ARTIST: Pink Floyd
TITLE: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
YEAR RELEASED: 1967
CHART ACTION: #131 (US), #6 (UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Interstellar Overdrive, Astronomy Domine, Bike
LINEUP: Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, Rick Wright, Nick Mason.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Pink Floyd’s debut album, released after a couple of great singles, is one of the classics of the psychedelic era. It sounds nothing like the rest of their catalog, as it’s the only album where Barrett was a fully functioning (emphasis on functioning) member.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Wow, just wow. It’s playful, fun, and also intense (thanks to “Astronomy Domine” and “Interstellar Overdrive”). Each side starts out heavy and then moves light in some brilliant sequencing. The lyrics are a joy, talking about cats and gnomes and kingdoms and bicycles. “Bike” may be the perfect album closer – a cherry on the psychedelic top.
Barrett is in full control here. These are his songs, his vision, and his colorful art. His guitar sounds a little off at times, but you can tell that’s intentional. He’s trying to make some sounds that are in his brain – and using some dissonance as well for great effect. I can only imagine their light shows and their live sound at this time. It must have been quite a trip.
Wright’s organ is really the anchor – grounding the songs but working well with Barrett’s forays into hyperspace.
NOTES & MINUTAE: The US version released in 1967 added the excellent single “See Emily Play”, but ripped out the heart of the album (no “Astronomy Domine” or “Bike” or “Flaming” (the US single). They also sequenced “Interstellar Overdrive” as the final cut, which kind of defeats its impact. Man, US record companies sucked in the 60’s.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. It has a mono and stereo mix of the record, plus the A’s and B’s of their first three UK singles. You must hear “Candy and a Currant Bun” and “Apples & Oranges” to get a sense of Barrett as he was losing it.
GRADE: A: This is so radical and different for Pink Floyd you’d have no idea that they went on to become…well…Pink Floyd. Just a joy to listen to.