Tuesday, December 23, 2008

ALBUM REVIEW: The Pink Floyd - Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)

The Pink Floyd - Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967) by Johnny Moon

The Pink Floyd (yes they were originally The Pink Floyd) released their first album in 1967. It was the psychedelic masterpiece The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

Sadly many Pink Floyd fans are unaware of this early incarnation of the band. This is sad for two big reasons. The first being that The Piper at the Gates of Dawn is a truly great album and the second being that this early version of the band was very instrumental in the direction of the more well known Pink Floyd of the "Dark Side" & "The Wall" era.

Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist Syd Barrett was the band's leader at this time. He wrote all but one of the album's songs ("Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk" which was written by future key songwriter Roger Waters.) He also sang lead on all of the songs except for "Take Up Thy Sthetoscope and Walk" (Roger Waters) and "Interstellar Overdrive" (which is an instrumental track.)

While there were elements of Pink Floyd's later "space rock" approach present in this album there were also songs such as "Bike" and "The Gnome" which come from a completely different place. These are warped "pop" songs which are difficult to classify other than that they are incredibly imaginative and arguably the very definition of the word "psychedelic" when applied to music.

Songs like "Scarecrow" and "Flaming" seem to have little in common with later Pink Floyd but "Interstellar Overdrive" seems to be (in part) a blueprint for their later spaced out music. The biggest difference may be that "Interstellar Overdrive" retains a much harsher more "rock" sound in parts (in specific the opening riff) than later Pink Floyd. But the spacier parts of the song definitely appear to be of great inspiration for the band as they recorded in the post-Barrett era.

So what happened to Syd Barrett? He had a mental breakdown (his natural predisposition towards mental health problems was given a helping hand by heavy psychedelic drug use) and was fired from the band in 1968. After releasing two solo albums in 1970 (The Madcap Laughs & Barrett) he basically disappeared from public life until his death in 2006.

"Interstellar Overdrive" by Pink Floyd. The most psychedelic song of all time.

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