It was becoming increasingly clear by the dawn of the 21st century that Pink Floyd, although they had done great things musically, they had a seeming inability to churn out new work under the Pink Floyd label, due mainly to the ongoing animosity between guitarist David Gilmour and bassist/vocalist Roger Waters. Sadly, this is still an ongoing issue between the two of them primarily at this point, with drummer Nick Mason now touring with his own band and both Syd Barrett (original guitarist/vocalist) and Richard Wright (piano/keyboards) now gone from this world. All the same, the group had never released a proper compilation, although they had released two compilations earlier on: Relics and A Collection Of Great Dance Songs. This is the first major compilation by the group and contains many of their key songs during the course of their career. These absolutely should be observed by even casual fans of Pink Floyd and those interested in musical history, so let’s do just that.
We begin with the Syd Barrett era song Astronomy Domine. It begins with the eerie space talk, followed by the Fender Esquire leads by Syd. What sounds like morse code enters, and this piece gets underway. It shows that, even today, the group has enough respect for Syd Barrett’s amazing music. This is an extraordinary piece of music that sounds psychedelic, futuristic and timeless. The delay sounds and sonic mixing are far ahead of today’s EDM and this piece does sound incredibly masterful and glorious. A real treat for Pink Floyd fans, of many who skip The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. A majestic, interstellar and awesome sounding tune, with many rushes of sonic detail and amazing songwriting on this song. Needless to say, this music would sound great when under the influence of something really good, substance wise. It would take many Pink Floyd fans by surprise. Awesome.
Next is the rarity single by Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd See Emily Play. It begins with gorgeous slide guitar, scientific drumming and great melodies by all. The simple and childlike lyrics here take you back to childhood memories and innocence that this dystopian, postmodern world cannot do. It’s difficult to figure out exactly what this song is specifically about, but is an early Psychedelic Rock masterpiece. The solos here do amazing justice to the band, and it sounds amazing, even at the time of writing. This is perhaps Pink Floyd’s answer to The Beatles Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. A great song, less than three minutes long. Brilliant.
The Happiest Days Of Our Lives follows from The Wall. It begins with helicopter noises which are quite loud, before some screaming enters by a Scottish sounding man and the delayed guitar parts and basslines enter. This is hugely suspenseful, and just goes to show the brutality and humiliation of people at school. It has an interesting lyrical and musical twist towards the end, before launching into the next song.
Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2 begins and is a real classic song by Pink Floyd. It is not about being stupid about education, but simply the interrogation and dark psychology of classrooms themselves. This seems a little out of place on this compilation rather than the album itself, but the song is legendary and amazing. It just sounds like an anthemic piece of music, complete with a school choir singing the chorus nicely. One can sense the tension between Roger Waters and David Gilmour, even on brilliant songs like this one. A beautiful guitar solo then emerges to finish this legendary song off, along with 1970s style organ. The impact of this song is not to be underestimated, a great and anthemic tune. The guitar solo is so beautiful that it points to David Gilmour as an underrated guitar player. The schoolyard outro is decent, finishing with a phone dialing sound. Excellent.
