Welcome to Dissected, where we disassemble a band’s catalog, a director’s filmography, or some other critical pop-culture collection in the abstract. It’s exact science by way of a few beers. This time, we sort through the best and worst of England’s biggest, greatest, and smartest psychedelic export.
Grab a black light, maybe a lava lamp, and call in sick. EMI/Capitol Records gave the world a special gift this past Tuesday: a completely digitally remastered, slick-as-hell Pink Floyd box set. The “Discovery” set includes all 14 studio albums, spanning the band’s career from their indie-psych beginnings in the late ’60s to their Roger Waters-free “lapses of reason” from the late ’80s and early ’90s.
What’s that? You’ve got every Pink Floyd album (except A Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Division Bell)? Don’t worry, EMI hasn’t forgotten the legion of die-hard Floyd fans. They’ve compiled a ton of never-officially-released bonus material for three of PF’s most beloved albums, beginning with Dark Side of the Moon out Tuesday, while Wish You Were Here and The Wall will drop in November and February respectively. The “Experience” set gives you one disc of bonus materials, while an extra $100 buys the truly obsessed an “Immersion” set, which includes 5.1 stereo mixes, DVD/Blu-Rays of live performances, outtakes, alternate mixes, and other studio artifacts and memorabilia.
The entire release campaign is called “Why Pink Floyd?” – a title that seems intended to lure in first time or casual listeners. Our answer: Because even though Pink Floyd is an easy target for cliched ’70s drug references (see above) and virtually required listening for suburban teenagers, they are also one of the most challenging, intricate, talented, and mind-blowing bands in the history of rock and avant-garde music. We overuse the word “epic” when we talk about music these days; Pink Floyd invented it. For every 13-year-old learning the guitar, for every 16-year-old watching Wizard of Oz and Dark Side for the first time, for anyone who’s had to pick their mushy brain off the floor with a spatula after listening to “Echoes”– or really for anyone who loves rock, psychedelic, noise, bizarro pop, ambient, or electronic music– Pink Floyd remains in that upper echelon of rock deities. With the sad death in 2008 of keyboardist Rick Wright, all we can do is celebrate and listen back. Here’s a guide to their 10 best studio albums, so you can decide whether to discover, experience, or immerse yourself in the Floyd this fall.