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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

3.91 | 1328 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Pink Floyd: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn [1967]

Rating: 6/10

As most people know, Pink Floyd's debut album has little to do with the grandiose progressive rock the band would later adopt. Rather, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (the only Floyd album in which Syd Barrett had creative control) is an acid-drenched psychedelic space voyage with a fair share of whimsy. Although the songs here are unrelated to Floyd's later style, they do demonstrate the evolution psychedelic rock was going though; the roots of progressive rock are firmly planted here.

"Astronomy Domine" is probably the best and most representative song on the album. Astronaut-evoking noises lead into spacey keyboards and guitar. Barrett's vocals bring the atmosphere to life. "Lucifer Sam" is centered on a catchy surf-rock riff, and some Canterbury-style Hammond makes an appearance. "Matilda Mother" focuses mostly on vocals and is very Beatlesesque throughout. "Flaming" is the same way, with some acoustic guitar and piano augmenting the spacey vibe. "Pow R. Toc H." contains a delightful a-cappella intro that leads into piano and psychedelic guitar. Vocals are as used as an instrument here; there are no actual lyrics. "Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk" features some catchy bass, keyboard soloing, and probably the best guitar work on the album. "Interstellar Overdrive" is a very interesting nine-minute psychedelic jam that sounds like it was recorded on Mars. Fantastic atmosphere abounds here. "The Gnome" is the most whimsical song on the album, with wonderfully silly lyrics sung over simple acoustic guitar. "Chapter 24" is another psychedelic romp; the organ is very present here. "The Scarecrow" consists of medieval-sounding keyboard playing backing up Barrett's quirky lyrics. "Bike" concludes the album in a suitably whimsical fashion. This track is one of my favorites, featuring Barrett's best lyrics.

Although this is a very good album and I enjoy everything on it, I can't shake the feeling that this is proto-Floyd. Although this is much more than a simple 60s rock album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn is compositionally immature when compared to future releases from the band's psychedelic era. Everything that is done well here is done even better in albums to come. Regardless, there are many fantastic songs ("Astronomy Domine", "Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk", and "Interstellar Overdrive" especially), and no weak ones. This album will appeal to anybody who enjoys the more creative elements of 60s rock; it's hard not to smile while listening to this. It's too bad Barrett died before figuring out why he calls his mouse Gerald.

Anthony H. | 3/5 |

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