Is there such a thing as a "bad" Pink Floyd song?

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Poles Apart

Is there such a thing as a "bad" Pink Floyd song?

Every song is touched with Floydian magic

left head

Optimism: The doctrine that everything in nature is ordered for the best. "The glass is always half full."

I happily spend my days looking for the good in everything, and there is good in everything. As such, I know it to be true that there is no such thing as a 'bad' Floyd song. I'm not going to list the songs popularly considered 'bad' and then try and defend them, simply because I would have to go on forever. Just as there is someone like me who likes each and every Floyd song to some extent, every song is disliked by someone, too. But while many of their songs may not be great, or even 'good', they are certainly 'good enough' and definitely not bad.

Roger Waters once commented that A Momentary Lapse of Reason "sounds" like a Pink Floyd album, and it does. Unlike much of their solo work, there is a distinct Floydian sound to the album. Even though Waters meant it as an insult, it can also be said to be true. Like all their work, it has the Floydian touch--this magical ingredient, this not-so-secret four herbs and spices, which works in every song to some extent, irrespective of the balance of the magic.

Our four not-so-secret ingredients for The Floydian Magic are:
1. Writing: music and lyrics
2. Performance: instruments and vocals
3. Production: arrangement, stereo, quad, SACD, etc.
4. Extras: sound effects

These are the little pieces that add up to make a classic. A few of them, or even one, is enough to make it a good song. And every single Pink Floyd song has at least one of these things going on.

Look at the ingredients closely, and it becomes obvious. The five of them know how to write music either collectively or individually. They know how to jam and then turn those jams into a song, sometimes years later. If one or more of them writes a song, it instantly has the potential to be good enough, and frequently great.

Next we have the performance. Quite simply, if one or more of the band sings on a song, it is at least a good song. If Gilmour plays a solo, it is a good song. If Wright extends his keyboards with either those long deep notes or his ever so delicate fingering, it is a good song. If Mason plays that tumbling, rolling drumming only he seems to perfect, or Waters drives out his simple yet prominent bass lines, or Barrett struts his stuff with his offbeat guitars, then it is a good song.

The level of complexity or the mixture of the above makes no difference. The single guitar strumming on "Pigs on the Wing" has that Floydian sound to it, just as "Atom Heart Mother" has numerous layers of instruments with a full orchestra piled up on top of it, and it all comes out sounding distinctly Floydian.

Added to the music is another great Floydian touch found on all of their albums: sound effects. The chimes and whistles on "Bike", the birds and bells on "Fat Old Sun", the clocks on "Time", footsteps, fly swats, boats and bombs--all of them make up that extra layer of sound that makes for a truly wonderful headphone experience. It gives the music so much more!

And to add even more, though I don't have the equipment to prove it, Pink Floyd have put out their music in all manner of formats, making full use of mono, stereo, quadrophonics, and even surround sound.

To appreciate all the Floyd's music, you must be ready to accept a wide spectrum of musical forms. The easiest way to do this is to accept the context of each song. Various tracks off Piper at the Gates of Dawn, such as "Flaming" or "The Gnome", were presented in the poppy world of Swinging London, designed to be enjoyed for their nonsensical nature and brevity. "Interstellar Overdrive", on the other hand, though from the same album, lives in the context of Underground London, where it thrives.

Context is important. Knowledge of the band's history helps make sense of the lyrics from Wish You Were Here and The Division Bell. An understanding of world history helps you get your head around much of Waters' work. Recognizing that some songs come from film soundtracks gives you a completely different approach to these tunes. Long or short, silly or serious, each and every song exists in a context that, if understood, brings more life to that song, making it better.

Now, I am not totally mad. My fellow writers make some perfectly good arguments in this issue as to why they consider some songs and albums to be bad. To me, none of the songs are bad, but I happily admit that they could have been better. "Have a Cigar" should have been sung by Dave or Roger. "The Great Gig in the Sky" should have stayed a piano solo. "On the Turning Away" should have been drum-free for the last verse. "Set the Controls" could have done without the improvised jam in the middle. But as I say, that doesn't make them bad. Many on the list above are considered classics, some (such as "Great Gig") for the very thing that I think makes them not as good as they could have been.

When people claim that a particular song is 'bad', I can usually predict the reason. Usually it is the fault of one or more of the members; there's too much of one, or not enough another. Or it is a problem with the lyrics. Or the production, or the concept, and so on.

