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One thing that I've never wavered on over the years is that "Echoes" is the best thing Pink Floyd ever did, and many of the more outstanding elements of that track were at least used as crib-notes in bits and pieces later on.Pink Floyd was doing effective acoustic ballads well before "Wish You Were Here" and "Mother"; the eerie screams that pop up in "Another Brick in the Wall (2)" and "Run Like Hell" are adapted from "Careful With That Axe, Eugene," and there are a half dozen other examples.From that point on, sorting out the roles of the various members of the band becomes a little complicated.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.
The classic albums did a good job of refining the band's earlier ideas into something more easily swallowed by the general public, but many of these ideas were, in my opinion, done just as interestingly on the earlier albums, if not more so.
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.
Yet despite their massive success and following, and despite an ever-growing number of people who have a strong familiarity and love for the band's whole history, the % of music fans who really know the group is pretty small.
When LSD started to destroy Barrett's ability to function, though, the band hired guitarist David Gilmour as a stage replacement, and eventually as a full-time replacement.
Most of A Saucerful of Secrets features Gilmour instead of Barrett, and by the time of More Barrett was gone, off to attempt a short-lived solo career.
Point is, the separation between the "experimental" albums and the "normal" albums is certainly not as clear cut as many like to make it out to be, and dismissing the former while embracing the latter seems like a mistake to me.