7 Best Pink Floyd Albums
Instead of building your typical best-of list, Discogs threw out the ranking system and picked the best Pink Floyd albums for different moods, tastes, and listening experiences.
Pink Floyd is one of the most influential rock bands of all time. Early on in their career, the band stood at the forefront of the psychedelic movement under the leadership of the eccentric Syd Barrett. After Barrett’s departure, Roger Waters and David Gilmour led the charge and established the band as one of the first and most significant progressive rock bands the world has ever known. If you’re a long-time fan or experiencing their music for the first time, you really can’t go wrong with the best Pink Floyd albums.
Before you read any further, you should know that this isn’t your typical “Best of Pink Floyd” list. Instead of creating a “worst to best” or “best to worst” breakdown, Discogs focuses on different albums that are the best for different reasons. Below, you’ll find albums broken down into categories such as best psychedelic experience, best concept album, and the best recommendation for people who don’t like Pink Floyd.
Best Pink Floyd album for a psychedelic experience
The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (1967)
Pink Floyd’s debut album is a wild psychedelic ride from start to finish. Under the leadership of founding member Syd Barrett, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn established the group as one of the first psychedelic bands in the UK. The music was so out there that tabloids began to portray Pink Floyd as a band that made music for those who regularly indulged in LSD. Much of the band’s early sound can be attributed to Syd Barrett’s stream-of-consciousness lyrics and free-form guitar playing, and it’s all on full display throughout The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn.
Barrett would ultimately exit the band during the recording of the second Pink Floyd album due to deteriorating mental health. Under the guidance of Roger Waters and David Gilmour, the band would continue to evolve its sound, but the influence of Syd Barrett can be heard throughout the entire Pink Floyd discography. Seminal albums like Wish You Were Here and The Wall even feature lyrics based on Syd Barrett and his departure from the band.
Best Pink Floyd album for people who don’t like Pink Floyd
Meddle was developed as more of a group effort than the albums that followed and acted as a bridge between Syd Barret’s early influence and Roger Waters taking over as bandleader. With no central theme or concept to build around, the band decided to employ some experimental methods to get the creative juices flowing. These methods included band members recording on separate tracks with no idea of what their bandmates were playing and using household objects as instruments.
The layers found throughout the album point to many techniques Pink Floyd would continue to use, but the sum of all its parts makes Meddle a wholly unique entry in the Pink Floyd catalog. The album explores texture in great depth but is more cohesive overall than albums like Atom Heart Mother. David Gilmour covers more lead vocal duties than usual and the fact that the record was not a concept album or soundtrack allowed Pink Floyd to cover a ton of sonic and lyrical ground. Evocative space rock passages, a career-defining prog rock epic, and a rare love song provide a little something for everyone on Meddle.
Best Pink Floyd album overall
The Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)
There are some that will argue that The Dark Side Of The Moon is not the best Pink Floyd album overall. For fans of the early Syd Barrett material, it may not be weird enough. For those only familiar with Pink Floyd’s radio hits, The Dark Side Of The Moon may have too many weird elements to hold their attention. However, it gets a little harder to argue once you take a hard look at the Discogs data.
The Dark Side Of The Moon is:
- The most collected album on Discogs
- The most wanted album on Discogs
Besides embracing that “the Discogs community has spoken,” there’s a lot to love about The Dark Side Of The Moon. Its potent blend of psychedelic art rock, jazz fusion, and blues rock makes for a haunting yet memorable listening experience. You can immerse yourself in the album’s atmosphere, sing along with the well-crafted vocal melodies, or sync it with your next screening of The Wizard Of Oz. No matter what draws you towards The Dark Side Of The Moon, the album achieves an emotional resonance and balance that puts Pink Floyd in a class of their own.
Best Pink Floyd album for when you need a break from The Dark Side Of The Moon
Wish You Were Here (1975)
The follow-up to The Dark Side Of The Moon further explores the experimental sounds and effective use of melody that made its predecessor such a game-changer. Dedicated to founding member Syd Barrett, the album seamlessly weaves elements of melancholy and warmth to once again take listeners on an emotional and immersive journey.
The title track is one of the group’s most beloved songs, and the many parts of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” contain some of Pink Floyd’s most memorable lyrics. Wish You Were Here would be on most fans’ shortlists for essential Pink Floyd albums and, based on the sonic similarities, is a great record to throw on once you start wearing out the grooves of The Dark Side Of The Moon.
Not convinced? Discogs data may sway you.
Wish You Were Here is:
- The second most collected Pink Floyd album on Discogs
- The second most wanted Pink Floyd album on Discogs
Best underrated ‘70s Pink Floyd album
The 1970s are viewed as the defining decade for Pink Floyd. Even though Obscured By Clouds was recently referenced in Discogs’ 10 underrated albums from iconic artists article, the best underrated Pink Floyd album from the ’70s has to be Animals. It was also on the list generated by Discogs’ Facebook audience but didn’t receive as many reactions from fellow fans. However, it beats out Obscured By Clouds in almost every other way.
- The fourth most collected Pink Floyd album on Discogs
- The fifth most wanted Pink Floyd album on Discogs
In comparison, Obscured By Clouds is the 13th most collected Pink Floyd album and the tenth most wanted on Discogs.
Beyond Wantlist and Collection data, Animals is often cited as being an underappreciated gem. Its darker tone may surprise some listeners, as it was released between Wish You Were Here and The Wall, but don’t let that deter you. The album is dark and hypnotic, but with enough accessibility to let a variety of listeners in. Each song has plenty of room to expand, but never drifts aimlessly. If you’ve put off listening to Animals, now is the time to dive in.
Best Pink Floyd concept album
The Wall (1979)
Pink Floyd released five concept albums throughout their career, but The Wall stands tall as their second best-selling album behind The Dark Side Of The Moon. Released as a double LP, the concept had room to fully develop as we follow the tale of Pink, a depressed rock star who starts to build a metaphorical wall around himself. Each time he experiences some sort of trauma, more bricks are added to the wall.
The character is based on Roger Waters and former bandmate Syd Barrett and throughout the album, Pink deals with the death of his father, memories of his oppressive mother, infidelity, and delusions of grandeur. Pink’s erratic behavior and deepening guilt eventually leads him back to where he started, implying that the existential crisis he’s experienced throughout the album is a cycle without end.
Best Pink Floyd album for when you’re angry
The Final Cut (1983)
Although a portion of The Final Cut is leftover songs from The Wall sessions, the end result was a powerful political concept album. With chief songwriter Roger Waters leading the charge, the album criticizes former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and focuses on how British servicemen like his father sacrificed their lives in pursuit of an unattainable post-war dream.
The album’s anti-war sentiments and the personal nature of losing his father when he was a baby have inspired some to call this a solo Roger Waters effort more than a true Pink Floyd album. This would be the last album to feature Waters, and its lyrical content and angry vocal delivery make The Final Cut a great album for when you’re experiencing elevated levels of angst.
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