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The Piper at the Gates of Dawn 2016 Version
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Pink Floyd - The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (2016 Version). Side One1. "See Emily Play" 2:53 2. "Pow R. Toc H." Instrumental 4:26 3. "Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk" 3:05 4. "Lucifer Sam" 3:07 5. "Matilda Mother" 3:08 Side Two 1. "The Scarecrow" 2:11 2. "The Gnome" 2:13 3. "Chapter 24" 3:42 4. "Interstellar Overdrive" Instrumental 9:41
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The packing is a Digipak, a format I'm usually not keen on but here has been done so well that I find myself actually leaning toward it over trad CD bundling. The booklet is a very nice affair, printed on high-gloss heavyweight paper that does not seem to take damage from fingerprints like some other booklets I have in my extensive collection. Lyrics and artwork. Great stuff.
As for the material, you'll either love it or hate it. It was the sixties and some of what came out of that can be cringingly bad when compared to more serious, grounded material from only a couple of years later. I'm rather fond of "Lucifer Sam", and "Flaming", though to a casual listener they could be seen to be nursery rhyme stuff.
The remastering seems very clean, but I ended up with some drop-out artifacts on my digitized iTunes rip that spoil Interstellar Overdrive quite badly. I'll have to see if I can jigger with the settings and resample it.
Barret's singing voice was a fine instrument at the time this was recorded, and you hear him at his best. It is pointless to enter into "Great Loss/Good Riddance" type discussions. The man was there, then he wasn't. He was missed at some times, not at others. It was an undisputed tragedy that his mind failed in the way it did, just as it is for those not blessed with talent and a whiff of fame before they fade.
Personally I'm glad this Pink Floyd made way for the one that recorded Meddle and Dark Side, but I'm also glad they had this episode. My life would have been much emptier without the crazy cacophony of "Bike" in it at just the right time (I eventually bought a duck whistle so I could join in the ending), and late nights spent flat on my back in a darkened room listening to Interstellar Overdrive were a formative part of my growing up (though for me the end always begs for the opening bars of See Emily Play since I first encountered the track on Relics in 1970mumble).
If "The Wall" is your Pink Floyd acme, I'd advise you strongly not to bother. Hell, even if you count "A Saucerful of Secrets" as your Floyd best of breed I'd advise you to think twice. Some of the stuff on this album will cause you regret of the most virulent stripe. I'd advise those people to download only the tracks they know they want and be done.
But in my opinion the few real clunkers are more than made up for by the rest of the album. Hey, given enough beer even the clunkers can be greeted with a cheer by all around the table.
The Record: sounds amazing. One of the cleaner vinyls I own. Amazing sonic clarity, low noise
I should mention that this version is based off the original UK release, most US versions prior to this have a different track listing.
The record is dated, yes, when listening, you don't hear state-of-the-art, but you do hear what sold people on them in the first place. Barrett's songs straddle a fence, they are either charming, childlike poems set to music, nice little "songs," or deep, intense experiments in sound and word pictures. Even though "Interstellar Overdrive" is a group composition, this is a good example of this point, it's an extended jam, two uninterrupted performances played entirely independent from each other, with the beginning and ending cut out of one, and the remaining segment overdubbed onto the the other complete performance. So you hear the band playing coherently, then it becomes all disjointed, goes all over the place, and comes back to the opening theme, with that crash landing of an ending, which segues into Barrett's funny little song, "The Gnome." Two completely different sides of what the band was about, but played with equal conviction.
Roger Waters Was credited with co-writing two compositions, along with one of his own, and in an interview Nick Mason gave a TV journalist (This interview is included on the VHS tape "The Dark Side"), they all concede that it isn't a great song, but he of course went on to become a terrific songwriter. "Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk" is fast and choppy, naive lyrics, somewhat off-key singing, and very ameteurish. But does have a high degree of energy, and it fits the premise of the Floyd's debut.
From the first stirrings of "Astronomy Domine" to the last jumble of sounds on "Bike," it is good, entertaining music; just remember, it's very old music, but a good document to its time.