Pink Floyd’s 30 best songs

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

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The 4th Uncut New Music Playlist Of 2020

Apologies for what feels like a massive delay since the last Playlist; crazy deadlines plus, you know, real world...

15 Breathe
From The Dark Side Of The Moon
Dark Side…’s curtain-raiser begins languidly (another pastoral Floyd album?), but its lyrics (“Run rabbit, run”) are wickedly booby-trapped.

Guy Garvey, Elbow: My sisters loved The Dark Side Of The Moon, so it was always playing somewhere in the house. At 17 or 18, I had an acid experience and it made me listen to the album in a completely different way. I think Pink Floyd’s ethos for Dark Side… was very different, too. It was industrial, experimental rock and represented a machine-made freedom. They were utilising everything at their disposal, experimenting within themselves. It was a classic example of using the studio as an instrument. “Breathe” is as simple as dimples in the way it’s sung, but they use an interesting vocal tracking style. The lyrics are delivered ad hoc, then tracked to lend them weight. It was something Pete Waterman later picked up, but that was to protect a bad singer. Pink Floyd put that song down as they felt it, then bolstered it to give it real weight. It was something else altogether.

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14 Is There Anybody Out There?
From The Wall
An aural collage from an American hotel room (TV, passing traffic, ominous bass noises) drifts off into dreamy English folk music.

Jim James, My Morning Jacket: I love a lot of Pink Floyd. To me their music is classic and will transcend all time. As long as there are people on the earth they will be listening to Pink Floyd. But the cut I listen to most would be “Is There Anybody Out There?”, which is a short instrumental. Starting at about 1:15 is one of the most beautiful little classical guitar pieces I have heard. I listen to it on repeat. They say no one knows who really played it. I mean, I’m sure someone does, but in The Wall movie it’s in one of my favourite scenes. After Pink has smashed his hotel room to pieces, he builds this beautiful sculpture on the floor out of all the remnants of the smashed goods. It’s quite a beautifully heartbreaking scene!

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13 Atom Heart Mother (Suite)
From Atom Heart Mother
A six-part suite, conceived (with co-composer Ron Geesin) for rock group and choir, initially known as “The Amazing Pudding”.

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Iain Banks, author: I have a weakness for bands with semi-symphonic ambitions. We all – by golly, quite rightly – recoil in horror from the excesses of the triple-sleeve concept album so beloved of certain progressive bands of the ’70s. But even allowing for the fact that in some ways the three-minute balls-out head-thumping thrash is what pop/rock is most truly about, it’s good to hear talented musicians giving their imaginations room to play in. Floyd taking a side of an LP to launch into an widescreen abstract soundscape of madly chuntering choirs and sonic weirdness was an almost predictable step after the serial indulgences of Ummagumma, but it could still all have gone horribly, embarrassingly wrong. It didn’t. This is one of their finest pieces. The Floyd always had the tunes to match their ambition, and that makes all the difference.

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