The two albums Roger Waters said completely changed everything

Roger Waters

Whether you like him or not, Roger Waters is unquestionably a musical mastermind. After all, the Pink Floyd songwriter is behind some of the most recognisable albums of the 20th century, including The Wall and The Dark Side of the Moon. Together with Floyd, Waters helped reshape the progressive rock era and open doors for a host of upcoming musicians. There’s no denying that without the groundbreaking contributions of Roger Waters and his band, the current landscape of rock and pop music would be drastically different.

Among the many things credited to Pink Floyd is pioneering a revolutionary approach to record production. Albums and LPs in the early days of rock and pop were just compilations of ten or so songs. These collections weren’t profitable enough to be released as singles. However, things started to change in the 1960s. Even with early records such as Syd Barrett’s masterwork Piper At the Gates of Dawn, Floyd started to consider employing albums to tell intricate, multi-layered stories by weaving a sonic narrative throughout the track listing.

One of the most well-known concept albums of all time, The Dark Side of the Moon, is the band’s most commercially successful release. Later, this technique would be used to greater effect on this album. Pink Floyd may have perfected the format. However, they were by no means the first band to play around with the concept of a concept album. During the 1960s rock and pop explosion, two legendary bands played a key role in creating this ground-breaking concept.

The Beatles, during their psychedelic era, are largely responsible for popularising concept albums, as most of you can probably guess. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’s 1967 album was a particular high point for the group and unquestionably influenced Roger Waters and Pink Floyd. “I remember pulling the Zephyr Ford into a layby and listening to the whole thing. Just sitting there with my mouth hanging open going. ‘Wow, this is so complete and accomplished and whatever,'” Waters reminisced on the Howard Stern Show in 2012.

The songwriter went on to say, “But it also was more than that,” in his story of hearing Sgt. Pepper’s for the first time. It packed in narrative and ideas. More than any other record, in my opinion, it was the one that allowed my generation. I to explore our interests and do whatever we pleased. Waters’s other favorite, The Beach Boys’ landmark album Pet Sounds, arguably deserves this title as well.

Waters once said, “Pet Sounds completely changed everything about records for me, along with Sgt. Pepper.” The two albums helped to inspire a new generation of songwriters by being some of the first “concept” records to have a significant impact on the pop and rock charts. Suddenly, an album seemed to be more than just a vehicle for a selection of songs. It could tell a story in and of itself.

Lead by Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Pet Sounds, Pink Floyd took this concept and ran with it. It seems unlikely that important albums like Dark Side of the Moon would have ever been recorded. Much less approved by record label executives, without those early influences on Waters.

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