The Piper at the Gates of Dawn is the debut studio album by English rock band Pink Floyd, released 4 August 1967 by EMI Columbia. The only album made under founding member Syd Barrett’s leadership, it takes its title from chapter seven of Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 novel The Wind in the Willows, which refers to the nature God Pan, and was recorded at EMI Studios in London from February to May 1967 with producer Norman Smith. The band at the time consisted of Syd Barrett (lead vocals, lead guitar), Nick Mason (drums), Roger Waters (bass, vocals), and Richard Wright (keyboards, vocals). Barrett also served as the band’s primary songwriter, though two tracks on the album are credited to the band collectively and one track was written by Waters. The album was produced by Norman Smith, who would go on to produce two more albums for Pink Floyd.
In the United States, the album was released in October on Tower Records, with an altered track listing that omitted three songs and included the UK non-album single “See Emily Play”. In the UK, no singles were released from the album, but in the US, “Flaming” was offered as a single. Two of its songs, “Astronomy Domine” and “Interstellar Overdrive”, became long-term mainstays of the band’s live setlist, while other songs were performed live only a handful of times. Since its release, the album has been hailed as a pivotal psychedelic rock album.
In 1973, the album was packaged with the band’s second album A Saucerful of Secrets (1968) and released as A Nice Pair to introduce new fans to the band’s early work after the success of The Dark Side of the Moon (1973). Special limited editions of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn were issued to mark its thirtieth, fortieth, and fiftieth anniversaries, with the former two releases containing bonus tracks. In 2012
1. “Astronomy Domine”
2. “Lucifer Sam”
3. “Matilda Mother”
5. “Pow R. Toc H.”
6. “Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk”
Total length: 20:44
1. “Interstellar Overdrive”
2. “The Gnome”
3. “Chapter 24”
4. “The Scarecrow”
Total length: 21:08
AllMusic Review: The title of Pink Floyd’s debut album is taken from a chapter in Syd Barrett’s favorite children’s book, The Wind in the Willows, and the lyrical imagery of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn is indeed full of colorful, childlike, distinctly British whimsy, albeit filtered through the perceptive lens of LSD. Barrett’s catchy, melodic acid pop songs are balanced with longer, more experimental pieces showcasing the group’s instrumental freak-outs, often using themes of space travel as metaphors for hallucinogenic experiences — “Astronomy Domine” is a poppier number in this vein, but tracks like “Interstellar Overdrive” are some of the earliest forays into what has been tagged space rock. But even though Barrett’s lyrics and melodies are mostly playful and humorous, the band’s music doesn’t always bear out those sentiments — in addition to Rick Wright’s eerie organ work, dissonance, chromaticism, weird noises, and vocal sound effects are all employed at various instances, giving the impression of chaos and confusion lurking beneath the bright surface. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn successfully captures both sides of psychedelic experimentation — the pleasures of expanding one’s mind and perception, and an underlying threat of mental disorder and even lunacy; this duality makes Piper all the more compelling in light of Barrett’s subsequent breakdown, and ranks it as one of the best psychedelic albums of all time. — Steve Huey
Schill Score: 3/10
Schill Comment: It’s an interesting album with how experimental it was. However, it’s one of those things that might be fun when you listen to it the first time. But more than once a lot of the songs turn into ambient noodling noise.
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