Pink Floyd's new album leaves fans with "graceful ending"

"The Endless River": Pink Floyd's bittersweet... 05:31

It's been two decades since Pink Floyd released a new recording, but now "The Endless River" is here.

British fans made it the most-pre-ordered album of all time on Amazon U.K., reports CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips.

Out of the mists of rock 'n' roll's heyday, a small boat drifts in above the clouds, and a lyric seems to be telling the story of the band singing it.

"We bitch and we fight... Diss each other on sight..." the song "Louder than Words" says.

Pink Floyd's internal squabbling was almost as famous as its music.

"It's certainly a strong suggestion that that could be, that it is about the band, but it could also be seen as a couple and their relationship," band member Nick Mason said.

Maybe they should be called "Grey Floyd" now. The new album is largely the creation of David Gilmour and Mason, the two enduring members of the band. But most people will think it's about the band. In fact, a lot of people -- including those in the band -- are surprised the album even happened.

"I really didn't think that we would do this again after all these years now," Gilmour said.

He said it didn't have to do with the famous acrimony within the band.

"We've had a long career post the acrimony you know, in fact we've had a longer career post the acrimony than we had with the acrimony or whatever his name is," Gilmour said.

In their prime, Pink Floyd was just about as big as rock 'n' roll got. The band didn't just produce some of the biggest selling albums in pop-music history -- world-wide sales in the tens of millions -- it re-invented rock.

Pink Floyd didn't just do songs, although they had some big hit singles. They did concepts, whole albums meant to be listened to in one sitting -- the experience enhanced, perhaps, with some of the more popular stimulants of their day.

Two of its albums are undisputed rock classics. "Dark Side of the Moon," released in 1973, was on everybody's record shelf. A world-wide number one, it sat on the U.S. Billboard charts for more than 14 years. And "The Wall," released in 1979, topped the U.S. charts for 15 weeks.

Pink Floyd was also a rock 'n' rolling soap opera of rivalries, jealousies, break-downs and break-ups. By the mid-'80s, its main writer, Roger Waters, left, calling it a spent force.

So imagine the surprise when Gilmour joined Waters, Mason and Richard Wright and re-assembled for 2005's Live 8 concert in aide of the world's poor. The performance was a highlight of the show, but their behind-the-scenes dysfunction led them to say it would never happen again.

When Wright died in 2008, the demise seemed complete and irreversible.

But by using some previously unreleased recordings, including some by Wright, and massaging them with some new music and modern digital trickery, a new-ish album was born.

The music video ends in the dried-out lake-bed of the Aral Sea on the Kazakstan-Uzbekistan border. Pink Floyd's tank, too, has finally run dry.

"I don't think it's meant to be, as I say, the final statement, I think it's just a sort of a graceful ending," Mason said.

This time, they said they mean it.