The Piper at the Gates of Dawn - EMI 1967
The album itself has long ago earned its place as a classic of pcychedelia and early progressive British rock. Not least due to the highly original songwriting of guitarist Syd Barrett - sadly poor health/drug abuse only allowed him to contribute to the band’s first two albums and 3 singles. On their second album “A saucerful of Secrets” his contributions were scarce and his place as lead guitarist had been overtaken by Dave Gilmour.
Experimenting tracks like “Interstellar Overdrive” and “Pow R. Toc H.” obviously show a band exploring new grounds and sounds, but for me it’s the great melodic songs that make the album timeless. “Matilda Mother” with its fairy-tale lyrics and great melody is a favourite. “The Gnome”, “Flaming” and “The Scarecrow” are songs in the same vein, and almost as strong.
The spacey “Astronomy Domine” is the perfect opener of the album, and it is followed by “Lucifer Sam”, which probably would have been a better choice for the band’s third single, instead the unconventional but highly uncommercial “Apples and Oranges”. “Chapter 24” has both atmosphere and weird lyrics - and of course a nice melody. The charming closing track “Bike” shows the bands at their most free and easy mood.
The bonus tracks are obviously great too; not least the two classic hit-singles “Arnold Layne” and “See Emily Play”. The B-side “Candy and the Currant Bun”, would have fitted nicely onto the album, and a typical Barrett songs. “Paintbox” is a quiet half-acoustic song written by Richard Wright.The alternate versions of “Instellar Overdrive” are not very different from the album version, apart from being considerably shorter, which is okay for me - The take 6 version includes more guitar parts than the album version.
The highlight among the rarities is the alternate version of “Matilda Mother” - a completely different recording with different lyrics - but as good as the album version.
Some background information about the band and the creation is sadly missing, but the music itself as it is great at any rate.