The one record David Gilmour called “the Pink Floyd punk album”

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During the height of punk, it was hard to imagine a more grandiose band than Pink Floyd. John Lydon’s infamous shirt expressing his disdain for the group was a clear sign that Roger Waters’ elaborate stories were seen as everything wrong with rock and roll at the time. Yet, Pink Floyd showed they could keep up with changing trends, and David Gilmour believed their album “Animals” was the closest they came to punk.

Gilmour had always been on the lookout for new influences, even before punk emerged. While many punk bands criticized the excessive indulgence of established acts, Gilmour sought out fresh talent, discovering future stars like Kate Bush.

When Pink Floyd began working on “Animals,” they had already faced challenges with their record label. The success of “Dark Side of the Moon” had skyrocketed them to fame, but the pressure made the process of creating “Wish You Were Here” uneasy. Exhausted, the band’s tribute to former member Syd Barrett in “Wish You Were Here” was critical of the music industry, with songs like “Welcome to the Machine” serving as a cautionary tale for aspiring musicians.

“Animals,” however, was a different beast. Inspired by George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” Waters crafted an album targeting those in power who exploited the lower class. Despite the length and style of the tracks, songs like “Dogs” and “Pigs” served as a defiant message to the wealthy elite who thrived while others struggled.

Despite the dominance of punk music at the time, Gilmour felt that this version of Pink Floyd resonated with the street-level ethos of punk. He remarked, “I really like it. It was sort of, I think, slightly influenced by the punk era, if you like – the Pink Floyd punk album. It was certainly a bit more aggressive than some of the other ones we’d previously done. But it’s a good album for me – I like it a lot.”

Lydon’s criticisms aside, Pink Floyd’s commentary on societal injustices aligned more with punk values than it might have seemed. Their messages echoed sentiments later expressed by bands like The Clash in albums such as “London Calling.”

Pink Floyd wasn’t alone in this crossover. Canadian band Rush also embraced new wave influences in albums like “Permanent Waves.” While prog and punk are often seen as opposites, any artist committed to evolving their music would do well to explore different styles.

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