Next is Echoes – Edit which is over 16 minutes long. It begins with the eerie piano sound, strange electronic sounds and some odd sounding keyboard parts. It is really excellent, and suspenseful way from the start. Some awesome slide guitar parts then enter, and this piece gets going. This, for those who don’t know, was the key song on the Meddle album. It still sounds amazing to this day, complete with shuffle drum rolls. The singing here is really pretty and proto-Dark Side Of The Moon. A gorgeous and different song to almost anything else in Pop/Rock history. Very moving and original, the playing and singing combine perfectly on this song to full effect. The lyrics are very excellent as well, showcasing the ordinary life that one can experience. A really very good song, with some unique and somewhat dark guitar phrasing on it. It continues on dreamily, and just sounds completely wonderful. David Gilmour proves himself, yet again, to be a great and underappreciated guitarist in music history. The rhythm, melody and sonic exploration on this song are amazing. It quickly shifts into a groovy section with some awesome keyboard sounds, great rhythms and guitar sounds verging on feedback. The keyboards and guitar fight for recognition, but both do justice in this section. Some wild Jimi Hendrix styled fills come along, and this piece is nothing short of amazing. If you need to show the kids of today how much better music was back in the 1960s and 1970s, this is a very good example of it. Sounding very intelligent and Psychedelic, this song shows how its done. Before long, the jam is mixed out, with some eerie sonic textures taking its place. This certainly is a strange part of the song, with some eerie and unusual sounds, somewhat like Black Sabbath’s Children Of The Grave. Some freaky guitar sounds also join in, making this piece very, very different. It sounds super spacey and completely out there. Eventually an organ sound enters, and the piano sound from the start briefly plays. Some warm and ethereal textures come in, and this piece sounds like nothing else before or since. Very suspenseful, this does sound really amazing. Before long, additional textures seep in, painting the musical picture on this song. Hi-hats and some other electronic textures build up the suspense of this song, before guitars enter and this piece gets going in a rush of sonic exploration. Tom-tom drums lead back into the song section of this part, before the song section re-emerges. A real sonic treat, this is an amazing listen that should not be ignored. It finishes up with a lounge sort of groove to it and gorgeous guitar parts. A very interesting and classic listening experience from Pink Floyd, it ends with surreal keyboard sounds that are intense. A great piece of music.
Following is the song Hey You which begins with some acoustic guitar sounds, bass guitar that speaks and a rather lost, lonely feeling to the intro of the song. It launches into a Pink Floyd classic that is on The Wall. It sounds really fantastic to this day, and is a call to arms for those who feeling depressed and out of hope. It is one of the better pieces on The Wall, and Pink Floyd put in an energetic and passionate performance on this song. The guitar parts and soloing here are super expressive, sounding quite unlike many other musicians in this regard. Depressing sounding, but very catchy, this is a song for the dispossessed. A really good piece, musically and lyrically, with a musical twist to it, with worms eating into the main character’s brain. A great piece of melodramatic emotion, this is very different to other kinds of music. The Socialist quote at the end: “Together we stand, divided we fall,” is excellent and legendary. Good song.
Marooned – Excerpt is a rarity in the Pink Floyd cannon. It has some gorgeous guitar parts, seagulls and some interesting slide guitar. This is very Psychedelic, but quite an amazing listen, even for first time listeners. It sounds emotional and well delivered, and shows some good Pink Floyd soul. Really great guitar work here, and a very good addition to this compilation. A nice little tune to hear when the mood strikes.
The Great Gig In The Sky is a famous instrumental from Dark Side Of The Moon. It begins with moody piano, and is actually a song about death and the emotional experience with it. Some gorgeous pedal steel slide guitar and good bass playing enters, followed by a quote about not being afraid of dying. More excellent playing goes on, before this piece launches into the lone vocal take, which is by a female singer. It is very, very good, even on its own in a compilation. The performances evokes the correct mood for the piece about dying, and this really does sound sensational. It goes quieter towards the middle, with the piano piece becoming more prominent. If you have not yet heard this piece or Dark Side Of The Moon itself, then you really must. An uplifting, fantastic and interesting piece that is a very beautiful song. Brilliant piece, great listening experience. It gets very subtle towards the end, and finishes well.
Next along is Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun which is from the second Pink Floyd album A Saucerful Of Secrets. It begins with some excellent bass guitar playing, original percussion and xylophone like chiming. This is another very Psychedelic piece that does sound very forward thinking and trippy. The lyrics are very intelligent and give a competitive edge for the sounds. It has a large amount of interesting and clever sounds throughout, which show an artistic flair to Pink Floyd. It’s of course about outer space travel, but is in inner space terms. The whispered vocal part here is really excellent and adds a dimension and texture far better than screaming would ever do for Pink Floyd. The second half is largely instrumental, with seagulls and other drug influenced sounding textures. Roger Waters sings nicely here, and this piece is mindblowingly good. A great Pink Floyd piece, and very artistic and memorable. No doubt this is a very excellent listen, it sounds top. It ends with a nice smooth fade out. Great piece of music.
