The Essential Pink Floyd – Part Two

Though the numbers may be getting smaller the prices certainly aren’t. We continue our guide to the essential Pink Floyd with the Top 20 records in their catalogue…

20: A Momentary Lapse of Reason [1987]

If 1983’s The Final Cut was a Roger Waters solo album in all but name, then this, the first record of the post-Waters era, is inarguably a David Gilmour record. With this in mind, it’s difficult to not find tracks like the synth-heavy Dogs Of War and the bass-heavy One Slip colossally disappointing. Though there’s still plenty to enjoy if you see past the overwrought, dated production, such as the two-part A New Machine.

Latest 2016: Pink Floyd Music – B01DSV6XQW £20
Rarest 1987: Columbia (sealed US first edition) £400

19: Money [1973]

Though not issued as a single in the UK, Money would be their best performing single to date over in the US, hitting No. 13 on the Billboard Top 100 and, ironically, becoming a lucrative smash hit. The odd-time signature and sublime, danceable bass riff are part of the reason, as is the unusual sound-collage rhythm featuring ripping money, tills, and the jangle of coins. A more conventional, reined-in arrangement guaranteed radio-friendly appeal.

Latest 2003: EMI Capitol Special Markets – 72438-58884-7-2 £40
Rarest 1973: Harvest (Danish picture sleeve) 6C 006-05368 £540

18: Delicate Sound of Thunder [1988]

This live double album captures latter-era Floyd’s huge, visually impressive 1987/88 world tour, very much an attempt to placate those former fans who may have feared the band they knew and loved were transforming into a very different beast under the captainship of Gilmour. The record therefore is full of tracks from the golden era, but without the aforementioned visual context, the record suffers.

Latest 1988: EMI EQ 5009 £20
Rarest 1988: EMI EQ 5009 (first press, sealed) £60

17: The Endless River [2014]

2014’s unexpected final studio album consists entirely of instrumentals and elaborate soundscapes. The death of Floyd’s keyboard player Richard Wright in 2008 undoubtedly informed the approach to this record, featuring as it does much material that Gilmour and Wright created together when making The Division Bell. Aside from those tracks co-written with Wright, Mason and Gilmour are the only original Floyd members to appear.

Latest 2014: Parlophone – B00NPZJTNG £20
Rarest N/A

16: Relics [1971]

Though technically a compilation, Relics is a rewarding listen. It contains the vital early Floyd singles Arnold Layne and See Emily Play; so throw in a smattering of B-sides and key album tracks from the first three studio albums and arguably, you have the definitive document of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd. However, the most rewarding vinyl experiences remain Pink Floyd’s albums proper and the track sequencing isn’t the journey through moods the debut album provides.

Latest 1997: EMI 7243 8 59862 1 5 £20
Rarest1971: Odeon (Japanese red wax version) OP80261 £250

15: Obscured By Clouds [1972]

Though ostensibly a full-length soundtrack to the 1972 French film La Vallee, Obscured By Clouds is universally regarded as a Floyd album proper. Because the compositions, particularly the instrumentals, were written with visuals in mind, it can get a bit languid and, well, a little bit dull at times. However, there’s still gold to be found here such as The Gold It’s In The… and Gilmour’s Childhood’s End, an underrated gem.

Latest 2016: Pink Floyd Music –B01DSV6WR2 £20
Rarest 1972: Harvest (test pressing) – SHSP 4020 £700

Boxsets – 2016 Remasters

Throughout 2016, the self-contained Pink Floyd Records label has reissued the vast majority of the remastered back catalogue on pristine 180g heavyweight vinyl.

The Final Cut and A Momentary Lapse Of Reason were released in January of this year. The gorgeously reproduced records feature all the original inserts and special care has clearly been given to guarantee that all is at is was. If you’re just getting into Pink Floyd-collecting on vinyl, then these sparkling new mixes, back on the format they belong on, represent the definitive way to hear the band’s music.

14: Arnold Layne [1967]

The very first single released by Pink Floyd is archetypal Syd Barrett. Lyrically concerning a transvestite with a penchant for thieving women’s clothes from washing lines, Arnold Layne is also quintessentially English, with Barrett’s whimsical lyrics a huge inspiration to generations of British songwriters, even well into the 90s. Backed by fan favourite Candy And A Currant Bun, it remains highly sought after; the European picture-disc releases can fetch a pretty penny.

Latest 1967: Columbia 7″ – DB 8156 £20
Rarest 1988: Columbia (demo with promo picture sleeve) £2,500

13: More [1969]

The first post-Barrett project finds Pink Floyd struggling to find a new musical identity, though this does lead to quite an absorbing, hypnotic listening experience touching on a range of genres. Conceived as a soundtrack for the under-seen bohemian flick of the same name, More finds Roger Waters striving to redefine the Floyd as something more innovative and stimulating, with key tracks being the rocky The Nile Song and the simply stunning Cymabaline.

