars Bob Geldof as Pink, which is ironic considering that he was one of the young punks at the time who specifically identified Pink Floyd as a dinosaur band that had to go. Shows what they knew.

In addition to the album and the film, the concept also became a massive piece of theater (which is why the tour lost money) in which an actual, physical wall was built between the band and the audience during the first half, and then destroyed at the end of the show. In between, performers stayed out of sight behind the wall, or played in front of it or on top of it, or even in a cut-out room built into the wall. Although the band only performed it in a handful of cities (in the States I think it was just New York and Los Angeles), Waters later performed it as a solo piece at the site of the then-recently-destroyed Berlin Wall, and then in the 2010s took the show on a massive tour that lasted for three years. By now Waters and The Wall have become pretty much synonymous and I guess he's figured out how to actually make money performing it (hint: it involves charging outrageous prices for tickets, which plenty of people are willing to pay).

Nick Mason's Fictitious Sports (1981)

Nick Mason's Fictitious Sports cover With Wright and Gilmour putting out solo albums, it was only a matter of time before Nick Mason followed. In fact, this album was recorded around the same time as Wet Dream and David Gilmour, but its release was delayed for a couple years. Although technically this is a Nick Mason solo album (his only one), the music was written by avant-jazz composer Carla Bley and performed by a band full of big names from the British music scene (Bley, Robert Wyatt, Steve Swallow, Michael Mantler, etc). The result is a really odd disc. Most of the music is quirky but not so far off the beaten path that rock fans can't enjoy it. A lot of it features a big horn section. Where the album gets truly weird though is in the lyrics.

Side one begins with Can't Get My Motor To Start, a song that's literally about a female motorist who can't get her car to start and a bunch of "helpful" men who offer advice from "try pulling out on the choke" to "try putting beer in the tank" to "let's push it over the hill". Eventually the driver exclaims "What did you do to my car?", to which the men reply "Well, we took it apart, but we can't make it start!" Next comes I Was Wrong, a track about a guy who never believed in UFOs...until one night when he saw one. Other oddities include Boo To You Too, a song about a band booing back at an unappreciative audience and I'm a Mineralist about a man who literally loves minerals (best line: "I'll go blind from balling bearings, doctors have warned").

Musically this one's not as weird as Music From the Body, but lyrically it's pretty out there. For some reason (maybe because it's so strange) I really like this disc.

The Final Cut (1983)

The Final Cut cover This album's title works on a number of levels - it's the name of a song on the album, it's a reference to suicide (by wrist-cutting) in the lyrics and it was nearly the final Pink Floyd album. I almost wish the post-Waters albums had just been released as David Gilmour solo works so The Final Cut would have stood as the final Floyd album. Oh well.

Even more so than The Wall, this album was Roger's baby from the word go. Originally conceived as an EP called "Spare Bricks" that would have collected together songs that appeared in the Wall movie but not on the album (like When the Tigers Broke Free), it quickly evolved into a new anti-war album sparked by Waters' outrage at the Falkland Islands conflict. Roger wrote all the lyrics and almost all of the music, with Gilmour contributing just a few guitar solos and Mason some sound effects. Because of this, many fans say the disc is really a Waters solo album, but it bears the Pink Floyd name.

The Final Cut has long been one of my favorite Floyd albums. This may be partly because it was the most recent Pink Floyd album at the time I got into the band, and it may be largely due to those late-night sing-alongs in college with friends who also loved the album. But I think I like it mostly because The Final Cut takes all that angst and emotion from The Wall, boils it down to a single disc and sharpens it to a razor edge.

That's not to say the album doesn't have its flaws. When the opening lines of your album compare your father's death in WWII to the crucifixion of Christ and then throw a racial slur for the Japanese in for good measure, you may have gone a bit too far. But I like the overkill. I like Gilmour's emotional guitar solos, the perfect use of sound effects and even the orchestration that stands in for Wright's missing keyboards. But most of all, I like Roger's lyrical imagery and barely controlled English rage.

This is an album that really needs to be listened to from beginning to end as a single work, but there are a couple individual tracks that stand out. Not Now John is an excellent rocker which I was shocked to discover was released as a single, until I read that the repeated use of a four letter word beginning with "f" was changed to "stuff" on the single (kind of robs the song of its edge, doesn't it?) The album's closer, Two Suns in the Sunset, is absolutely chilling once you realize what it's about (nuclear holocaust). "Ashes and diamonds, foe and friend, we were all equal in the end". Brilliant.

If you're one of those people who think The Final Cut is a boring mess that should have been released as a Waters solo album, you are of course entitled to your opinion even if it's wrong. Gilmour agreed with you and the band fell apart after this album, with the band members suing each other (Roger trying to retire the Pink Floyd name and Gilmour/Mason trying to take control of it). Eventually the Gilmour camp won, but it seemed like the band might have been broken beyond repair as the eighties dragged on and the band members released their solo albums, but no new Pink Floyd disc looked to be forthcoming.

Works (1983)

Works cover I've listed this one as a non-band album (in case you haven't noticed, I've been showing the covers of "band" albums on the left and solo or non-band albums on the right) because it reeks of a record company attempt to cash in on what looked at the time like the corpse of a popular band.

This "best of" compilation was released by Capitol records, which had been Pink Floyd's American label up to and including Dark Side of the Moon. It's an odd mix of early singles, tracks from early albums like Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun, Several Species of Small Furry Animals and Free Four, and tracks from Meddle and Dark Side of the Moon. The Dark Side tracks that were chosen were not the obvious ones like Money or Time, but rather more obscure tracks like Brain Damage and Eclipse. There are no songs from the band's popular later albums Wish You Were Here and The Wall because Capitol Records didn't have the rights to those albums.

I'm really not sure who this compilation was supposed to appeal to - the track listing is too weird for casual fans and the hard core fans already had most of these songs although some of tracks here sound like they were remixed (Wikipedia says they were quadraphonic mixes that were downgraded to stereo) and they're segued together to make the whole thing flow like these songs were intended to go together. The only reason I bought the album was because it contained an unreleased track called Embryo which, it turns out, the band had not given permission to release because they considered it an unfinished demo. Ironically, this was the second time the song had been released on a compilation (the first time was on a 70s multi-band sampler called Picnic).

If you're into the weirder, more obscure side of Floyd, this album actually does make for an interesting listen. I know I enjoyed popping it into my cassette player as I walked to class back in my college years, and even re-purchased it on CD when the tape wore out. But for casual fans who have heard a few Pink Floyd songs on the radio and are looking to investigate further, this probably isn't the place to start. There was an earlier compilation with the sarcastic title A Collection of Great Dance Songs that would be of more interest to beginners since it contains more well-known songs like Money, Sheep, Wish You Were Here and Another Brick in the Wall. I never bought it because it didn't seem to contain any previously unreleased material, although apparently that version of Money was completely re-recorded by David Gilmour (because Capitol held the rights to Dark Side and refused to license the song) and a couple of the other tracks are shortened "single" versions. There have also been multiple compliations released in more recent years, but I've never bothered buying them because they were all just retreads of material I already owned.

