Saturday, 9 August 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.49 "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" Pink Floyd (1967)

In the list, out of the list, back in and quite high, then still in but dropped a little. I struggled to come to terms with my love for Floyd's psychedelic debut album but in the end it had to make the list.

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was the only Pink Floyd made wholly under Syd Barrett's influence, who wrote or co-wrote all but one of the tracks, and stands apart a little from the rest of their catalogue. I got into Floyd in the late seventies around the same time that Punk was breaking big. Typical for me to be a little behind the curve, I remember seeing Floyd perform Another Brick In The Wall on Top Of The Pops and assuming they were Punk too. It took me a while to work my way back to Piper and though I liked it, I didn't truly appreciate it for quite a few years.

For me the highlights are the psychedelic space jams Astronomy Domine and Interstellar Overdrive which also formed a significant part of the early live show. Having got to know Astronomy Domine through the 8 minute live version that features on Ummagumma the 4 minute version on Piper always feels a little abbreviated to me but it's no less enjoyable. The instrumental Pow R. Toc. H and, Roger Waters written, Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk also hint at a more underground edge to the band.

Syd provided plenty of new perfectly formed psychedelic pop moments too. Lucifer Sam and Bike are my favourites though neither reach the magical heights of pre-album singles See Emily Play or Arnold Lane which were left off the album perhaps because the band were already a little fed up with having to play them live.

The video below of Floyd playing Astronomy Domine live in 1968 also features an amusing interview with Roger Waters and a journalist who is clearly not that impressed by the band at all.


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