Pink Floyd is one of the best bands ever, and here's why -
1. Theme-based albums.
As mentioned in one of the answers, Pink Floyd was among the few bands of their era to promote albums instead of singles. Not just that, their albums were based on themes, such that every song essentially evokes the same emotion but in a magically different way. For example, Dark Side of the Moon is about madness, The Wall is about the disconnect with society.
2. Profound lyrics
Pink Floyd's lyrics are marvelous. Absolutely brilliant. Sheer class. Their songs are often based on distressful and gloomy themes, but their lyrics are almost never a direct reference to this gloominess. The lyrics are symbolic and metaphorical, full of subtle and subliminal references to the concerned theme.The depth and the impact of their lyrics is just unparalleled. It stands at the verge of being literature/poetry.
When I was a child I had a fever
My hands felt just like two balloons.
Now I've got that feeling once again
I can't explain, you would not understand
This is not how I am. ~ Comfortably Numb, The Wall
The song, as I believe, is about how Pink has become distant from society and devoid of humanly feelings. The wall around him (of sorrow and misery) is complete and he is cut-off from the rest. There is no physical pain, only an emotional turbulence. Everything feels like a wave of distant smoke - perfect words to evoke an ethereal image. Yet, the doctor injects a medicine to keep you going through your life.
Notice how beautifully this song gives space for multiple interpretations. It could refer to drug addiction, or societal conformation. I have listened to it during heartbreaks and in my rebellious moments, and it has hit equally hard everytime.
Pink Floyd sound is absolutely distinctive. They didn't cover other songs, and didn't lift anything from anywhere.
4. Musical Composition
While the rest of the bands were busy playing a faster tempo, or flaunting an "impossible" solo, Pink Floyd mastered the art of beautiful composition. I am yet to witness any artist coming up with anything even close to 's long and mesmerizing solos [High Hopes, Comfortably Numb, Shine on you crazy diamond etc]. The keyboards complement the sound and give it an ethereal touch. They are also well known for experimenting with effects and non-instrumental sounds, like cycle paddles, telephone bell, vending machines etc.
Pink Floyd has been through a very well defined evolutionary process. Their music was predominantly guided by Syd Barrett in their early years. Songs like See Emily Play, Bike and others of that era have a psychedelic touch. Later, Roger Waters had the most influence, where you would notice albums, like The Wall, having woeful themes. Later, Gilmour-led Pink Floyd released ‘A momentary lapse of reason’ and ‘The Division Bell’. Gilmour's era witnessed less distressing themes, and, as I personally feel, less experimentation with sound. Some of these songs have fantastic solos [High Hopes, for example].
The intent is to show that the band has produced a wide variety of music throughout their career. Although the mood and the themes have remained pretty much the same, the sound is very different in each of these three phases.
6. Live Performances
The Live Performances of Pink Floyd were among the most magnificent ones and were probably way ahead of their times in the way they incorporated amazing sound and visual effects. How often does one come across a band that uses objects such as a huge inflatable pig or a 40 ft high cardboard wall or a giant circular screen to create visual impact? How often does one witness visual effects in a concert that are as close to being celestial as those in the Pulse Concert? While these effects didn't directly add to the music of Pink Floyd, they clearly showed how innovative and passionate PF was when it came to live performances. The live performances of PF were not only an 'ethereal' treat for the ears but also a surreal experience for the eyes. (sic)
Pink Floyd is an intellectual band, in my opinion. Their music is so much about connecting the dots, basking in the revelations and the absolute pleasure of seeing everything just fit in.
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