The big hit from Dark Side Of The Moon Money follows, and although it may be deemed a Pop song, it’s a good one. Beginning with sounds of cash registers and coins, it launches into a catchy guitar riff and a cool tune with wah-wah guitars that sounds really fresh and amazing. A really cool tune, it is a catchy piece of songwriting and music that makes one smile. Pink Floyd obviously had big brains about music, even a Pop/Rock piece that sounds lively, such as this one. It has the Dick Parry legendary saxophone solo here to illustrate the song beautifully, and he does an expressive solo here wonderfully. A really concise, ingenious and clever sounding piece of music. It is followed by a really excellent guitar solo by David Gilmour that sounds super good and professional, being very upbeat and lively. This continues with a descending bassline and shuffle drum rolls, before it all comes together towards the end. Really great Pop/Rock piece that deserved credit as a Pink Floyd breakthrough song, it still sounds really great today. It concludes with some fairly direct lyrics about the nature of money itself. Money, everybody loves it, but it corrupts, seemingly. It ends with some quotes from the Dark Side Of The Moon, sounding excellent.
Keep Talking is an unusual addition to this compilation, with some amazing guitar sounds and electronics to begin with. It sounds really excellent and ethereal, and is a decent yet confusing addition for the fact it made it onto this release. Nonetheless, it is a really good listen and sounds like a sonic exploration with some singing that is actually done by David Gilmour. A fairly decent listen from The Division Bell, a later release by Pink Floyd done without Roger Waters, who had well departed on from that time. A computerized voice is throughout, with some excellent guitar playing by David Gilmour. A very interesting song, showing that even later on, Pink Floyd still had some mojo. Some excellent Fender Stratocaster guitar parts are here, along with some call-and-response vocals from David Gilmour and some gospel singers are here. Some vocoder sound effects are also on this as well, sounding rather Pink Floydian. It’s different, but perhaps not the best piece on this album. The guitars throughout do sound excellent all the same. It segues into the next track.
Sheep is one of the major pieces from the Animals album. It begins with recordings of sheep and chirping birds, before organ style sounds enter. The idea behind the Animals album was to paint human beings as different types of Animals by nature. For which one you are from that album, you decide. Eventually, a bass guitar part plays along that is quite catchy and nicely played. Reversed drum enter, and this piece gets going. Some fantastic vocals are here from Roger Waters, and points to a kind of style and anger in the lyrics, at least, which is inspired by the Punk music of the time. It has some really cool guitar parts that are lively, and this piece does sound excellent. An angrier sounding song, but a catchy and excellent sonic experience nonetheless, it goes into a really good set of sounds and guitar/bass guitar playing. The keyboards reach a centrepiece sort of arrangement, with some very spacey 1970s sounds about it. An interesting and catchy piece of music, it goes back into the bass guitar part from earlier, and has some science fiction styled keyboard parts to match. Some cut up organ sounds then follow, before some strange pieces of musical sounds follow. The sheep sounds are prominent throughout the second half, before launching back into the song itself. The fact is that many people are, out of the Animals on the album, are Sheep indeed. As the song progresses towards the end, we hear a nice guitar part and some energetic drumming by Nick Mason. A really cool and interesting song, it makes perfect sense when you hear the Animals album, but this is a nice example of the music from that album. Neat.
