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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 | 1377 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
5 stars To date there have already been over 75 (count 'em!) Prog Archive reviews of Pink Floyd's seminal debut album, and at this point it probably doesn't need any more. But here's a recording that can't help but elicit strong opinions, pro or con, so who am I to resist getting a word in edgewise?

But instead of yet another song-by-song analysis (there're plenty of those to go around), I'll stick to just a few observations.

1) Once upon a time I might have given the album a mere 2-star rating, or even worse: for hard-core collectors or completists only. When I first heard it, probably as a part of "A Nice Pair", with the equally obscure "A Saucerful of Secrets", I just couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. The childish fairy tale lyrics and nursery school melodies (not to mention the primitive, lo-tech production job...the record was originally released in mono, fer cryin' out loud!) didn't seem to bear any relation to the same Pink Floyd responsible for "Dark Side of the Moon" or "Wish You Were Here". And still don't, I hasten to add.

2) But, in retrospect, that doesn't make the record any less of a classic. The same naive innocence is all part of its timeless appeal, especially when played alongside such intimidating instrumental freakouts as "Interstellar Overdrive" and "Pow R. Toc H", or the awesome "Astronomy Domine". Can any other Floyd album boast the same musical range, the same breadth of vision? (Save your rebuttals for the Forums, please...and don't even mention "Seamus"..!)

3) Part of what gives "The Piper" its classic status has nothing to do with the music on it. The tragedy of Syd Barrett's life, and the lingering shadow of his unfulfilled potential, is just as important a factor, for better or worse. Consider this: had Syd left the band in perfect health the album might be fondly recalled today as just another slice of groovy but dated hippie nostalgia.

4) It might be more sensible (and I'm probably not the first to say so) to regard "The Piper" as the first Syd Barrett solo album, with future members of the group Pink Floyd as his backing band. After all, it's closer in spirit to "The Madcap Laughs" than to "A Saucerful of Secrets".

5) And yet nothing in the later Floyd catalogue could have existed without it. Syd is the spectre haunting everything else the band ever recorded: most famously "Wish You Were Here" of course, but thematically and/or stylistically hardly less on any other album.

...and so, finally 6) If you consider yourself in any way, shape or form a fan of Pink Floyd, you need to hear this album, if only to put their later success in better perspective.

Neu!mann | 5/5 |

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