Pink Floyd: The Piper at the Gates...(40th Anniversary Ed.)

By: Chris Pacifico

Most of us 20-somethings had our first experiences with Pink Floyd around middle school age while listening to Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, The Wall or all three during our formative years of smoking grass (remember those metal pipes with the screw-on bowl heads that you had to buy screens for?) after school in a friend's basement under black lights. It wasn't until a couple of years later that we learned about Pink Floyd's original lineup when they were led by a mysterious, erratic leader named Syd Barrett.

Recorded in 1967, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (Capitol/EMI) was Floyd's only album with Barrett in the fold for the entire duration and sounded different than anything they released afterwards while under the creative control of bassist Roger Waters. Yet, it was Barrett who shaped their sound and whose influence remained a driving force of influence in all of Pink Floyd's future works.

In the year of Piper's release, Pink Floyd had made a name for themselves as a regular at London's UFO Club, where the Brit hippies basked in what was known as the "Swinging '60s" on the other side of the pond, spun out of their noggins on potent LSD. Thanks in part to producer Norman Smith (who also worked with fellow period luminaries Barclay James Harvest and The Pretty Things), the band was able to bring the mind rattling cacophony of their live gigs into the studio.

One of Piper's high points is the prickly, space doom guitar in the opening seconds of "Astronomy Domine." The jingly chimes of "Matilda Mother" sum up the album's sound, Victorian-era Baroque taken over by aliens getting their rocks off to skewed lullaby like lyrics.

Barrett's mellowed Cockney voice can almost scare the piss out of listeners on "Flaming" as he mutters, "Sleeping on a dandelion/Too much/I won't touch you/But then I might." "Pow. R Toc H." is a scattered be-bob full of squawks, bird calls and other jungle noises that cocoons into Nick Mason's tom quavers right before the eight minute and change guitar gale of "Interstellar Overdrive," which swishes back and forth between the speakers as it winds down.

One of organist Richard Wright's finest moments was laying it down on the VCS 3 analog synthesizer on Dark Side but he made his bones on Piper by going to town with the Farfisa, Hammond and vibraphone.

Not long after, in 1968, Barrett succumbed to mental illness brought on by copious amounts of LSD but still got around to cutting two spectacular solo albums in the early '70s before becoming a recluse for over three decades. Syd sadly passed away in 2006, but it was the mind of this one man whose footprint in rock and roll will be showing longer than the one from Neil Armstrong left on the moon.

The 40th Anniversary edition 3-CD set includes packaging designed by legendary cover artist Storm Thorgerson, a 12-page reproduction Syd Barrett's notebook, newly remastered stereo and mono versions of the orignal album and a third disc featuring all the Pink Floyd singles from 1967 plus the B-sides "Candy And A Current Bun" and "Paintbox" as well as an alternate version of "Interstellar Overdrive" and the 1967 stereo version of "Apples And Oranges."

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[Published on: 10/15/07]

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gmoo Mon 10/15/2007 04:46PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Who are these guys?

21mmer Mon 10/15/2007 04:58PM
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i think they're some classic rock band. sounds ok.....i'll probably check 'em out.

j-bizzle Tue 10/16/2007 12:46PM
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Never was a big fan of "remasters." I like the original production of music especially when created on analog. There is just something about quality imperfection that makes an album more homly. althought the bonus disk sounds cool.

DevinKlein Tue 10/16/2007 03:55PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Okay, so I'm gonna have to dish out $40-$50 for a new version of Interstellar, pretty much. Every Floyd fan already has all the early singles and B-side's anyway. They must have a ton of outtakes and demo's from Piper, why won't they give us those? Or some decent quality live stuff with Syd. Considering this is probably my favorite album ever, I'm really disappointed.

fyodordos Thu 10/18/2007 05:40PM
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The sound is very nice on this. If you've never heard the mono version you're in far a treat. Also, there are 4 unreleased songs (ok, really 3, but who has the French EP version of Interstellar Overdrive?) on the bonus disk. The unreleased stereo Apples & Oranges is a big improvement over the original. Matilda Mother has completely different lyrics. Plus it is only $28 delivered from a certain ubiquitous online bookseller.

aburtch Mon 10/22/2007 07:55PM
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This album is required listening for Psychedelia 101. Not for the faint of heart or those who don't appreciate somewhat experimental music. The great thing is this experiment was so successful, it spawned an entire movement. As for the re-issue, compared to what many labels are putting out with all the extras this does look a little slim.

petemora starstarstar Tue 10/23/2007 11:43AM
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I had one of those bowls. Look out that thing is hot! Long live the death of the screen. Those things were the worst, metallic tasting and lip burnin'.