About Face (1984)

About Face cover With Pink Floyd in mothballs, David Gilmour decided to have another try at a solo album. For a long time this and his self-titled album were Gilmour's only solo releases (it would be 22 years before On An Island came out), and I could never quite decide which of these two I liked better. If you're into blues-based jamming, guitar riffs and solos, the first album is the winner. If you prefer more through-composed, song-oriented material, you'd probably go for About Face.

A highlight of the album is the song Murder, which online sources say is Gilmour's reaction to the death of John Lennon (although you'd never know that from just listening to it). Starting out as an acoustic ballad, the lyrics question the killer's motives ("What was it brought you out here in the dark? Was it your only way of making your mark?") before a great fretless bass line launches the song into a more intense, rocking second half. The first time I heard this song was around Christmas - for some reason I decided to go for a twilight bike ride and listen to this newly acquired tape on headphones, and after I got a couple miles from the house it started snowing heavily. That's the mental image I'll always associate with the song - riding bike in the dark during a snowstorm.

A couple of the tracks feature lyrics by Who guitarist Pete Townshend - Love on the Air and All Lovers are Deranged. Not surprising that both songs almost sound more like Townshend solo tracks than Gilmour songs. Love on the Air is particularly good. Another good track is Let's Get Metaphysical, which is sort of a guitar concerto with Gilmour playing one of his patented soaring, emotional electric guitar solos over backing music provided by a full orchestra.

There are a couple missteps on the disc. Blue Light attempts to be a funky pop tune, with Gilmour towards the end even saying something like "I don't know if you go for this funky sort of thing, but I can get down with the best of them." Ew, no. You're trying too hard, Dave. And the song Cruise seems to be Gilmour's attempt to do a Roger Waters style song, with the lyrics on the surface being about an old blues singer, but actually being a really ham-fisted protest against nuclear cruise missiles. Worst of all, it suddenly turns into a reggae song at the end. Another groaner.

Overall though, this is a pretty good album. If I absolutely had to choose, I'd probably take David Gilmour over this one, but you could definitely combine the best tracks from the two discs and come up with one really great album.

The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking (1984)

The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking cover This was Roger Waters' first solo album and probably would have been Pink Floyd's next disc if they hadn't broken up. The story goes that following the Animals tour, Roger presented the band with two demos he had recorded - the first was a rough version of this album and the second was a rough version of The Wall. The band decided to do the latter, so Roger saved this one for a solo album. Listening to it, you can hear musical themes that also cropped up on The Wall and The Final Cut, with this album sounding very similar in tone to the latter. Roger, knowing that he works well with a talented, blues-oriented guitarist, brought in Eric Clapton to play guitar on this disc.

By this time Roger's strength was his lyrics, and that's clearly the focus here. The concept is kind of muddled - my impression was always that the album describes a series of dreams and nightmares the protagonist has, thus the song subtitles that indicate each song occurring between 4:30 and 5:11 in the morning. According to Wikipedia, it's the story of a man undergoing a midlife crisis while on a late-night road trip, having a fantasy about picking up a young hitchhiker and having an affair with her. But that doesn't quite explain some of the more surreal images like Arabs with knives at the foot of the bed, or the song where the lady of the house puts the family dog between two pieces of bread and eats it. Like most of Waters' latter-day works, there's probably enough here to keep a psychoanalyst busy for years. At any rate, if you like The Wall and particularly The Final Cut, then you should dig up a copy of Pros and Cons if you've never heard it. It took a long time to grow on me, but now I quite like it.

I should mention that the album cover caused a bit of controversy. It originally featured a female hitchhiker wearing only a backpack standing along the road facing away from the camera (with her rear to the viewer). Believe it or not, back in the mid-80s that was considered too racy for a rock album cover. Plus women's groups protested that it was sexist (cue Spinal Tap "What's wrong with sexy?"). So later releases of the album (including the CD I own) put a black bar over the girl's butt. Interestingly, when I tried to find the cover image to include on this page, there were dozens of the uncensored version on the web, and it took me a long while to find a usable one with the black bar.

Profiles (1985)

Profiles cover Credited to Nick Mason and Rick Fenn (of the band 10cc), this album was probably mostly written by Fenn, with Mason's name attached to boost sales figures. I'm guessing Mason does actually do some drumming on this disc, but a lot of it sounds like typical 80s drum machines. In fact, between the drum machines and early digital keyboards, this disc is probably the most 80s sounding thing to come out of the Floyd camp, with the possible exception of Waters' Radio KAOS.

The music is mostly upbeat, peppy pop tunes. A couple have lyrics, but most are instrumentals. The second song on the album, Lie For a Lie, is sung by David Gilmour and is insanely catchy. It has "attempt at a hit single in the style of 80s Genesis" written all over it. There are some other nice tracks here too. Rhoda is sort of a laid-back, almost R&B song and Black Ice is a driving rocker with some mean sounding guitar (at one point while listening to it, I started singing "Running on ice...running on black ice" in my head along with the main melody, and now I can't hear the song without mentally hearing those non-existent lyrics). If you can deal with the 80s keyboard sounds, "Profiles parts 1 & 2" is a neat, bouncy little instrumental.

All in all this is a fairly nice little album. I doubt either guy involved would point to it as a career highlight, but it's a fun listen. I lucked into a copy of this on CD - back in the days just prior to the internet really taking off there was a short-lived mail-order music company called Noteworthy Music, and I somehow got on their mailing list so they sent me catalogs every couple months. One of their specialties was obscure solo albums and side projects of the big name 70s progressive rock bands - that's where I found Profiles and Fictitious Sports and how I filled in a lot of the holes in my collection of solo albums by the various members of Yes.

When the Wind Blows (1986)

When the Wind Blows cover This is the soundtrack album to a mid-80s animated film about an elderly couple who don't know how to cope with the fallout and aftermath of a nuclear war. That sounds like a topic that's right up Roger Water's alley, and indeed he contributed all of side two. The first side is a mix songs of other well-known British artists (David Bowie, Genesis, Squeeze, etc).

Roger's suite of music is, quite frankly, chilling. Even now, thirty years later, I don't think I've heard a better representation of the nuclear fears of the 80s. The elderly couple tries to figure out where they're going to get water from, and decide "there's nothing more pure than rain water". Hilda's hair starts falling out and it's heartbreaking. And that's all just background to some of the most flesh-creeping music that Roger has created. The synth sounds of the nuclear bombs going off are just perfect, as are the rattling bone sounds used as percussion. The song Folded Flags, about the futility of war, is classic Waters - "You can prove your point, but your kids will still be dead".

I've never seen the actual movie (and I'm not sure I'd want to), but the soundtrack is a must-hear, especially for fans of Waters' anti-war music. Be sure to listen through headphones to catch all the dialog bits from the movie. Like after the bombs fall and Hilda comments that she can smell roasting meat, and her husband tries to pass it off with "I expect people will be having their Sunday dinners early due to the unforeseen circumstances". And when he starts reading bible verses and Hilda says "I liked that part about the green pastures", but when he gets to the valley of death part she resignedly says "No more, love, no more."

