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


Pink Floyd


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.88 | 2009 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars This is a rather tough one to rate, and I'm afraid I'm going to take a lot of flack for it...on one hand, there are definite signs of potential, and on the other, there are also some very obvious problems with Piper. This is not a work of genius. I'm sorry, but drugs and genius really should not be in the same sentence. Drugs do not create genius--they hamper whatever genius might in fact be there. Whimsical, yes, but genius--I'm afraid there's a definite lack of maturity here. Who knows, maybe SYD BARRETT's songwriting would have matured with adulthood, if he had been able to continue functioning well as a musician, but the fact is that this and his solo works are all we have to judge by. And let's get this straight right now--I have all respect for the man and what he has been through. However, I still reserve my right to exercise my own judgment and my own tastes on the work, even if that may prove irritating to some.

The first problem I have is that some of the songs on here are...well...too pop- oriented. I think, if I remember correctly, that at that time, PINK FLOYD was aiming to follow up their hit singles "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play", and while this may well have been a necessary career move at that time, I still find the songs a little underdeveloped and too childlike (think of "The Gnome"). Which is no surprise given that they're aimed at the same audience that ate up the "utterly puerile" Please Please Me by the Beatles (that excellent Beatles comment coming from RICK WRIGHT). Furthermore, one conclusion I definitely came to is that, while he is not a bad vocalist, SYD BARRETT definitely needs RICK WRIGHT's backing vocals and (sometimes) lead vocals to help soften his voice, and also provide a needed contrast. The best song with vocals on the album, "Matilda Mother", is perhaps the prime example of this balance, featuring both vocal talents just about equally. "Astronomy Domine" is quite good, but not so energetic as later renditions such as the ones on Ummagumma or even PULSE. One song that BARRETT sings well on his own, though, is "Lucifer Sam".

Still, this album definitely does show the future promise of PINK FLOYD. While we have to remember that the FLOYD members were quite young at the time (the band's "middle child", RICHARD WRIGHT, would have only just turned 22 at Piper's release) and therefore all of their styles will seem rough, you can particularly see that RICK WRIGHT and NICK MASON are laying the groundwork for their future work, particularly in the instrumentals "Interstellar Overdrive" and "Pow R. Toc H." (minus the strange noises!). ROGER WATERS still has a ways to go, though--his songwriting is fragmented at best, as evidenced on "Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk".

While I don't think this is a bad album, it just doesn't get the kind of time in my CD player that its big brother A Saucerful of Secrets or even the compilation Relics gets. Both of those albums, I think, are better representations of PINK FLOYD at this time period, and may appeal more to those who are not exclusively fans of the SYD BARRETT era. Piper may be OK, but I think that claims of genius are highly exaggerated. Had BARRETT had more time to write music unimpaired, his future works could have possibly been...but this one doesn't come up to that bar, and I suggest only getting this one after having completed most of the rest of your collection.

FloydWright | 2/5 |


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