But when you truly admire all the aspects of the work of the five members of Pink Floyd (even admiring their faults), then every song, no matter how good it is, isn't bad. It may be a bit boring, a bit slow or fast, a bit long or too short, too childish or too complex, or simply just plain 'dull'. But it isn't bad, because each and every song is touched by one or more of them in some way. Every song has that Floydian magic.

Christopher Hughes is a new addition to the Spare Bricks staff.

I've got some bad news for you, sunshine

right head

Here's the deal: if you are reading this magazine, you are probably a serious Pink Floyd fan. You probably own every album (some of them in multiple formats) and every solo album, and so on. You probably know every lyric by heart, and can sing along to the guitar solos note-for-note. You even might have been a little bit offended when you first read the "Worst of Pink Floyd" theme of this issue. Bad? Pink Floyd, "bad"? How dare they?!?

Well, let's face it: there is definitely such a thing as a "bad" Pink Floyd song. I'll give you a moment to catch your breath, then I'll try to prove it.

Think about that friend of yours who has somehow managed never to hear anything by Pink Floyd, and your desire to introduce him or her to the music. What song do you pick? One of the hits, maybe. "Another Brick in the Wall"? No, overdone. "Time"? Beautiful, but maybe too depressing for the first song. "Wish You Were Here"? Maybe. But which song would you avoid at all costs? Which song would you never in a million years play for your friend if you wanted him or her to listen to more Floyd with you? You know there's one you don't like, and wouldn't play for your friend. In the category of "bad" Pink Floyd song, my nominees are:

"A New Machine, Part 1" Here's a song with no drums, no bass, and no guitar. Just Gilmour's electronically processed voice, with one synthesizer note coming in near the end. And Gilmour is just barely singing. This track is less of a song than it is a poetry reading run through an effects pedal. "A New Machine, Part 2", although one of the few Pink Floyd songs to be purely a cappella, is not quite as bad. Why? Because it's shorter.

"Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving With a Pict" is a really neat track, and one I enjoy on Halloween, or when I want to freak out some city folks camping in the state park. But as a Floyd song, it falls short. There are no instruments--"Several Species" and "A New Machine, Part 2" might be the only two Floyd songs without instruments--no wonder the band is not generally known as being a great a cappella group. It's a fascinating sonic landscape, but by any of the measures we use to judge the quality of a "song", it's a lousy one.

"Sysyphus". I actually like Part 1, and I think part 2 is interesting toward the beginning. Then it devolves. I remember how I used to bang on the old piano in the game room when I was a kid and had never had a piano lesson. No wonder the grown-ups drank. Parts 3 and 4 are interesting for their use of stereo, perhaps, but I prefer Floyd songs that have melodies. Okay, Part 4 has a melody, but it meanders around randomly. You can listen to it to see if you agree. Turn it up real loud and see if the sudden "scary movie" chord halfway through makes you jump.

"A Saucerful of Secrets". The second half of that song is beautiful, in a "play-this-at-my-funeral" kind of way, but you have to get through the first half for the reward. It should have been divided into two songs, and the first one should have been put in the "Ummagumma" outtakes bin.

"The Hero's Return (Part II)". I like the album that this song grew from, and I like "The Hero's Return Part I." So I expected, when I found the 45 that contained Part II as a B-Side, to like that, too. Imagine my surprise at discovering there was a reason this song wasn't included on "The Final Cut." I can't quite put my finger on it. The tune is the same as Part I. I think it's the lyrics. And the fact that Waters seems just slightly out of sync rhythmically.

I could go on ("Goodbye Cruel World" sounds like a demo that was thrown together hastily), but my assignment only called for me to find one bad Floyd song. What is it that these tracks have in common that makes them bad? One thing they have in common is that they're all more individual efforts than group efforts (although that alone doesn't make them bad--I wouldn't call the Waters song "If" a bad song, but I think some of their strongest work came from contributions from the whole band). Another thing they have in common is that they're mostly songs where the band abandons the style that worked so beautifully for them and ventures off into something "experimental." Of course, they needed to do some of that, especially on the earlier albums, to find their sound. And later stuff such as "A New Machine" isn't trying to be radio friendly.

I've listed a few of the songs I would pick out as "bad" Floyd songs. My list may be different from yours, and you may have different criteria for deciding what distinguishes the good from the bad. In writing this column, I dusted off a few tracks (and albums) I haven't listened to in a while. Stuff that I would never throw in the stereo for the simple pleasure of listening to just for the joy of it. You know that there are some Floyd songs that fall into that category for you--an album you bought to complete your collection, listened to a couple of times, and then never got the urge to hear again, or a song you programmed your player to skip. And that, my friends, is the "bad" Pink Floyd song.

