England - Full Moon 134 - 08/28/07
Pink Floyd's Piper
Following up our retroscope series of last year - here's Speakers' corner! Luna Kafé's focused eye on great events, fantastic happenings, absolute milestones, or other curious incidents from the history of rock. This moonth we take a look 40 years
back in time: Pink and psychedelic August 1967.
The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
The debut album by the Syd Barrett's psychedelic Pink Floyd was released on August 5 1967. It's a classic, it's a gem! Still it's not very coherent with naïve childish fairy story songs on one hand ("Matilda Mother", "Lucifer Sam", "Flaming", "The Gnome", "Chapter 24", "Scarecrow", "Bike") and free form interstellar instrumental mayhem on the other ("Pow R. Toc H.", "Interstellar Overdrive") and only a couple of songs in between ("Astronomy Domine", "Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk"). Still, if I should recommend one album from the psychedelic 1960s era, being it British or American, I think Piper would be my first choice. It was - and still is - a one of a kind album, different from anything else of the era, though several tried the same childish and free-form approach with less honesty, credibility and success. Also the album is oceans away from anything the Floyd vessel offered later on as a super group of the 1970s and 80s. I guess the one of a kind status has to do with intuition. Syd wasn't a trained musician or songwriter. His guitar excursions were of the intuitive kind, and his songs were written with 'random presicion', as his friend, bandmate and greatest admirer Roger Waters later expressed.
The album will be released in a deluxe triple CD edition to commemorate the 40 years anniversary on this very day (of the full moon) in North America and on September 3 elsewhere. It includes both the stereo and mono mix, the latter allegedly mixed by Syd himself, and a bonus disc with the early Syd era Floyd singles and some alternative takes of songs and instrumentals from the album. It's flogging a dead horse for those of us who own several versions of the album already. The mono version and the singles were released on CD ten years ago, but have been deleted, probably to pave the way for the new deluxe edition. The new version would certainly have been more worth while if EMI finally had had the guts to include "Vegetable Man" and "Scream Thy Last Scream" on the bonus disc, recorded to be Floyd's fourth single, but never released. I guess we have to wait to the 50th anniversary version to see their official release, much to the bootleggers' delight.
Piper At The Gates Of Dawn was recorded at Abbey Road studios in April 1967 while Beatles finished the recordings of Sgt. Pepper next door. It's the testament of Syd Barrett at his creative peak. His unhealthy lifestyle made sure it went downhill soon afterwards as we have written about earlier. If you're interested in rock history, Piper... is mandatory. If you haven't got the album or the early Floyd singles already, the new editition gives you what you need and more. Otherwise an ordinary stereo version of the album will do fine.
Copyright © 2007 JP