Pink Floyd’s music has always been nothing if not expansive, so it comes as no surprise that they have released an array of box sets in recent years for their fans to enjoy. This list of the best Pink Floyd box sets offers some recommendations for people who absolutely love Pink Floyd and would like to take their collection to the next level.
Pink Floy Box Sets – How They Stack Up
Let’s begin with the Discovery box set.
This box set neatly packages each of Pink Floyd’s studio albums in a single collectible box. The quality of the music itself can hardly be argued with, as even the lesser Pink Floyd albums are at least interesting and relatively few in number. With that said, it’s kind of a challenge to see who this box set is for—casual fans are unlikely to need such an exhaustive product, while diehard fans probably already have all of these albums and aren’t offered any bonus tracks or other special perks for purchasing this set.
That said, if you or someone you know needs a neat collectible box filled with the entire studio legacy of one of the greatest psychedelic rock bands ever, Discovery makes for a great purchase.
- Grade: B+
Hailing all the way back from the first wave of CD box sets in the early 1990s, Shine On is 9 CDs long. This box set collects most of Pink Floyd’s more popular albums in their original form, including The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, and The Wall. It also includes a handful of their less popular but certainly noteworthy albums and a special disc of early singles. Given that it has little in the way of bonus tracks and doesn’t even include all of their albums, this box set is unlikely to be attractive for hardcore fans.
However, it could make for a splendid introduction to Pink Floyd’s recorded legacy as a gift for a newcomer, given that it offers something of a tour through their career that doesn’t get too distracted presenting more difficult material.
- Grade: A-
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The Early Years: 1965-1972
“Sprawling” doesn’t quite even cover this 27-CD box set, which makes for a very exciting purchase for a very specific type of Pink Floyd fan but few others. Unlike most of the other sets here, this set covers a handful of different phases in the band’s career, beginning with their formation in 1965 and continuing on through 1972, the last year before their commercial breakthrough.
This period saw the band transition in leadership from guitarist Syd Barrett to bass player Roger Waters as the band produced early psychedelic classics like The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, A Saucerful of Secrets, and Meddle. Fans of this Floyd era who have always wanted to hear more of the prolific and abstract studio experimentation that created these albums will find a treasure trove in this box set.
The tracks here are long, often mostly instrumental, and filled with the sonic experiments that made them a seminal band long before they were topping the charts. Fans of Pink Floyd’s radio hits from later in the 70s, however, would do well to stay far away from this set and listen to the studio albums from this period first – not that they’ll need much discouragement, as this journey down memory lane is priced at around $600. You almost certainly know already if you are the type of Pink Floyd fan to sign up for a bill like that.
- Grade: B+
The Dark Side of the Moon – Immersion
Pink Floyd’s Immersion reissue series presents some of their greatest and most popular albums in a multi-disc collectible box, which typically contains old masters, new remasters, outtakes and early versions of the album’s material, as well as video content on DVD and Blu-Ray. The Immersion release for The Dark Side of the Moon contains all of these things, however the video footage on the DVD is unfortunately not material from the actual album.
There is, however, an audio live recording of the album, as well as visual material that was presented alongside the music at various points in the 1970s. This set is notable in that it showcases the band playing around with a lot of big ideas for some of their greatest music at a crucial juncture in their career – once The Dark Side of the Moon was released, they would become rock stars with a very different career trajectory. If you are a big fan of this classic album and have always wanted to hear more as well as learn more about the history of Pink Floyd, this box set is a worthwhile purchase.
- Grade: B
Wish You Were Here – Immersion
This entry in the Immersion series follows the same formula as the Dark Side release, but is unfortunately much lighter on bonus content that sheds light on the making of the album or even provides enjoyable alternate versions to listen to. This release will be most popular with audiophile fans of Wish You Were Here who wish to listen to the album in a sharp new remaster and/or on surround sound, both of which can be accomplished with the CDs, DVD and Blu-Ray disc offered here.
While the original album is as beautiful as ever, this release makes it clear that Pink Floyd did almost too perfect of a job recording it the first time around, leaving little for latter day re-evaluations to work off of.
- Grade: C+
The Wall – Immersion
Interest in this Immersion edition will vary greatly on the listener’s appreciation for the conceptual, musical and emotional nuances of The Wall itself, which is a very popular Pink Floyd album but also one of their most idiosyncratic. Fans of Roger Waters’ deeply theatrical rock opera will enjoy the bonus material, as it provides a great deal of insight into how he crafted the different characters and thematic ideas that appear on the album. Fans who are less enthusiastic about these details will have a difficult time simply putting on the bonus tracks and grooving or rocking out as they may with some of the other releases.
Furthermore, while this box set does include a sparkling new remaster of the album, it doesn’t contain the same array of audiophile candy listening experiences that are features on the releases for Dark Side and Wish You Were Here. Ultimately, as with most of the box sets on this list, hardcore fans of the original material will want the extras that this set offers but others will not be as persuaded.
- Grade: C+
The Later Years: 1987 – 2019
While the title projects a kinship with the Early Years box set reviewed above, The Later Years presents a fairly different product, which makes sense given that Pink Floyd was a very different kind of band by the time period that it documents. This release focuses on remastering A Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Division Bell, the albums that came out during this period, as well as providing high quality recordings of the triumphant arena rock performances spectaculars that the band reliably delivered in the 1980s and 90s.
For fans who want live performances filled with lasers, video machines, and heavy duty production values, this box set will be an exciting ride. Pink Floyd fans who are more attached to the moody, introspective sound that they maintained even on some of their biggest hits in the 1970s, however, should avoid this release. Fans who were hoping for bonus material and studio outtakes will also unfortunately be disappointed.
One bonus, however, is that while the box set doesn’t include studio material from the 1970s, it does include likely less familiar versions of some 70s heavyweight material via the included live performances. The concert films A Delicate Sound of Thunder and Pulse, which many fans will have already seen, are both compiled here, alongside additional visually stunning performances in England and Venice.
- Grade: B-
Pink Floyd’s box sets provide a journey through their entire career, and fans of their music will find a lot of excitement in the ways that each set provides a different glimpse at their favorite albums and performances. This list of the best Pink Floyd box sets will help discerning fans decide which of these massive collections are actually necessary for their home library.