EntertainmentMusicPink Floyd vs. Led Zeppelin

Pink Floyd vs. Led Zeppelin

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We intend to commit a crime. For any lover of music and of rock in particular, the exercise that we are going to carry out is not only useless, but also unforgivable. How will you try to choose!? It is impossible to decide!

About 250-300 million records sold by each of them. This data should be enough to give us an idea of ​​the magnitude of what we are talking about. Two of the most influential bands in history, which revolutionized the most important musical genre of the 20th century. Some of the best-selling and most famous records in history. Songs that everyone knows. We are talking about the two biggest bands that walked the world during the seventies: Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.

We do not intend to say which of the two is better, but to know which of the two each of you believe is better. What we ask of you is not easy. Not easy. Anyone who knows the history of these groups and has enjoyed listening to their discography will know that we are facing an almost technical tie. Each one of us will have our favorite, but criticism and objectivity have not yet been able to decide. Which group is better, Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin?

To try to answer such a horrible question we will go little by little. Until we reach the final and definitive question, we will have to discover what we really think, and choose between the best guitarist, the best voice, the best record, the best instrumental song, the best psychedelic song, the best love song, the best concert, the best drums, the best lyrics… a series of questions that will finally lead us to answer the dreaded question: who is better?

If you are ready and have already put the playlist of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd in the background, we begin:

It’s not easy to choose, and while Pink Floyd’s lyrics may be deeper and Jimmy Page’s fingers faster, how can we deny that Plant’s pen and Gilmour’s guitar are exceptional? Without a doubt we are talking about the best of the best in the history of rock, and it is unfair to try to choose. The voices are great, the drum and bass accompaniment as well, and the couples they formed have already gone to music encyclopedias…

A shame that John Bonham’s death in 1980 ended Led Zeppelin’s career, and that egos destroyed the Water-Gilmour duo. However, the years that they were together, the genius of Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Roger Waters and David Gilmour gave us some of the best compositions that have ever sounded.

Since its inception in 1967, Pink Floyd have produced fifteen studio albums (the last in 2014). For its part, Led Zeppelin released nine: the first in 1969 and the last in 1982. In these discographies we find some of the best sellers in history, such as Led Zeppelin IV (1971, 38 million copies), The Dark Side of the Moon (1973, 36 million), Led Zeppelin II (1969, 23 million) or The Wall (1979, 22 million).

The most important vote, that of the best group, will be addressed at the end of the article, after having reviewed some of the best songs from each group.

Best songs

According to David Roberts in Chronicles of Rock , Led Zeppelin is part of Hard Rock and Blues Rock, and Pink Floyd in the styles of Progressive Rock and Psychedelic Rock. Knowing these labels, we might think that there are no meeting points in the discographies of these two bands. Furthermore, taking into account that both groups have navigated different trends, especially Led Zeppelin: from metal (‘Immigrant Song’) to blues (‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’) to folk (‘Going to California’ ).

Even so, as in all rock groups, we have love songs, acoustic songs, harder songs… and in the specific case of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, we also have progressive rock and psychedelic rock songs. That is why we now dare to select some of the best (comparable) pieces of music from each band and vote between them.

Love songs

The truth is that in the case of Pink Floyd, we find ourselves with a group that did not produce too many love songs . All that stuff about darling , my heart and  I love you  doesn’t usually appear in the Floyd’s work. For this reason it is surprising that one of the group’s most famous songs is ‘Wish You Were Here’, a song that can perfectly be labeled as a love song  and that the general public actually knows as such (although in truth its meaning is different).

On behalf of Led Zeppelin we have chosen ‘Thank You’, a great song from the album Led Zeppelin II , from 1969. Many other love songs that Robert Plant wrote can be ‘Tangerine’, ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ or ‘ Whole Lotta Love’. The Leds were much more romantic. Meanwhile in Pink Floyd they were thinking about astronomy, politics, philosophy and reflection.

Hard rock

In this case we come back from a certain imbalance, because it never occurs to anyone to categorize Pink Floyd as a hard rock group. There are hardly any songs of this style in their discography, and we have rescued the powerful (“powerful”, in Floydian terms) ‘Young Lust’, by The Wall . Instead Led Zeppelin has an endless list of hard rock songs (reaching heavy metal on many occasions).

We’ve selected ‘Whole Lotta Love’ for its famous chords, but ‘Black Dog’ or ‘Kashmir’ would have worked as well. It certainly seems like the most unequal matchup, because the Led are considered one of the first major Heavy Metal groups, along with Black Sabbath and Deep Purple (what has come to be called the Trinity of Heavy Metal Gods).

