It isn’t easy to pick one’s favourite album. Art isn’t really supposed to be categorised as such. However, when pushed, almost all of us can lean on one record as our most cherished. The difficulty of choosing that one LP can be increased tenfold when you ask a musician to pick their most beloved album from their own canon; you can crank that up a few notches when the artist is Pink Floyd.
The band have had so many incredible records over the years that selecting just one as a favourite is something Roger Waters, David Gilmour and Richard Wright have avoided for the majority of their careers. But as the question is ever-present in almost every interview, one man, the band’s drummer, Nick Mason, has given his opinion on the best album Pink Floyd ever made, also dishing out a few tips on how to make them better.
“I think The Wall was a hell of a piece of work,” Mason told the Drummer’s Journal back in 2014, “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.” It is this kind of answer that makes us all, as fans, reel with excitement. Not only is Mason talking about two of the world’s best selling albums (a combined 38 times platinum) but casually offering ways to improve upon them.
Advice and tips on making classic albums a little better are all well and good, but what record would Mason call his all-time favourite from Pink Floyd? He had an answer for that too: “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.” Waters was actually nearer 30 when he sat down to write the record with the rest of The Floyd.
It is the “mix of everyone” that seems to resonate most of all with Mason. The drummer doesn’t shy away from the band’s iconic feuds but suggests that even with all the arguments and in-fighting, the group always lived to perform for their audience. “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.”
Chances are, across the globe right now, someone is debating what is Pink Floyd’s greatest ever album. If they ever needed proof that it was The Dark Side of the Moon then perhaps the testimony of Pink Floyd’s drummer, Nick Mason, may just swing the balance.