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Pink Floyd - See Emily Play CD (album) cover

SEE EMILY PLAY

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.30 | 92 ratings

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patrickq
Prog Reviewer
2 stars Although "See Emily Play" appeared on the US release of Pink Floyd's debut album, fans nonetheless consider it a non-album single. "The Scarecrow," meanwhile, appeared on all editions of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, released about two months after this single.

After a sci-fi laser effect noise and a drum fill, "See Emily Play" opens with an organ solo right out of The Doors before moving into a surprisingly poppy groove. A spacey, almost acidic guitar-and-organ freakout begins around 1:30, and the verse-refrain structure returns half a minute later, but not before clearly telegraphing that this was more like Jefferson Airplane than, say, Tommy James. Most likely, these guys weren't going to show up on Top of the Pops in suits and ties.

It's all a bit different on the relatively calm and pastoral b-side. A number of interpretations have been advanced for "The Scarecrow," whose twelve lines are organized into three stanzas, each ending with "he stood in a field where barley grows." It could certainly be taken at face value: a straightforward tune about a "black and green scarecrow ? resigned to his fate." Kind of heartbreaking, actually, and no cheerier than the a-side, whose titular character seems to be descending into mental illness. Of course, my interpretation is informed by the understanding that singer-guitarist Barrett was experiencing the same. Although Emily might be simply be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, she could just as easily be Ophelia: "Put on a gown that touches the ground / float on a river forever and ever."

It's not surprising that the catchy "See Emily Play" fared better than the group's UK first single, "Arnold Layne," or even that it was Pink Floyd's biggest (and, incidentally, last) British hit until "Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)" in 1979. "See Emily Play" / "The Scarecrow" is a nice, albeit weird, slice of British psychedelia. [2 stars on the 4-star scale for singles - - see review page for scale]

patrickq | 2/5 |

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