Review Summary: Pink Floyd make their mark on the music scene with a decent enough debut that is more a piece of history than an album
Pink Floyd have became one of the most influential and acclaimed bands of all time through the release of their highly successful albums "The Wall", "Dark Side Of The Moon", "Animals" and "Wish You Were Here". They are a band that has developed their sound steadily since their humble roots on "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" but none of their other albums can really hold a candle to their glory years. For those that have never heard a Pink Floyd release before however it is advised to start at the beginning and work your way through and hear the progression the band made.
The debut album from Pink Floyd was more of a psychedelic rock outing than their progressive material they would move on to create later. It was released in 1967 and is forty two minutes long. The US and UK track listings are both considerably different; the UK one taking the crown as the better of the two versions. At this point the band was primarily one man named Syd Barrett who wrote and composed the majority of the songs on here with Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Rick Wright essentially performing the roles of session musicians and vocalists.
The vocals are mainly done by Barrett but Wright sings on one song and waters sings on his one main contribution to the album ("Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk"). The vocals are loaded with emotion and power and perfectly compliment the odd collection of sounds that make up this release. "Astronomy Domine" opens the release up nicely with some really eerie sounding instrumental work that could almost double as the sound track to an adventure film in the vein of Jurassic Park. The singing just past the three minute mark is a good example of how the vocals serve to add to the dense atmosphere that is present.
This is also an album where there is consistently a lot happening and it is often hard to keep track of what instrument is serving what purpose. It primarily moves along at a brisk pace but not particularly speedy as the introduction to "Lucifer Sam" shows off. There are also subtle hints as to the direction the band would take on later albums such as "The Wall". Moments of "Astronomy Domine" and "Pow R. Toc H" sound almost reminiscent of some of the tracks off of that particular release. The former in particular has that same creepy and overly emotional feel that "Comfortably Numb" took in its stride.
"The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" mainly suffers due to the fact that it feels a little dated and is hard to get into now. The band went on to accomplish much greater feats on releases like "Dark Side Of The Moon" and so this really just feels like a piece of history more than a stand-alone album. It serves as an interesting look at where the band started out but really is not all that interesting. The instrumental performance is fun enough with the bass guitar in particular standing out as always being present and correct courtesy of Roger Waters. The organs compliment the overall sound very well and create a nice back bone for the album to fall back on but aside from this the album really strives to go nowhere special.
This is a nice debut from Floyd that has a couple of songs that hint at the direction the band would take but overall is nothing particularly great. "Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk" is the most accomplished track on here and would not feel out of place on the average The Beatles record but aside from that the band did not have big enough aspirations on their debut to succeed. Sadly they would not improve nor topple this release until The Meddle.