Dean Hebert is a staff writer for Spare Bricks.


Who Is the Strongest, Who Is the Best

The Ten Worst Things About Pink Floyd

Growing up listening to Pink Floyd I fell in love with the whole package that is Pink Floyd. Sure, the music is great: I always say, "It's what Rock 'n' Roll is all about." The fact remains that the entire mystery that surrounds this great band, to this very day, is the main reason why I consider this band called Pink Floyd the greatest rock band of all time.

Coming up with a top ten list of the worst things about Pink Floyd seemed like a daunting exercise... almost an impossible one. Until I started thinking about it. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, though I did need a little help. Sure, not inviting Bob Dylan to sing at The Wall in Berlin was a tragic mistake. And, yes, the fact that they could have had a monster hit with "Echoes" if they hadn't refused to trim it down to 3 minutes was also a terrible mistake. But when I really got down to thinking about it, I came up with some aspects of Pink Floyd that are truly disappointing. Here, then, are the top ten worst things about Pink Floyd:

10. "Pink Floyd is so depressing"

This is one aspect about Pink Floyd that really bothers me. Yeah, some of the songs and lyrics are quite cynical and can be described as depressing. But the entire catalogue? No way. In fact, I find most of Pink Floyd's music to be an upper for me. The band's music has gotten me through the worst of times and the best of times over the last 30 years. "Breathe, breathe in the air, don't be afraid to care." Just how is that depressing? That's quite optimistic to me. "Money", "Have A Cigar", "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" (Parts 6 - 9), "Young Lust", and "Run Like Hell" are all very catchy tunes, with uplifting beats, to name just a few. I don't find Pink Floyd depressing in the least, and it really bugs me that a lot of people out there just don't get it.

9. Disrespect by the press

I've been a fan of Pink Floyd since 1974, and the disrespect that the band has gotten over the last 30 years is mind boggling. The band has had two albums we can consider major successes in The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall. These two albums weren't just blips on the Billboard charts either. They are staples in just about every rock record collection across the globe. 'Pink Floyd' has become a household name, and yet the press has continually disrespected the band in articles and reviews again and again. Roger Waters was once asked how the band would be remembered by the press and he said, "Largely ignored." How true. The lack of any meaningful press coverage and pictures of the band members in reviews and articles is something that is perhaps partly the band's fault. Either way, they have been truly a faceless band, and that just isn't right considering their impact on the music industry.

8. Same old setlists

Each and every tour the band has ever done has featured the same old setlists. Some tours even seem almost the same as the last. The fact that we hardly get to see them in concert at all lessens the disappointment some. We're all just happy to see them at all. But seriously, Roger, Dave--could we mix it up a little next time around? Throw some songs in that we haven't heard at all and toss some of the songs we hear every tour. If there actually ever is a next time around...

7. Lack of touring

As I was saying, we haven't had much of a chance to see Pink Floyd, or Roger Waters, at all over the last 30 years. A tour here, a tour there, once every 7 years or so. A Pink Floyd concert has become more rare than Halley's Comet. Here's hoping the Pink Floyd comet makes it's way around again soon.

6. Declining input from Rick Wright

The reasons notwithstanding, the fact is that after The Dark Side of the Moon Rick Wright's creative input with Pink Floyd declined rapidly. What a shame. He may not be a creative genius like other members of the band, but Rick surely wrote some memorable pieces of music that contributed greatly to the Floyd's legacy. The lack of Rick Wright through the years has been very disappointing. He gave Pink Floyd a special and distinctive sound and it is missed.

Honorable Mentions

"You must be old if you're into Pink Floyd"
Not enough Angus Young-like fancy footwork from David Gilmour
No idea how to pronounce "Astronomy Domine"
They fired Syd Barrett but never really got rid of him

5. Infrequency of creative output

Come to think of it, it's not just the lack of creative input from Rick Wright that's so disappointing, but the lack of creative output from the group as a whole over the history of the band! Great music that it is, we just haven't had enough, especially when compared to other rock bands. Years go by without a peep from Pink Floyd or Roger Waters. Unfortunately, the time is gone and the song is almost over and there's nothing we can do about it. What's done is done. I guess that's what we can expect from perfectionists. I understand the quality over quantity position, but come on guys! All that fighting between Roger and Dave and what did we get out of it? Two Pink Floyd studio albums and two Roger Waters studio albums in 17 years. Not nearly enough. And you know what? If it hadn't been for the much ballyhooed breakup, we may only have gotten two albums total instead of four.

