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Originally, the band was clearly led by guitarist/singer/songwriter Syd Barrett, whose tweaked sense of whimsy, love of guitar feedback and unfortunate fondness for LSD helped make Piper one of the classics of 1967.
Roger Waters took it upon himself early on to be the band's "leader," but while it is true that Pink Floyd eventually became, in essence, his backing band, the group was very much a "democracy" for a good number of years.Frankly, it's not close: DSOTM and Animals are firmly entrenched in my top 50, with WYWH in my top 150, while the pre-DSOTM period has one top 100 album (Piper), a probable top 150 album (Ummagumma, with a live album that would be rated much higher but also with an inconsistent studio offering) and a couple of others that might make it into my top 200 (I've never actually bothered to rank my collection out that far, this is just a guestimate based on my site's ratings).There's little question in my mind that the band really figured out how to best focus its talents around 1972, around the time of Live at Pompeii and the DSOTM sessions.On the one hand, anybody who has ever listened to a classic rock station has had some level of exposure to them.Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall are both easily in the top 5 of albums whose tracks are played most on the radio, and Wish You Were Here is probably somewhere up there too.They were a rock band that did great songs despite melodies that were usually very good but not stellar (and I stand by that), and despite having very few "classic" riffs.
They were a band that regularly engaged in lengthy, "self-indulgent" instrumental noodling, while almost never displaying raw chops on the level of the instrumentalists of the more popular prog rock bands of the day.
They were one of the most technophilian bands I've ever heard in my life, relying on sound effects like mad and featuring all kinds of processed keyboard and guitar noises, yet it is extremely rare to find somebody nowadays who considers a classic Pink Floyd album "artificial" sounding.
Their greatest commercial successes were with a concept album that shoved classic rock and smooth jazz styles into a prog rock format, a tribute album to their original frontman (whose main feature is a 25-minute synth-based art-rock suite, split in two), and a double-length rock opera released after the punk revolution.
I agree with the love for Pink Floyd, but I most certainly do not always agree with the reasons that most people and establishments give for loving them.
The thing is, it's not that I see the band's pre-DSOTM period, which contains its lesser known albums, as better overall then the albums made in the band's commercial peak ('73-'79).
Critics, by and large, absolutely love them: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame not only elected them in 1994, but also has an entire wing devoted to the band's history.