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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

3.90 | 1405 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Pink Floyd begins!

The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn is where it all began for Floyd. While in 1967 this was top notch stuff from any band - wild and experimental - these days it stands as a monumental insight for one of progressive rock's greatest acts. This is nothing like anything you'll hear from Floyd afterwards, since at this point they were led by genius songwriter Syd Barrett who took the band down much more psychedelic roads, but who was also trying to make the band more of a commercially viable band with their shorter and poppier songs, a few of which were released as singles before the album (never to make it onto the actual debut, but would resurface later on compilations like Relics) such as the very Beatles-esque See Emily Play and the always fun cross-dressing romp Arnold Layne. But enough about that, let's get to the album, shall we?

This album is great, but it is wildly different in style, even within itself. This makes for a very interesting mix, and a very good one at that. On the one hand we have the shorter and less complex songs that still make for an earful like the bass dominant Lucifer Sam and the highly relaxing Flaming, these ones will likely never be remembered as ''epic prog masterpieces'', but their melodies and amusing lyrics really do make for a good listen. Other songs on the album become completely bizarre. Lyrically, songs like The Gnome and Scarecrow will have the audience thinking ''whaaa...?'' and then laughing at their own need to try and understand the lyrics. Bike has to be Pink Floyd's most fun song to play to anyone who thinks they know the band inside and out after they've heard Dark Side Of The Moon ten times since it is an absolutely mad piece with quirky lyrics and some of the most fun an jumpy instruments to ever make their way onto a psychedelic album.

But we're missing the best part yet. The Truly psychedelic pieces on the album are what the band would soon evolve off of to form what would later be known as progressive rock. Astronomy Domine would still be played by the band in concert to their last days together, never sounding dated (which really shows how far ahead of their time the band was). It's also a surprisingly heavy piece with Barrett's guitar piercing the foreground. The biggest standout on the album, by far, has to be the longest track on the album, Interstellar Overdrive. This psychedelic instrumental was apparently written by Barrett after he had gotten his hands on some drugs and imagined himself flying between Mercury and Jupiter, which in reality were really a plum and a peach sitting on the table in front of him (if I recall my trivia correctly, that is...). Once again guitar driven and wonderfully spaced out with some great hard panning (which is rarely used well, but is here) near the climax of the song.

There's been many versions of this album released over the years as well, and I suppose it's time to give a nod to the 40th anniversary edition of the album released in 2007. This one came in two forms - one as a double album, and one as a three disc box set. Honestly, unless you don't have the album already or just must have the album in all it's forms, the two disc edition of the album is useless. It simply contains the album in mono and in stereo on two different discs with an expanded booklet. The 3 disc edition on the other hand is something else. Still more for fans thanks to its price, this one really is a good package. The first two discs are the same as the double album (mono and stereo), but the third disc is a collection of rarities and alternate takes. Some of the songs also appear on Relics, but many of the alternate songs, such as the two different versions of Interstellar Overdrive (which actually do sound different from the original, noticeably) are not available elsewhere to my knowledge. It also comes with a wonderful booklet with some great pictures and a booklet of work reprinted from a collage done by Syd, which is a nice addition. However, if you don't know what you're going to think about the album when you're buying it, you're better off with a one disc edition that includes just the album.

But let's get around to a rating, shall we? This one certainly is not for everyone, but everyone should hear it at least once. This is not Pink Floyd's masterpiece, and it isn't going to get five stars based sheerly on its importance to music (which it could in most cases), but 4 is a very appropriate rating. Recommended to all, if you haven't already heard it, just sit back and enjoy.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |

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