Those who receive power are always corrupted by it. In a sense, the members of Pink Floyd know that. Perhaps Syd Barrett’s untimely succumbing to schizophrenia was inevitable. It’s ironic to see such a songwriter as Barrett, whose music was filled with intrigue and whimsy, like that of a child, possess a disease where he believes he is one. Before Floyd was ever some dramatic prog band in arenas with smoke systems and light effects, playing twenty minute epic suites, they were a much more pure, light-hearted psychedelic band. If you thought that the band experimented with lots of drugs in the Gilmour era, than you’d think they ARE drugs in the Barrett days. This was their debut album, which is somewhat touching for me to see one of my favorite bands that currently possess a good chunk of limelight, be in their earliest days, not a care in the world, about stardom. Maybe that’s why this album is so good.
Needless to say, the music would probably be your best friend, if you were doing drugs. A good percentage of the music is derived from very cool psychedelic noises, and slow, winding guitar melodies. Songs like ‘Astronomy Domine’ which contains the greatest opening lyric ever, “Lime N Limpid Green", and a huge psychedelic breakdown with strange voices, and ‘Take Up thy Stethoscope and Walk’ where a badgering voice makes noises behind Syd, and an exaggerated jam section, are examples of how trippy the music can get. Meanwhile, the true psychedelia lies in one suite- ‘Interstellar Overdrive’. Towering at nine minutes, forty-one seconds, this massive instrumental may seem disproportionate at first, but it’s awesomeness is sure to grow on you. Syd’s guitar work actually shows through on the album, and the riffing is refined, in a stoned out way. Roger’s bassline really carries the song, as Syd merely provides aggravating ambient sounds. Sections are split up by instrumentation, with each member carrying one section, but towards the end, some very irritating channeling effects switch the drum tracking and the main riff from ear to ear, nearly every quarter second. Yikes.
While a good portion of the album is derived from a psychedelic theme, the band employs a lot of influence from many other genres. ‘Lucifer Sam’ is an Alice-in-Wonderland parody, but sounds more like a California surf-pop song than anything else. ‘Bike’ and ‘The Gnome’ take the cake of being tied for weirdest song on here, as well as the most satirical. The earlier mention, ‘Bike’, is a tale about desperation, but in the most childish way possible. I’ve never heard lyrics quite as odd as ‘I know a mouse and he hasn’t got a house. I don’t know why I call him Gerald.’ And the latter, ‘The Gnome’ stays true to the acoustic folk, but with a peculiar story about a fantasy world. ‘The Scarecrow’ was the most celtic- souning folky tune on the album, with acoustic strumming, cool basslines, and a weird percussive sound. The band’s British Invasion sound is reminisced through ‘Flaming’ and ‘Chapter 24’. The first sounds much like the Small Faces, and is probably one of the best songs on the album. Meanwhile, ‘24’ features quietly rolling cymbals and subtle guitar picking, but Roger’s sweeping bassline is beautiful. ‘Matilda Mother’ is the earliest proof of Floyd turning into a psychedelic prog band. It’s easy to see where Gregg Lake, of Emerson Lake and Palmer, and formerly King Crimson, found his early inspiration. Between Syd’s very cool movements through the song, ranging from catchy pop melodies, to bombastic Arabian interludes, ‘Matilda Mother’ takes the cake for being the best song on the album. ‘Pow R. Toc. H’ is almost entirely a voice made intro, with Syd overdubbing his vocal drum beat beneath his weird sounds, up until Wright nails away on his piano. The boogie is really cool, and this is easily the most ‘dramatic’ song on the album, combining ambient themes with vocals that would annoy even the most restless toddler.
If you can handle annoyance briefly, than you won’t be too harmed by this album, but if you scream after losing an online match of Halo 2, you better stay clear from this album. Filled with psychedelic jams, and vocals that reminisce of the early British Invasion days, the roots of Pink Floyd were buried when Syd outdid himself with drugs. Warning- This doesn’t sound how you’d expect Pink Floyd to sound. But even if mentality malfunction did out with Syd Barrett, his music will always be the original sound - The Pink Floyd sound.
Yeah, good review. I used to love this album, but I've gone off it a bit, to be honest. Bits of it seem pretty forced to me whenever I listen to it at the moment, really. Still, a really interesting album...it would have been very interesting had Syd stayed in the band to see where they might have gone.
Ent is one of the best here. And there's a lot of others who really have a flare for this stuff. It's good to see a lot of people going against the stereotype of America and form 4 or 5 good paragraphs about the thing they love most. Good review.This Message Edited On 11.17.05