In retrospect, Nick Mason says there were needed adjustments to two of Pink Floyd’s most recognizable works.
“I think The Wall was a hell of a piece of work,” Mason tells the Drummer’s Journal, “but it’s probably too long. What might have been nice is to have Dark Side a little longer and The Wall a little shorter.”
Together, those two albums have gone 38-times platinum in the U.S. alone, while Meddle, Wish You Were Here, Animals, Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Division Bell — Pink Floyd’s other best-selling releases — are a combined 19-times platinum, according to the RIAA.
Put simply, these two projects dominate any conversation about Pink Floyd. Yet, for Mason — who drummed on every Floyd release over the years — picking one over the other comes easy. “I’d choose Dark Side — it’s the most complete album,” Mason says. “There’re lots of others I like, but Dark Side has a lovely mix of everyone contributing to it. It’s got some great songs, and [the now-departed] Roger [Waters]’ lyrics are extraordinary. The fact he was only 23 still amazes me.”
Then there’s the fact that The Wall arrived in a particularly contentious moment for Pink Floyd, as Waters assumed a leadership role even as fellow co-founding member Richard Wright was eased out. Still, Mason says he always revelled in the music.
“There were odd moments where I became conscious that things might implode,” he says. “I think it divides up into people who project resentment onto whatever they might be doing, or people who think it’s all ok when they’re playing. The latter was the case for me, even when we were doing The Wall shows and things were getting difficult. Rick had been taken out of the band but brought back in for the shows — and, yes, relations were very strained. We all had separate portacabins for the shows at Earls Court. But being on stage was always great. And that’s where the interaction was.”