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Pink Floyd - See Emily Play CD (album) cover


Pink Floyd

Psychedelic/Space Rock

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Conor Fynes
3 stars 'See Emily Play' - Pink Floyd (Single)

On this Single EP, we're given a taste of one of Pink Floyd's earliest singles, and a rather mediocre song from 'The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn.' Clocking in at only 5 or so minutes, it shouldn't be at the top of anyone's purchasing lists, but it's a nice collector's item to own. This deserves three stars however, because 'See Emily Play' is one of the best songs written by Syd Barrett, who was (in his own right) a genius of musical innovation. It's a real shame this song (as well as the other single 'Arnold Layne) were not included in the actual album; they would have made a great album even better. But because that never happened, we're left with this Single, which as far as singles go, is very good, and a convincing mix of psychedelia and proto-prog. Technically, it is only for Fans and Collectors, but I'm sure alot more then simply fans could enjoy this little slice of early Floyd.

Report this review (#205550)
Posted Thursday, March 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "There is no other day, let's try it another way"

"You'll lose your mind and games for May" It's a bit creepy Syd put these lines together when some felt that it was around this very time in '67 where he finally went beyond the edge and went blank. Gilmour saw him a couple weeks after the Queen Elizabeth show and claimed the lights were out. Of course there is a lot of speculation and room for debate about the true story of Syd, and how much of his "worn-out welcome" was random, and how much was precision. I take the latter view that Syd was much more lucid than the myth-building magazines crow about, as does his family, but those stories don't make as much cash for other people. Like Morrison, Barrett is worth more as a tragic mythical figure than an eccentric musician or troubled person who desired a simpler existence out of the spotlight. There were problems, but both life stories have been sensationalized and abused by others.

The second single (Emily/Scarecrow) has to be one of the greatest singles ever, I'm not kidding when I say it rivals Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields as the most sumptuous psych-pop ever laid down. A swirly and dreamy song of impressions and memories about "a hung-up girl", it again finds the band pretty edgy and tight, Syd's raucous slide guitar squeals, Roger's up-front bass and Nick's brisk pace. What makes it is the combination of the whimsical melody and the lovely harmony vocals, here bringing a childlike nostalgia to the listener. It's not all fantasy. Waters recalled that the woods from the song were a very specific wood on the road to the Gog Magog Hills, an area where both he and Syd (and lots of other kids) played as children.

Scarecrow as well brings an absolute dream state to vivid life. I recently turned a friend on to Piper and it was Scarecrow that knocked his socks off. The song is so whimsical and weird. It features Barrett strumming a jangly guitar along to this clicky percussion that is supposed to be the Scarecrow moving or a horse trotting? All of this features an "airy" organ drifting over the top, Wright really making an important contribution to the vibe. These tracks are little hallucinatory storytelling pop masterpieces in my opinion, yet I don't feel 5 stars is appropriate for singles. "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play" are not on Piper, but you can find them on Relics along with other rare tracks.

Much of Barrett's music and his thoughts were tied up in his Cambridge childhood, which he clung to for security. One night in London he asked a friend if she was going home for the weekend and she said Yes. He replied "you know, that's all I want to do. I just want to go home." He got his wish and lived the life he wanted, according to his sister Rosemary. For those interested in Syd, read her take sometime. It differs quite vastly in some of the conclusions made about him:

Report this review (#306799)
Posted Tuesday, October 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars A rarity on single vinyl if you can find it and even rarer with the picture sleeve. The single 'See Emily Play' is a childhood paean by Barrett typifying his nursery rhyme phase that was so prevalent on the first 2 Pink Floyd albums. It is rather creepy in a way hearing about a little girl trapped in the jaded mind of prize loony Syd.

This track only made it to the US version of the "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" initially so I did not hear it until hearing this single.

"he stood in a field where barley grows, his head did no thinking his arms didn't move." 'The Scarecrow' features the story telling antics of Syd. This time he is onto another plane of existence singing about some weird scarecrow in the field who has the answer to Syd's sadness. In fact the scarecrow resigns to the fact that he cannot enjoy life, he will never be able to move and has to succumb to the mice churning up the ground beneath him. The nursery feel and click clack horse sounds are effective and Wright is marvellous on keyboards.

Psychedlic nonsense or sheer genius? You be the judge but it is a rarity to look out for on single.

Report this review (#543555)
Posted Wednesday, October 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Pink Floyd's debut single 'Arnold Layne' was about a perverse guy who steals clothes from washing lines. 'See Emily Play' is another twisted psychedelic classic, and definitely among the finest songs by Syd Barrett. Actually I can't name many songs of psychedelic pop in general that have stood the test of time as excellently as this. Playful lyrics have a surreal feel and the looney music with fast keyboard tinkering fits it perfectly. David Bowie did a carbon copy version for his covers album Pin Ups, but the original is better. Neither 'Arnold Layne' nor 'See Emily Play' were included on the UK pressing of Piper at the Gates of Dawn. This fact gives more historical value to these singles.

B-side includes 'Scarecrow' which is on the album. Nice little song with a charming fairy tale spirit (even if the lyrics stay quite realistic). The song stucture is rather surpriseless but the melodies are very personal as can be expected from Barrett, and the highly original sound is genuine Pink Floyd, especially Rick Wight's organ.

Report this review (#875795)
Posted Saturday, December 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars A representative single album.

It is not a secret that I love Pink Floyd, that since I knew the progressive rock genre, I adopted them as my favourite band, and I've loved them ever since I discovered them. But my experience with the Barrett era came at least one year after I first listened to The Wall or Darkside, so it was a new concept to me, a psychedelic, crazier and more acid sound, which I will not lie, is not my favourite Pink Floyd phase, though I also like it a lot.

"See Emily Play" is a wonderful composition that remains in everyone's mind, this is like a hymn, like a precious piece of art for the devoted fans, and thought some might say its quality is way lower than songs such as "Echoes" or "Dogs", this piece has its own charm. A 3-minute psychedelic track with excellent keyboards working as background, while Syd's voice appears like a punch following the fast drums rhythm and the excellent interaction between guitar and bass. What a great song they did.

And to complete a pair, "Scarecrow" was included in this single album. This is a 2-minute song which is nice but not the best. Totally Barrett-esque of course, it is like a fairy tale with acid inside, so go figure.

This single is truly appreciated by fans and critics, so if for some strange reason you find a copy of it, do not hesitate and buy it.

I like it, mostly for Emily... but you know me, I rate singles or albums with less than 20 minutes length with 1 or 2 stars. This time I'll go for the latter.

Enjoy it!

Report this review (#1199031)
Posted Friday, June 27, 2014 | Review Permalink
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]

Report this review (#2275980)
Posted Tuesday, October 29, 2019 | Review Permalink

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