4. Rog vs. Dave

Speaking of fighting, one of the worst things about Pink Floyd has got to be the infighting amongst fans. Waters is this, Gilmour is that. Just about every Pink Floyd fan has taken a side. It's pointless. We all know Roger is Pink. See what I mean? Even I can't help myself. Fact is, I for one can't stand the fighting between fans. We all love Pink Floyd, there's absolutely no reason to have to take sides. It can get downright ugly and it detracts from the music we love. We should all stay above this nonsense. They're both great artists. And they're both better off with each other.

3. No rare gems on the re-releases

The rehashing of old material in "remastered" form is annoying enough. But could you guys at least add some rare gems or demos or something to them? Every other rock band that releases old material in such form always adds something to the package. Every single one. But not Pink Floyd. And adding "When the Tigers Broke Free" doesn't count. We all have that one on the soundtrack to the film. There was no need to add it in the first place. What we want are those rarities that were never finished or those demos that turned into the songs we know and love. There's no reason to be ashamed of the unfinished work, which has always been the excuse. The fans understand that it's not finished. No other band has such problems releasing that kind of material on their remasters.

2. The whole 'drug-oriented band' thing

This one really gets me. Any time the name Pink Floyd is mentioned there's always a reference to either the band being on drugs or the fans being on drugs. Why is it always assumed that anyone who listens to Pink Floyd does drugs? Is it because of the 'atmospheric' music? You don't hear that about Yes or the Moody Blues. Is it because Syd Barrett, the creator of Pink Floyd, was a known drug user? You don't hear that about The Who or The Doors. None of the band members have ever been arrested for using drugs, at least not that I'm aware of. No one in Pink Floyd has ever openly discussed using drugs in such a way that it controlled the band. Fact is, Pink Floyd are what we call a "thinking person's band." The lyrics are deep and the music is just as deep. I hardly think such brilliance can be achieved while on drugs. Sure some fans are into drugs, but why does it have to be that everyone who listens to Pink Floyd must use drugs? It's not right and it's not fair and it annoys the heck out of me. The members in Pink Floyd are far more talented and intelligent than just about any other band. And Pink Floyd fans come from all walks of life. Has any other rock band aged as gracefully as the members of Pink Floyd? To be honest, none that I can think of.

1. Why can't we just get along?

The absolute worst thing about Pink Floyd is that they won't forgive and forget and get back to making the most incredible psychedelic, spaced-out, progressive, make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, kick-ass music the world has ever known! Come on Roger and David... save us from Janet Jacksonville! Time is running out: put the past behind you and get back together and get it done! For us the fans and for yourselves.

Bob Cooney is a staff writer for Spare Bricks. Special thanks to Dave Lilly and Dean Petrie for their creative input.


You're So Hard To Please

Where do the fans really stand?

After a little consideration, it soon became obvious to me one of the worst things about Pink Floyd, is none other than its fans. To put it simply, Pink Floyd fans are Mad! And I mean with a capital "M'. And while I'm at it, yes, I am one of the biggest offenders in many of the areas I am about to describe, which, ironically, makes me an even worse offender in the ultimate area of fan Madness, "I'm a bigger Pink Floyd fan than you!" And for all of you who dismiss the following and disregard your own standing in all of this: well, yes, you too qualify for the overtly stupid category of "I'm a bigger Pink Floyd fan than you!" In case you are wondering, it's a good kind of Mad, and one that I'm proud of.

There are all sorts of Pink Floyd fans out there, each absorbing their idols in a different way and sharing this with many others, again in many different ways. But all too often this is not done in a dignified or acceptable way. The development of the Internet and with various news groups, message boards, mailing lists and, ironically enough, webzines, has had profound effects on this fan base, both extending it and enhancing it in some respects, but also revealing many faults. But for the benefit of this article, I can say that I have met online hundreds of fans of one level or another, and because of the Net I have met dozens of fans from around the world in the flesh that otherwise I would never have known.

