With the near impossible task of narrowing the recorded works of Pink Floyd into a mere ten tracks, we cheated a bit by cutting things down to just their '70s work. Faced with the departure of their original leader, Syd Barrett, the band somehow responded with some of the most successful and genre-expanding albums in rock history. Although their true worth is measured better in terms of full albums, this list of the Top 10 Pink Floyd Songs of the '70s should give you a good taste of how they spent the decade.
'Us & Them'From: 'Dark Side Of The Moon' (1973)
You can almost taste the smoke-filled air of some after hours bar as the mellow guitar gives way to the oh-so-sexy saxophone and haunting vocals on this Pink Floyd classic. 'Us & Them' sets and holds its mood perfectly, allowing for dynamic crashes of insistent waves between the calm. David Gilmour's vocal is perfectly suited to the piece, and when the sax work of Dick Parry turns aggressive mid-song it elevates things quite nicely. The longest cut on 'Dark Side,' it was edited down to a single but failed to chart.
'Fearless'From: 'Meddle' (1972)
We hope you agree with our including 'Fearless' on this list of great Pink Floyd '70s songs -- after all, it has gained popularity and respect over the years. Hidden on side one of the 'Meddle' album, 'Fearless' is a beautiful Floydian ditty. The slow groove guitar riff opens the door to one of Floyd's most elegant numbers. The song never really changes mood or tempo, it just grooves along its way while offering sweet encouragement: "You say the hill's too steep to climb / Climb it."
'Another Brick In The Wall: Pt. 2'From: 'The Wall' (1979)
It's funny how at the time, this was seen by more than a few to be Pink Floyd's attempt at disco. Other rockers gave in, so who were Floyd to avoid the dance floor? It's not going to be mistaken for Chic, but there is a lot of 4/4 on the floor rhythm action going on. Throw in some kids singing, a trademark of producer Bob Ezrin, and lyrics about oppression from elders and hey, you have a No. 1 hit in nearly every country around the globe! While the band's early improvisational freakouts such as 'Interstellar Overdrive' were the soundtrack to club dancing, a decade later they had wandered a long way from the 14 Hour Technicolor Dream.
'Pigs (Three Different Ones)'From: 'Animals' (1977)
Truth be told, we cold easily have included the entire 'Animals' album on the list. The seemingly forgotten piece of the Floyd puzzle, 'Animals' was released in the winter of 1977 to critical acclaim and thumbs up from fans. But since then, it seems to have been filed in the back of the stack. Maybe the songs are all too long for radio in 2012, maybe the more aggressive harder edged sound on display doesn't suit programmers... who knows?! One thing that's clear, 'Pigs (Three Different Ones)' is a stone cold classic. it features ethereal organ work from Rick Wright and some of Gilmour's most biting guitar work, not to mention Water's most direct, middle finger salute lyrics ever.
'Shine On You Crazy Diamond'From: 'Wish You Were Here' (1975)
This was the band's tribute to their lost leader, Syd Barrett. Instead of having one long piece taking up an entire LP side, the band split the track in two, so it served as bookends to the album both musically and conceptually. The semi-dissonant guitar riff David Gilmour employs is one of the most arresting sounds the band ever put on record. It captures the mood perfectly and serves Water's lyrics spot on. As legend has it, a bald, overweight Barrett actually turned up at the studio during the recording of the song... and nobody in the group recognized him.
'Brain Damage/Eclipse'From: 'Dark Side Of The Moon' (1973)
Yes, we know these are really two separate songs, but they are seamlessly attached both on record and in the hearts and minds of Floyd fans. Together they both close 'Dark Side Of The Moon' and sum up the entire album. 'Brain Damage,' originally titled 'Lunatic,' is the unofficial title track and carries the project's themes of madness and wandering to the brink. Although it's not specifically about him, the song is full of references to Syd Barrett. A very important piece of the Floyd puzzle, 'Eclipse' is the summation of the adventure the listener has just been on.
'Echoes'From: 'Meddle' (1972)
The centerpiece of the great 'Meddle' album, 'Echoes' is about as epic as you can get. Taking up the whole of side two, it was, in many ways, the jumping off point for what the band would do on the 'Dark Side Of The Moon' LP. The mood, textures and time signatures shift throughout the 23-minute song without ever becoming boring. It's a beautiful and hypnotic slice of progressive rock at its finest.
'Money'From: 'Dark Side Of The Moon' (1973)
Name us another top twenty hit record that is in 7/8 time and contains the word 'bulls---.' Can't do it, can you? The insistently clever bass line that drives the song is as good a hook as a lot of the guitar riffage rock songs are usually built on. It invites the listener in then refuses to let go. Midway through the band drops the pretense and lets loose on some straight ahead 4/4 rock action with another in a long list of great Gilmour guitar solos.
'Wish You Were Here'From: 'Wish You Were Here' (1975)
Truly one of classic rock's most beautiful songs, 'Wish You Were Here' is an obvious choice for our list of top Pink Floyd songs from the '70s. The track's plaintive lyrics float on top of stark, gorgeous guitars to deliver an open letter of longing that has resonated across decades already, with no end in sight.
'Comfortably Numb'From: 'The Wall' (1979)
'Comfortably Numb' captures all of the many facets of the Pink Floyd sound, from the ethereal to the dynamic and back again. The balance between Water's vocals in the verses and Gilmour's in the choruses beautifully illustrates the yin and yang of the band. On a historical note, it was the last song Pink Floyd ever performed together, as it ended their short but legendary set at Live 8 in 2005. In 2011, Gilmour made a surprise appearance at one of Water's 'The Wall' shows to play his part on the song.
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