Songs where Pink Floyd, well, sucked: Gimme Five

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Everybody went through a Pink Floyd phase, right? But, the child is grown; the dream is gone. Let’s face it, some of this stuff, well, sucked. So while we still have a deep respect — and I mean that most sincerely — for, say, Dark Side of the Moon, careful adult inspection reveals that even that psych-masterpiece boasts at least one awful clunker.

WHEN GOOD BANDS DO BAD THINGS
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So, have a cigar, as we count down the stuff that didn’t quite make their hall-of-fame resume — the ones where they were tongue-tied and twisted, just an earth-bound misfit … well, you get the idea:

No. 5: “ON THE RUN,” (DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, 1973): Here’s the pitch … switch on the new synthesizer, then record ourselves ascending and descending the stairs. Wow, man. Originally referred to by the band as “The Travel Sequence,” it includes an airport PA announcer intoning: “Have your baggage and passport ready and then follow the green line to customs and immigration.” Instead, this track — repetitive, silly when it was supposed to be spooky — simply gave fans a great opportunity to get up at concerts to “travel” for another beer during this “instrumental.”

No. 4: “ALAN’S PSYCHEDELIC BREAKFAST,” (ATOM HEART MOTHER, 1970): Actually, a three-part conceptual piece. Sounds like a lofty premise right? Except they really meant it: Pink Floyd noodles around while roadie Alan Styles prepares — and then endlessly, endlessly discusses previously consumed — yes, breakfasts. That’s right: “Breakfast in Los Angeles,” Styles mutters, deliriously, “macrobiotic stuff.” Then that echoes around for while — macrobiotic, macrobiotic, zzzzz — as bacon sizzles and milk gets poured. Pancakes without syrup are more interesting.

No. 3: “DOGS OF WAR,” (MOMENTARY LAPSE OF REASON, 1987): Dogs, again? War, again? The track even switches to 4/4 during the sax solo — just like “Money,” the breakout track from Dark Side, which similarly shifts to 4/4 during the guitar solo. To top it off, David Gilmour is the only member of, you know, Pink Floyd on it. (That’s studio aces Tony Levin on bass and Carmine Appice on drums.) In the run up to this album’s release, departed co-founder Roger Waters took the remaining Floyds to court, asserting that the band shouldn’t continue without him, as it was “a spent force.” Hard to argue when presented with this.

No. 2: “TAKE UP THY STETHOSCOPE AND WALK,” (THE PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN, 1967): Waters shows he can be a completely feckless downer right from the start. On his only writing credit from Pink Floyd’s otherwise delightful and sweetly psychedelic Syd Barrett-dominated debut, Roger descends into a rather shockingly clinical morbidity. Well, it was shocking back then, anyway. Fast forward a few decades, and this track doesn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who witnessed Waters’ ascension to central creative voice for the band’s mega-hit The Wall. Just goes to show it wasn’t an assumed persona. Roger was always like that.

No. 1: “THE TRIAL,” (THE WALL, 1979): More like a demented Broadway musical number than a rock song, it’s still surprising to double check the liner notes and discover that this is only just over five minutes in length. It seems far, far, far longer than that. OK, here goes — after the album cycle’s central character Pink is charged with showing feelings, there follows a trial in which several figures from his awful past show up to denigrate and taunt him. Bad enough, right? Tack this on: All of these characters — the Abusive Schoolmaster, the Cuckold’s Wife, the Smothering Mother, so on — are performed by Waters (who’s already, to be charitable, an acquired taste as a vocalist) in an increasingly annoying series of accents. Verdict: unlistenable.

DISHONORABLE MENTIONS
“What Do You Want From Me” (‘Division Bell,’ 1994): A photocopied blues featuring a photocopied idea about alienation from fans straight out of ‘The Wall’ … “A Pillow of Winds” (‘Meddle,’ 1971): This pillowy song about — wait, what? — love? From Pink Floyd? Meh. … “Sheep” (‘Animals,’ 1977): A lazy rip off of the theme from “Dr. Who.” … “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict” (‘Ummagumma,’ 1969): I mean, c’mon, man. … “The Final Cut” (‘The Final Cut,’ 1983): This album started out as leftovers from ‘The Wall,’ and been-there done-that cuts like this one make that painfully obvious — right down to the orchestral motif nicked from “Comfortably Numb.”

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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