A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987)

Momentary Lapse of Reason cover Initially slated to be the third David Gilmour solo album, once all the court cases were settled and it was clear that Gilmour and Nick Mason owned the Pink Floyd name it became obvious to all that there was a lot more money to be made from a new Pink Floyd record than a new David Gilmour record. So Bob Ezrin, the producer of The Wall, was brought in to work with Dave's material and help shape it into a Pink Floyd album. Rick Wright, while still not a full member of the band, was brought in to play keyboards, appear in the band photos in the CD booklet and generally give the disc more of the air of an official Pink Floyd album. Detractors say that because of all this, Momentary Lapse doesn't really qualify as a Floyd album. To that I say - how do you think most big rock records get made?

Whatever its backstory is, I think this is a sadly under-appreciated album. It was the first new Pink Floyd disc to come out since I had become a fan, and it was also one of the first CDs I ever owned, so I listened to this album a ton in 1987 and 1988. The supporting tour was also the first big concert I ever went to, so this era of Pink Floyd was pretty much destined to become a favorite of mine. But I still think the album stands up well. I've read criticism that it used too much 80s technology and therefore sounds dated. I don't hear it. I think songs like On the Turning Away, Terminal Frost and Sorrow are up there with some of the best the band ever recorded.

The album opens with the mood-setting instrumental Signs of Life (a winking reference to the rumors of Pink Floyd's death being premature) and then launches into the "hit single" from the album, Learning to Fly. Inspired by Gilmour's pilot lessons, this song was given the "Floyd treatment" with lots of background effects, but was still catchy enough for radio play.

The album isn't perfect though, as we get to The Dogs of War. This is another track that strikes me as Gilmour attempting to do a Waters-type Floyd track, and it just doesn't work - dumb lyrics coupled with annoying music. For me, it's the weak link of the album. The next track, One Slip, is my guilty pleasure of the album, with its sequenced keyboards, sound effects and infectious music. The album's title comes from the lyrics to this song, where we learn that the momentary lapse of reason is giving in to lust and then finding yourself tied for life to someone you don't really like.

On The Turning Away is one of Gilmour's best "message" songs, with lyrics about not turning away from the problems of the world (which fit in well with the mid-80s musical charity trend started by Live Aid) coupled with music perfect for stadium shows and a heartfelt guitar solo. Yet Another Movie seems to have been lyrically inspired by the movie Casablanca (complete with audio clips from the film). The New Machine tracks are Dave at his weirdest, yelling about mortality through an electronic voice filter while bookending one of the most beautiful instrumentals the band ever released in Terminal Frost. The album concludes on a strong note with Sorrow, another guitar-dominated track that was perfectly suited for the laser and lights fest that was the Momentary Lapse tour.

If you've been avoiding this album due to lackluster reviews, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. In my opinion it's a very underrated disc. If you need to think of it as a Gilmour solo album, go ahead, just give it a listen.

Radio K.A.O.S (1987)

Radio KAOS cover While Dave was having massive success with Pink Floyd, Roger was playing smaller venues and working on this solo album. When Radio K.A.O.S came out, it confirmed to many fans that Gilmour really was the driving force behind Pink Floyd and Waters was...out to lunch. With its very 80s-sounding production, poppish music and baffling story line, this album seemed very un-Floydian and, frankly, a bit of a mess.

While this is far from my favorite Floyd-related album, I think it's better than its reputation. Musically, there's a lot of interesting stuff going on here. The big problem is that Roger tried to bite off way more than he could chew with the lyrics. It's a concept album, but the storyline is so convoluted that it would have been difficult to express clearly as a double album, much less as eight scant tracks. The main character is Billy, a wheelchair bound mute. OK, that part's not too unusual...but Billy can hears radio waves in his head and communicates "telepathically" via a cell phone his brother gave him. Most of the album is told through a phone call between Billy and Jim, the DJ at radio station KAOS in Los Angeles (voiced by real life DJ Jim Ladd, who was a friend of Roger's).

There's a confusing backstory about Billy having to move from Wales to America because the brother who used to take care of him was arrested for throwing a concrete block at a car or something like that. It was inspired by a real life event in which the person throwing the block was an out of work coal miner, but it doesn't fit into the album's story very well. Once arriving in the US, Billy starts calling KAOS to talk to Jim, and at one point listens to a bizarre "fish report" which was apparently another one of Waters' L.A. experiences.

Eventually Billy manages to use his radio telepathy to hack into military computers. He simulates a very real seeming nuclear attack, then calls Jim and tells him that the missiles have been launched. When Jim gets "confirmation" from his news department, he starts warning his listeners. At the last second, Billy reveals that it was all a hoax, but humanity has learned its lesson.

While the story is kind of ridiculous, I have to admit the final two tracks on the album are damned powerful. Four Minutes starts with Jim saying "Ladies and gentlemen, if the reports that we're getting are accurate, this could be IT. Billy, if you're listening, please call...", then has Roger listing all the close calls in life that make you swear you'll start living better and finally ends with Billy counting down to zero and rushing to a silent ending that sometimes makes the hair on my arms stand up. The album then concludes with The Tide is Turning, in which Waters optimistically hopes that the human race will learn to turn away from nuclear war. Kind of out of character for him, but a great song that was also a wonderful closer for his The Wall Live in Berlin concert.

If Waters had gotten rid of some of the extraneous stuff (Billy hearing radio waves in his head, the brother's story with the concrete block, etc.) and just focused on the story of a hacker who fakes a nuclear attack and calls it in to the local radio station to teach the world a lesson, this would have been a much better album. BTW, in case you wondered what that cover is all about - it lists the artist, album title and track listing in Morse code (continued on the back cover of the album).

Delicate Sound of Thunder (1988)

Delicate Sound of Thunder cover The tour in support of the Momentary Lapse album was a huge success, running for several months and filling stadiums all over the world. Part of the draw was the fact that Pink Floyd hadn't toured in almost a decade, and in that time an entire new generation of fans (including yours truly) had grown up without the chance to see a Floyd concert. Another big part of the draw was the sheer spectacle of the show with hundreds of lasers, banks of lights, inflatable pigs and beds running down zip lines to the stage and even a gigantic disco ball turning the whole stadium into a flurry of lights.

So it's not surprising that the tour spawned the band's first official live release since Ummagumma, and this time it was a double album that was entirely live. An automatic purchase for most Floyd fans at the time. The problem is that it's not a particularly exciting live album. Most of the performances sound almost like carbon copies of the studio versions with applause dubbed in at the end, and you don't get the spectacular light show from listening to an album (although a video version was also released on VHS - sadly it never got reissued on DVD). Which leaves the listener thinking "Yeah, it's a nice live album but...what's the point?"

All that aside, you might be wondering what the album contains. The first CD opens with a nice Shine On You Crazy Diamond before playing nearly all the songs from Momentary Lapse. If I'm remembering correctly, the video version (it's been decades since I've seen it) opened with a shot of a roadie lighting a cigarette off one of the lasers as the opening of Shine On swells up - I don't even know if that's possible, but it was a neat visual.

For fans looking for live versions of back-catalog tracks, start with disc two. It saw the first official live releases of the band's most popular songs from the Meddle album onward: One of These Days, Time, Wish You Were Here, Us and Them, Money, Another Brick in the Wall, Comfortably Numb and Run Like Hell (that last song perfectly suited for a huge laser freak-out). That's practically a dream set list for a latter-day Floyd concert. I wonder if Waters ever regrets that they didn't release a live album like that while he was still in the band.

