“We weren’t tempted to pursue that particular avenue, no. Led Zeppelin did it much better than us”: the Pink Floyd song that made Nick Mason realise they would have been a “terrible” heavy metal band

A posed photograph of Pink Floyd in 1973
(Image credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Roger Waters and David Gilmour may have a higher profile, but Nick Mason is the longest-serving member of Pink Floyd, and the only person to have appeared on all of their studio albums, from 1967’s debut Piper At The Gates Of Dawn to their 2014 swansong The Endless River.

During that time, the band have successfully incorporated a number of different styles into their expansive sound, from the acid-fuelled psychedelia of their early, Syd Barrett-led era to the hints of disco lurking below the surface of their worldwide 1980 Another Brick In The Wall Pt.2. Yet there’s one genre that Mason says never suited Pink Floyd: heavy metal.

Not that they haven’t dabbled in the heavier side of things. The Gold, It’s In The… (from the soundtrack to 1971 movie Obscured By Clouds), the menacing One Of These Days (from 1971’s Meddle), Young Lust (from 1979’s landmark The Wall album) and the blazing Not Now John (which appeared on Roger Water’s final album with Floyd, 1983’s The Final Cut) all found Floyd cranking up the volume to varying degrees.

But there’s one song, a relative obscurity recorded near the beginning of their career, that Mason says convinced Pink Floyd that they could never match the raucous power of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. The song itself would subsequently be covered by such influential metal bands as Voivod and Melvins, proving that Mason’s instincts were a little off-target.

The track the drummer is referring to is The Nile Song, a blast of pummelling noise that appeared on the largely psychedelic soundtrack to Barbet Schroeder’s 1969 movie More.

The Nile Song is probably the heaviest thing we recorded,” Mason told Classic Rock in 2020. “But we weren’t tempted to pursue that particular avenue, no. Bands like Led Zeppelin did it much better than us. We would have made a pretty terrible heavy metal band.”

Despite his dismissiveness, More actually features another song, Ibiza Bar, which sees Floyd turning the volume right up. While it won’t give Black Sabbath any sleepless nights, it does show that they could kick out the jams when they wanted to.

Ironically, while Pink Floyd themselves never played The Nile Song live, Mason’s current band Saucerful Of Secrets, which focusses on Floyd’s early, pre-Dark Side Of The Moon material, included it in their live set in 2018.

Dave Everley

Dave Everley has been writing about and occasionally humming along to music since the early 90s. During that time, he has been Deputy Editor on Kerrang! and Classic Rock, Associate Editor on Q magazine and staff writer/tea boy on Raw, not necessarily in that order. He has written for Metal Hammer, Louder, Prog, the Observer, Select, Mojo, the Evening Standard and the totally legendary Ultrakill. He is still waiting for Billy Gibbons to send him a bottle of hot sauce he was promised several years ago.