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Pink Floyd

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Pink Floyd Arnold Layne album cover
3.58 | 89 ratings | 3 reviews | 36% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, released in 1967

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Arnold Layne (2:55)
2. Candy And A Currant Bun (2:46)

Total Time 5:01

Line-up / Musicians

- Syd Barrett / guitar, vocals
- Nick Mason / drums
- Roger Waters / bass, vocals
- Richard Wright / organ, piano

Releases information

Record Company: Columbia Records
Catalog Number: DB 8156
Matrix Information: (side 1 / side 2)
1) 7XCA 27877-1 G 1 KT / 7XCA 27878-1 G 1 KT (both stamped)
Release Date: March 10, 1967

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PINK FLOYD Arnold Layne ratings distribution

(89 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(36%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

PINK FLOYD Arnold Layne reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Had a strange...hobby

Oh boy, this is where it all began. Even before Piper, the Floyd's first splash was this amazing single called "Arnold Layne" with its B-side of "Candy and a Current Bun." The sessions took place in late January 1967, well before Piper started and it featured Joe Boyd in the producers chair as Norman Smith was not yet on board. In fact this single predated the EMI deal and there was no guarantee of its release. Peter Jenner has fond memories of the copious amounts of Cannabis that he and Syd enjoyed during the recording of the single, and one can hear the strangeness permeating every second of this infectious recording.

This true story is a bit of Floyd history, the character being a Cambridge eccentric who used to swipe the girl's undergarments off the clothes lines of Syd and Roger's families, among others no doubt. The lyrics, mild by today's standards, were enough to get the track banned by Radio London. They were also forced to change the title of the B-Side from its original "Let's Roll Another One" to the more innocent official title.

Arnold is perfect 1967 psychedelic pop as interesting and well crafted as what the Beatles were doing at the time. The Floyd had a darker edge than the Fabs however, emanating from the more ominous tone, the aggressiveness of the guitar, and the distinct oddness to Barrett's voice. It was somehow both innocent and dangerous, expressing Barrett's balancing act between childhood, adolescence, and the realms he was heading into. Rick Wright has a trippy Farfisa organ solo in the middle but these early originals were Syd and all Syd. This was the first in a blast of innovative genius which would soon end for Barrett but the Floyd of 1967 were true pop luminaries of swinging London.

Review by Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Arnold Layne' - Pink Floyd (Single)

Listening to one of my favourite psychedelic-era albums, I often wonder why 'The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn' never featured some of Pink Floyd' earliest gems. These including 'See Emily Play' and this, 'Arnold Layne', it seems counterintuitive that the band would leave off some of their catchiest and most charming early work from their official debut. In any case, Pink Floyd's early psychedelic pop is undeniably charming and fun. When Syd Barrett was in charge of the band's direction, they were a fairly different entity than the one they would become when David Gilmour joined the band. 'Arnold Layne' is a fun, three minute psychedelic relic that feels like a concise acid trip piled into a few short minutes. Although being very short, the song is very memorable, and not a second is wasted on filler. Unfortunately, the b-side for this single is not nearly as memorable.

'Arnold Layne' tells the story of a man with a 'strange hobby'- as to what that hobby is, may the listener venture to find out. Syd Barrett is the leading man here, and his quirk is what drives the song; the melodies here are strong and doused with psychedelic effects, most notably some vintage keyboard work from Richard Wright. Although it is perhaps not as great a song as 'See Emily Play', its charm makes the short journey more than worthwhile. To the single's misfortune, the b-side 'Candy And A Currant Bun' simply does not have the same level of strength to it, instead feeling like a loose attempt at a psychedelic pop song that truly lacks the melodic tact that 'Arnold Layne' did. That being said, this single is still a successful venture if even only for the first track.

Review by patrickq
2 stars "Arnold Layne" / "Candy and a Currant Bun" is the first of three non-album singles Pink Floyd released prior to the addition of David Gilmour and the departure of Syd Barrett. "Arnold Layne" is one of the better of these six sides, later collected on 1967: The First Three Singles.

Arnold is a cross-dresser who steals garments from clotheslines, discovering while wearing the purloined articles that "it's not the same / it takes two to know." Going unanswered are such questions as The same as what? and What does it take two to know? At the end of the song Barrett implores, "Arnold Layne, don't do it again!" It's not clear what the takeaway is, or whether there is one. This is almost as close as the band got to radio-friendly psychedelic pop;* it's said that Barrett, who wrote and sang both sides of this single, developed a distaste for commercialism during this period, but that's not evident here in the melody or the production of "Arnold Layne." In fact, the song borders on sunshine pop; I can picture the two-measure "why can't you see" part being repeated three or four times to good effect. Of course, the subject matter may have reduced the song's chart prospects while likely increasing interest among the group's target audience.

A detached Barrett delivers "Arnold Layne" in the same way he sings "Astronomy Domine," despite the fact that only the latter arguably calls for detachment. (And come to think of it, the descending chords underlying the verses of "Arnold Layne" - - i.e., as he sings "on the wall hung a tall mirror / distorted view?" - - is very similar to those on "Astronomy Domine.") Anyway, I suppose that in 1967, it made sense for a singer to distance himself from someone like Arnold, and that the disinterested vocal might've been a way to achieve this. Furthermore, it doesn't seem unlikely that Barrett was influenced by John Lennon's dispassionate delivery of "Strawberry Fields Forever," which was released a few weeks before "Arnold Layne" was completed.

Barrett's singing is a bit more lively - - just a bit - - on the other side. "Candy and a Currant Bun" is a song about? ah, I'm not sure what it's about, but it's psychedelia; maybe that absolves it of requiring meaning. It's easy to say in cases like this that the song must be about drugs, and yet that seems as likely as any other explanation. Whatever it's about, "don't do it again" does not apply here; the opening and closing verses, being nearly identical, imply an enjoyable repetition: "oh my girl sitting in the sky / go buy candy and a currant bun / I like to see you run." But I can't quote the lyrics without relating this couplet, which gives a good indication of song's sophistication: "don't touch me child / please know you drive me wild." The freaky fifteen-second breakdown beginning around 1:06 clarifies that for all of its poppiness, "Candy and a Currant Bun" was not designed for radio airplay, and was probably predestined for the flip side.

Today, Pink Floyd's first single might seem interchangeable with the dozens of other British psychedelic 45s released the same year. But while most of the late-1960s psychedelic pop we remember today was safe and groovy, "Arnold Layne" / "Candy and a Currant Bun" was a bit darker and more daring. However, as a pop or rock single, it's nothing to get hung about. [2 stars on the 4-star scale for singles - - see review page for scale]


*Their next single, "See Emily Play," is the closest, in my opinion.

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