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Pink Floyd - The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn CD (album) cover

THE PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.89 | 1423 ratings

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ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer
3 stars As usual for a first effort, I was quite reluctant in reviewing this first Floyd album (or is it Syd's album ?). "Piper At The Gates of Dawn" is the title of a chapter in Kenneth Grahame's book, "The Wind in the Willows", one of Syd's favorites. Like the band posted on their web-site after Syd's death :"Syd was the guiding light of the early band line-up and leaves a legacy which continues to inspire". Roger met Syd and Nick at the Cambridge Lyceum. In 1963, Roger founded his first band with Nick and Rick (The Sigma Six). Syd will join them pretty soon and this was the start of a magical band. The name Pink Floyd is found by Syd (it refers to two blues singers : Pink Anderson and Floyd Council). There is one interesting quote from Roger about Syd (available on www.pinkfloyd- co.com) :

"All that stuff about Syd starting the space-rock thing is just so much f.ck..g nonsense. He was completely into Hillaire Belloc, and all his stuff was kind of whimsical, all fairly heavy rooted in English literature. I think Syd had one song that had anything to do with space, 'Astronomy Domine', that's all. That's the total sum of all Syd's writing about space and yet there's this whole f.ck..g mystique about how he was the father of it all. It's just a load of old bollocks, it all happened afterwards. There's an instrumental track which we came up with together on the first album, 'Interstellar Overdrive', that's just the title, you see, it's actually an abstract piece with an interstellar attachment in terms of its name."

About the future of the band in terms of live appearances, Roger will comment in 1967 :

"We can't go on doing clubs and ballrooms. We want a brand new environment and we've hit on the idea of using a big top. We'll have a huge tent and go around like a travelling circus. We'll have a huge screen 120 feet wide and 40 feet high inside and project films and slides. We'll play the big cities or anywhere and become an occasion just like a circus. It'll be a beautiful scene. It could even be the salvation of the circus." Quite premonitory, right ?

I would certainly not recomend this album to enter the Floyd's catalogue. I consider this one more as a testimonial of an era and a tribute to Syd. The brilliant opener "Astronomy Domine" is the highlight. An incredible psychedelic trip. Completely innovative for the era. If only it could have set the pace for the rest of the album ! "Lucifer Sam" is a good pop / psyche tune. Great bass playing and drumming. "Mathilda Mother" is completely psyche and interesting. This song will be quite downsized by the producer for this studio release. During their live renditions it was easily extended to anything between ten to twenty minutes.

As far as their live sets are concerned, the band will play approximately 135 concerts from April 29 and December 22nd, 1967. One concert every other day. For six months. Some concerts in the US will be cancelled (nine in total) because the working permit was delayed by the US authorities. Amongst them, three were planned in the famous Whisky-A-Go-Go club (you know the whisky bar from The Doors...).

They were also one of the opening acts of the "Jimi Hendrix Experience" tour and performed twice a day for several days during this tour (total of over thirty shows in three weeks). On December 2, 1967 for the show at The Dome (in Brighton) it is said that David Gilmour made his first appearance with the Floyd to replace Syd. Mitch Mitchell (the drummer of The Hendrix Experience) mentioned that David joined the tour half way through with no other precision. During this period they will appear about ten times on the TV.

"Flaming" is another childish / poppy / psychedelic tune (it was composed by Syd before PF). Not bad though. "Pow R. Toc H." is a jazzy impro song. At times some fearful and strange noises appear (I guess this feeling would rise with the use of some popular products from that period). Being non addicted to those, I am not very enthusiastic about this song either.

"Take up Thy Stethoscope and Walk" is composed by Roger. It was an attempt to recreate the Floyd's sound on stage but the middle part of it was edited by Norman Smith (one of the producer). Drum part reminds me a bit the one for "Set The Control". Good psyche moment again.

"Interstellar Overdrive" is another great tune; comparable to "Astronomy". Again, it is such a pity they didn't investigate more into this direction for the other tracks. This could have led to a more solid effort. Pure craziness and "trip" oriented. This track sounds like they used to do when playing live (although it could last for about half an hour...). "The Gnome" is again a tune that could easilly be skipped. Sounds like a very poor Beatles song. Same applies to "Scarecrow", "Chapter 24" and "Bike". Still quite innocent, the melodies are more catchy. As far as "Bike" is concerned, Norman Smith one of EMI's staff producers, will say that it was one of the last tracks where Syd was truely in control (it is the last track of the album, but not the last one to be recorded).

As a commentator says in the DVD "Pink Floyd : From the Inside", it is quite an overrated album. I fully agree. Although it was quite innovative and different for that period, too few good tracks sit here to really enjoy it. For as much as I have seen of them in videos, it must have been a better experience to watch them live with their use of light shows already. I guess it must add to the atmosphere and provide a unique ambiance... The album will reach Nr. 6 in the UK charts. This album is the archetype of the psyche sound and is reminiscent of some bands from the West coast (Airplane, The Doors ...). Some great moments like "Astronomy" and "Interstellar" and several good ones for this emblematic "psychedelic prog rock" album. The producers wanted to avoid long tracks on this album. This will lead to some kind of disappoinment from their fans who were expecting those ones to remind their live sets. I guess we would all have loved that. Three stars.

ZowieZiggy | 3/5 |

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