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Pink Floyd - The Piper at the Gates of Dawn CD (album) cover


Pink Floyd


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.87 | 2027 ratings

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3 stars A tale of two Floyds.

It's pretty easy to say that most American Pink Floyd fans never really warmed up to Syd Barrett and that's for reasons that are not so easy to distinguish. Some point to the overt 'Englishness' of Syd's lyrical stance. Other's point to Barrett's material that is only marginally psychedelic such as the bulk of the recorded output on Piper At The Gates of Dawn.

My own belief is that the Piper material was just too removed from the accessible, but still over the top, head trip that was the Dark Side Of The Moon album, the gateway album for Americans into the world of Pink Floyd.

But let's backtrack a bit. When Piper was first released in the US, EMI's, American subsidy Capitol Records issued Piper with the inclusion of Floyd's second UK hit See Emily Play in place of album opener Astronomy Domine. It seems the west coast folks who were gearing for the Beach Boys to take over the rock world were at a loss with this strange album opener that sang of 'lime and limped waters surrounding underground', had even less of a clue to the actual music. This was not the Beach Boys. This wasn't the Beatles, who they knew would sell whatever they recorded. This Astronomy Domine song was just, well...strange.

It would be nice to think that the American counter culture of 1967 was immune to similar feelings of unease, but it was not. Piper was a curiosity in the short age of American psychedelia. Fortunately, the US editions of Piper that were issued following the success of DSotM restored Astronomy Domine to its proper tracking order and this track, along with the instrumental Interstellar Overdrive, and the DSotM clockwork collage cloning album closer Bike, is what DSotM fans glommed onto. This material was familiar in it's space rock grandeur, made more mysterious by it's descriptive lyrics, that was relatable to DSotM fans. Floyd as the veteran psychedelic space rockers won this round.

However, round two that centered on Syd's whimsical lyrical songs such as Matilda Mother, the Gnome and Scarecrow, were merely entertaining, at best, while dadaesque workouts like POW R TOC H simply fell short. Years after the acid revolution, the actual sounds made by the human mouth were simply not as fascinating as those conjured up by synthesizers and VCS3 sequencers. The age to enjoy Piper as a whole had simply past.

So, where does this put Piper At The Gates of Dawn in the 21st century? Exactly where it was in the last century. A curio of an earlier lysergic age that some quickly dismiss or that a few embrace as a fleeting display of genius. Only the listener of this album knows for sure and is therefore the ultimate judge. 3 stars.

SteveG | 3/5 |


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