The Pink Floyd – The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (1967):Review


Produced by Norman Smith
Label – EMI

As a reflection of the glorious “summer of love ’67”, Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd were at the forefront of the heavily publicized counter culture psychedelic scene. Residents of the infamous UFO club, where the only admit fee was a liberal influence of psychotropic substances, the band built a strong following based on music and visuals that attempted an outer planetary joyride to further enhance the participant’s chemical experience. Championed by Joe Boyd, the band produced the wildly bewildering single “Arnold Layne” which fully emphasized Barrett’s ability to write and perform charmingly odd pop and in hindsight, set the bar high for the subsequent debut long player. The band hurriedly convened to Abbey Road studios, coincidentally at exactly the same time The Beatles were recording “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, and recorded “The Piper…” between February and July. The primary visionary and architect for the majority of the songs was Barrett, who at this stage still held a tentative grip with reality. His subject matter reflected his state of mind; a mixture of childlike whimsy, mysterious and ambiguous visions that reflected a mental process that was obviously clouded by drug induced excess.


Few criticize the merits of “The Piper…” for its influence to psychedelic and indeed progressive rock. There are genuine moments of extravagant invention within the collection, but often the relentless experimentation leads to flaws that sadly prevent the recording from being the outstanding classic many commentators will tell you it is. Barrett’s lyrics can be insufferably twee on throwaway songs such as “The Gnome” and “Bike”. It’s the kind of simple schoolyard nostalgia that will appeal to those who enjoyed David Bowie’s “The Laughing Gnome”, Keith West’s “Excerpt From A Teenage Opera”, or The Beatles “Yellow Submarine”. The sole Roger Waters composition, “Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk”, was by his own admission, one of the poorest songs he’d ever written, and the improvisational instrumental “Pow R Toc H”, is a sprawling mess that fails to sustain one’s interest beyond the first few seconds. And yet for all the misfires there are some dazzling performances that remain some of the greatest distillations of the so called “space rock ” genre. “Astronomy Domine” and “Interstellar Overdrive” are powerful, visionary sweeps of surreal extravagance that sound way beyond their years of inception.

“The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn” is biting in its originality, disappointing in its inconsistencies.


Track Rating
1 – Astronomy Domine (9)
2 – Lucifer Sam (9)
3 – Matilda Mother (8)
4 – Flaming (7)
5 – Pow R Toc H (5)
6 – Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk (5)
7 – Interstellar Overdrive (9)
8 – The Gnome (6)
9 – Chapter 24 (6)
10 – Scarecrow (6)
11 – Bike (6)

4 responses to “The Pink Floyd – The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (1967):Review

    • lol thanks JP, “Bike’s” not my favourite but I agree with you on the super inconsistency.

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