If you're looking for a Pink Floyd live set that has all the "hits", this is a serviceable entry. But to be honest, I doubt I've listened to it more than a few times since the end of the 1980s.

Opel (1988)

Opel cover At the height of my Pink Floyd fanboyism in college, I found this disc in a rack of CDs in the back of a little five and dime store and bought it without a second thought. It was actually the first Barrett solo material I ever heard, and after listening to this one I have no idea why I later bought The Madcap Laughs and Barrett.

So what is this thing? It's a collection of unreleased tracks and alternate versions from the sessions that produced Barrett's two solo albums in the early 70s. That's right, this is the stuff that originally wasn't considered good enough to go on those disjointed, chaotic, insane-sounding albums. So, as you might imagine, these are some mostly bizarre tracks recorded with really shaky performances. I really, honestly am baffled at what anyone sees in this album, but I've seen people praise it on music sites and according to Wikipedia at least one professional reviewer called the album "charming". To me it mostly sounds like a shambolic mess.

That said, there are a few decent tracks here. There's a version of Golden Hair (which was a highlight of the earlier albums) with lyrics that make one wonder why it wasn't the version released in the first place. The CD hits a fairly coherent patch about mid-way through with three pretty good songs in a row - Wined and Dined (a ballad about dating, I think), Swan Lee (Silas Lang) (an upbeat song about the adventures of an Indian brave) and Birdie Hop (a cute but deranged tune). The instrumental Lanky (Part One) is pretty good - it features keyboards, guitar and lots of percussion and almost sounds like early Floyd. Not sure if it's Barrett or Gilmour playing the guitar on that track, but I'd guess it's Syd. The CD was originally also going to include the "lost" Barrett songs Scream Thy Last Scream and Vegetable Man, but since they're technically Pink Floyd songs, the band vetoed their inclusion here, eventually releasing them on the Early Years boxed set instead.

Overall, this is an album that's only for that rare breed of fan who listens to Madcap and Barrett and says "I really need to hear more of that!" If that cover photo doesn't scare you off, nothing will.

Amused to Death (1992)

Amused to Death cover Although it's starting to sound a bit dated, this is easily my favorite of Roger Waters' solo albums. I remember buying it while on a business trip and taking a portable CD player to a park after work and listening to the whole thing. It absolutely floored me, and I think I sat there in the park and listened to it over and over until it got dark out.

The overall theme of the album is how people now consider everything to be entertainment, even war. People treat war footage on the evening news like it's a sports competition, rooting for their side without a thought to the people who are actually dying. Another big theme is the use of religion to obtain power (What God Wants, God Gets). In the end, the human race become so glued to their televisions that we become extinct, just shadows sitting around a TV found by alien anthropologists. And this was long before smart phone zombies entered the picture.

There are some slow patches on the album were Waters may have leaned a little too heavily on sound effects with very little else going on, and to be honest Roger's voice sounds shot for most of the album. And personally I find the song "Watching TV" to be slightly cringe worthy and possibly even racist. Other than that though, this is a really solid album.

The disc opens with an instrumental, over which audio clips are played of a WWII veteran telling the story of how he tried to get his injured friend Bill Hubbard to safety. Jeff Beck's guitar work, which is brilliant all through the album, is particularly effective here. In the end, our narrator had to leave Hubbard in no man's land. As the album's final track nears its end he comes back to tell us how decades later he found Bill's name on a memorial to the dead, and that lightened his heart. If it doesn't give you chills, you might not have a soul.

While the whole album flows nicely as a concept piece, it really hits its stride with the final three songs, Three Whishes, It's a Miracle and Amused to Death. In the first, a genie gives Roger's character three wishes, which he uses for peace in the Middle East, having someone help him write the song and "I wish when I was young my old man had not been gone". As soon as the wishes are spent, he sees "someone through a window who [he'd] just learned to miss" but it's too late - his wishes are gone. The latter two songs conclude the story of humanity's demise set to perfect music.

Shortly before this CD came out I read an interview with Waters where he claimed that the album had a happy ending - I guess the extinction of humanity could be seen that way. I also heard an interview where he was asked if the line about wishing someone would help him write a song meant that he wanted to get back together with Gilmour and Pink Floyd, and his answer was a curt "No. Next question."

If you enjoy The Final Cut or Roger's other solo albums at all, this one's a must-hear.

The Division Bell (1994)

The Division Bell cover Did I say Atom Heart Mother was my least favorite Pink Floyd album? Well, listening to The Division Bell reminds me that the contest for that title is a toss-up at best. I remember being so excited about news that this album was coming out. The first song I heard from it was What Do You Want From Me, which we picked up on the car radio while on vacation. We were right at the edge of the station's range and I was greatly annoyed when the song was overwhelmed by static towards the end. But when I finally did get a copy of the CD...it was just kinda "meh". This album just never really clicked with me, although I did enjoy the supporting concert tour and saw multiple shows in Philadelphia and Washington DC. And the album is one of my wife's favorites - I even got her the crazy expensive 20th anniversary boxed set because she had worn our original CD copy to the point where it wouldn't play right anymore.

But there's just something I dislike about this album...actually I know exactly what it is. I hate the lyrics. While Momentary Lapse was basically a David Gilmour solo album converted into a Pink Floyd record, Division Bell is a collaboration between Gilmour and his wife, Polly Sampson. With Waters out of the picture, Dave needed someone to help with the words, since lyrics aren't his strong suite. I can understand why he'd want to work with his wife and apparently she's a professional writer...but she's not a good songwriter. At least not up to the caliber needed to be writing lyrics for Pink Floyd. Probably not a popular opinion, but there it is.

This album did see Rick Wright reinstated to full membership in the band, and he even contributed the song Wearing the Inside Out. This made some declare that this was the first "real" Pink Floyd album since The Wall, but I think that's overstating things a bit. There are some good tracks on the disc - I like the very Floydish instrumental Cluster One that opens the album. Another instrumental, Marooned, sounds like a preview of Gilmour's On an Island album. Take It Back is a decent pop song, and the album ends strong with High Hopes. But there are also some annoying songs, a few too many digs at Waters in the lyrics and in the end an album that adds up to less than the sum of its parts. I realize that's not a very popular opinion - many reviewers hold Division Bell up as one of Pink Floyd's masterworks, but it just doesn't work for me.

