The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn

Pink Floyd

Capitol Records, 1967

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


It sometimes amazes me to look at bands who have become megastars and where they came from musically. Sometimes, how they got from point "A" to "Top Of The Pops" leaves me scratching my head in wonder.

Today's example: the debut effort by British psychedelics Pink Floyd, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. The only album to be released featuring early rock acid casualty Syd Barrett on lead vocals and guitar, this album defies logic and the senses -- in fact, take the whole rule book of rock and throw it out the window.

I like psychedelia as much as the next person, but even this is one fucked up trip. Grab your hookah, take a hit, and allow Uncle Chris to guide you on this journey.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

From the opening notes, you can hear that Barrett is well on his way to Happy-Land, and he wants to take as many people as he can with him. "Astronomy Domine" is a good song, if a little spacy 30 years after its original release. The out-of-harmony vocals actually add to the song, and the keyboard work of Richard Wright is perfectly suited for the mood. (Editor's note: The version featured on A Nice Pair is actually not the original "Astronomy Domine." Be warned.)

While "Lucifer Sam" captivates the listener (sounds a bit like something out of a James Bond movie), the album quickly retreats into a Toys R Us-type mentality. Barrett's inner child seems to be the lead singer for most of the album, as heard on cuts like "Matilda Mother," "The Gnome" and "Scarecrow." This is psychedelia? No, this is "Romper Room."

When the band does finally get spacey again, it is on the classic cut "Interstellar Overdrive," a song which must be listened to with headphones to achieve the total cosmic experience. (Try it -- trust me. I've never done drugs in my life, but this is the closest I've felt to being stoned.) Other attempts at psychedelic weirdness like "Pow R Toc H" fail miserably.

"Bike" -- let's talk about this one for a few minutes. Written in a style as if a child had been given a tab of acid, it sounds like a normal toddler's ramblings over a fairy-tale rhythm. I wasn't crazy about this one the first time I heard it on Relics, and my opinion still hasn't changed.

What surprises me most about The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn is that this same band (miunus one key member and plus one guitarist/vocalist named David Gilmour) would go on to produce some of the greatest albums made in the history of rock and roll, like Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here. In a sense, this isn't the same group -- and fans expecting to hear cuts in the popular style will be greatly disappointed -- the equivalent of a bad trip.

The cuts which are enjoyable can be found on Relics, a greatest-hits collection containing previously-unreleased cuts for that time. This appears to be a better investment than The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn.

Rating: D

User Rating: B+



© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol Records, and is used for informational purposes only.