Deep Tracks: Pink Floyd's Best B-Sides

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Roger Waters lets loose in Amsterdam in 1977. Until recently, there was a coffee shop in the city named for the band, and that fittingly played a lot of their music. TOLCA/SUNSHINE/RETNA LTD

Pink Floyd has released a long list of classics since the band first formed 50 years ago. Fill your playlist with more than just the hit singles by adding these lesser played but still singular Pink Floyd tracks.

"Arnold Layne"

Available On: Works

A Syd Barrett composition about a fetishist with a penchant for stealing women's underwear off clotheslines, "Arnold Layne" was one of the band's first forays into long-form jams, with live versions extending to 15 minutes. The single, however, comes in at a tidy 2:52.

"Apples and Oranges"

Available On: Relics

A lighter bit of psychedelia about a love connection made at the supermarket, this was Pink Floyd's first release not to chart in the U.K. Nevertheless, it remains a great example of their late '60s evolution, as well as the devilish sense of whimsy that permeated the Barrett-composed tracks.

"See Emily Play"

Available On: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
(U.S. Edition)

Pink Floyd's second single, "See Emily Play," was a breakout for the band and another example of Barrett's influence. His slide-guitar work (played with a plastic ruler) and playful lyrics were an integral part of the Pink Floyd sound of the late '60s.

"Astronomy Dominé"

Available On: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

A mind-bending trip through the universe, with spiraling vocals and thundering drums, this was a signature track during Floyd's early days at the UFO Club. It remained a popular song among fans, so much so that the band resurrected it for the Division Bell tour in 1994.

"Careful With that Ax, Eugene"

Available On: Relics

A musical cataclysm of organ, drums and the eerily whispered title (followed by a Roger Waters scream), this feels like a journey through a tunnel to the dark side of the '60s.

"Remember a Day"

Available On: A Saucerful of Secrets

One of Richard Wright's first contributions to the band's oeuvre, it was performed only twice—once in 1968 shortly following the album's release and 40 years later by David Gilmour in tribute to Wright after his sudden passing.

"Corporal Clegg"

Available On: A Saucerful of Secrets

Although this track, which talks about a soldier who "won" his wooden leg fighting in World War II, is lighter in tone, it is the beginning of Roger Waters's anti-war stance. It also is the only Pink Floyd song to feature a kazoo solo.

"Grantchester Meadows"

Available On: Ummagumma

A seven-minute acoustic number performed solely by Roger Waters and featuring a chorus of chirping birds in the background, this track is a tribute to the English countryside that shaped the band's youth.

"In the lazy water meadow I lay me down." —"Grantchester Meadows"

"Atom Heart Mother"

Available On: Atom Heart Mother

A six-part opus that dominates the entire first half of the record, Atom Heart Mother's title track was assembled from various pieces the band developed during rehearsals. Challenging, dizzying and occasionally confusing, it captures the band poised between psychedelia and stadium-filling art-rock.

"Fearless"

Available On: Meddle

A bright, open-G-strummed ballad filled out by the sound of an English soccer crowd singing "You'll Never Walk Alone," this was released as a B-side but became one of the band's most popular songs.

"Childhood's End"

Available On: Obscured By Clouds

The opening track on side two of Obscured, this was the last track written by David Gilmour until "A Momentary Lapse of Reason" in 1987.

There'll be war, there'll be peace./ But everything one day will cease.

All the iron turned to rust; All the proud men turned to dust. —"Childhood's End"

"On the Run"

Available On: The Dark Side of the Moon

If paranoia had a soundtrack, it would probably sound something like this dizzying instrumental highlighting Richard Wright's keyboard wizardry. Punctuated by eerie voices and mad laughter, it was a highlight of Floyd's live set for the remainder of their career.

"Pigs on the Wing (Parts 1 & 2)"

Available On: Animals

A gentle, almost tender, acoustic ballad that both opens and closes the record. The uplifting and seemingly hopeful lyrics serve as the perfect bookend to the dark, chaotic songs that occur throughout the rest of the album.

"Pigs (Three Different Ones)"

Available On: Animals

This track features Roger Waters at his sneering, defiant best, calling out people on the highest rungs of society, labeling them "pigs" and emphasizing his disdain by singing, "Ha ha, charade you are!"

"In the Flesh?"

Available On: The Wall

The perfect album opener, The Wall's theatrical first track is a thunderous intro that segues into Roger Waters warning the listener there is more behind his cold eyes. We then crash back into the main riff as Waters starts the show by screaming "Action!"

"Mother"

Available On: The Wall

A somber, almost prayerful, ballad sung between Pink—the protagonist—and his domineering, overbearing mother, this is a track that expertly combines beauty and sadness the way only Pink Floyd can.

"Goodbye Blue Sky"

Available On: The Wall

An eerie reminiscence of The Blitz, in which layered voices ask "Did, did, did you hear the falling bombs?" The track is made even more powerful by Gerald Scarfe's animation in The Wall feature film, which features the English countryside being ravaged by a Nazi eagle.

"Waiting for the Worms"

Available On: The Wall

Swooping from an almost Beach Boys-esque harmony to an onerous, marching dirge, this track chronicles Pink's transition from isolated madman to rock & roll fascist.

"Two Suns in the Sunset"

Available on: The Final Cut

The closing track on the album (Waters's last-ever with Floyd) focuses on a protagonist driving home when nuclear war breaks out. Waters's last lines reflect his time in the band as much as world affairs: "Ashes and diamonds/Foe and friend/We were all equal in the end."

"The Gunner's Dream"

Available On: The Final Cut

A hopeful glimpse of a world from the perspective of an airplane gunner in his dying moments, this remains one of Waters's most powerful anti-war songs.

"When the Tigers Broke Free"

Available On: Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd

The most autobiographical of Waters's war-related songs (of which there are many), "Tigers" chronicles his father's death at Anzio, ending the song, as the orchestra rises, with the angry and plaintive exclamation, "And that's how the High Command took my daddy from me!"

"On the Turning Away"

Available On: A Momentary Lapse of Reason

A more hopeful acoustic number from the band, the song is a plea for the world to focus on the problems of the "weak and the weary" rather than turning away from them. It also features two stellar Gilmour solos, particularly the outro, which further establishes both his control and emotional dexterity with the instrument.

"Poles Apart"

Available On: The Division Bell

David Gilmour exorcises his Barrett and Waters demons in one of Division's standout tracks, including namechecking the Wall track "Hey You" and asking the former Floyd bassist, "Did you ever realize what you'd become?"

"Side 2, Part 4: Anisina"

Available On: The Endless River

A beautiful, swirling mix of saxophone, Wright's piano, Mason's drumming and Gilmour's plaintive slide guitar, it sounds like an outtake from the Wish You Were Here sessions. As send-offs go, it's practically perfect. The track makes you sorry things are drawing to a close, but glad the ending could feel like this.

This article appears in Newsweek's Special Edition, Pink Floyd, by Issue Editor Jeremy Brown.

Pink Floyd Cover
Dezo Hoffmann/Rex Shutterstock. Digital imaging by Eric Heintz
Deep Tracks: Pink Floyd's Best B-Sides | Culture