Latest 2016: Pink Floyd Music – B01EW1UMLO £30
Rarest 1969: Columbia (test pressing) SCX 6346 £2,000

12: Another Brick in the Wall (Part II) [1979]

The children of Islington Green School’s finest moment (and one which they demanded more royalties for), The Wall’s most peculiar, but contagious moment was released as a single in November 1979. Producer Bob Ezrin’s inspired suggestion to add a disco beat to this anti-authoritarian diatribe undoubtedly added to the enduring appeal of the most chilling No. 1 in chart history.

Latest 2008: Columbia (US collectables 7″ reissue) 13-03118 £4
Rarest 1979: EMI (Kenya pressing 7″) – EMI-5011 £500+

11: The Division Bell [1994]

We’re getting into proper studio-album territory now, with the Gilmour-helmed The Division Bell being the latter-era LP of note. Though quite some way from standing among the lofty heights of Waters-era Floyd records, The Division Bell is by no means a bad LP, with High Hopes being perhaps the strongest post-Waters Floyd composition. …Bell deals with themes of communication and the disconnect between Waters and Gilmour.

Latest 2016: Pink Floyd Music – B00KBNRXXS £30
Rarest 1994: EMI (first pressing) EMD 1055 7243 8 28984 1 2 £350

10: Ummagumma [1969]

The band’s fourth offering was intended to be the complete Pink Floyd experience: an all-new studio album as well as a live album containing a selection of notably electrifying performances from gigs around the country. While the live element of the record is a fascinating historical document (despite containing just four tracks), the studio record – containing tracks principally composed by each member of the band in turn, is frequently ignored.

Latest 2016: Pink Floyd Music – B01DSV6W68 £30
Rarest 1969: Odeon (rare Japanese promo, red disc) OP-8912-13 £1,500

Top 5 rarest Pink Floyd records

5: Dark Side of the Moon

Blue triangle
Perhaps the best-known Pink Floyd rarity, the original first edition was pressed by The Gramophone Co. Ltd by EMI and features an iconic blue triangle on the record label. At one point, these were highly sought after but after it became an established ‘rarity’, many more of these started turning up. We’ve listed it here to reference its importance to Floyd collectors, however. A mint first pressing can fetch upwards of £400.

4: Wish You Were Here

Sealed UK first issue
When Wish You Were Here was originally released, the LP came wrapped in black shrink wrap, hiding the wonderful cover art and bewildering casual record buyers. Shortly after, stickers with the band and album title were sent to record shops up and down the country so people would know what they were buying. In 2012, an unopened original copy sold for £1,775. The seller stated the record ‘really isn’t supposed to be opened or played’.

3: Arnold Layne

UK 7″ demo with picture sleeve
Roughly only 500 copies of this demo version of Arnold Layne were produced in 1967, though never commercially released, featuring a hyperbolic picture sleeve proclaiming ’This is it!… the next projected sound of ’67’. A mint version of this rarity recently sold at auction for over £2,800. This early version of the most quintessential Syd Barrett song remains a highly collectable, massively desirable purchase for the Floyd collector.

2: A Saucerful of Secrets

Rare first export £2,995
A mint-condition copy of this version of the Floyd’s second proper LP is listed online for sale at a staggering £2,995. It was apparently common practice in the late 60s to set aside a few copies of the domestic UK pressing for export to other territories. This version, with its original UK Odeon labels, was one that was sent to the United States and is impossibly hard to get hold of, going some way to justifying its weighty price tag.

1: Meddle

US Blue Vinyl
This beautiful blue-coloured disc version of 1971’s sublime Meddle is almost impossible to find, with copies in numerous states of quality regularly selling for between £8,000 and £9,000. The US blue disc version was released by Columbia with catalogue number 11903, though there’s a very limited quantity of them in existence. So our advice to you would be that if you do manage to find one, then hang on to it, as the price seems to be skyrocketing.

9: A Saucerful of Secrets [1968]

The second LP from Pink Floyd suffered from a difficult gestation: it was during this time that Barrett’s increasingly problematic mental-health issues became too much to deal with and he left the band, while Barrett’s old schoolfriend David Gilmour joined to cover some of the cracks.
So, a momentous record from the perspective of history, it’s also, occasionally, an enthralling listen (and the only record to feature all five Pink Floyd members). Despite Barrett’s condition, his magical influence pervades the record, with the mesmerising closer Jugband Blues serving as a fitting finale from the once-effervescent frontman.
Latest 2016: Pink Floyd Music – B01DSV6VYQ £20
Rarest 1968: Odeon (rare first export) PSCX6258 £3,000

8: Atom Heart Mother [1970]

Surprisingly, Pink Floyd’s very first No. 1 album in the British album charts was amongst their most avant-garde works. Atom Heart Mother is a tricky listen initially for any newcomer to the band, and shows all the hallmarks of clichéd prog indulgence (Side 1’s 23-minute-long orchestral piece is a particular slog). However, stick with it until Side 2, where an assortment of (quite different) compositions starts to provide immense sonic gratification. The 12-minute Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast contains some wonderful moments and Waters’ If signposts greater things to come…
Latest 2016: Pink Floyd Music – B01DSV6WL8 £20
Rarest 1970: Odeon (Japanese red vinyl) OP-80102 £400-£500