This album did add a bit of mystery to the Pink Floyd legend though. It came out just as the internet was starting to gain popularity - the World Wide Web was still only of interest to hobbyists, but USENET newsgroups were very active. On the Pink Floyd group, a poster going by the name "Publius" started claiming that there was a hidden Enigma in the Division Bell album, and that whoever figured it out would be granted a great prize by the band. Most people figured Publius was just a crackpot...until the stagefront lights at a Pink Floyd concert in New Jersey spelled out the words ENIGMA and PUBLIUS. With this confirmation that someone in the band (or at least in the lighting crew) was in on it, the newsgroup went into a frenzy analyzing the lyrics, music and even the photos in the CD booklet, trying to find clues to solve the enigma. Theories about the prize ranged from gold bars buried between the two heads on the album cover to a private concert with a reunited Pink Floyd including Roger Waters (or maybe even Syd Barrett)! One guy put together a massive FAQ with every "clue" or shred of "evidence" that anyone turned up. I was right in the midst of it - I still remember the arrival of the first Publius post, the ensuing skepticism and the sense of wonder when it was "confirmed" by the concert lights. I worked on the mystery and even got a college friend who knew nothing about the internet hooked on unravelling the enigma by printing relevant posts and mailing them to him. In the end it never amounted to anything - no one ever solved the enigma or even proved that there was anything there to solve in the first place, and both David Gilmour and Nick Mason have publicly stated that they think it was a publicity stunt by the record company. It certainly generated a lot of online buzz about the album.

P.U.L.S.E (1996)

Pulse cover If you're only going to get one Pink Floyd live album from the post-Waters era, this is probably the one to get. It seemed like overkill at the time to release another double live album after just one studio disc, but this one includes a performance of Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety which was a first at the time. It also has slightly better sound quality than Delicate Sound of Thunder and slightly more liberties taken with the arrangements of songs so they don't sound so much like clones of the studio versions. Another plus is that the set features Dick Parry who played the original saxophone solos on Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here. In my opinion, his melodic playing was a huge upgrade over the dude who played on the Delicate Sound tour who was more of a honk-and-squonk type sax player.

There's some overlap with Delicate Sound of Thunder - in addition to some duplicate Dark Side songs, they both have live versions of Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Another Brick in the Wall, Wish You Were Here, Comfortably Numb, Run Like Hell, and most unnecessarily Pulse contains another live version of Learning to Fly. But there are also a couple gems unique to this live album, like Hey You, High Hopes (which was inexplicably left off of Delicate Sound) and some of the better tracks from the Division Bell album. Best of all, they dug deep into the back catalog and played Astronomy Domine and did a nice job with it (I always wondered if Gilmour did that just to help out his old friend Syd with some royalty money).

One might question why neither of the Gilmour-Floyd live albums have any tracks at all from Animals or The Final Cut, but really - would you expect them to play stuff from albums that were pretty much Waters' pet projects? I would have loved to hear them play Sheep or even Pigs on the Wing, but they avoided that album like they plague. And even though Dave probably would have rather chewed his own foot off than play anything from Final Cut, I think this band could have done excellent versions of Not Now John and Two Suns in the Sunset. Oh well.

This release also had a matching video release, which was good enough that I always meant to buy it on DVD but just never got around to it (I need to correct that one of these days). The CD release was a little gimmicky, with the discs packaged in a slide-out box. The outer box had some extra room in the spine for a battery compartment and a hidden LED light that would pulse (i.e. blink) until the battery died - I guess it was supposed to represent the lasers and lights of the concert. I replaced the battery in my copy a couple times to keep the light blinking, but eventually got tired of it. Which also describes both Delicate Sound and Pulse - they were fun to listen to when they first came out, but I quickly got tired of both.

Broken China (1996)

Broken China cover Rick Wright's second and last solo outing, this disc is apparently a concept album about his wife's battle with depression. I had to read that on Wikipedia though, I never would have gotten it from listening to the album. With the Hypignosis cover and very Floydian production (voices and sound effects in the background, smooth transitions from song to song, etc.) this sounds almost like a lost Pink Floyd album, but if they had decided to do it as a Floyd disc it would have been possibly the darkest thing they ever released.

The album sounds very "modern" (considering it came out in the 90s) with electronic percussion, flashy keyboard sounds and slick production. Wright's voice almost sounds out of place in this more technological setting. To me, the whole album sounds like an extended version of Wright's song from the Division Bell, Wearing the Inside Out.

For some reason this disc just doesn't click with me. I listened to it a few times when it first came out and then put it on the shelf. I'll occasionally give it a listen to see if it's grown on me, but it never does. I'm not really sure why - the songwriting is strong and Wright put together a great group of musicians to record it (including Sinead O'Connor providing vocals on a couple tracks, Tim Renwick playing some nice guitar parts and Pino Palladino adding some great fretless bass). I think it might be the unrelentingly dark and bleak tone of the album. It's appropriate for an album about depression, but it's just too overwhelming for me. That said, some of the individual tracks are keepers - the songs Far From the Harbor Wall and Along the Shoreline in particular stick with me.

Is There Anybody Out There? (2000)

Is There Anybody Out There cover This live version of The Wall was cobbled together from tapes of multiple Wall shows that the band performed in Earls Court in London, and released to mark the 20th anniversary of the album and subsequent tour. Since there was no tour for The Final Cut and the Earls Court run was the end of the Wall tour, this album documents the last time Waters, Gilmour, Mason and Wright played together as Pink Floyd in their prime. In fact, some of this album comes from the very last show that the "classic" Floyd line-up ever performed (not counting the brief reunion show for Live 8 in 2005).

Most of the songs sound very similar to the studio album. There might be a slightly different keyboard patch here or an extended solo there, but if it weren't for the audience noise you might not be able to tell this is live. On the plus side, there are a couple extra songs - What Shall We Do Now (which was in the movie) and an extended instrumental jam called The Last Few Bricks that reprises many of the themes of the first half of the album, giving the roadies time to finish building the wall on stage before Goodbye Cruel World. There's also a Master of Ceremonies who comes out at the beginning to read the rules of the venue, only to be drowned out by the surrogate band as they launch into In the Flesh. When they get to the second occurrence of that song, the MC comes back but his voice has been distorted into a low-pitched, monstrous parody of itself. And there's Roger's sarcastic firing-up of the crowd before Run Like Hell ("Let's all have a CLAP!"). The final song, Outside the Wall, is also given a very different arrangement, featuring mandolin, clarinet and accordion and countrified vocal harmonies.

This is an interesting album to hear at least once, but I honestly haven't listened to it more than a couple times in the last 15 years. I can't imagine any but the biggest fans of The Wall are going to be thrilled by it. Now if it had been a video of a Wall show from 1980, that'd be worth having. I doubt such a thing exists though, or they would have included it in the Immersion release of The Wall.

In the Flesh (2000)

In the Flesh cover This live 2-CD set from Roger Waters is probably my favorite of the latter-day (i.e. post-Dark Side) live Floyd albums, even though it's not technically Pink Floyd. One of the big reasons for that is, as you would expect from a Waters live album, it doesn't ignore the albums where Roger was the main songwriter. For example, we get a couple songs from Animals (Pigs on the Wing and Dogs) and even a couple from The Final Cut (Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert and Southampton Dock). Plus, as you'd also expect, lots of tracks from Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall. He even digs deep into the archives for a nice arrangement of Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun.

While disc one is all Pink Floyd material, disc two features some of Waters solo songs done live - one track from Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking (Every Stranger's Eyes) and a lengthy chunk of Amused to Death - Perfect Sense (including a long sample from 2001 A Space Odyssey), The Bravery of Being Out of Range, It's a Miracle and Amused to Death. Notably missing are any songs from Radio KAOS. There's also an otherwise unreleased song called Each Small Candle that's nearly ten minutes long and good enough that it's a shame it's hidden away here on this live album. Interestingly, the song contains a lyric with the words "the broken china of her life", which makes me wonder if that's a reference to Rick Wright's album of four years prior or just a coincidence.