The last song on side one is Sorrow, a track from post-Roger Waters Pink Floyd. This begins with some warped electronic sounds, some weird guitars and a feeling that this really shouldn’t be on this compilation. It’s not the best, to be fair. It sounds awful from the start, and probably was ill thought out. It sounds very uninspired and dirge like, despite the fact this song features James Guthrie. It goes into a very awful sounding 1980s styled song, which although has some precise drumming, clearly isn’t the best of Pink Floyd. Sure, David Gilmour sings nicely, but the rest of the song is garbage. Some of the guitar parts are good, but this is not good enough, to be frank. It’s also quite depressing lyrically, and this is fairly forgettable. Harmonies enter, but this piece is not very good at all. It has a break in the middle with various awful electronic sounds, but is quite forgettable otherwise. In any case, a very meh song that doesn’t do much for Pink Floyd fans or casual listeners alike. Sadly, not really worth the time here, but then again there are other amazing songs on this compilation to hear, just not this one. Too long as well, being eight minutes of sonic garbage. It has long guitar solos at the end, but otherwise, avoid.
Beginning side two is Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Pts. 1-7), which is a piece devoted to the legendary Syd Barrett, their original bandleader. It begins slowly, with glistening keyboard textures and an array of awesome electronic sounds, and sounds very exciting. It has some unique keyboard melodies and sounds gorgeous. Fun fact, Syd Barrett walked into Abbey Road studios whilst the band were recording this after not seeing any of them for several years. Anyway, this is ethereal sounding and truly beautiful. The repeating melodies are passionate and full of brilliant sounds, before launching into a gorgeous guitar solo section by David Gilmour, which is enough to bring tears to one’s eyes. This is an excellent 17 minute piece upon hearing. It progresses musically and gently, sounding like they truly missed Syd himself. The guitar solo finishes, and the ethereal sounds go into the background, before the four note figure enters, sounding haunting and dramatic. This repeats for some time, before launching into an excellent instrumental section with the whole group playing excellently. A powerful and moving statement for their bandleader long gone, it is extremely beautiful and very moving sounding. Really great sounding piece, it becomes more powerful and dramatic with some further extensive lead guitar playing here to grab your attention. Some interesting keyboard sounds follow, and we are back in 1975. A really gorgeous piece of music, this is very moving. Roger Waters sings some gentle lyrics about Syd, and has some gospel backing vocals that sound wonderful here with him. It directly discusses about Syd and what he was like, at least what the group remembered about him. The whole piece is a gorgeous piece of majestic wonder. A very great song and piece about a legend himself. It launches into another Dick Parry saxophone solo that is descriptive, fitting and awesome to listen to, whilst some spacey acoustic guitars join on in. This is exceptionally good, and sounds truly amazing. It’s no surprise that Pink Floyd got attention for this song and Wish You Were Here, the whole thing sounds well delivered and amazing. It merges with the second half of the sound, intermixed here for full effect. The second half of the piece mixes some treated bass guitar parts, some nice electric guitars and a continuation of earlier themes. It sounds gloriously good, with some very funky 1970s styled guitars. Impressively beautiful keyboards enter, which sound incredibly pretty. This latter part of the combined track has a catchy instrumental piece with slide guitar and excellent sounds that are neatly done. Great effort, and launches back into the second half of the basic song itself. A truly great masterpiece of 17 minute listening, let’s hope that Syd Barrett is rocking out to this piece in heaven. In any case, a very very good piece listen here, and a great representation of the wonder of Pink Floyd.
Time is one of the signature tracks from Dark Side Of The Moon. It has the classic alarm clock intro that everyone wished they heard in the morning, which ends with a clock chiming and some electronic textures. Next, some brilliant guitar leads and tom-tom drums play along nicely with this piece of sonic exploration. It has an air of melancholy about it, with some beefy sounding Fender Stratocaster guitar parts and an excellent sound on it. Really good to hear, this is marvelous. Eventually, the song gets going about the dull and mundane feeling of the modern world as it was through Pink Floyd’s eyes. Some watery gospel vocals then come along, sounding incredibly good. The song progresses into a singing and wonderful piece of guitar playing by David Gilmour. This is a very moving and amazing sounding piece of music, just sounding top. Really forward thinking, unique and excellent, it still sounds really top today. A great track about the mundane nature of going through a groundhog day sort of process in life, this is an excellent song. “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way,” is sung here, before going into the Breathe medley to conclude nicely. Really excellent music, this ends a decent and dramatic song. Nice.
