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Who Is the Strongest, Who is the Best

The Top Ten Floydian Visuals

by Bob Cooney

This was probably the most difficult Top Ten list I've done yet. While Pink Floyd are known mostly for their sonic perfection, there can be no doubt that they are also widely known for their captivating visuals. Pink Floyd are famous for imagery that comes immediately to mind mind when you hear the name Pink Floyd; visuals that have been engrained into our consciousness, lasting a lifetime, as well as those that captivate us from the very first moment we see them. From simple visuals to elaborate ones, what follows is this long-time Pink Floyd fan's opinion of the group's ten best visuals.

Honorable Mentions

The Heartbeat from Dark Side of the Moon

The Clocks from "Time"

The Screaming Face from The Wall

The Gorilla from Amused to Death

The Burning Gong

10. The Handshake

Number ten on this list was in fact the most difficult to place. Where to start? Figuring out the more commonly known visuals was the easy part. But for the less familiar ones, there are hundreds to choose from. Of course, I still have "Honorable Mentions" to place those that I left out, but which deserves to make this top ten list first? I chose the handshake from the cover of Wish You Were Here. Whether it's the mechanical handshake or the two businessmen, this image of two hands shaking instantly brings to mind the Wish You Were Here era of Pink Floyd. An image that was never used in concert, the album cover alone creates one of the most memorable Pink Floyd images.

9. Empty Beds

The post-Waters Pink Floyd proved they could also create visuals that will long be associated with the band. The very first attempt for the cover of A Momentary Lapse of Reason may have been their best. While the "lightbulb man" on Delicate Sound of Thunder is also a very creative image, it's not quite as stark an image as the hundreds of empty beds lined up on the shoreline. While seemingly simple and yet in fact very intricate, the image those empty beds continued the fine Pink Floyd tradition of captivating visuals associated with the band's name.

The mirror ball makes an appearance during Waters' recent solo tour.

8. The Mirror Ball

While not entirely associated with Pink Floyd, as the mirror ball is probably more closely associated with disco music, it has played an important part in the history of Pink Floyd nonetheless. Heck, what's a Floyd show without the mirror ball? First appearing on the 1977 tour during "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", it became even more of a Floyd icon when David Gilmour performed "Comfortably Numb" in 1987 and 1994 with the spectacular mirror ball display unfolding in front of the audience... and sometimes even above the audience. The original mirror ball even made a comeback for the Roger Waters solo tours in 1999-2002.

7. Marching Hammers

Not only visual, but also an audio experience as the hammers can be heard marching on The Wall, this visual represents the darkest side of Pink in The Wall. In Pink's mind, the hammers are his slant on the Nazi swastika. As such, it instantly conjures up feelings of power and violence as we experience it with the music. Almost as immortal as the more common Floyd visuals, the Hammers even make an appearance on the hit U.S. sitcom, The Simpsons.

Gerarld Scarfe's animated hammers march across the stage during a performance of The Wall.

6. Copulating Flowers

Maybe not as popular a visual, nor as widely recognized as others, but certainly one of the most striking visuals ever created to accompany a rock song. The picture of the two flowers twirling and entwining captivates us from the start. Culminating in the two flowers actually uniting in a strange sexual embrace, the images shocks viewers right out of their seats. I can remember seeing this visual for the first time in the Nassau Coliseum in 1980 and practically being thrown from my seat by the sight on Mr. Screen, accompanied by one of the most gripping pieces of music in the intro to "What Shall We Do Now?" Certainly one Pink Floyd visual I will never forget.

5. The Cow

For the hardcore Floyd fan, cows will always be an image connected to the name Pink Floyd, thanks to Lulubelle III on the cover of Atom Heart Mother. I for one, think of Pink Floyd every time I pass a farm and I see cows sprawled across the countryside.

In his recent tour, Waters used liquid slide projections to conjure up memories of the UFO days.

4. Liquid Slides

From the very beginning Pink Floyd were known for their visual artistry. Think back to Syd Barrett raising his arms in the air and singing "Astronomy Domine" while bathed in a liquid slide show. The technique was borrowed by countless others to accompany their music, making their performances an all-out sensory experience. Not only was Syd an influential force for others with his music, but he was also influential in his ideas regarding visual accompaniment at rock concerts. A man far ahead of his time in both areas. One need look no further than Roger Waters' last concert tour to understand how long his imagination has influenced the world of rock and roll.

3. Bricks

While The Wall provided so many great visuals, the most lasting image is that of the simple white bricks creating a wall. How many times have you come across a wall somewhere and someone has spray painted "Pink Floyd The Wall" on it? How many school desks all across the world have sketched drawings of a brick wall on them? Once again Pink Floyd have taken a simple image and made it their own.

PFC Christopher Dame of Spanish Fork, Utah (left) and PFC Dan C. Allais of Tallmadge, Ohio, both with the 66th MP Company, keep watch at a busy intersection in northeastern Saudi Arabia on January 20, 1991. Associated Press

2. The Pig

This was a tough call between number one and number two. When someone mentions the name Pink Floyd, surely the pig is one of the first images that come to mind. Be it the pig floating above the Battersea Power Station or the pig hovering above the crowd at a concert, the simple image of the pink porker instantly conjures up images of Pink Floyd in their heyday of the late 70's. Making appearances at both the Animals tour and The Wall tour, used again in 1987 and 1994, and later on used in advertisements for Roger Waters' solo tours, Pink Floyd and pigs will always be connected.

The most recognizable album cover in history?

1. The Prism

As I said, it was difficult to decide which was more Floydian, the prism or the pig. But while the pig is certainly a lasting Pink Floyd icon, I really don't think that anyone can debate the presence of the prism in the history of Pink Floyd. Representing Floyd's greatest achievement, and one of the greatest albums in the history of recorded music, in its simplicity the Dark Side of the Moon prism is the most captivating image Pink Floyd have ever come up with. The prism can be spotted everywhere, from posters in comic strips, to license plates, to spray painted cars and vans on the road. The prism is an image that will be connected with Pink Floyd for generations to come.

Bob Cooney is a staff writer for Spare Bricks.