If there was ever to be an issue of Spare Bricks focussing on all that is good about Pink Floyd, then I could write about the fans with just as much enthusiasm, because I have met some wonderful people who have shared with me their thoughts and feelings as well as parts of their collections, many times for nothing in return. And even more amazing, they have put up with mythoughts and feelings, and more pleasing is the ability to share some of my collection with others. But that's a positive article for another time. So for all of you fine folks out there, this isn't about you. ;-)

Meeting The Band

I have never had the pleasure or honour to meet any of the members of Pink Floyd. The closest I have come is meeting Bob Geldof, and that was a wonderful night that I shall remember for many years to come. It doesn't bother me that I haven't met any of them, otherwise I would have gone out of my way to try and do so. And it doesn't bother me that I probably never will. What does bother me though, is the namedropping, boasting, dismissive way many folks who have met the Floyds act. And the ones I'm talking about are the ones who read this paragraph and say, "Well, I've met such-and-such, so there." It's not that they have met them and I haven't. It's the dismissive tone that goes with the statement, or worse still, it is the fame by association that some fans thrive on that really gets my goat.


I rarely look at Pink Floyd websites, either official ones or fan sites, simply because so little happens in the Floydian world that there isn't much they can tell me. Furthermore, I am not from the digital age, so holding a book or record sleeve is much more my style anyway. But a quick look at fan websites is all too revealing. What a Mad bunch of brushes we are. I can say 'we' because I have my own (so much for the digital-ageism). And I feel confident feel that although it is all about Pink Floyd, my own website is one of the dumbest out there. But most of them are dumb. Rarely can you find a discography that is accurate, and the ones that are accurate go overboard by listing literally everything that has been released in all the countries of the world.

If you are looking for the latest news (ignoring, momentarily, that there hardly is any) there is a neverending quest to scoop the other guys that results in dumber and dumber news being released in an effort to be 'hot off the press'. Or there is the namedropping of a friend of a friend who knows the band's dog's trainer's car mechanic, who is then labelled, 'my source close to the band', and the revealing news is that David Gilmour needs new brake shoes. The sites owners' should use those brakes 'get a grip'. And then you get the websites that prattle on about what they know about the band, and their opinions of the band, and the various things related to them. And it turns out that for the most part it's just a regurgitation of what has been floating around in books and magazines for years. (Come to think of it, that's about what Spare Bricks amounts to. Sorry guys!)


Books are a fascinating experience. I love them and love reading them and collecting them and displaying them. And all the Floyd books I have are good (and I have most of what is out there). The authors on the other hand... silly as wheels to the last one I suspect. After all, they have devoted an awfully big chunk of there life to write about music. Do you get it? They best express their feelings about this wonderful, wonderful music by cutting it out and converting it into words. Mad, I tell you!


In the real, hard copy world of Fanzines, it must have been an experience. The two dozen or so of us that put together this little beauty live all over this blob in space. To get us all together, in the flesh, and try and put it together! I can only imagine the bloodshed. Discussing the topic of this issue alone brought about the hospitalisation of three of us. Well, okay, I exaggerate. But, in the deep, distant past when fanzines such as The Amazing Pudding and Terrapin strutted their stuff, I can imagine that the editor's desk must have been a rather hectic and not altogether sane place. At least normal magazines are in it for the cash. This lot of nutters were in it for who-knows-what. Terrapin must have been the Maddest of the lot. It took them a few years to figure out Syd wasn't going to make a comeback and they too soon folded... a bit like the mad lot these days online who sit and wonder if the Pink Floyd of today will ever get it together.

Message Boards and Mailing Lists

Are these a bundle of laughs or what? What you think of them will depend upon which ones you are on, how well they are moderated, if at all, and how on-topic they stay. Most of the time they stay happy and the Floyd are discussed in a sensible way. Those who have experience happily answer questions for the newbies or discuss the intricacies of a certain lyric or performance or musical note. But then from nowhere all hell can break loose as someone is accused of lying or someone bags one of the members of the band, or someone boasts about something which turns out to be false. The list goes on and on. And when this happens, boy can it turn ugly. Banished For Life (or at least until the get a new email account) is the usual extreme end, but the swearing, accusations, insults and so forth come thick and fast. Some people develop such a reputation that their merest posting brings out the worst in others, irrespective of what that someone has posted. I've often wondered how a Floyd fan convention would end up, or more to the point, how many would leave feet first.


Long before the Internet, but well and truly here to stay because of it, bootleg trading has brought together fans from all corners of the globe. My own collection of a dozen or so would have barely got much bigger if not for the Net and generosity of people. But what stuns me is that the mass production of bootlegs brought about by the digital age has also produced some very strange fans. One group, those who actually break the law (in theory at least) by recording the shows suddenly feel compelled to argue that this performance is now theirs and that its ownership is to be guided by them. It amazes me how they claim ownership, sometimes aggressively, over something they essentially stole.

