‘A great time to look back on’: Nick Mason mulls over his favorite Pink Floyd era

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Pink Floyd’s return later this year with The Endless River will bring its final, three-man period to an end. But which one was the best?

“I don’t think there is a best era,” co-founder Nick Mason says in a Q&A at Tower47. “The favorite, it’s an interesting one that, because I think people assume that the best era is the one where we had the private jet and the presidential suite in the hotel — which is very, very nice. But actually, every era was different and had a very good element to it.”

The group started, of course, in the late-1960s with the quartet of Mason, Syd Barrett, Roger Waters and the late Rick Wright. They briefly worked with David Gilmour in a five-person lineup, before Barrett’s departure. There followed Pink Floyd’s best-known, best-selling configuration, as Gilmour, Mason, Wright and Waters collaborated into the early 1980s. Floyd then issued one album without Wright, one without Waters that featured Wright only as a guest, and then another with the fully reunited Gilmour, Wright and Mason. That’s the same lineup that will be featured on Endless River, set for release in October 2014.

Mason concedes a special place for the initial period with Gilmour, when “we really knew that we had to sort of do it without Syd,” Mason adds. “That really concentrated our minds on making the music exactly how we wanted it. And we were in the transit van, band in the back, road crew in the front. It was a great time to look back on, because the expression ‘musical differences’ hadn’t been invented. It was a very easy, very concentrated time.”

Memorable albums have arrived across every era, including 1967’s psych-classic The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, 1973’s generation-defining Dark Side of the Moon, 1979’s magnum opus The Wall and 1993’s three-times platinum Division Bell — the latter of which provided the initial inspiration for The Endless River. And that’s to say nothing of 1968’s five-headed triumph Saucerful of Secrets, 1971’s multi-million-selling Meddle, 1975’s too-often-overlooked Wish You Were Here, or 1983’s ferocious anti-war screed The Final Cut.

In other words, arguments over Pink Floyd eras won’t be dying down anytime soon. And Mason says he understands why: “I think virtually all of it has been great,” he says. “There’s been the fights, and there’s been the difficult times but, at the end of the day, you just look back and you think, ‘Lucky.'”

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