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Frankly, it's not close: DSOTM and Animals are firmly entrenched in my top 50, with WYWH in my top 150, while the pre-DSOTM period has one top 100 album (Piper), a probable top 150 album (Ummagumma, with a live album that would be rated much higher but also with an inconsistent studio offering) and a couple of others that might make it into my top 200 (I've never actually bothered to rank my collection out that far, this is just a guestimate based on my site's ratings).
There's little question in my mind that the band really figured out how to best focus its talents around 1972, around the time of Live at Pompeii and the DSOTM sessions.
They were one of the best representatives of the underground psychedelic London scene of 1967, yet unlike so many other good bands that originated in that era, they were able to successfully evolve into something better and WAY more popular, even after losing their frontman and main creative force after one album.On the other hand, while the earlier albums still found the band in its "research and development" stage, that doesn't mean they should be dismissed.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.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.
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.