Best of the Best: Pink Floyd

Earlier this month, Polly Samson, wife of Pink Floyd singer-guitarist David Gilmour, casually tweeted about the release of a new album later this year. It will be the first album to be released under the name Pink Floyd in twenty years, and as expected, classic rock enthusiasts immediately voiced their excitement.

Further details have emerged about the true nature of the mysterious release. Entitled The Endless River, the album will re-examine material cut from the 1994 release of The Division Bell. It appears as if David Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason will be expanding pieces of instrumental ambient music initially composed by keyboardist Richard Wright, adding vocals and overdubs to breathe new life into the old recordings. Roger Waters, the main creative force behind the band during their greatest height, will have zero involvement with the new record. One cannot help but feel that The Endless River is shaping up to be more of a David Gilmour-inspired side project than a genuine Pink Floyd recording.

Personally, my fingers are not crossed for classic Floyd brilliance. I will still anxiously await the release, and I will certainly be one of the first in line to buy it. In any case, the recent resurgence in Pink Floyd hype inspired me to have a retrospective listen of the band’s discography. Here are my top five albums.

5. Meddle (1971)

Meddle

Meddle is a nifty little album that traverses the sonic spectrum. Unlike later Pink Floyd albums, Meddle features compositions and contributions from every member of the band. The idea of the ‘concept album’ had not yet entered the band’s identity, although the 23-minute “Echoes” that closes out the album can be seen as a grandfather piece to later lengthy epics like “Shine on You Crazy Diamond.” The rest of the album’s tracks are relatively short and distinct, and apart from the obnoxiously atrocious “Seamus,” there’s a unique and somewhat uncharacteristic lightheartedness to the album.

Album highlight: “Fearless”

 

4. The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

The Dark Side of the Moon

Pink Floyd hit it big with this one. A journey through sound and sight, The Dark Side of the Moon is continually marked as a masterpiece in engineering, songwriting, and musicality. With bassist and singer Roger Waters taking the songwriting reigns, the band started themselves down a path of greatness. The decade following The Dark Side of the Moon would launch Pink Floyd into international superstars. There’s not much more to be said about this album. If you haven’t experienced it, buy it now.

Album highlight: Sound engineering on “Us and Them”

 

3. The Final Cut (1983)

The Final Cut

Here’s the album that finally broke the band. Roger Waters had assumed almost total control of the creative process, and was crafting The Final Cut as a sequel to The Wall. Artistic differences, fights within the band, and the clashing of massive egos riddled the recording sessions. Despite Roger Waters leaving the band and effectively dissolving the successful quartet of Pink Floyd, the album represents some of Waters’ best work. Autobiographical and heartfelt, The Final Cut holds up amidst the band’s best.

Album highlight: Lyrics on “The Final Cut”

 

2. Wish You Were Here (1975)

Wish You Were Here

Often regarded as one of the band’s best works, Wish You Were Here clocks in with 5 tracks and contemplates issues of greed and sanity. Some of David Gilmour’s best guitar work is heard in the “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” compositions, and the synthesizer performance on “Welcome to the Machine” has become an icon of the band’s sound and feel. The guitar riff that begins the album’s title track remains one of the most recognizable pieces of music in all of rock music. Overall, the album is one of the band’s most cohesive and energetic releases.

Album highlight: Synthesizer solos on “Welcome to the Machine”

 

1. The Wall (1979)

The Wall

Here we have the greatest of them all. Two hours of music. The perfect concept album. Rock opera at its best. Roger Waters’ jewel in his Pink Floyd crown. After infamously spitting on a fan during a disorderly concert in Montreal, Waters began to fantasize about building a wall between himself and his fans. What followed was an album dealing with themes of loneliness, expression, disillusionment, war, religion, art, politics, love, sex, hate, and drugs. And that’s just the first disc.

Album highlight: All of it. Just listen to all of it.

 

In a discography spanning over a dozen studio albums, these five are arguably the best of the best. If you agree or disagree, let me know in the comments! The Endless River will be out soon—in the meantime,  of course, check out the Pink Floyd discography on Murfie.


Grant Peterre
@gpeterre

Grant is a Communications Intern at Murfie. He has played the guitar nearly his entire life, and his music and writings have been featured in international publications. He makes his home in both the United States and Italy, and will always be traveling in search of something.


John’s Picks: Judging By The Cover

Normally, we like to share music that we love here – old favorites, or our current heavy rotations.  As an artist, musician and designer, I decided I wanted to share something different today.

I love album art and album design.  For the past 7+ years, I’ve been designing covers for my own music, as well as dozens of friends’ releases.  I also have a bad habit that I must admit to: I buy countless CDs based almost exclusively on the cover art.

For those reasons, I’d like to share some of my favorite album covers and let you judge for yourself.

Pyramid by The Alan Parsons Project was more or less the inspiration for this post.  I ran into the album on the front page of Murfie one day, and it instantly caught my eye.  I’ve never actually heard the album, but that design is undoubtedly ahead of its time.  Pyramid came out in 1978, and you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that the art and cover design is by Hipgnosis.  Sound familiar?  Hipgnosis was a London-based design group that made the iconic art for albums like The Dark Side of the Moon (actually, they did almost all of Pink Floyd‘s art) and Led Zeppelin‘s Houses of the Holy.

112059-largeIf I could just post a gallery of Leif Podhajsky’s work, I would.  In fact, he is something of a design genius, and you should definitely check out his site.  Leif has done the art for tons of modern bands, but most people will recognize his work for Lykke Li (see Wounded Rhymes) and Tame Impala.  I’ve chosen to share Lonerism by Tame Impala as an example of the most subdued his work gets.  Leif often focuses on a balance between intense arrays of color and a counter intuitive desaturation of those same colors.    A lot of his work also features angular mirroring of nature (see The North Borders by Bonobo or another Tame Impala release, Innerspeaker).

39184-largeI couldn’t possibly make this post without mentioning the work of Mati Klarwein.  Though his paintings are largely associated with the psychedelic work of the 60s and 70s, Mati’s style was largely developed before the psychedelic era came to prominence.  In that way, like the folks in Hipgnosis, Mati was ahead of his time.  Luckily for him, progressive artists like Santana, Miles Davis and Brian Eno latched onto his work.  With albums like Live-Evil and Bitches Brew by Miles Davis and Abraxas by Santana, Mati’s iconic paintings became the image of a movement.  If you’re interested in more of Mati Klarwein’s work, there was recently released an amazing new book featuring his art called Mati & The Music: 52 Record Covers 1955-2005.

306990-largeAs an honorable mention, I’d like to bring up the recently-released Jay-Z album Magna Carta… Holy Grail.  I hadn’t heard of the album’s photographer Ari Marcopoulos until I got my hands on an incoming copy of the album here at Murfie.  The packaging for that album is hefty to say the least.  Ari Marcopoulos worked in collaboration with Jay-Z and creative director Willo to put together what they consider an album with an art book.  The packaging includes two thick booklets full of Marcopoulos’ photos, and in an interesting touch, all of the text is “censored” with scratch-off black lines.  To my knowledge, this is the only album Ari Marcopoulos has been a part of, and what a way to kick things off!  For those interested, the cover photo is of the sculpture Alpheus and Arethusa by Battista di Dominico Lorenzi (ca. 1527/28-1594) in the New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.