The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn is the debut album by English rock band Pink Floyd, the only album made under founding member Syd Barrett's leadership. It was released on 5 August 1967 by EMI Columbia. The studio album borrows its name from the title of chapter seven of Kenneth Grahame's 1908 novel The Wind in the Willows, which refers to the nature god Pan, who plays his pan pipes at dawn. The album was recorded at EMI Studios in London's Abbey Road from February to May 1967. The band consisted of Barrett (lead vocals, lead guitar), Nick Mason (drums), Roger Waters (bass, vocals), and Richard Wright (keyboards, vocals). Barrett was the band's primary songwriter, though two tracks on the album are credited to the band collectively and one track was written by Waters. The album was produced by Norman Smith, who would go on to produce two more albums for Pink Floyd.
|The Piper at the Gates of Dawn|
|Studio album by|
|Released||5 August 1967|
|Recorded||21 February – 21 May 1967|
|Pink Floyd chronology|
|Singles from The Piper at the Gates of Dawn|
In the United States, the album was released as Pink Floyd in October on Tower Records, with an altered track listing that omitted three songs and included the UK non-album single "See Emily Play". In the UK, no singles were released from the album, but in the US, "Flaming" was offered as a single. Two of its songs, "Astronomy Dominé" and "Interstellar Overdrive", became long-term mainstays of the band's live setlist, while other songs were performed live only a handful of times. The album has been hailed as a pivotal psychedelic rock album.
In 1973, the album was packaged with the band's second album A Saucerful of Secrets (1968) and released as A Nice Pair, to introduce the band's early work to new fans gained with the success of The Dark Side of the Moon (1973). Special limited editions of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn were issued to mark its thirtieth, fortieth, and fiftieth anniversaries, with the former two releases containing bonus tracks. In 2012, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was placed at number 347 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time", and number 253 in the 2020 edition.
Architecture students Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Richard Wright and art student Syd Barrett had performed under various group names since 1962, and began touring as "The Pink Floyd Sound" in 1965. They turned professional on 1 February 1967 when they signed with EMI, with an advance fee of £5,000. Their first single, a song about a kleptomaniac transvestite titled "Arnold Layne", was released on 11 March to mild controversy, as Radio London refused to air it.
About three weeks later, the band were introduced to the mainstream media.[nb 1] EMI's press release claimed that the band were "musical spokesmen for a new movement which involves experimentation in all the arts", but EMI attempted to put some distance between them and the underground scene from which the band originated by stating that "the Pink Floyd does not know what people mean by psychedelic pop and are not trying to create hallucinatory effects on their audiences." The band returned to Sound Techniques studio to record their next single, "See Emily Play", on 18 May. The single was released almost a month later, on 16 June, and reached number six in the charts.
Pink Floyd picked up a tabloid reputation for making music for LSD users. The popular broadsheet News of the World printed a story nine days before the album's recording sessions began, saying that "The Pink Floyd group specialise in 'psychedelic music', which is designed to illustrate LSD experiences." Contrary to this image, only Barrett was known to be taking LSD; authors Ray B. Browne and Pat Browne contend that he was the "only real drug user in the band".
The band's record deal was relatively poor for the time: a £5,000 advance over five years, low royalties and no free studio time. However, it did include album development, and EMI, unsure of exactly what kind of band they had signed, gave them free rein to record whatever they wanted.
They were obliged to record their first album at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London, overseen by producer Norman Smith, a central figure in Pink Floyd's negotiations with EMI. Balance engineer Pete Bown, who had mentored Smith, helped ensure that the album had a unique sound, through his experimentation with equipment and recording techniques. Bown, assisted by studio manager David Harris, set up microphones an hour before the sessions began. Bown's microphone choices were mostly different from those used by Smith to record the Beatles' EMI sessions. Because of the quietness of Barrett's singing, he was placed in a vocal isolation booth to sing his parts. Automatic double tracking (ADT) was used to add layers of echo to the vocals and to some instruments. The album features an unusually heavy use of echo and reverb to create a unique sound. Much of the reverb came from a set of Elektro-Mess-Technik plate reverberators – customised EMT 140s containing thin metal plates under tension – and the studio's tiled echo chamber built in 1931.
The album is made up of two different classes of songs: lengthy improvisations from the band's live performances and shorter songs that Barrett had written. Barrett's LSD intake escalated part-way through the album's recording sessions. Although in his 2005 autobiography Mason recalled the sessions as relatively trouble-free, Smith disagreed and claimed that Barrett was unresponsive to his suggestions and constructive criticism. In an attempt to build a relationship with the band, Smith played jazz on the piano while the band joined in. These jam sessions worked well with Waters, who was apparently helpful, and Wright, who was "laid-back". Smith's attempts to connect with Barrett were less productive: "With Syd, I eventually realised I was wasting my time." Smith later admitted that his traditional ideas of music were somewhat at odds with the psychedelic background from which Pink Floyd had come. Nevertheless, he managed to "discourage the live ramble", as band manager Peter Jenner called it, guiding the band toward producing songs with a more manageable length.
Barrett would end up writing eight of the album's songs and contributing to two instrumentals credited to the whole band, with Waters creating the sole remaining composition "Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk". Mason recalled how the album "was recorded in what one might call the old-fashioned way: rather quickly. As time went by we started spending longer and longer."
I opened the door and nearly shit myself ... by Christ it was loud. I had certainly never heard anything quite like it before.
