David Gilmour, Nick Mason and famous fans pick the greatest Floyd tracks
From Meddle (October 1971)
Beginning with faint submarine bleeps, and evolving into a 23-minute space-prog epic, “Echoes” sees the birth of conceptualist Floyd.
John Leckie, engineer, Meddle and Wish You Were Here: I love the interplay with the guitars and keyboards. It’s a keyboard track, really, with classic Floyd chord progressions. The record had started off earlier in the year, with the Floyd putting down ideas, each of which was called “Nothing”. We went up to “Nothing No 20”. And then they came in three months later, and put them together as one piece. They played it right through, the funky breakdown excepted, because they’d been playing it live. I went to see them at Twickenham Tech –they were still playing college gigs, and there wasn’t anyone there. They did “Echoes” then. They probably played it the same every night. Although it sounds improvised, they weren’t really improvisers, like Soft Machine – they weren’t jazz musicians. I don’t think they aspired to be. It was tightly rehearsed and structured.
I remember good vibes in the studio. They were all together and contributing, like a normal band. We spent a lot of time experimenting with the technology we had. We would get two tape recorders, six feet apart, with a 10-second delay, which built into those wailing voices at the end, like creatures from the deep. We pushed the toys we had to the limit. They were trying to experiment, and make sounds no one had heard before.
From The Dark Side Of The Moon (March 1973); released as a US single in June 1973. Highest US chart position: 13
A sarcastic glorification of greed and complacency among the jet set, with an impossible-to-dance-to 7/4 tempo. Ker-ching, swoosh, whirr, click…
Andy Fairweather-Low, Amen Corner and Roger Waters’ touring band: In 1967, Amen Corner toured with Jimi Hendrix, Floyd, The Move and The Nice. I remember listening to the Floyd for so many nights and thinking, ‘I don’t get this: where’s the backbeat?’ And the first Floyd song I got to play bass on in ’84 was “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun”, which immediately took me back to ’67 and the Albert Hall. They created a new musical genre. I’ve been playing with Roger for a long time, touring from ’84 through to last year. And that length of time says it all. Roger and I became very close. The more I’ve played with him, the more I’ve realised how many truly great songs he’s written. When I started playing “Money” on the Dark Side… tour, I thought, ‘What a riff. How the hell do you come up with something like that?’ And the time signature is 7/4, then they sing over it! Another thing Roger did incredibly well was putting extraneous noises into the music – they become completely part of the foundation of the song. There’s a filter in Roger’s brain that tells him if something is going to work or not.
28 Green Is The Colour
From More (July 1969)
From the band’s first film soundtrack, this tranquil love song on acoustic guitar is a fine example of their 1969/70 pastoral period.
Wayne Coyne, Flaming Lips: Back in the mid-’80s, as the Flaming Lips endlessly toured around America, we were constantly approached by hardcore, psychedelic freaks bearing gifts. They would almost always offer acid, mushrooms or pot and some would bring records. Let it be said the Pink Floyd bootleg record collector, back then anyway, had a very rich pile of stuff to enjoy…
My favourite version of “Green Is The Colour” is from a double-disc bootleg that has a photo of a severed hand on the back cover. David Gilmour’s voice cracks, perfectly on some of the delicate, higher notes and, though the group speeds up a little bit as the song rolls on, the overall effect is a gentle, death-on-the-beach-at-sunset kind of groove. It is strange for a Pink Floyd song… I can think of no other Floyd track I like that conjures up that effect. It is a beautiful, simple summer “trip-out-with-a-girl” song and it’s also a colourful, abstract, existential mantra that could probably be interpreted many different ways.
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