Check out this music magazine advert for Pink Floyd Piper at the Gates of Dawn!
Let us travel back to a time long, long ago. A time before "Dark Side of The Moon" or "The Wall" were even dreamt about. A time when Floyd was not yet known by most people. A time when Syd Barrett was the guiding light to the band. A time before the stadium shows and the screaming fans and the money. 1967's "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" is the one that started it all for Pink Floyd, back in the early days when bassist Roger Waters, keyboardist Richard Wright & drummer Nick Mason were led by the genius, but doomed singer/guitarist Syd Barrett. Psychedelic rock doesn't get much more trippier than "Piper," a totally far-out collection of avant-garde space rock, songs about gnomes and scarecrows, off-the-wall production and sound effects, and superb performances by a tight British art-rock band that were destined to become rock legends.
Pink Floyd's debut THE PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN really does seem to capture the Zeitgeist of its 1967 release date. As Pink Floyd recorded the album only after a fairly long apprenticeship in London's UFO Club, the album includes complex, sometimes jam-like tracks such as "Astronomy Domine", "Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk" and "Interstellar Overdrive", the last one of the true synth rock efforts. On the other hand, PIPER features more straightforward pop tunes, whose psychedelic nature comes from Syd Barrett's bizarre lyrics which find delight in housecats ("Lucifer Sam"), gnomes, and bicycles. This mix of awe of the infinite and a childlike naivete will be familiar to anyone with completely spaced out acquaintances.
Although he made one last "cameo" appearance with the Floyd on their second album, "A Saucerful Of Secrets" with that album's closing number, "Jugband Blues," the lion's share of Syd Barrett's legacy with the band is all contained right here on "Piper," barring a few early singles. Writing all but one song, and, with a charismatic singing voice and incredible guitar-playing skills, Barrett was truly a musical genius, and his equally-talented bandmates match him song for song.
Every track on the album is a highlight in it's own right, but certainly worth mentioning are such tracks as the opening space rock of "Astronomy Domine," the before-there-was-alternative alternative rock of "Lucifer Sam," the far-out instrumentals "Pow R Toc H" and "Interstellar Overdrive," the frenetic rock of "Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk" (written & sung by Waters, in his debut composition for the band), the charming tale of "The Gnome," and the classic, half children's song/half freak-out finale, "Bike," which starts out cheerily enough before giving way to some deliciously wacko noises and sound effects.Sadly, and tragically, shortly after the release of "Piper," Syd Barrett's experimentations with psychedelic drugs ultimately destroyed him, and he was finally ousted from the band.
Roger Waters more-or-less took over as the group's leader, and Barrett's vacated slot was filled by guitarist David Gilmour. Barrett, despite his drug-addicted state, would record a pair of solo albums before dropping out of the music business altogether. Not well enough to look after himself, he quietly lived in the care of family members until his death in 2006. Pink Floyd, meanwhile, would go on to major superstardom and sell millions of albums, with such classics as "Dark Side Of The Moon," "Wish You Were Here," "Animals" and "The Wall." But "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" was the band's very first chapter, and one that would not have been possible without the great Syd Barrett. "Piper" is outstanding psychedelic rock, and a Pink Floyd classic. And thank you, Syd, wherever you are.
Astonomy Domine - N.A.S.A. type radio chatter and effects at the start. Arty lyrics and very English singing. Crisp sound quality, e.g. drums. Unlike Beatles stuff I've heard (pre remasters), there really isn't a issue with the 'faux' stereo...the stereo quality is good to my ears.
Lucifer Sam - bassy, moody organ. Bit menacing. About Syd's cat, presumably. Sort of jaunty track with catty noises on the guitar.
Matilda Mother - features the organ and I don't mind its melody and that of the vocals. Arty/fantasy lyrics...bit obscure. Has some harmonies and some silly sounding high notes one time, but generally the song is pleasant in general at times. At the end, the vocals are percussive.
Pow R. Toc H. - has some experimental percussive vocal noises....kind of like scat. You hear a scream on this song which sounds similar to what Pink Floyd would do later on their classic album "The wall". This is the track which has the faulty mono sounding passage featuring the piano. A misjudgment, in my view. Anyway, the piano sounds jazzy. Features the organ. I don't mind the guitar notes. Has some unintentional distortion...don't think you hear it on the mono version of the album.
Take up thy Stethoscope and Walk - tinny drums open up the track. A jammy type track...listening to the mono version of this song, the jam seemed quite Doorsy...but maybe that should be vice versa. Bassy, with American sounding vocals, perhaps.
Interstellar Overdrive - a 9:40 minute long instrumental. Starts off with a conventional rock sound by the album's standards, then goes jammy...you could view that part as being self-indulgent. At times you hear annoying 'chicken' noises being played on the guitar for a while. Might be glitchy for a bit, a bit before three minutes in, perhaps. Psychedelia. There are some annoying 'widgy widgy' sounds near the end of the track (I mean the sound bouncing from one speaker to the next...trying to sound 'cool' or something). You don't get that schtick on the mono version of the album though.
The Gnome - childish lyrics, whimsical and absurd. Nice strumming and later you hear a xylophone type instrument, I think. Comes across as the kind of song Ringo Starr would have sung with The Beatles.
Chapter 24 - slower track, obscure lyrics. Pretty keyboard playing...bag-pipey at times? There's a little distortion on the left hand side of the speakers.
The Scarecrow - interesting drumming on this track...starts off as a percussive piece with keyboard. The keyboard style reminds me of MGMT's debut album...similarly simple keyboard melodies. More childish type lyrics (you can view these lyrics as being of the sort an adult would read to a very young child). Outro has some symphonic instruments...viola or cello perhaps.
Bike - carnivalesque music with childish lyrics. Pipe-organ features, perhaps. Harpsichord type instrument too. Piano. The chorus seems unrelated to the verses as the verses seem unrelated to each other. As a result, the chorus stands out more. Whereas "Interstellar overdrive" had chicken noises, this song has geese-like noises. The outro is a soundscape.