Pink Floyd’s 30 best songs

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

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12 Careful With That Axe, Eugene
B-side of the single, “Point Me At The Sky” (December 1968). Did not chart
Sprawling psych improv, and a crowd favourite – a great live version appears on Ummagumma.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQH8LcAsEvA

Genesis P Orridge, Psychic TV/Throbbing Gristle: By 1969, I was living in the HoHo Funhouse, a semi-commune full of freaks in an old fruit warehouse in Hull. Pink Floyd were touring Ummagumma and the university asked us to do the light show. Everyone was stoned and tripping, but I vividly remember “Careful With That Axe, Eugene”, which nobody had heard yet and seemed to go on for three hours. We had these glass slides with liquid in, and an epidioscope, onto which we put live maggots. So you had this psychedelic light show, with six-foot long maggots crawling across. Floyd played their first set, then came back on wearing overalls from a building site and carrying wood, a saw, some hammers and some nails. And they started building a very ramshackle table, sat on the wooden boxes they’d just made and had a tea break. Pre-industrial rock!

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11 Lucifer Sam
From The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Originally entitled “Percy The Rat Catcher”, this feline yarn (“be a hip cat, be a ship’s cat”) was inspired by Syd’s moggy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbIMx2MYNXk

Jim Reid, The Jesus And Mary Chain: I almost feel that I should apologise for choosing a Syd/Floyd song because although it took a while, I eventually realised what a great band they were with or without Syd. I remember as a teenager sitting in my bedroom trying to play the guitar riffs for “Lucifer Sam” and make out the lyrics. The version I used to play, if you were being kind, could be described as punk/avant-garde, or more truthfully complete shite, but I enjoyed hacking away at it anyway. I never understood why Floyd didn’t release it it as a single, it seemed like a sure hit to me.

When the Mary Chain appeared on The Tube in 1985, Dave Gilmour was there playing with Pete Townshend’s band. In between the rehearsals, William [Reid, JAMC] was onstage doing a really bad job of painting his lovely old vintage Gretsch guitar. Gilmour came over to watch. He had a look on his face as though someone was taking a shit on The Bible. A couple of years ago, at an awards ceremony, he came up to me and mentioned this. Christ, I was astonished he could even remember it! I thought fuck, what have we done to the poor guy? He must have been traumatised to remember that, 20 years later. I wanted to shake his hand and give him a big hug, but I just smiled meekly and disappeared into the shadows.

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10 Fearless
From Meddle
Overlooked album track with a naggingly insistent Gilmour riff, a lazing-on-the-lawn feel and a crowd of overdubbed Liverpool FC fans.

Storm Thorgerson, Floyd sleeve artist and schoolfriend: Of course I love “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, the key to Floyd’s past. But this is overlooked, haunting and melodic, and very beautifully sung by Dave. I suppose it’s about being confident, believing in yourself – going forward without fear. There’s what feels like a backward-chord sequence, strange and incredibly telling, and a very simple but interesting guitar chord-riff. But I don’t really think about any of that. Songs grab you by the throat or the bollocks. “Fearless” isn’t complex, but simply beautiful. It’s more or less faultless. And it’s a key song on a seminal, underrated album.

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