Pink Floyd

Top 10 Pink Floyd Albums, From Worst To Best

All of us love at least one Pink Floyd track. However, none of us can ever get any clarity as to who’s in the current lineup, how long it’s been since their last album, and how angry Roger Waters is that the “Pink Floyd” name carries on without his trademark sulk, but we all like this band in one way or another. When rummaging around for classic vinyl for sale at your local record shop, you’ll undoubtedly come across an old Pink Floyd album with tattered corners and names written in failed ink on the back cover, indicating a well-loved piece of someone’s musical education.

The ‘Floyd is approaching nearly 50 years of being in our consciousness, and there’s a lot of brilliance there, sprinkled with a healthy dose of junk as well. I’m going to focus on the band when it was the core group — no need to focus on a Waters-less ‘Floyd here. Granted, Waters dominated “The Wall” and “The Final Cut with endless backside crawling, forcing all of us to witness his perverse obsession with working out his mommy and daddy issues while David Gilmour replaced what should have been studio time with grocery shopping and masterminding his new solo album. That doesn’t mean Division Bell or Endless River deserve to be anywhere near the top 10, though, because yeah, they stink.

With the benefit of hindsight, I’m going to take a gander back at their ten best albums, and explain why some of their work is overblown to the point of hysteria, and other lesser-known works require renewed attention.

(10) The Final Cut (1983)

The Final Cut - Pink Floyd

Rogers Waters hit us with his first solo album, “The Final Cut“, in 1983 and….oh, wait, this was released under the name “Pink Floyd”, wasn’t it? The rest of the band members were nearly non-existent at this point (Richard Wright officially left), and Gilmour was delegated vocal work on the one and only single, “Not Now John“. While the album certainly has moments of compelling sincerity, it was the last true Pink Floyd album as we know it, and it reeked of dysfunction.

Best track: “The Final Cut”

(9) The Wall (1979)

The Wall Pink Floyd

Have you heard? This is a concept album. Yes, it’s true! In all seriousness, though, this is surely one of the most overrated albums of our time. Don’t get me wrong, if it weren’t for “The Wall”, laser light shows at planetariums everywhere would have long gone belly up by now, so this album’s influences on the late-night, drunken entertainment market cannot be left understated. However, listening to “The Wall” in 2015 exposes it for the bloated and melodramatic schmaltz that it is. There’s no coincidence that the three best tracks are the only pieces with Gilmour as co-writer. Oh, Roger.

Best track: “Comfortably Numb”

(8) Saucerful Of Secrets (1968)

Saucerful Of Secrets - Pink Floyd

This album has the interesting distinction of being the only Floyd album featuring all five core members (Waters, Gilmour, Wright, Nick Mason, and Syd Barrett). The title track is 12 minutes of truly inspired psyched-out exploration during a moment in history where psych-rock was in its infancy. In many ways, this album was ahead of its time, but the band also was dealing with a lead man that was cracking up around them. Disjointed, inconsistent, brilliant, and well worth a spot in your record collection.

Best track: “Saucerful Of Secrets”

(7) Atom Heart Mother (1970)

Atom Heart Mother - Pink Floyd

This album, while underrated and typically ignored, represents a sizable shift in the Floyd pantheon. You can almost see Waters sitting in the English countryside, sitting on a fence post and strumming his guitar in the sunshine, singing lines like “If I go insane, please don’t put your wires in my brain”: a premonition of things to come from our Roger, to be sure. Through extended jams “Atom Heart Mother Suite” and “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast”, Pink Floyd began solidifying their influence in the ever-evolving trends of rock music.

Best track: “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast”

(6) Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (1967)

Piper At The Gates Of Dawn - Pink Floyd

Barrett had one great Pink Floyd album in him, and this was it in all of its whacked-out glory. Album engineer Pete Bown expertly sums up the entire experience after listening to “Interstellar Overdrive”: “I opened the door and nearly shit myself … by Christ it was loud. I had certainly never heard anything quite like it before.” Enough said.

Best track: “Interstellar Overdrive”

(5) Obscured By Clouds (1972)

Obscured By Clouds - Pink Floyd

Without a doubt, the most passed over Floyd album and sounds better than ever today. This is arguably Pink Floyd’s most edited and transparent best, featuring no songs over six minutes, and no-nonsense guitar riffs from Gilmour. Stand out track “Free Four” employs an irresistible backbeat, countered by the direly droll sense of humor of Waters: “you shuffle in gloom in the sickroom, and talk to yourself ’till you die”. Party!

Best track: “Free Four”

(4) Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)

Dark Side Of The Moon - Pink Floyd

Maybe you’ve heard of this one? There isn’t a corner of the earth where this album isn’t cherished by everyone and for good reason. Impeccably produced, duly inspired, intensely focused, and perhaps a bit hammy, this album allowed the band to walk onto the spaceship and get catapulted to the stratosphere. The vinyl repress market owes a sober debt to this album, all things considered.