Instrumental songs

Without a doubt, Pink Floyd is one of the groups that champions the genre of instrumental songs (you just have to listen to The Endless River , their latest album), and they have several long-playing pieces in which there are hardly any verses sung. We have chosen ‘Marooned’ because it is pure Pink Floyd style, and one of the crowd favorites.

In Led Zeppelin we find fewer examples of this type of song, and we have selected ‘Black Mountain Side’, although ‘Bron-yr-aur’, a beautiful purely instrumental acoustic song, or ‘Moby Dick’, a show of strength are also noteworthy. by John Bonham with an impressive drum solo.

Progressive rock

Although most critics place Pink Floyd among one of the most representative bands of progressive rock, there is still debate about whether the English group is actually prog or not. There are those who directly argue that no, Pink Floyd is not a progressive rock band. But in reality, you only have to see the lists of the best progressive rock songs in history (in which not one, not two, not three, not four… but several Pink Floyd songs appear) to realize that we are before one of the best bands of this genre.

In the case of Led Zeppelin it is even more complicated (the limits of progressive rock are not defined!), and although John Paul Jones would tell us that yes, of course the Led are prog rock , there are many discussion forums in the that the fans do not agree (like this one, this one or this one). Some say yes, others no. The truth is that critics would not label Led Zeppelin as a progressive rock group, although some of their songs can be classified within this genre: ‘Kashmir’, ‘No Quarter’ or ‘Achilles Last Stand’. In any case, it is a question that is in continuous debate.

Acoustic songs

In this case both groups produced some good acoustic songs. We could have highlighted other good songs like ‘Fat Old Sun’ (Pink Floyd) or ‘The Rain Song’ (Led Zeppelin), which are examples of pieces where the acoustic guitar has the leading role, but we have opted for the beautiful ‘Tangerine’ ( Led Zeppelin III , 1970) and ‘Lost For Words’ ( The Division Bell , 1994).

Listening to David Gilmour’s acoustic versions of hits like ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ is highly recommended. The truth is that Gilmour is a genius with the electric guitar, but also with the acoustic. Something that he shares with Page, although he is not used to playing as much acoustic as Gilmour.

Psychedelic rock

There is also debate about whether Led Zeppelin is an example of psychedelic rock or not, and it is true that there are not many songs of this genre in their discography. However, ‘Dazed and Confused’, one of his most famous compositions, or ‘How Many More Times’ are pieces with obvious psychedelic elements.

Pink Floyd, however, does have a good psychedelic repertoire, especially in its early years and more specifically on its first studio album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, from 1967. We find psychedelic songs like ‘Astronomy Domine’ or ‘Interstellar Overdrive ‘. However, we have chosen ‘Shine on You Crazy Diamond’ because of its greater fame, although it is not one of Pink Floyd’s most psychedelic songs. ‘Echoes’ would have also served us well, a great piece that flows between psychedelic rock and progressive rock.

Most famous song

After several worldwide hits ( The Dark Side of the Moon in 1973 or Wish You Were Here in 1975), Pink Floyd were able to return to the top of the music and sales charts with The Wall in 1979. From great songs like ‘Comfortably Numb’ or ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ came out there, which became Pink Floyd’s most internationally and intergenerationally recognized melody. Everyone knows the chorus of this song. It is his most famous song (although it is not his best song). 230 million views on YouTube attest to the fame of ‘Another Brick in the Wall’.

In the case of Led Zeppelin, perhaps it can be said that their most famous song is their best song. ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is a fantastic piece of different rhythms and sensations. With the medieval touches so characteristic of Led Zeppelin and an impressive guitar solo by Jimmy Page that happens to be one of the best in history. In this case, YouTube’s social meter informs us that this mythical song has been played on the web 140 million times. No doubt every music lover knows the initial chords.

Two giants of music history

There is no doubt that both Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd are two of the most influential groups in history. We have reviewed part of their discography and their work trying to confront songs from those genres or styles that both bands tackled. After having made several important votes and decisions, we can move on to the final question.

In the answer we give there will be a mixture of rationality (thinking about who is better musically, who has been more influential and important…) and personal taste (our favorite songs, our personal experiences…), so it would be impossible to ask for objectivity in a question that comes from the depths of each one of us. For this reason, there is nothing more to dare and choose the option that has made us experience the best sensations.

Have you already voted? Phew! It must have been complicated. What strategy have you followed? It usually works to assign each of the options to one side of a coin. After tossing the coin into the air, at the moment it is about to fall to the ground, the option that we really want to appear will appear in our head. There is no more truth than that. And that response comes from within, from some point of connection between the head and the heart. And sometimes we surprise ourselves.

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