Pink Floyd’s 30 best songs

David Gilmour, Nick Mason and famous fans pick the greatest Floyd tracks

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3 Interstellar Overdrive
From The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Bacharach-David’s “My Little Red Book” meets the theme from Steptoe And Son in a psychotropic, stereo-panning, nine-minute freak-out…

Dave Brock, Hawkwind: It’s very true that it’s the same tune as the theme to Steptoe And Son. I saw them play it once at UFO on Tottenham Court Road, when the light-show was giant blobs behind the screen, and they went off at great tangents. My collection of Floyd is all early days, nothing since Ummagumma. What they were doing then was lovely and free, those long tracks we loved listening to. Prior to all this, it was two- or three-minute tracks. The record companies freaked out, they thought our attention spans wouldn’t take any more. “Interstellar Overdrive” was avant-garde rock music. We were doing psychedelic freak-out stuff in a circus tent when they were rising stars. They were the kings of space-rock then, with those repetitious chords, elongated solos and electronics – going out there for long periods. You can make a parallel with modern jazz. They were making rock music abstract. Of course they had to give the odd nod to the music business – an “Arnold Layne”. But “Interstellar Overdrive” gave us absolute freedom.

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2 See Emily Play
Released as a single, June 1967. Highest UK chart position: 6
Irrepressible, childlike psych that namechecks the band’s own “Games For May” concert at the QE Hall…

Paul Weller: There are so many of Syd’s songs that I love, but this is my favourite. I remember hearing it on the radio as a kid and being totally bowled over. It was a proper hit single, which is unbelievable when you look at the state of the charts now. Melodically it’s brilliant, and the arrangement is so compact and concise. It does so much in less than three minutes. Sonically, it’s amazing. The intro is fucking over-whelming, it still sounds fresh today. But then for me, all those great psychedelic records haven’t dated at all.

I like the fact that lyrically it’s a simple song. I read an article recently that explained that it was inspired by a girl called Emily Young who hung out with the Floyd. She was friends with Anjelica Huston, I think. There’s a purity about the song which reflects that.

It’s funny. At the time it came out I didn’t know what Syd looked like. I had no idea that he was this amazing, beautiful-looking character. Which is odd, because I used to watch Top Of the Pops religiously every week. I didn’t actually buy it until years later!

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Syd has been an influence on all my music. I heard “Start!” on the radio the other day, and it reminded me that the guitar break was totally influenced by Syd. Even if it didn’t sound like him, in my mind I was trying to get that psychedelic feeling over. To me, that’s what Syd’s Floyd were about: creating a mood you can’t quite put your finger on…

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