Then comes the noble stance of sharing all of these recordings for free, which is all well and good except that many are not 'shared' at all, but are instead traded to get something equally rare in return. When they are shared for free, there is the barrage of complaints about generational loss and how using this tool or that program is not as good as another, or even worse, that the sharing doesn't happen in an instant. The real heat arrives soon after when, crime of all crimes, some people out there dare to sell their wares to anyone willing to buy it. The irony of this makes me laugh out loud each and every time, as the bootleggers, traders, and free-traders now might understand how the artist feels in the first place. Although with Pink Floyd, it's hard to say what they think of the 'unauthorised live recording' market at all.

Live Concerts

I would love to be able to say I saw Pink Floyd a few times, but that is not to be. I am, however, convinced of the gibbering idiocy of some fans who can spend thousands just to go to a concert to see their heroes for a few hours. Oh, wait up... I did that. Okay, how about travelling halfway around the world to see a few hours worth of Pink Floyd. That's better; I didn't do that, so I can say that's idiocy... the gibbering kind. Similar to the gibbering kind is those sad blankets that go to a show and cry, like girly Beatles fans. Nope, that won't do... me again. How about those fans who go to all the effort to get to a concert and then spend half of it lined up at the bar, half of it drinking, and the third half in the toilet? And then they claim it was the greatest show on Earth and the best night of their lives! Sad, Mad blankets, each and every one of them!


How Mad, and I mean Mad, are Pink Floyd collectors? If you consider yourself a collector, get up and look at all the copies of The Dark Side of the Moon you have (my last count passed the 40 mark). How barking, stark raving lunatic Mad is that!?! Others focus on the written word, stock pilling enough books and magazines to stop a nuclear blast; bonkers I tell you. Or bootlegs, go figure the insanity of those who not only have collections in the many, many, many hundreds, but they have umpteen versions of the same show, either complete, or upgraded, or closer to the original, or from each the six different folks who taped the one show. Blunt object kind of insanity there! Or shirts, posters, hats, programs, ticket stubs... mental, mental, mental!

Which One's Pink

But easily the biggest problem I have with Pink Floyd fans, and now I am talking about practically all of them, is the neverending argument about which one's Pink--which band member is so undeniably essential that the group could not exist without him. Firstly, it doesn't matter in the slightest which one it is, or if in fact any of them is. Although it may matter to some of them who was in charge, or at least did when they were throwing lawyers at each other, but being in charge never meant being "Pink". Syd Barrett wasn't even in charge of his own shadow most of the time, but any good ear (as well as a whole army of Syd fans ready to go to war over the issue) will happily tell you that it is him that is stamped all over various Floyd songs. Just as Roger Waters is stamped all over other songs, as are David Gilmour and Rick Wright and Nick Mason. That is a given that all fans agree on.

It all goes wrong when various fans decide that not only is the one they favour most "Pink", but that the rest therefore stink. And that really turns me red. It actually annoys me so much that I sometimes read what people say and it puts me off listening to their particular "Pink's" music, Syd being the best example. But I tell myself that maybe my rantings about my "Pink" might have the same effect on others and so I just let it slide... until of course they start getting personal. Not liking one members music is one thing, but insisting our heroes worked with conspiracy theories, bully-boy tactics, took too many drugs, or not enough... had writers block or wrote too much... can't play certain instruments or pretended to play others... All these things are plainly stupid. And on the whole, that stupidity comes from the fans.

Then again, I can't imagine not being a Pink Floyd fan. And I can't understand how lovers of music, any sort of music, can't be Pink Floyd fans. So despite all the failings Pink Floyd fans exhibit, despite how sorry I feel for some of them, how angry they may make me, or even how Mad some of them may really seem, at least they are Pink Floyd fans, even if being one is a bad thing.

Christopher Hughes is a new addition to the Spare Bricks staff.


You must rise to their defense when they're in danger

Defending the Floyd's worst tunes

The Spare Bricks staff tried to come up a with a list of Pink Floyd's worst songs, but no matter how we tried, we couldn't agree. When one of us would throw out a song so boring, so silly, so vile that surely none could like it, two or three would rise up to declare it Great. So rather than fight it out to the bitter end, we decided to try defending a few tunes that the are generally considered among the Floyd's worst and let you, the readers, decide for yourselves.