Best track: “Brain Damage/Eclipse”

(3) Animals (1977)

Animals -Pink Floyd

The only negative thing about this album is that the subsequent tour inspired Waters to get all self-absorbed and write The Wall after spitting on a fan during a concert. Bookended by two beautiful 90-second odes to intense vulnerability, the meat of the album is some of the finest, funked-out guitar jams Pink Floyd ever produced. This was the band at the end of what they could tolerate within the precepts of a musical relationship, but man, they got out their aggression beautifully on “Animals”.

Best track: “Dogs”

(2) Wish You Were Here (1975)

Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd

My oldest memory of listening to records is my father blaring “Welcome To The Machine” early on a Saturday morning trying to roust me out of bed. It undoubtedly worked, but only to the degree that I would sit like a vegetable and stare at the turntable as the “music” made whirring mechanical noises while the scary dude-on-fire cover made me pee my pants in fear. Over the years I’ve learned to love the rest of this awesome album in its entirety, but it’s still all about the Machine. WELCOME.

Best track: “Welcome To The Machine”

(1) Meddle (1971)

Meddle - Pink Floyd

This is Pink Floyd at its unabashed, unadulterated best, unencumbered by pretense, and finally feeling comfortable as a band. The 20-plus minute b-side “Echoes” rivals any of the best psych-rock ever produced — the first half, a monotonous funk jam, the second half transforming into an ethereal ambient soundscape reminiscent of the best of Popul Vuh. Never has the band been more focused, and “Meddle” is that album borne from being hungry to impress. This was the time they simply threw everything away and started anew, and cared not about the consequences. In one of their finest moments, “Fearless“, Gilmour croons “You pick the place and I’ll choose the time, and I’ll climb that hill in my own way” — the spirit of Pink Floyd in a nutshell, really.

Best track: “Echoes”

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  • Oct 23,2019 at 11:08

    @rob467: Really? What am I missing that’s good about The Division Bell? I dunno, that album just stinks of pretentiousness to me.
    @ matthew_hodgkinson: I don’t entirely disagree with you there. I wrote this list to bring attention to the band through the lens of my bizarre opinions, and I don’t necessarily think I have any clue what I’m talking about. I do love Pink Floyd, though, which gives me a right to pontificate, I reckon.
    @ zencoyote: Yeah, I agree with what you say about the albums being a progression. Sometimes my order of “worst to best” changes in my mind. When I re-read my list here from five years ago, I think I’d probably re-order a few of these. That’s the power of music, in my opinion — it changes right along with my life.

  • Jan 6,2019 at 01:09

    I agree with this list entirely however find it very strange how you think the division bell “stinks”. I cant quite fathom why.

  • Sep 30,2018 at 02:42

    Upon reading the article which seems to be a amateur-psychological evaluation, Why would one identify the personal themes of albums as a form of weakness and therefore make them inferior. This article feels like when someone thinks they have figured you out and they are proud about it.

  • Sep 30,2018 at 02:35

    I’ve always found the best critics are those who are of the same merit. Why we feel the need to categorise everything e.g. top 10 pieces of art. What and who is it for?

  • Jun 16,2018 at 19:43

    To me it’s not a question of what’s better, although anything after the Wall is Pink Floyd INO – they don’t even count because the true PF is the collaborative efforts of the (4-5) members of the band.

    In my view, the works represent a progression. And they are just different. What I listen to is a reflection of mood. And admittedly I’m more frequently in some moods than others.

    I will say that the first three albums are more simple, song oriented compilations. Hard to pick a favorite from them. After that the albums are more whole, concept works that hang together. From that vantage point, I feel that AHM and WYWH are at the bottom – they don’t hold together as well, and I’m more inclined to listen to sides or individual songs. I give Meddle credit as an early work of some craft. But the top three for me in the concept category have to be Wall, DSOTM, and Animals. Animals holds together extremely well, and has a higher level of soundcraft – introducing some techniques that other musicians have adopted, such as the sound-envelope where they filled the sound space of a dog bark with electronic frequencies with bizarre results. Also, Sheep has in my opinion one of Gilmour’s absolute best solo guitar riffs of PF history in that triumphant canon at the end. Animals is the one album I simply have to listen to from start to end. And Dogs? So good, and so relevant today. So happy Roger played it at Desert Trip and his Us/Them tour.

  • Apr 12,2017 at 19:44

    I agree with much of this list (the Wall has never been a favorite, but I’d put it a little higher). I cannot, however, agree that any of their albums are better than DSOTM, which is up with Kind of Blue, Sergeant Peppers and What’s Going On as one of the most important albums of the century. There is no more perfect representation of what an album can be as a unified artistic medium. On top of it’s perfect artistry, it was somehow popular.

    I can, however, respect the argument and the albums you put over it. Meddle is the first time all the elements of Floyd really came together to form the slow and subtle J’s that represent the best of the band.