The Fletcher Memorial Home is a piece from The Final Cut. It is from a highly political album, and sounds like a song about despising the political leaders of the day. It is a good piece, but a little strange why Pink Floyd would put this onto a compilation. It refers to many Conservative leaders and rulers who, according to Roger Waters, shouldn’t be treated with respect. It’s a highly political statement, but an effective one nonetheless. Some screaming guitar leads are here, along with some pounding drums. A good song, but maybe not a great one for the purpose of this compilation. Good to hear anyway, with a sense of twisted humour about it. It has a reference to the final solution at the end, indicating that these rulers are Fascist/Nazi types. Interesting listening.
Next is Comfortably Numb which has the extended intro from The Wall. This is a better pick on this compilation. It quickly launches into the song at hand, which sounds really great and amazing from the start, particularly with the guitar work. It has many different sounds and sound effects driving this along. Once you hear the bridge, you’ll be very much in love with this song. It’s about a personal experience Roger Waters had with medicinal drug use when he was ill, not actually about heroin. It has a gorgeous guitar solo that hits the spot nicely, this is once again, very moving. Pink Floyd were able to create dramatic and artistic songs for the masses, and this is one of them. A really good song with a good Pop/Rock feel about it, it proves that Pink Floyd had some amazing tunes at hand. A pretty string section illuminates this piece, before going into a loud and extended guitar solo at the end for people to hear. There was some disagreement within Pink Floyd over music and writing credits on this song, nonetheless, it is a really great listen from start to finish. Nice tune.
Following is When the Tigers Broke Free which begins with wind rushing sounds, and is another piece from The Final Cut. It sounds desolate, with some gradual build up of electronic sounds. Some horns enter, and this piece gets going, along with some male gospel style vocals. Why this sort of song is on this compilation is rather bizarre. In any case, it is a good listen about war and the atrocities in World War II. It’s a sad song about the loss of Roger Waters father. Very sad and moving this song, and is a good but strange listen on this compilation. Upsetting for those who have lost loved ones in war, but very good.
One Of These Days is the opening track from Meddle. It begins with some wind rushing sounds, before going into some catchy and delayed funk bass guitar playing that sounds awesome. A really good and Progressive Rock sounding piece, this is an excellent tune to hear. It continues on with organ sounds, some backward tapes of other electronic sounds, pounding drums and some distorted sounding guitars. A really decent piece of music, it then launches into some electronic sounds that are done on bass guitar, just heavily processed. Some further eerie sounds and pounding drums continue, with the distorted vocal then getting the song going along well. It sounds very well done, and is a good, decent five minute Pink Floyd piece. The slide guitar here is very manic, and this is another fairly good listen. It finishes with many multitracked guitar and keyboard parts, good to hear.
Us and Them is an almost eight minute long centrepiece song from Dark Side Of The Moon. It segues in from the previous song, with a floating organ sound, before launching into this song which is brilliant from the start. It sounds really nice and relaxing, and is a better Pink Floyd song, with more saxophone by Dick Parry. A more minimalist piece for Pink Floyd. Roger Waters’s vocals have a load of delay on them for extra emphasis, and this piece sounds really wonderful. It’s about compromise and follows the thoughts one can have of madness, a common theme of Dark Side Of The Moon. It launches into more depictions of war, and the chorus parts are different, with loads of backing gospel vocals. It is a dramatic and fairly minimal piece of Pink Floyd beauty that sounds really fantastic, with many simple and well placed lyrics on this song. In any case, this is a very pretty piece about the dark feelings and interpretations one can have in life. A beautiful piano solo is here, along with some excellent sampled speech, followed by more saxophone playing. A really great and epic piece of music, this is definitely decent Pink Floyd. It goes to and from the main part of the song with ease, and sounds really awesome. A great psychological piece of effective music, Pink Floyd do brilliantly on this song. Another decent piece of music, it ends with delayed vocals.