7: The Final Cut [1983]

Floyd’s oft-forgotten and underrated masterpiece, The Final Cut is Roger Waters’ final work with Pink Floyd and, suitably, the most dominated by his creative presence. Some critics have gone so far as to dub this record a Waters’ solo album and not a ‘proper’ Floyd album at all… Despite this, it’s a searing, exquisite record with reflective, nostalgic lyrics dealing with Waters’ soldier-father’s death in World War II and the banality of conflict itself. Tracks such as the moving Post War Dream and The Wall-referencing Your Possible Pasts are wonderful, if gloomy, compositions – as an album, it deserves re-evaluation.
Latest 2016: Pink Floyd Music – B01DSV6XIU £20
Rarest 1983: Columbia (sealed first edition) – QC38243 £50

6: Meddle [1971]

A record that captures the band mid-transition from the kaleidoscopic lunacy of the Syd Barrett-led era to the more refined, artistic articulations that would define the band for generations to come. Meddle is a curious beast, with lyrical contributions from all the band and an unclear central theme. That being said, the gorgeous One Of These Days is a career standout, though the record finds the band seemingly self-engrossed (particularly Side 2’s Echoes suite), it’s not quite as indulgent as the band’s previous offering Atom Heart Mother and rewards repeated listens mightily.
Latest 2016: Pink Floyd Music – B01DSV6WZO £20
Rarest 1971: Columbia (blue disc, mint) – 11903 £4,000-£8,500

5: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn [1967]

The only album-proper to be conceived under the direction of Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd’s debut stands apart quite distantly from much of the rest of the oeuvre: though to many, this era of Pink Floyd is still a preferable listening experience to the more cerebral post-Barrett works. The debut contains many innovative songs, the psychedelic art-rock of Interstellar Overdrive and the glorious madness of opener Astronomy Domine. Despite the difference in tone to the rest of the canon, it’s still a compulsory purchase for every Floyd fan.
Latest 2016: Pink Floyd Music – B01EW1UM5A £30
Rarest 1967: Columbia Records (mono first press) – SX 6157 £700

4: The Wall [1979]

This colossal, sprawling double album is one of Pink Floyd’s most iconic records, not least because the overt concept record was later reinterpreted as a visually provocative movie. The double album represents a superb experience on vinyl, with the descent into chaos of the tragic protagonist (aptly named ‘Pink Floyd’) via tracks such as In The Flesh?, sexual confusion
in Young Lust and the sublime Comfortably Numb adding up to a first-rate Floyd collection. The three-part, school-choir incorporating Another Brick In The Wall yielded the famous
UK chart No.1 which won the band another legion of fans.
Latest 2016: Pink Floyd Music – B005NNYL54 £30
Rarest 1979: Harvest (Italian limited-edition colour wax) 3C164 63411/A £2,000

3: Animals [1977]

The record that gave Battersea Power Station timeless rock ’n’ roll kudos, Animals is one of Pink Floyd’s most captivating records and arguably the darkest and most pointed political, anti-capitalist statement the band had made until that point. Though shrouded in grim, transparently Orwellian lyrical imagery, the music contained within the album’s Dogs/Pigs and Sheep suites is among the finest they ever committed to tape. Dogs in particular features some sublime, textured Gilmour riffery, while Richard Wright’s humming, portentous synth adds to the LP’s ominous vibe. The fans’ favourite.
Latest 2016: Pink Floyd Music B01DSV6XGC £20
Rarest 1977: Pathe Marconi (French pink disc) 2C06898434Y £100

2: Wish You Were Here [1975]

Furthering Dark Side Of The Moon’s preoccupation with mental anguish and schizophrenia, 1975’s follow-up Wish You Were Here is just as potent a statement. However, whereas the preceding record had solid, definable songs at the core of the textured production, this record allows compositions to breathe and evolve gradually, resulting in a more nuanced, considered record.
Legend has it that the record was quite a difficult one to make, directly inspired by the mental breakdown of Syd Barrett (he even visited the studio during its making). It’s also a tour-de-force for David Gilmour – and a critically revered masterpiece.
Latest 2016: Pink Floyd Music B00536OCZK (180g) £20
Rarest 1975: Harvest Records (UK first issue) £200-£9,000

1: The Dark Side of the Moon [1973]

The pinnacle of the Pink Floyd canon. The Dark Side Of The Moon is an ambitious masterpiece of album craft, taking the listener on a seamless sonic journey through the pits of despair, hysteria, paranoia and opiated serenity.
It juggles a multitude of themes and contains such career-defining compositions as the infectious Money, the detached majesty of Breathe and the shimmering beauty of Us And Them.
The album is among the finest records of the 1970s and is designed to be a transcendent unbroken listening experience. Also featuring Storm Thorgerson’s iconic prism cover image, The Dark Side Of The Moon remains the finest record in the Pink Floyd canon.
Latest 2016: Pink Floyd Music B00536OCZA (180g) £20
Rarest 1973: Harvest Records SHVL 80 £600