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Pink Floyd - The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn CD (album) cover


Pink Floyd


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.88 | 1838 ratings

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5 stars [Review of standard CD release and album content] Yes, it is a masterpiece. I understand why some people have such trouble accepting that and yet must respectfully correct them. You must remember this was pre-White album and you cannot judge this next to mid 70s classic mainstream Floyd. It was a different time, different band, and different universe spiritually.

This is one of the most important albums of the last century and must be experienced with an open mind and a 1967 London mindset. It did not simply try to take the period pop sound and add the group's spin, but rather created a new sound completely born of the eccentricities of their Cambridge upbringing, the natural beauty surrounding the town (Grandchester Meadows and the like), psychedelics (in Syd's case), and their artistic interests. It was a revolutionary sound and it holds up beautifully today because it is real, unlike some other 60s albums that sound very stale now.

This is an album that I hated the first many times I heard it as a teen. I had the same complaints as many here, too weird, too silly, where's that smooth Gilmour sound to party to? Wrong I was. It took years for me to understand how perfect this album is, and why the Floyd members themselves praise Syd so highly. It belongs on the shelf of any person claiming a respectable Prog (or even Rock) collection. If you're a newbie to music, just make sure you're ready for a strange trip. This ain't no "Learning to Fly," this is the real deal.

[Review of 40th anniversary special edition 3-disc release] The Piper at the Gates of Dawn is one of the most important albums in rock history and a singular work of genius by the late great Syd Barrett. It is a perfect testament to a brief moment in London history, that like the Summer of Love in the Haight, was essentially over by the time the public figured out it was happening. Only the people who were there in 66 and 67 will know what it was really like. As a big fan of Barrett and his muse I had high expectations of what a 40th anniversary edition might be like. For the most part it is one huge bummer. Let's get the biggest atrocity out of the way first before reviewing the package content.

As a Floyd fan, I am really disgusted with the surviving band members for the lack of their personal contributions and recollections, their memories of this most special album. Come on!! This is the big 40th special edition, it's a groundbreaking album, and Syd just passed away. Could there have been a bigger MISSED OPPORTUNITY GUYS for the inclusion of a page or two from Roger, Rick, Nick, even Dave and Norman Smith? For such a big moment, I would think each could have taken a moment to contribute their personal memories of the sessions, their views on Piper's place in history, and most importantly a bit of gratitude to their recently fallen band leader. But of course there must be some liner notes by a journalist, or some studio notes from Abbey Road, right? No. Nada. They may have some lame reason why this wasn't feasible, frankly I don't care. Guys with their power could have made something very special happen here if they had the will, sadly, they did not. But think for a moment how cool those pages of personal notes would have been in this little book format they released. Rant over.

Let's take a look at what you get for your money, considering that many of you have already purchased Piper several times in various forms. You get two versions of the actual remastered album, the stereo version and the mono version. This is nice for mono fans and audiophiles with trained ears who can appreciate the differences. Then there is the all important bonus third disc of extras. This is where many Floyd fans are frustrated, wishing they had released all of the missing lost recordings like Vegetable Man, Scream Thy Last Scream, etc.My understanding is that they chose to stick with only the songs that were a product of the actual Piper sessions and not get into the slightly later stuff. Whether this is the real reason or whether they just saw more opportunity in releasing those in yet another package is for Floyd fans to debate. On this bonus disc you will get Arnold Layne, See Emily Play, and Paintbox which were already out there on Relics and Saucerful. The more interesting items are Candy And A Current Bun and Apples And Oranges (two versions), two singles. These are really nice psychedelic pop songs though probably not as strong as Piper tracks. Then there is an alternate version of Matilda Mother and two different versions of Interstellar Overdrive. These are very cool because Syd never really did anything the same way twice. As with Syd's solo work, "alternate versions" are gold because they are often like another new song, a completely different take or feel. That is not so much the case here because Syd had more constraints than he would have later, but they're different enough to get excited about for Barrett fans. So if you don't care about a mono mix, and you don't care about these different versions, there is really no reason to spend the extra money if you own the standard Piper.

Let's move on to the packaging. Looks impressive on the web scans, doesn't it? It's nothing to get too excited about. For all that packaging, you get a few pages with lyrics and photos. The reproduction of Syd's collage notebook is of interest to very hard core Syd devotees and those folks will already have this in their possession. For the regular Floyd fan this little 12 page booklet will mean nothing more than what their 2nd grader brought home from art class. Syd's artistic jottings and musings are nice but they are not exactly as essential as his music. That's all there is. The package itself is of fair quality, I have a hunch that the glued portion of the construction may not hold up that well if one opens it often to remove CDs, but we'll see. The CDs are held in digipak holders glued to the inside and back covers. The back one that holds discs 2 and 3 is really cheesy, they place one disc partially over the other so that they can touch, and so you must remove the top disc if you want to get the one on the bottom. Sure it's not the end of the world, but again, this is Pink Floyd. You would think they could afford to do this thing up really nice. Maybe they decided they'd try harder for the 50th anniversary.

Piper (and Pink Floyd, and Syd) are favorites of mine. You'll note I gave Piper 5 stars in my album review. I don't mean to be overly negative here but I wanted to make damn sure people realize this "Special Edition" is mostly hype.ZERO LINER NOTES for they don't spend extra money if these little tidbits are not important to them personally. I am really amazed this is the best they could do, given their budget freedoms and the importance of this material. This is 5-star music but this release is 2 stars, for hard core fans and collectors only. Everyone else should stick with their regular Piper remaster until the 50th anniversary edition is released. Hopefully Roger will grace us with a few of his wise musing at that time. [In the meantime, Syd fanatics will get far more bang for their buck with the new Mick Rock book, featuring tons of stunning rare Syd photos and sincere interesting recollections of their personal friendship-see my review in the book forum.]

Finnforest | 5/5 |


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