Next is Learning To Fly which is another one of the awful tracks on this compilation. Really not necessary to listen to, it is a throwaway piece, although the lyrics are okay. The drum beat of this track took the group many months to master, and this is another song featuring James Guthrie. However, this does fall flat and doesn’t really succeed terribly well. The chorus is okay, but otherwise, skip this one. There is a semi-intermission with vocal samples, but overall, this is really forgettable. It sounds more like an exercise in textures and sounds rather than anything musically accomplished. Anyway, not really that good, sounding like a bad 1980s track. Forgettable, and this is not what Pink Floyd were about.
Following is the A side of the band’s first single Arnold Layne. It begins with 1960s organ, Fender Esquire by Syd Barrett and some amusingly interesting lyrics about a transvestite thief who steals people’s clothes from their washing lines, and who gets caught. This is a gloriously good listen, and sounds like very good and effortless playing from Pink Floyd. It has a super trippy organ solo that matches the sound here very well. A wacky and interesting listening experience, this is really good to hear. Catchy and different, it reaches a cool climax at the end. Brilliant.
Wish You Were Here is likely the group’s most loved song. It begins with some random radio samples, some beautiful acoustic guitar playing with a radio sound effect on it and a sense that we have something brilliant here. Some acoustic slide guitar comes in next, which sounds really pretty. It then launches into a really wonderful piece that sounds top, with some interesting lyricism about life’s experiences. It has some pretty piano parts in the background. This has been an FM radio staple for many years now. It has some singing and guitar soloing here as well, before reaching a dramatic conclusion about missing someone dearly, likely Syd Barrett. A really decent and excellent song, even today. This is a must hear for those who don’t know who Pink Floyd are. Excellent song and listening experience. Great listen, and nice guitar playing throughout, ending with wind rushing sounds.
Jugband Blues is the last song Syd Barrett finished with Pink Floyd. It’s a weird one. Syd sings and plays on acoustic guitar nicely, with some very gorgeous backing instrumentation and some oddly self-aware lyrics. It quickly launches into a melodic and wonderful bridge section that sounds fantastic. It then launches into the jug band section, which is weird, yet superb. It is quickly followed by a load of la-la-las which are mixed nicely, with some clanging Fender Esquire guitar parts to suit. There are more odd sounds and horns, before going into the final section. This last part is super eerie, and it sounds like Syd Barrett is falling apart on record. Brilliant though.
Next is High Hopes – Edit which is from The Division Bell. It has many clanging clock sounds, piano and the sound of a fly. Once again, this is okay, but not exactly what Pink Floyd were about. David Gilmour sings nicely here, and this sounds like a good song, but not a fantastic one. The chorus is pretty awful for Pink Floyd and this is a bit of a disappointment. Needless to say, a poor choice of a song for the compilation, and more about sonics and sound effects than an actual song. Anyway, it’s okay but not the best. It has a Spanish acoustic solo on it, before going back to the main part of the song, which is primarily piano driven. In any case, an okay listen but nothing important to hear, it’s pretty blah. A piece that sounds as though Pink Floyd were merely thinking of money, and not much else. This is rather lengthy too, at nearly seven minutes long. The slide guitar solo takes up much of the latter half of the song, before it fades out. It ends with the clanging clock sound.
Very last on this compilation is Bike – Edit. It begins with a bicycle sound, before launching into the last song on The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. A good song to conclude with, and shows that Syd Barrett was very legendary, even amongst the latter efforts of Pink Floyd. It really does sound superb and youthful in orientation. It concludes fairly quickly, before launching into the clock sounds at the end of the song, which are ingenious. Nice tune to end this compilation with, a good way to remember Pink Floyd by. It ends with the looped duck sound outro, before finishing.
This is a very good compilation. However, it seems that ego overdrive has picked some poorer and rather irrelevant tracks for people to listen to, rather than a more varied slice of the best of Pink Floyd. In any case, this is a good starting point to pick a course for whichever part of Pink Floyd you may desire to follow. Sadly, it’s not as good as buying a copy of Dark Side Of The Moon alone. A good effort, but could have been bettered for choice’s sake.
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