Pink Floyd released their debut album The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn in August 1967 via Capitol / EMI. It was another major signing by the label that actually deserves respect for its investment in experimental music. It certainly paid off for them in the long run.
The album was really the only one that would be steered by Syd Barrett and could almost be seen as a different band to the progressive monsters the group would become. The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn peaked at Number 6 in the U.K. album charts back in 1967. I’m sure subsequently it has sold well as the band became one of the biggest global bands of the 70’s and arguably 80’s and early 90’s.
The band’s debut single Arnold Lane and the frankly brilliant See Emily Play are omitted from the debut album. I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing.
Astronomy Domine (Barrett) kicks off the album with beeps and a removed sound of straight up psychedelia. The songs build like a mantra. It pulses and although it veers a lot is actually a very well structured piece of music.
Lucifer Sam (Barrett) would fit a Nuggets album. Sounding a fair bit like Arnold Lane the song is more structured than the album opener and the word that spring to mind is groovy. Catchy yet edgy it may have fitted the 60’s Batman television show oddly well had they been bold enough to use it.
Matilda Mother (Barrett) although not as strong as the two album openers fits very well. Dreamy childlike imagery lyrically and fitting organ leads.
Flaming (Barrett) was released as a single and probably was so as it has an almost novelty charm.
Pow R. Toc H. (Barrett / Waters / Wright / Mason) and the art / experimentation comes to the fore. Loose structure allow for more effects and samples to take Pink Floyd to a deeper place. It will never be a mainstream song but is an excellent piece nonetheless.
Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk (Waters) abstract biblical references lyrically and although this is the first credited song to Roger Waters works in a similar way to the preceding tracks. If anything, it is better – I really didn’t think I’d be typing that.
Interstellar Overdrive (Barrett / Waters / Wright / Mason) and the four musicians writing (probably jamming) together take the magic to a weirder and definitely more wonderful place aurally. Crazed cuckoos, instruments sounding like frantic chickens – the track veers all over the place before whooping into the intro riff at its very death in a stereoscopic way that will pull most open minded listeners in very deep. It is a very satisfying song and really summarises the whole whole album in one near 10 minute swoop. It’s pretty magical.
The Gnome (Barrett) is the sound of the late 60’s. A fable about Grimble Gromble it is near Beatles nursery rhyme like yet is soaked in a more pure psychedelia sound. Simple yet influential. Listen to this and try not to think of late 80’s era Blur.
Chapter 24 (Barrett) is again very simple. The song is purely organic and although not a stand-out piece is still endearing.
The Scarecrow (Barrett) shows that simple can be beautiful. More lyrical poetry, the song widens slightly from a clipity-clop sound as it finishes.
Bike (Barrett) is a favourite for many due the the sheer genial lyric. Listen to it and try not to smile…