By Bill Kopp
After Syd Barrett left the band in 1968, Pink Floyd could have broken up. Barrett was their front man, primary songwriter, lead vocalist and guitarist. But instead – with new guitarist David Gilmour – they rallied, and in less than five years they created one of rock’s landmark albums, The Dark Side of the Moon. Here are five little-known songs that charted their development toward that historic release.
“The Embryo” – A rare track that didn’t appear with the band’s permission on an LP until 1983, “The Embryo” was an early ‘70s concert tour de force, making full use of the band’s “Azimuth Coordinator,” a joystick device that brought three-dimensional audio to the concert hall. [Pink Floyd – “Embryo,” BBC Radio Sessions, July 16, 1970 is shown above.]
“Cymbaline” – One of the band’s most popular pre-Dark Side numbers, it was the “nightmare” section of a conceptual work called The Man and the Journey. “Cymbaline” featured a thrilling live arrangement that its studio counterpart (on More) only hinted at.
“Green is the Colour” – A gentle acoustic number on 1969’s More, this Roger Waters tune developed into an extended, dramatic showpiece live onstage.
“Fat Old Sun” – Never the group’s most prolific songwriter, David Gilmour nonetheless created compelling works. This track from 1970’s Atom Heart Mother is another song that began as an acoustic guitar recording, but onstage it blossomed into an electric soundscape extravaganza.
“Childhood’s End” – 1972’s Obscured by Clouds was made immediately before Dark Side of the Moon, and the two records share some notable sonic characteristics. Loosely inspired by Arthur C. Clarke’s sci-fi novel of the same name, “Childhood’s End” is one of Gilmour’s finest compositions.