  • Apr 18,2015 at 09:22

    @mjb: that’s a great point you make there! I was definitely attempting to make that sort of statement in a very brief way in that The Wall perhaps had much more resonance then than it does now for the exact reasons you state. I really don’t dislike The Wall as much as the piece may make it seem, I just think it’s way overrated, and not as good as everything listed before it. Everyone knows The Wall, so I think a lot of people assume it must be their best while perhaps ignoring the more obscure Floyd albums.
    @dart: that’s great to hear! Glad you filled a few gaps in your collection!

  • Apr 14,2015 at 20:38

    good read, encouraged me to round out a gap or two in my collection, eg Obscured By Clouds.

  • mjb
    Apr 10,2015 at 10:50

    I was surprised The Wall was so roundly dismissed, but I do understand it’s very much a product of a certain era. We’ve all moved on; deep-seated, dead-serious teenage/young-adult angst and alienation are essentially foreign concepts now. Even among teens, there’s no relating to Roger Waters on a massive cultural scale like there was in the late ’70s/early ’80s. We’d all rather point and laugh and continue to be the detached audience when celebrities flame out in a grand public spectacle. We’d never personally identify with their inward descent into madness, and we certainly don’t want to hear about it in ultra-indulgent musical form. But I still think the disco-rock “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2” is a brilliant slice of concept pop, and “Comfortably Numb” is the best collaboration among the bandmembers you could hope for in that era of increasing dysfunction.

  • Apr 8,2015 at 06:58

    Nice article. Totally agree with Obscured by clouds the most passed over of their album!
    But my Pink Floyd’top would not exist without More, certainly number 2. Wish you were here would be first.

  • Apr 7,2015 at 16:33

    I’m a Pink Floyd fan at the core. I do not agree with this ranking of albums, and each has its own merits. Sheer genius, and meandering experimentation, and everything in between. Calling “The Final Cut” Roger Waters first solo album is not far from the truth. But there are some truly fantastic moments on that record. Echoes is probably the best Pink Floyd song overall, but it is in eternal combat with Dogs for me. However, Echoes is only half of Meddle. The other half doesn’t all add up as the BEST. A Pillow Of Winds is gorgeous too. I could go on and on about Pink Floyd. Lots of people have.

  • Apr 7,2015 at 09:01

    I’ll agree that Meddle is the best, only because it is my favorite. But from there on there is no particular order. They are all tied, in my opinion.

  • Apr 7,2015 at 08:39

    100 % agree

  • Apr 7,2015 at 00:22

    Wow. Top 5 matches my personal list almost perfectly. I would just swap 4 & 5
    Pink Floyd is the best! Ever!

  • Apr 6,2015 at 13:23

    I struggled with including Ummagumma because it’s part compilation, part not. I purposely avoided the comps, “Relics” included.

  • Apr 6,2015 at 13:19

    I pretty much agree with this selection, although I really miss Ummagumma. It surely isn’t their best, but it should’ve gotten an honourary award for being theorie weirdest.

  • Apr 6,2015 at 13:06


  • Apr 6,2015 at 12:24

    @vgonis: I absolutely agree with you here. I’ve listened to Meddle more than any other PF album ever, so for me personally, my number one choice was a no-brainer. I definitely considered “More”, but then felt that since it’s a soundtrack it lowered the relevance for me. Then again, “Obscured By Clouds” is technically a soundtrack, so I clearly need to have my head checked.

  • Apr 6,2015 at 12:11

    Fine personal opinion and I see many agree. But I wonder if this list would be the same if we counted how many spins we have given to each record. And if this is a sign of quality. Despite the fact that I can’t listen to The Wall or WYWH or DSOTM anymore, they are the albums I have listened to most. Anyway, I wonder who can listen repeatedly to the Animals album opener and closing track (summer of 68 is one of their finest songs) . I would much prefer MORE, over it. And yes Endless river might not be a great album, but it is Pink Floyd, not only in name. Just imagine a wordless spaced out PF. And so is Division Bell, which IMO is great. And my no1. if there is any value in such things is Animals. Can’t get enough of it. Still listening to it after all these years.

  • Apr 6,2015 at 11:12

    Yeah, okay… ridiculous.

  • Apr 6,2015 at 11:11

    I share his opinions almost to the dot, but I would raise The Wall a notch and reverse Meddle with Animals

  • Apr 6,2015 at 10:59

    no way, saucerful is the best. obscured by clouds is 2nd, animals is 3rd, meddle is 4th… yes, we all agree on the greatness of “echoes” but it’s not great enough to make the album “best” all alone.

  • Apr 6,2015 at 10:04

    @KovalainenFanBoy: you’re absolutely correct — what can possibly be said about this band that hasn’t been endlessly flogged already? Thanks for reading!

  • Apr 6,2015 at 09:33

    Yeah one mans opinion I guess, we would all all be there or there about,,,

  • Apr 6,2015 at 09:16

    I like this article, even if it is nothing but the author’s personal opinions and experiences with Pink Floyd and nothing else. There’s not much to say about this band that hasn’t been said already anyways.

  • Apr 6,2015 at 08:52

    i relate to this order.

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