The performances are good and while the arrangements don't stray too far from the albums, there are at least a few variations here and there - enough to give it a live feel. The female backing vocals might be a tad overdone though. And I've never appreciated the way that when Roger plays Comfortably Numb he intentionally downplays Gilmour's parts, and when Gilmour plays it he does the same with Waters' parts. Oh well.

As a final anecdote - I was lucky enough to see this tour at an outdoor amphitheater in Hershey, PA. The lyrics to the song It's a Miracle list things that are miraculous (for example "A doctor in Manhattan saved a dying man for free"), and one of those is that "they had sex in Pennsylvania". I'm not sure where Roger thinks little Pennsylvanians come from, but when he sang that line in Hershey it got a HUGE roar of applause. If he plays that song in future tours, he ought to consider changing the location of that line to wherever he's performing.

Ca Ira (2005)

Ca Ira cover After the In the Flesh tour, Roger Waters seemed to disappear for a few years. That was because he was working on Ca Ira, an opera about the French revolution. No, I'm not making that up, Roger Waters wrote an opera. Not a rock opera, an opera opera. After some live performances, the cast recorded this studio version as a 2-CD set.

I'm going to lay my cards on the table here and admit that I'm not an opera fan. At all. Actually, it'd be more accurate to say I can't stand opera. So I'm probably not the best person to judge this album. But it sucks. It just flat out sucks. While I don't know that much about opera, even I can tell that this one is particularly bad.

I couldn't bring myself to even buy this album until I found it in the discount bin at a Borders book store, four years after it was first released, marked down to half its original sticker price. So I'm guessing a lot of other Pink Floyd fans didn't buy it either.

From what I remember (I only listened to it a couple times and have no desire to ever listen to it again), the music is all orchestral and while there are some original bits, a lot of it was lifted from orchestrations on The Wall, The Final Cut and other Waters projects. It is sung in English, but that doesn't help any since many of the lyrics are laughably bad and are made worse by being delivered with gusto by over-emoting opera singers.

My apologies to any Ca Ira fans out there (if any actually exist), but this is the one and only Floyd-related album that is just flat-out bad. A complete waste of time. I should have spent the $13 I used buying this album on beer instead and drank it while listening to Waters' other solo works. Would have been a lot more enjoyable.

On an Island (2006)

On an Island cover The previous decade had been pretty barren for fans of Pink Floyd's rock music, with the only releases being a couple live albums (one archival) and an opera. So it was a pretty big deal when David Gilmour finally put out this new solo album, his first in 22 years.

Depending on your tastes, this might be the strongest solo album Gilmour has released. It's certainly the most Floyd-sounding one with an overarching theme (the ocean), songs that flow smoothly each into the next, backing orchestration on several tracks and the use of sound effects such as waves and foghorns. It also features Rick Wright on keyboards, touring Floyd bassist Guy Pratt and even ex-Floyd member Rado "Bob" Klose (who left the band prior to their first album to focus on his studies) on a couple tracks. If Nick Mason had played some drums on it, it easily could have been released as a Pink Floyd album.

This is a disc that I really, really wanted to like, but unfortunately it got tangled up with a very sad event in my life (having to put the faithful family dog of fifteen years to sleep), and after that the album's melancholy vibe was too much for me to take. It's only now, over a decade later that I can finally listen to the album without immediately sinking into a depression. For what it's worth, this is easily my wife's favorite solo album from any member of Pink Floyd.

Polly Sampson's lyrics don't bug me as much on this one for some reason. Possibly because three of the ten tracks are instrumentals and even the songs with lyrics tend to have long instrumental passages. The words that are there just kind of blend in with the music. I couldn't tell you what any of the songs are about.

If you like Momentary Lapse and/or The Division Bell and are looking for something similar but considerably mellower, you should give this album a try. As with most recent Floyd-related releases, there are multiple versions. One came with a bonus DVD of live performances. The one I bought was a version exclusive to Best Buy that came with a bonus CD single that contained one track, "Island Jam", a six and a half minute long instrumental improv that was recorded during the sessions for the album. Makes a nice coda.

Live in Gdansk (2008)

Live in Gdansk cover This David Gilmour live album features Rick Wright and an orchestra and was recorded during the On an Island tour at a show in the Gdansk shipyards in front of a huge audience. This album probably set a record for "most versions released" with no fewer than six different packages out there. The basic release contained two CDs with a performance of the entire Island album, the expected Floyd tracks from Dark Side, Wish You Were Here, The Wall and The Division Bell plus a few unexpected goodies from earlier in the band's career (Astronomy Domine, Fat Old Sun and most remarkably a full-length Echoes).

The next tier of Gdansk ownership added a DVD with nearly two hours of concert footage and a "making of" documentary. Version three (the one I bought) has the CDs and DVD and adds a second DVD with a 5.1 surround sound mix of the studio On an Island album and various other related videos. The "deluxe" edition included all of the above plus a bonus CD with extra live recordings from other cities on the tour and some memorabilia. For the vinyl fetishists there was a version with six LP records that contained the full concert and some bonus jams. And of course we can't forget the iTunes version which mixed and matched various elements of all the above.

And, if you order today (actually if you bought any version beyond the basic 2-CD version prior to 2010) you got a password for a download site where you could obtain all the bonus live tracks from the "deluxe" edition and a live version of "Wots...Uh the Deal" that was only included in the vinyl version. I actually downloaded them all (which took a year because they only put a new track up once a month) and burned them all to CDR - makes for a nice companion disc to the main album, and features some real rarities like the aforementioned "Wots" and covers of Syd Barrett's Dominoes and Crosby, Stills and Nash's Find the Cost of Freedom. The bonus tracks also include what might be the best live version of Shine On You Crazy Diamond ever released, with an actual wine glass player on the opening section and some very emotional vocals and guitar from Gilmour. On the other hand, Dave's voice is so shot on the bonus track On the Turning Away that he actually breaks down and laughs about it at one point.

I've been kind of snarky about the crass commercialization involved in the release of this album (I could see maybe having standard, deluxe and vinyl versions, but SIX versions and making fans download bonus tracks monthly for a year? Really?) but it actually is a heck of a nice live package. I think my wife listens to this album more than any Floyd release other than Division Bell, and the concert video is really nice especially since we get to see Rick Wright play keyboards in one of the last appearances before his untimely death. One of the DVDs even features an "acoustic" version of Echoes, with the band screwing around during a rehearsal and bit-by-bit building up into an acoustic guitar driven version of the song. Neat.

Metallic Spheres (2010)

Metallic Spheres cover Credited as "The Orb featuring David Gilmour", this is basically an Orb album that uses snippets of Gilmour's vocals and guitar mixed into a couple of lengthy ambient/danceable tracks. The guys from the Orb had helped Gilmour record a cover of Crosby, Stills and Nash's "Chicago" to contribute to the defense fund of a political prisoner, so the pieces of that recording make up the bulk of Dave's contribution here. At least the vocal parts - I believe he did record some more guitar work specifically for this album.

