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Piper At The Gates of Dawn

Pink Floyd

1967

Pink Floyd's debut album can be a disorienting listening experience.  It's probably the most psychedelic album of the 1960s.  It's delightfully mad, thanks largely to lead singer Syd Barrett, who would suffer a well documented mental breakdown in the years shortly after releasing this album.  And frankly, it's easy to see why after listening to PATGOD.  It's the aural equivalent of being trapped in an endless kaleidoscope universe full of mirrors, confusion, colors, hallucinations, etc.  While it's not particularly malevolent sounding, it doesn't exactly sound like a good trip either.  On the contrary, it can be quite intense at times, while broodingly playful at others.  Ultimately, it is what you would expect it to be I suppose...it plays with your head, but unfortunately it's not much more than that...an intoxicating, delightfully British psychedelic head trip.

8.3

Meddle

Pink Floyd

1971

This album is kind of like a good warm-up for Dark Side of the Moon.  It's got that broad, epic mood/scope to it, but it's just not a fully realized version of that album.  They weren't quite there yet, but they were getting close.  Yes, prior to Meddle, Pink Floyd were experimenting with very dense and sprawling space-rock jams on their prior albums, kind of struggling to find their new identify after the departure of Syd Barrett a few years earlier.  It's on Meddle however, where they start to really find their footing.  It's an impressive album, not just in terms of the all encompassing mood the album casts of the listener (similar to DSOTM), but there's also fairly good variety here...a few instrumentals, a very catchy breezy tune "San Tropez" (which is probably my favorite song on here) and the epic jam "Echoes", which is the best realization of the extended jam sessions they experimented with on Atom Heart Mother, etc.  So in a nutshell, if you're looking for the best Floyd album post-Barrett/pre-DSOTM, look no further than Meddle...a very good album indeed.

8.6

Dark Side of the Moon

A prism refracting white light into a rainbow on a black background

Pink Floyd

1973

There's not much to be said about Dark Side of the Moon that hasn't already been said.  It has quite a reputation, but for the longest time, I personally kind of found Pink Floyd and this album to be somewhat cheesy.  I just pictured hippies that smoked way too much pot, dabbled in too many hallucinogenic drugs, and took this type of music way too seriously.  Sure, I had an appreciation for Pink Floyd, and I liked this album, but I always ranked it far lower than most other critics and fans did.  But over time, it's become increasingly harder to deny just how magnificent Dark Side of the Moon really is.  It's not just a triumph production-wise, but also a triumph of the type of experience music can have on the listener.  Listening to Dark Side of the Moon can be a transcendent experience, an emotional experience, and a spiritual experience.   Wait, wasn't I just complaining about druggy hippies that listen to this kind of stuff?  Eating my words.  Anyway, I digress.  Personally, I kind of feel like Dark Side of the Moon is a distant cousin to Abbey Road, or kind of like an evolution of that album's sound.  The two albums share a lot in common production-wise, but Dark Side of the Moon kind of takes the sound, composition, and structure of Abbey Road to the next level.  Granted it was recorded about 4 years later, so there's more studio-wizardry going on here, and Pink Floyd's very essence was that of experimentation, but they really hit it out of the park on Dark Side of the Moon.  That said, Dark Side of the Moon and Abbey Road take on two very different moods, and that's why I think Abbey Road is superior when you're talking about some of the greatest albums of all-time.  Pink Floyd can be a bit of a downer to listen to at times, and the general mood of Dark Side of the Mood is that of dissociative melancholia.  However, the great thing about Dark Side of the Moon is that it offers its fair share of ups and downs, from the spiritual highs of "The Great Gig in the Sky" and "Eclipse" to the rousing funk of "Money", this album takes you on a journey, and it's incredibly impressive to just sit back an listen to.  In a nutshell, it's brilliant, which is why Dark Side of the Moon will always be considered one of the best albums of all-time.

9.3

Wish You Were Here

Pink Floyd

1975

I'm not sure why it took me so long to come around to this album.  It's quite brilliant, but being that it follows the amazing Dark Side of the Moon, it can't help but be in its shadow to a degree.  Whereas DSOTM has twice as many tracks, WYWH is actually a longer album, over half of which consists of the sprawling two-part, mostly instrumental jam "Shine On You Crazy Diamond".  The album starts out with this composition and closes out with it, a very cool effect.  In the middle, the listener is treated to 3 classic tracks "The Machine", "Have A Cigar", and the beautifully poignant title track.  So when absorbed as a whole, WYWH is an incredibly impressive composition, albeit slightly more dense than Dark Side of the Moon.  And although it doesn't quite live up to the epicness of that album (and really, how could it?) it is certainly no slouch itself.  A compelling listening experience, and really their only other album that I consider to be in the same league as DSOTM.

9.1

Animals

Picture of factories with tall chimneys  pouring out black smoke.

Pink Floyd

1977

This is a dense and dark album from The Floyd, with no clear "classic" songs to be found.  It's techincally only 5 songs, but 3 of them are all over 10 minutes each.  It's kind of a bleak listening experience quite frankly, and while all the songs have their moments, none of them really measure up to some of the band's classics.  And while Pink Floyd records can tend to be a downer, this one really takes the cake...compelling listening nonetheless, but not a favorite of mine.

7.8

The Wall

Pink Floyd

1979

Much has been made of this album, and although I like the general concept, listening to it straight through in one sitting hasn't ever done much for me personally.  At least not the way listening to PATGOD, Meddle, DSOTM, or WYWH do.  It has always sounded a bit to theatrical and disjointed to me, and while it does have some absolute classics on it, the surrounding material just kind of gets lost in the shuffle for me.  This may be one of those albums that I need to listen to more often to fully digest it, but for now, I appreciate it, generally like it, but definitely don't love it.

8.2

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