• • •


"Paintbox" a crap song? Are you kidding me? Not only does it authoritatively shit all over the A-side it's piggybacking, it also has a style all of its own and stands as one of the truly unique songs in Floyd's canon. Rick's piano is jazzy yet haunting (not to mention a startling vocal performance), accompanied by Nick's cascading drum patterns, with Syd's guitar filling all the right spaces. Plus the fantastic 'falling down the stairs' pre-chorus. And then there are the lyrics. At a time when Roger was pissfarting about with awful Syd Barrett pastiches and lyrics pilfered from Chinese poetry, Rick comes out with a set of words which conceptually sets the tone for Floyd's entire subsequent career. Miscommunication, paranoia, failed relationships, emotional escapism... it's all here. And he didn't need anyone to throw a firecracker at him to make him write it, either. No, the only bad thing about "Paintbox" is that it was pissed away as a B Side, neatly eliminating any chance we ever had of hearing it live.

--by Chris Hogan

• • •

"See Saw"

There is no denying that "See Saw" is one of the more misplaced pieces of whimsy in the Floyd catalogue. It is well-documented how the band members feel ("The Most Boring Song in the World", etc.), and "See Saw" is generally lumped in there with the handful of tunes that Floyd fans have deemed, um, 'not so good'.

However, I feel a certain affinity for "See Saw" precisely because of its underdog status. It's a fragile little number, almost ready to fall apart at any moment, composed seemingly of lace and sugar sprinkles (albeit sprinkles from a larger cube soaked in Owsley's finest). It has all of the Floydian elements--a generous dose of stereo shaping for the headphone fanatics and generally impaired listener; those ethereal (mellotron?) keyboards wafting through space, the comforting sound of Rick's delicate tenor and the loping drum fills of Nick. What to some is "boring" to others is the drone-like quality that characterizes the Floyd "sound." Sure, the lyrics are not the best, but if you want to misinterpret them as a naughty metaphor, then they have a saucy appeal given the nursery-rhyme atmosphere of the music. She goes up while he goes down indeed!

But certainly, "See Saw" needs to be taken in context. On its own, it struggles to rise above anything in its class ("My Green Tambourine" for example), but as a wafer-thin mint after the orgiastic banquet of the title track, A Saucerful of Secrets is well-balanced by Rick's slice of innocence holding hands on the other side with the Barrett coda of "Jugband Blues." It serves the same function as "Remember A Day" on Side One. Listen to the second side in one shot. Feel the flow. It's easy to imagine each member playing their parts-- think of the song in terms of Floyd's '67-'68 sound and the whimsy of the Piper era. It fits right in with "Paintbox," "Apples and Oranges," "It Would Be So Nice," and so on. The best of Floyd? Certainly not. But Floyd, nonetheless. And, hey... that's always better than most anything else.

I find, now, after twenty-odd consecutive listens, that I really enjoy "See Saw." There's elements that come across later in "Sysyphus." You end up watching your speakers as those heavy, droning keyboard notes travel from right-center-left. And there's a definite groove lost in the soup of that production. There's a fine song there. It just never had much of a chance after the onslaught of "A Saucerful of Secrets." Listen again. And again... and again... and again...

--by Terry Shea

• • •

"San Tropez"

Most Floyd fans consider "San Tropez" to be a really unpleasant speedbump along the way from the underrated beauty of "A Pillow of Winds" and "Fearless" to the majesty of "Echoes". It certainly isn't what you think of when you think of the Pink Floyd sound. What it is is a brief, lighthearted, jazzy number, granted without any of the instrumental virtuosity or subtle complexity of composition that you might hope for in good jazz. But that's okay. Pink Floyd isn't a jazz band, and none of them, Rick Wright included, are jazz musicians. Just as the Beatles experimented in recording in the style of jazz-influenced 1940s pop music (such as "When I'm Sixty-Four" or "Honey Pie") and Steely Dan tried recording Duke Ellington material, rock acts have long recognized that rock music's roots lie in jazz as much as they do in the blues, and have experimented with rediscovering those roots.

"San Tropez" might reasonably be viewed as an experiment in that direction--a failed experiment, perhaps, but a valid songwriting effort nonetheless. No longer content to try architectural diagrams as composition (a trick some modern jazz musicians have also tried, with decidedly mixed results) or to play hammers and saws as instruments in the name of Experimentation, the Floyds were instead desperately trying their hands at anything that looked like it might take them in a viable direction. "San Tropez" wasn't the answer they were looking for (and I think we can all agree that this was a good thing). But it is a testament to the Floyds' abilities that at the same time they produced "San Tropez" they also produced "Echoes", perhaps their greatest triumph in group songwriting, and within a few months were performing The Dark Side of the Moon.