I had never heard any Orb albums before this one, but I knew they had been rumored in the past to be behind a couple "trance remix" versions of Pink Floyd albums that circulated as bootlegs. The music here is presented in long tracks, each of which contain multiple "movements" (a real throwback to the proggy 70s). I'm not sure how to describe it - sort of an ambient techno space rock with Gilmour's vocals and guitar occasionally floating in and out of the mix. Not the most exciting, hummable or even memorable music, but I liked it enough that when I found a few Orb albums at a used CD store a couple years later, I bought them.

As with most things Floyd-related in recent years, there was a standard version of the album (black cover) and a more expensive one (white cover). Being a hopeless fanboy, I bought the expensive version which came with a bonus disc of each track remixed to be optimized for headphone listening. I know the tracks aren't exactly the same since they're different lengths, but having listened to both versions through headphones (and over the open air) I'll be buggered if I can tell you what the difference is.

Overall it's an interesting music that is well suited for background listening at work, but if you're thinking of buying it just for Gilmour's contributions, you may be a little disappointed.

The Immersion boxes (2011-2012)

The Dark Side immersion version cover After a decade-long stretch with no official new Pink Floyd product being released, the band (or at least their management) decided to remedy the situation with a whole raft of new hits packages, remasters and reissues. Of these, the ones that were of most interest to long-time fans were the "Immersion" boxed set releases of Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall. Each set included a remastered version of the album, live performances from the tours supporting them, rare and unreleased tracks and the videos that were projected behind the band in the related concerts. The Dark Side and Wish boxes also included 5.1 and Quad mixes of the albums while the Wall set included tons of demo recordings and a documentary about the album. And of course each set featured a bunch of superfluous booklets and trinkets that you'd only probably look at a couple times.

Still, sounds pretty great, right? So what's the catch? Each set cost over a hundred dollars. Well over. Personally, I couldn't justify spending that kind of money for three boxed sets dedicated to albums I already owned. Even worse, the live material in the Wall box was the Is There Anybody Out There? album that I already owned. Some of those extra bells and whistles would have been nice to have, but...unless they decide to eventually release the multi-channel mixes and live tracks separately at far more reasonable prices, I'll have to pass.

The Endless River (2014)

The Endless River cover In late 2014 news broke that Pink Floyd were going to release a new studio album, their first in a decade. The album was created as a tribute to the late Rick Wright and features his keyboard work via archival tapes recorded during the Division Bell sessions. The band apparently recorded enough instrumental sketches and jams during those sessions that at one point there was talk of releasing an instrumental companion album to Division Bell called The Big Spliff. That didn't end up happening, but when Gilmour was trying to think of some way to honor his long-time musical collaborator, he remembered those unfinished tapes. So Dave, along with Nick Mason and a bunch of other musicians, set about polishing and completing that rough material, and the end result was The Endless River.

The album is laid out like a double vinyl release, with the tracks grouped into four 15-20 minute "sides". Side one sounds like an alternate universe version of Shine On You Crazy Diamond. The rest of the album ranges from previously unheard material (like the pounding drum showcase Skins and the guitar-led Allons-Y) to pieces that sound like backing tracks to Division Bell songs. There's even more audio samples of Stephen Hawking's synthesized voice. Only one song has lyrics, the closing track Louder than Words. The rest is entirely instrumental, and for my money it makes a much stronger album than Division Bell. They would have been better off if they'd released Bell as a double with Spliff or had at least mixed more of these instrumental tracks into the album.

Once again there were multiple versions of the album in order to drag more money out of the fanbase. I bought the version that came with the album on CD plus a Blu-ray disc with multi-channel mixes, videos and bonus tracks. The album sounds great in 5.1 surround, and some of the bonus tracks are interesting. They're mostly alternate versions of pieces that ended up on the album, but we also get a couple excerpts of the Big Spliff project that was never released.

All in all a very nice tribute to Wright (the album even begins with his voice, discussing the infighting in the band over the years). And if this ends up being the final Pink Floyd album (which Gilmour says it will be), it makes for a nice summary and capstone to the band's catalog.

If you want to read more about it, I wrote a longer review of the album when it first came out.

Rattle That Lock (2015)

Rattle That Lock cover Right on the heels of an unexpected new Pink Floyd album came an unexpected new David Gilmour solo album. This one, as you can tell from the cover, is a little darker than usual from Gilmour. Many of the songs deal with aging and loss. Musically the album is what you'd expect - melodic, mellow and sometimes melancholy, with plenty of tasty, soulful guitar playing. Dave's wife Polly once again wrote most of the lyrics, so if you like her style you'll probably enjoy the album. For me, the lyrics aren't quite a deal breaker but I can't say I like most of them.

The album starts strong with an instrumental called Five A.M. that does a great job of invoking the feel of the pre-dawn hours. A highlight of the album is a song in memory of Rick Wright, A Boat Lies Waiting. Although even on that song, Sampson's tendency towards pretentious lyrics rears its head - I had to look up what a "sad barcarolle" is (if you're curious, it's a folk song sung by the helmsmen of gondola boats in Venice). The album's title track was inspired by a four-tone musical jingle that's played in European train stations before announcements. Seems like an odd thing to base a song around, but the weird thing is that shortly after this album came out I downloaded a bunch of 1980s amateur artist "homebrew" cassette recordings from the archive.org site and one of those contained a field recording of that same train announcement jingle and a long jam based on it.

One track on the album that just rubs me the wrong way (and I'm not entirely sure why) is In Any Tongue, which tells the tale of a soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder coming home and his loved ones' attempts to deal with him. A heavy topic that just doesn't suit Gilmour. It seems like on each of his post-Final Cut works, he has tried to do a "Roger Waters type song", and it never works out well. The lounge-jazz song Girl in the Yellow Dress doesn't really thrill me much either.

Anyway, the album also contains a couple more nice instrumentals and a song Gilmour wrote in memory of his mother. I bought the expanded version (of course I did) which came with a bonus DVD of videos and extra tracks (mostly alternate mixes and a few instrumental jams recorded during the album sessions). In the end though, for some reason this album just doesn't do much for me. I listened to it a few times after buying it and then kind of forgot it existed until I started putting this page together. Most of the songs on it sound like remixes of things from Gilmour's earlier albums, just with new lyrics.

The Early Years 1965-1972 (2016)

The Early Years 1965-1972 cover While I couldn't bring myself to sink hundreds of dollars into the "Immersion" versions of the band's most popular albums, I did shell out close to $500 for this boxed set. Why this one? Well, I'd been complaining for ages about how the band pretends that everything before Meddle never happened. There were no releases of early live performances, no rarities, nothing. And based on bootlegs and audience recordings that I had heard, this was where the really interesting unreleased stuff could be found. Having an archival release of a Wall concert was nice, but I really wanted this early material.

