Pink Floyd - The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn

Album cover

  1. Astronomy Domine (4:12)
  2. Lucifer Sam (3:07)
  3. Matilda Mother (3:08)
  4. Flaming (2:46)
  5. Pow R. Toc H. (4:26)
  6. Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk (3:05)
  7. Interstellar Overdrive (9:41)
  8. The Gnome (2:13)
  9. Chapter 24 (3:42)
  10. Scarecrow (2:11)
  11. Bike (3:21)

EMI, 1967

also by Pink Floyd:

see also... Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Richard Wright, Nick Mason, Mason and Fenn

We have the the fleeting genius of Syd Barrett to thank for this unique album. The first incarnation of Floyd only lasted a couple of years before Syd disintegrated into schizophrenia. But this is one of the most lasting albums of the hippy era. Released in the same year as "Sgt. Pepper", this is more subversive than the Beatles and just more uninhibited good fun. From Syd's childlike, fairytale imagination came some of Floyd's most simple but brilliant songs.

Although like the aforementioned Beatles album it's highly revered but not entirely free of turkey tracks. These were the ones Syd didn't write! Was the cringeworthy "Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk" was really written by the same Roger Waters who would go on to make "The Wall" and "The Final Cut"? Their psychedelic wig-outs were a good idea at the time but mostly don't make a lasting good listen, and "Pow R Toc H" is a forgettable example. "Interstellar Overdrive" is a more interesting random jam, given slight coherence by the grinding riff it starts and finishes with. You can almost hear the illuminated blobs of oil glooping on the projector screen, as Rick Wright's organ and Syd's guitar squirm around each other spookily.

As soon as this spaced out jam finishes, we're back down to earth, literally, among the mushrooms with "The Gnome". After some oriental philosophising on "Chapter 24" and rural folkiness on "Scarecrow", it finishes with a bang and jingle, with the astonishing "Bike". This is the kind of thing that gets Syd a reputation as a genius - tunes as simple as playground rhymes but totally fresh, and those lyrics! "I know a mouse and he hasn't got a house, I don't know why I call him Gerald"! The sound effects at the end (a cousin of "A Day in the Life") give us a sneaky glimpse into Syd's private room of musical tunes.

March 9, 2004

9 out of 10

see also...

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written and maintained by Christopher Jackson
<chris@fluffhouse.org.uk>