So give it another listen. Pretend that you are soaking up the sun at a French seaside resort, and some overpaid, under-talented English lounge jazz combo is running through its repertoire of Glenn Miller standards and Sinatra ballads. And try to appreciate the song for what it is meant to be, instead of for what it isn't.

--by Mike McInnis

• • •

"Dogs of War"

Though it's perhaps blasphemy to some Floyd fans, I quite like A Momentary Lapse of Reason. (I certainly prefer it to just about any album prior to Meddle.) As tracks on that album go, however, my least favorite is easily "Dogs of War". The lyrics are terribly "on the nose," and the central metaphor is awfully banal. The weakness of the words draws into sharp focus the absence of Waters from the proceedings, and can be quite distracting. However, none of this is to suggest that I consider "Dogs of War" to be a bad song.

If you can get past the lyrics, and it's not terribly hard, there is a rip-roaring blues-based rock number waiting underneath. The throbbing keyboards bring to mind "Welcome to the Machine," with the wise addition of drums. Gilmour's strident vocal delivery is practically unlike anything else in the Floyd canon, and his guitar solo is fierce. The other instrumentalists keep pace nicely, particularly in a live setting. Seek out the performance taken from the '87 Atlanta show that appears on a few releases for what I consider to be the definitive version. The mix is rawer than on either Momentary Lapse or Delicate Sound of Thunder, capturing the feel of a live show better than most of the band's official tour documents manage. Gilmour was simply on fire that night, and Scott Page acquits himself nicely by ably keeping pace with the boss during the middle solos. Though I naturally prefer Dick Parry when it comes to Floyd sax players, I have a hard time imagining him working up the steam to pull this song off.

The song does seem out of place on Momentary Lapse, but I have a hard time imagining the album without it. I can't count the number of times I've put the disc on as background music, only to find myself tapping my toes along to the beat. "Waitasec... I'm enjoying "Dogs of War"! And why not? For once, the sleepy Floyd rouses from their usual slumber and manages a decent workout. Sure, the song has its weaknesses, but they are far outweighed by its strengths. And anyone who says differently isn't listening close enough...

--by Patrick Keller

• • •

"A Great Day For Freedom"

When Roger Waters left Pink Floyd, there was a sort of general consensus that the band would never venture into certain musical territory again. Like the stuff on The Final Cut: short, dark, minimalist piano-and-strings driven ballads musing on political subjects. Instead, with David 'Mindless Ear Candy' Gilmour at the helm, the band would stick to overproduced blues rockers custom built for stadiums. Well, for a while they did. Then "A Great Day For Freedom" came from out of nowhere, and we all gasped in amazement. Or at least we should have--for some reason this track is generally ranked as a dud. Is it? The fact that Gilmour chose this to encore his recent solo shows, sidestepping The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall almost entirely, speaks volumes. A standout track on an album full of standout tracks (there, I said it). Maybe the guitar solo at the end is extraneous, but then that applies to 90% of Pink Floyd's catalog, doesn't it? Go yell at "Comfortably Numb" for a change.

--by Chris Hogan

• • •

"Take it Back" and "Coming Back to Life"

When people mention The Division Bell, I'm amazed at how many times "Take It Back" and "Coming Back To Life" are named as bad songs. My question has always been, what makes them so bad? The most common answer I get is that "Take It Back" sounds like a U2 song. But sounds like a U2 song and being a U2 song are totally different things. The U2 song "Where The Streets Have No Name" is usually where the U2 reference is coming from. Being someone who plays guitar on a daily basis, however, and knowing both songs, I can tell you they are nothing alike in terms of key, or the actual notation that is being played. The similarity is really in the use of a delay unit... which has long been a staple of David Gilmour's bag of tricks. So isn't really this really a case of the Edge trying to sound like David Gilmour?

When asked why they don't like "Coming Back To Life", most people just shrug their shoulders and don't give me a reason. Perhaps they find the song a little bit too plodding in tempo. But that's the genius of the song--it's about the start of something. And just like anything that is getting started, it starts slow and builds momentum up until the very end. Another reason that it tends to not be liked is that some may find Gilmour's lyrics a little too personal or sappy for a Pink Floyd record. But The Division Bell is often accused of being an album with rehashed material: the concept, the sound, the long solos. So shouldn't that make Gilmour's lyrics a refreshing change of pace?

--by Dave Baker

Chris Hogan, Terry Shea, Mike McInnis, Patrick Keller, and Dave Baker are staff writers for Spare Bricks.