Edie Mullen
November 2016.

How did Pink Floyd change the music business?

1 answer

With The Beatles, even though they progressed the whole way of making albums, their albums were really still a collection of songs. And they did standalone singles outside of those albums. Pink Floyd, relatively early on in their development around 1970-71, would take songs and would cover a whole side of an LP with one track. They effectively eschewed the single. There are exceptions like 'Money' and the early Syd Barrett stuff, but really singles were not part of their plan. They opened the way up for the likes of Led Zeppelin and all those other bands that really weren't about singles.

The other thing with Pink Floyd was the live side. The spectacle. And the idea that the spectacle wasn't the individual members of the band – it was the spectacle of the show. It was ironic in the case of Pink Floyd as they were a really good-looking band. Look at photos of Pink Floyd in the early 1970s and they were pretty Adonis-like, particularly David Gilmour. But they didn't play on their looks; they played on the spectacle. That was their big thing and it was then followed through by Led Zeppelin.

Decades on, the band's use of spectacular live effects continues (Earls Court, 1994)

There is a pattern to a lot of these bands. It's almost like they have two careers. They have the complete stoner, revolutionary period of their career and then they conventionalise and keep those elements of perceived rebellion. Dark Side Of The Moon is actually a very conventional album. There aren't long tracks on it. There is a theme running through it, but there are singles in there – not just 'Money', but others that could have been singles. Fleetwood Mac had their revolutionary era and then it's all packaged up into Rumours, an album that could have been made by ABBA. Pink Floyd refined rebellion and turned rebellion into money, to quote a phrase.

The band chose arresting imagery over personal portraiture for album packaging. Above: Cover artwork for Atom Heart Mother (1970) and Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

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