Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Pink Floyd: on the right track

The band's recent court victory is a major win for artistic integrity and music in general.

When the news broke last week that Pink Floyd had won a court ruling, stopping their record label from selling individual tracks from the band's concept albums online, many in the media responded with jeers, ordering the group to crawl back into whichever cave they were living in. The Floyd are charged with being old-fashioned almost as often as they are with being pompous, but now they were being accused of cynically dictating how fans purchase and listen to music in their own homes. How dare they?

Some even suspected their hard line against "unbundling" LPs was a moneymaking ploy, forcing fans to buy unwanted album tracks alongside the group's better-known songs such as Another Brick in the Wall. This would be particularly criminal, presumably because the psychedelic rockers have already sold a bazillion albums and should probably be giving away their music for free by now. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Whatever you think of the group's grandiose, self-indulgent, solo-driven music (I'm a total sucker for it), the court victory is a major win for artistic integrity and music in general. In an age when hastily assembled iTunes playlists and downloadable mixed tapes have further shortened our attention spans and almost committed the long player to the dust, unweaving masterpieces such as Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here or The Wall would be the final insult.

Not only do many of the tracks run into one another like symphonic movements, the albums also have narrative arcs that fall apart when the songs are chopped into bite-sized pieces. Listening to Dark Side's Eclipse without first sitting through Time would be like fast-forwarding to the bit in Apocalypse Now when Brando turns-up, then going back to the opening scene when Martin Sheen receives his orders. Jumbling up Floyd's songs on a playlist with other artists would be like sitting down to watch Star Wars, only to have your remote control begin skipping between all the movie channels every four-and-a-half minutes.

It's not just Pink Floyd's concept albums that deserve to be preserved (David Bowie's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars should also be played in full). Many non-concept albums also deserve to be kept whole for atmospheric reasons; I'm looking at you Radiohead's Kid A. Likewise, not every classic album needs to be played from start to finish. It certainly wouldn't be a crime to pluck songs from more scattershot fare such as The Beatles' Rubber Soul or Lou Reed's Revolver and commit them to a mix.

Although most artists' music wouldn't suffer from dissection quite like the Floyd's, I wish more would refuse to allow their tracks to be sold separately. The judge who presided over the case said the ruling will "preserve the artistic integrity of the albums". If, as most signs seem to suggest, the album as we know it will cease to exist in the near future, let's enjoy the ones we have the way they were intended.

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Hajer Almosleh, the winner of the last year's short story competition, at her home in Dubai. Duncan Chard for the National

Get involved with The National’s short-story competition

Writers have two weeks to craft a winning submission, under the title and theme "The Turning Point".

 It is believed that the desert-like planet of Tatooine is being recreated for Star Wars: Episode VII. Could that be where filming in the UAE comes in? Courtesy Lucasfilms

Could the force be with us? The search for Star Wars truth

On the hunt for the Star Wars: Episode VII set, which a growing number of people are sure is in Abu Dhabi, but no one can seem to find.

 With an estimated 18,000 comic and film fans having already paid a visit to this weekend’s Middle East Film and Comic Con, organisers are hopeful they will have surpassed last year total, of 21,000, by its close. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

In pictures: Middle East Film and Comic Con in Dubai

Dubai's World Trade Center was awash with people visiting this weekend’s Middle East Film and Comic Con. Here's some of our best pictures.

 Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, presents Quincy Jones with the Abu Dhabi Festival Award as the Admaf founder Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo applauds. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Festival.

A candid talk with Quincy Jones about the UAE, Lil Wayne and the Abu Dhabi Festival award

The Abu Dhabi Festival honoree Quincy Jones discusses his legendary career as a music producer, the return of Dubai Music Week and why he can’t handle the rapper Lil Wayne.

 Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge arrive at Wellington Military Terminal on an RNZAF 757 from Sydney on April 7, 2014 in Wellington, New Zealand. Chris Jackson / Getty Images

In pictures: Will and Kate visit Australia and New Zealand

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge are on a tour Down Under for three weeks.

 A protester gives a victory sign during clashes near Tahrir Square in Cairo in November 2011. Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

Street life: humanity’s future depends on ability to negotiate and sustain public space

Negotiating our ever more crowded cities and maintaining vibrant public spaces are among the major challenges facing humanity in the coming decades.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National