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The 11 best Pink Floyd songs

Why have a top 10 when you can have one more? Here we rank the 11 best Pink Floyd songs ahead of their Frameless takeover

There is no artist of any note in the last 50 years who can credibly say they owe nothing to Pink Floyd. This is a band so influential that they left their mark on everyone from David Bowie to Daft Punk. They revolutionised the way music was recorded, the kind of live shows that were possible, and showed us how music and film could work together to create something bigger than both. 

Pink Floyd have career sales of over 250 million albums, a fanbase still growing everyday and countless tribute acts who tour the world playing their songs night after night. This June, they’re even taking over our brains too – with Brainstorms: A Great Gig In The Sky arriving at Frameless to combine art, neuroscience and the music of Pink Floyd to showcase creative visualisations of our chemical response to great prog rock.

Picking 11 songs that define a career spanning four decades and 15 albums is almost impossible, but we’ve given it out best shot. Before you see what the human brain makes out of the Pink Floyd sound at Frameless, here are the best tracks to close your eyes and paint your own pictures.

11. ‘Another Brick In The Wall Pt. 2’

(The Wall, 1979)

Perhaps Pink Floyd’s most famous song, and easily the weirdest Christmas No.1, ‘Another Brick In The Wall Pt. 2’ is the second part of a three-part song cycle on The Wall. A protest song penned about the rigidity of the British schooling system, the song’s chilling “We don’t need no education…” refrain will forever be a playground classic (for young art rock fans). 

10. ‘Time’

(The Dark Side Of The Moon, 1973)

The first entry from the all-conquering 1973 LP The Dark Side Of The Moon, ‘Time’ is a shapeshifting, genre-morphing, stomping groove monster that encapsulates everything the band represent. It even includes 48 seconds of actual clocks.

9. ‘See Emily Play’

(The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, 1967)

This 1967 single is a reminder that there are two distinct halves to Pink Floyd’s career. There’s the rock behemoth that redefined the word epic, and then there’s the flighty, eccentric and gentler first period, when Syd Barett was their frontman and they would produce delicate gems like ‘See Emily Play’. It still sounds incredible. 

8. ‘Echoes’

(Meddle, 1971)

Echoes is Pink Floyd pushing things as far as they can. It is 23 minutes and 30 seconds in length, so long in fact that it took up the whole side on 1971’s Meddle, and it goes through so many phases it’s impossible to keep up with. Strap in.

7. ‘Careful With That Axe, Eugene’

(Relics, 1971)

A glorious power-punch of an instrumental in a six-minute epic, this is the Floyd in full stomping mode. Always a live favourite, and re-recorded for the soundtrack of Zabriske Point as ‘Come In Number 51, Your Time Is Up’, it earned the best slow-mo explosion of 70s cinema. If it’s good enough for Antonioni…

6. ‘Comfortably Numb’

(The Wall, 1979)

Perhaps the most joyous, slinkiest track ever to be part of a concept album, and easily the best song about an embittered rock star who asks to be medicated by a doctor so he can perform for a show. This is a stone cold classic. 

5. ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Pts, 1-5 & 6-9’

(Wish You Were Here, 1975)

If you thought ‘Echoes’ was epic enough, then you should try ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’, the band’s nine-part, almost 26-minute-long tribute to the troubles of Barrett, their former frontman. It pushes every boundary, but it’s so utterly compelling. 

4. ‘Arnold Layne’

(Relics, 1971)

Another psychedelic gem from the Syd Barrett era, ‘Arnold Layne’ is a strange little thing. It tells the story of a crossdresser who enjoyed stealing clothes from washing lines, and it does so in a sinister, spiralling and spine-tingling manner. Barrett’s time in the band was all too brief, but he did leave behind some absolute magic. 

3. ‘Wish You Were Here’

(Wish You Were Here, 1975)

One of the simplest but most heartfelt songs in the band’s back catalogue, ‘Wish You Were Here’ has been so many people’s way in the world of Pink Floyd. It is a true arms aloft ballad; one that’s still endlessly covered and works just as well as the day it was released. 

2. ‘Money’

(The Dark Side Of The Moon, 1973)

As close as Pink Floyd ever got to a pop song, ‘Money’ is a groove monster built around an incredible Roger Waters’ bassline and a chorus that sticks in your head from the second you hear it. If it didn’t have the word “bullsh*t” in the lyrics it might have even been their biggest radio hit.

1. ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’

(The Dark Side Of The Moon, 1973)

Only in the world of Pink Floyd does a piano ballad featuring several death-themed spoken word verses, a female vocal which the band themselves described as “wailing”, and an almighty musical shift, not only work, but sound absolutely life-affirming and vital. Second to none.

Brainstorms: A Great Gig In The Sky, featuring the music of Pink Floyd, runs Friday and Saturday nights at Frameless throughout June. Find tickets here.