So when this box was announced, I knew I'd end up buying a copy. Yes, the price was absolutely outrageous, but I couldn't resist...so this became my Christmas gift to myself in 2016. And if you're a fan of early Floyd, this box is almost worth that rediculous price tag. It's got rare early demos, a decent audience recording of a Syd-era show, unreleased soundtrack work, tons of live-in-the-studio BBC recordings, a nice radio broadcast of a live performance of "The Man and the Journey" suite, 5.1 surround mixes, a great performance of Echoes from the Wish You Were Here tour, etc, etc. And that's just the audio portion - there are also a bunch of DVDs and Blu-rays with live footage, movies that Pink Floyd did the soundtracks for, early music videos, interviews, etc. Hours and hours and hours of stuff to watch and listen to.

While it's not perfect, this box really is a treasure trove for fans of early Floyd. It covers everything from pre-Arnold Layne demos to stuff recorded just before Dark Side of the Moon. If you want to know about it in excruciating detail, you can read the massive web page I put together to review and document the set.

If you can't afford the big box - the set is split into seven packages, most of which have been released individually at much lower prices. The first release covers the Syd years and then each following set covers a year from 1968 up to 1972. The catch is that some of the most interesting stuff in the big box (the movies, the live Echoes, really rare BBC recordings, the Floyd soundtrack of the moon landings, etc.) was put in the final volume of the boxed set ("Continuation") which they say is not going to be released separately. If you want that one or some of the other "extras" like vinyl 45s of the early singles, concert programs, etc, you have to shell out for the big box. But between buying the individual sets and buying the movies on DVD you can pick up probably around 90% or more of the content of the big box for about half the price.

is this the life we really want? (2017)

is this the life we really want cover To be honest, after the lackluster opera album Ca Ira I thought Roger was done releasing new albums and was content just touring various versions of the Wall show. But apparently his distaste for Donald Trump was strong enough that it sparked him to release a new rock album, a full quarter century (!) since Amused to Death.

Producer Nigel Godrich is credited with arrangement, sound collages, keyboards and guitar, and it sounds like Roger has found a creative partner well versed with his past works (especially Animals through Amused to Death) who wanted to help him make an album that sounded very similar to them. There are a lot of trademark Waters touches here - echoed words at the end of lines, sound effects, audio clips from TV shows, female backing vocalists, acidic keyboard sounds, lyrics that read like a laundry list and even an ending that cycles around to the beginning of the album. You could make the argument that this disc breaks very little new ground, but hey, the man's in his 70s and still giving his fans what they've come to expect, so no complaints here. On the other hand, you could argue that this is one of the most straightforward albums Roger has ever made - not quite plain pop or rock, but closer than most of his solo albums.

The lyrics are just as caustic and bitter as ever, if not more so. Those who already think Waters is an egomaniac certainly won't be dissuaded by the opening lyrics in which he declares that he could have done a better job if he had been God. But if you can get past that... While Roger never mentions Trump by name, he makes no secret that the Donald is one of his prime targets. There are a couple lines about ineffective leaders and a president who's a nincompoop, and even a brief sound clip at the beginning of the title track with Trump bragging about his electoral win. But the dead giveaway is in the liner notes booklet which features a picture of Trump with the lyrical line "a leader with no fucking brains" superimposed over it.

Waters' voice hasn't been too strong for...well, decades now, and it's understandably thin and raspy here. He sometimes doesn't even try to sing, instead delivering lines in a speaking voice or a half-croaked whisper. Somewhat surprisingly, Roger drops a ton of f-bombs and other four-letter words on this album. Good to see he's still as angry as ever.

There are a bunch of great tracks here. Early favorites are Deja Vu, the title track and the rockers Bird in a Gale and Smell the Roses. But I think my favorites are the closing trio of Wait For Her, Oceans Apart and Part of Me Died. They're all basically one long song, with Oceans Apart acting as a short bridge section between the first set of lyrics (which were inspired by part of the Kama Sutra) and the second set. In the latter part Roger says that when he met the love of his life, a part of him died...which sounds dark, until he specifies which part - envy, greed, lies, bloodlust, etc.

I doubt this album will knock Amused to Death off the top of my favorite Waters solo albums list, but so far it's a pretty strong second.

Honorable mention: A Saucerful of Pink (1995)

The Saucerful of Pink cover There have been a ton of Pink Floyd tribute albums over the years, but I've only bought a few of them. I've got a reggae version of Dark Side of the Moon called Dub Side of the Moon and a country parody of The Wall done by a group called Luther Wright and the Wrongs. But the one that I return to most frequently is this oddball, 2 CD collection of various space rock and alternative bands that came out in the mid-90s.

Released by the Cleopatra label, it featured bands like Alien Sex Fiend and Psychic TV. Not exactly household names, but I actually knew most of them because I had previously bought a super-cheap four disc boxed set that Cleopatra put out as an introduction to their artists. I liked most of what I heard there, so I took a chance on this Floyd tribute. I'm glad I did, because it's surprisingly good.

The album wasn't at all what I was expecting, but that's a good thing. Most of the songs are reimagined as pulsing techno tracks or proto-punk or atmospheric space rock. Some of them aren't even recognizable until the lyrics start. I doubt I would have bought the set based on that description, but I've really come to like most of these tracks. It's nice to hear a fresh take on the music, rather than covers that sound exactly like the originals.

The song selection is great too - they didn't just stick to the "hits", there are deep cuts like Wots Uh the Deal, Jugband Blues, Lucifer Sam, Let There Be More Light, Point Me at the Sky and the Nile Song in here. It's like the bands were saying "Oh yeah, you think you're doing an obscure song? Well check out the one WE'RE doing". There are also some classic early tracks like Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun, Careful With that Axe Eugene and Interstellar Overdrive. Of course there are also versions of some of the band's better known songs like One Of These Days, On the Run, Hey You, Another Brick in the Wall, Learning to Fly and Young Lust, but they're usually given major overhauls. There's also one original track, "To Roger Waters, Wherever You Are" by long-time Floyd collaborator Ron Geesin. It's basically three or four minutes of a Scotsman sitting by a fire muttering to himself while the wind howls around him until he finally shouts "Ach, burned the hair on me legs!"

I have no idea if this thing is still in print, but if you can scrounge up a copy at a reasonable price, it makes for an interesting listen.

Conclusion

As you can see from the above, the history of Pink Floyd for the last couple decades has been largely dominated by David Gilmour (but hopefully the new album from Waters marks the start of more activity from him). All in all, the post-Syd version of the band clearly had their heyday in the 1970s, but in the nearly four decades since then they've managed to deliver a decent amount of quality music, both individually and as a band.

The above list covers most of what the various members of Pink Floyd have released over the years, but I know there are some holes. For instance, Rick Wright was in a band called Zee in the 80s, but I've never been able to find a copy of the album they released. And I just recently read that Nick Mason was involved with five albums by Michael Mantler, but I'm not sure if it was as a performer or a producer. At any rate, there's a slim chance that there may be more updates to this page, regardless of whether any more Waters, Gilmour or Floyd albums come out. But none of these guys are getting any younger. Mason hasn't shown any interest in making music for years now and Syd and Rick are gone.

Even if there's never another Floyd-related album released, this page shows that the five members of the band have created a lot of great music over the past fifty years, and most of it is still popular enough to remain in print long after many of their peers have been forgotten. While not everything they ever did has reached the level of being a "classic", for my money the members of Pink Floyd have had a better batting average than nearly any other rock band.