Pink Floyd
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn


4.5
superb

Review

by danielsfrebirth USER (27 Reviews)
November 16th, 2014 | 15 replies


Release Date: 1967 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This, my friends, is psychedelia at its absolute gnarliest.

A lot of folks take psychedelics to reclaim their youth, but Syd Barrett one-upped them all. On "Matilda Mother," the third song on Pink Floyd's miraculous debut The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, he spins a ridiculous story about a king--then pulls away the curtain to reveal it as a tale spun by a mother to her child. Once it hits you Barrett is singing from the perspective of a ***ing baby, the ecstatic, piercing voices come in: "WAAIII-TIIIIIIIIING!" This, my friends, is psychedelia at its absolute gnarliest.

The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn never transcends psychedelia, but instead laps delightedly at the genre's confines. This album could have been made in no time but the late 1960s, and yes, it's preposterously dated. In anyone else's hands, it could have been dreadful. But the sheer creativity of the band, as well as Barrett's undeniable pop chops and the sinister vocal duo of Barrett and keyboardist Richard Wright, makes this music immensely listenable.

That Barrett never relies on cliches is key to this. He sits on unicorns, follows gnomes, recites Chinese text with a straight face, travels through space, and pens a slightly annoyed, mundane ballad about his cat that's also the album's best pop song. The album's titular reference to The Wind In The Willows and the I Ching recital (on "Chapter 24") suggests an inspiration in contemporary media, or at least what he was into at the time. It's pure, wide-eyed fandom, similar to what Black Sabbath did with monster movies or Zeppelin with Tolkien.

It's easy to give Barrett credit for all of this, especially given that Pink Floyd is universally better-known for its sans-Barrett '70s work. But this is as true a Floyd as any. Richard Wright's presence is as vital to the record as Barrett's. Wright exerts himself on his organ with total confidence and utter commitment, never sounding out of step with the music and imbuing it with physicality and emotion.

Wright's also important as a contributor of backing vocals. Piper relies more on simple, shoe-leather techniques like impressionistic vocals and weird instrument sounds than the capricious studio tomfoolery characteristic of the Beach Boys and Beatles (and later Floyd, incidentally). The "whoosh" of the backing vocals as Barrett sings of screaming through the starlit skies on "Flaming" is bizarre and frightening, far more so than if they inserted a generic sound effect.

Piper's psychedelia is often daft, but it's hard to pinpoint any moments on it where the music is actually bad. My least favorite songs on here are "Chapter 24" (I don't feel it really works as a pop song) and "Interstellar Overdrive" (I'd say it goes on a bit too long). But those tunes are as interesting and memorable as anything else here. Any of these songs could be anyone's favorite, and it's every bit as consistent as Dark Side and Meddle. This is an essential album, and is as deserving of the Floyd name as any of their more ubiquitous work.



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user ratings (2836)
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
trackbytrackreviews
November 16th 2014


3469 Comments


Nice

mandan
November 16th 2014


13646 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Pos.

Tunaboy45
November 16th 2014


18385 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Enjoyed this, pos.

danielcardoso
November 16th 2014


11770 Comments


Love that you rec'd Os Mutantes, great band. Also, pos'd.

ksoflas
November 16th 2014


1418 Comments


Cool review, pos'd.
I prefer post Syd era of the band but I must admit that Syd was a pure genious.

BMDrummer
November 16th 2014


15085 Comments


The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn never transcends psychedelia
idk about that

Ryus
November 16th 2014


36090 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

interstellar overdrive is the best song on here and one of the best pink floyd songs

zakalwe
November 16th 2014


38516 Comments


Daft psychedelia.
Is there any other kind?
Cool review man.

facupm
November 16th 2014


11827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great review and album

Froot
November 16th 2014


1910 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

gnarliest


pos

jtswope
November 17th 2014


5788 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Agree with the rating hard.

AstrialExpedition
November 17th 2014


59 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

pository

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2014


47485 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

"Once it hits you Barrett is singing from the perspective of a ***ing baby, the ecstatic, piercing voices come in: "WAAIII-TIIIIIIIIING!""

fucking amazing review

MotokoKusanagi
November 17th 2014


4290 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

best floyd besides wywh

guitarded_chuck
November 17th 2014


18070 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"interstellar overdrive is the best song on here and one of the best pink floyd songs"



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