Abbey Road engineer Pete Bown describing his introduction to "Interstellar Overdrive"
Recording started on 21 February with six takes of "Matilda Mother", then called "Matilda's Mother". The following week, on the 27th, the band recorded five takes of "Interstellar Overdrive",[nb 2][nb 3] and "Chapter 24". On 16 March, the band had another go at recording "Interstellar Overdrive", in an attempt to create a shorter version, and "Flaming" (originally titled "Snowing"), which was recorded in a single take with one vocal overdub. On 19 March, six takes of "The Gnome" were recorded. The following day, the band recorded Waters' "Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk". On 21 March, the band were invited to watch the Beatles record "Lovely Rita". The following day, they recorded "The Scarecrow" in one take. The next three tracks – "Astronomy Dominé",[nb 4] "Interstellar Overdrive" and "Pow R. Toc H." – were worked on extensively between 21 March and 12 April, having originally been lengthy instrumentals. Between 12 and 18 April, the band recorded "Percy the Rat Catcher"[nb 5] and a currently unreleased track called "She Was a Millionaire".
"Percy the Rat Catcher" received overdubs across five studio sessions and then was mixed in late June, eventually being given the name "Lucifer Sam". Songwriting for the majority of the album is credited solely to Barrett, with tracks such as "Bike" having been written in late 1966 before the album was started. "Bike" was recorded on 21 May 1967 and originally entitled "The Bike Song". By June, Barrett's increasing LSD use during the recording project left him looking visibly debilitated.
In June 1967 before the album was released, the single "See Emily Play" was sold as a 7-inch 45 rpm record, with "The Scarecrow" on the B-side, listed as "Scarecrow". The full album was released on 5 August 1967, including "The Scarecrow".
Pink Floyd continued to perform at the UFO Club, drawing huge crowds, but Barrett's deterioration caused them serious concern. The band initially hoped that his erratic behavior was a phase that would pass, but others, including manager Peter Jenner and his secretary June Child,[nb 6] were more realistic:
... I found him in the dressing room and he was so ... gone. Roger Waters and I got him on his feet, we got him out to the stage ... and of course the audience went spare because they loved him. The band started to play and Syd just stood there. He had his guitar around his neck and his arms just hanging down.
To the band's consternation, they were forced to cancel their appearance at the prestigious National Jazz and Blues Festival, informing the music press that Barrett was suffering from nervous exhaustion. Jenner and Waters arranged for Barrett to see a psychiatrist – a meeting he did not attend. He was sent to relax in the sun on the Spanish island of Formentera with Waters and Sam Hutt (a doctor well-established in the underground music scene), but this led to no visible improvement.
The original UK LP was released on 5 August 1967 in both monaural and stereophonic mixes. It reached number six on the UK charts. The Canadian LP had the same title and track listing as the UK version. The original US album appeared on the Tower division of Capitol on 21 October 1967. This version was officially titled simply Pink Floyd, though the original album title did appear on the back cover as on the UK issue, and Dick Clark referred to the record by its original title when the group appeared on his American Bandstand television program on 18 November 1967. The US album featured an abbreviated track listing, and reached number 131 on the Billboard charts. The UK single, "See Emily Play", was substituted for "Astronomy Dominé", "Flaming" and "Bike". Released in time for the band's US tour, "Flaming" was released as a single, backed with "The Gnome". The Tower issue of the album also faded out "Interstellar Overdrive" and broke up the segue into "The Gnome" to fit the re-sequencing of the songs. Later US issues on compact disc had the same title and track list as the UK version. The album was certified Gold in the US as a part of A Nice Pair with A Saucerful of Secrets on 11 March 1994.
About being handled on Tower Records, Jenner commented that: "In terms of the U.K. and Europe it was always fine. America was always difficult. Capitol couldn't see it. You know, 'What is this latest bit of rubbish from England? Oh Christ, it'll give us more grief, so we'll put it out on Tower Records', which was a subsidiary of Capitol Records [...] It was a very cheapskate operation and it was the beginning of endless problems The Floyd had with Capitol. It started off bad and went on being bad."
It was unusual and different, and they were delighted with it, and Syd did his own little drawing on the back cover.
Up-and-coming society photographer Vic Singh was hired to photograph the band for the album cover. Singh shared a studio with photographer David Bailey, and he was friends with Beatles guitarist George Harrison. Singh asked Jenner and King to dress the band in the brightest clothes they could find. Vic Singh then shot them with a prism lens that Harrison had given him. The cover was meant to resemble an LSD trip, a style that was favoured at the time. In 2017, the lens was displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum, as part of the Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains exhibition.
Barrett came up with the album title The Piper at the Gates of Dawn; the album was originally titled Projection up to as late as July 1967. The title was taken from that of chapter seven of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows which contains a visionary encounter with the god Pan, who plays his pan pipe at dawn. It was one of Barrett's favourite books, and he often gave friends the impression that he was the embodiment of Pan.[nb 7] The moniker was later used in the song "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", in which Barrett is called "you Piper". The cover for the album was one of several Pink Floyd album covers used on a series of Royal Mail stamps issued in May 2016 to commemorate 50 years of Pink Floyd.
In 2018, the album was reissued in its mono mix. With this version came with a new packaging box with the original record cover inside. This new design was done by Hipgnosis' Aubrey Powell and Peter Curzon and includes a gold-embossed version of the graphic by Syd Barrett which features on the back cover of the original LP.
|The Daily Telegraph|||
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
At the time of release, both Record Mirror and NME gave the album four stars out of five. Record Mirror commented that "[t]he psychedelic image of the group really comes to life, record wise, on this LP which is a fine showcase for both their talent and the recording technique. Plenty of mind blowing sound, both blatant and subtle here, and the whole thing is extremely well performed." Cash Box called it "a particularly striking collection of driving, up-to-date rock ventures". Paul McCartney and Pink Floyd's previous producer Joe Boyd both rated the album highly. Some voiced the opinion of the underground fans, by suggesting that the album did not reflect the band's live performances.
In recent years, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn has gained even more recognition. The album is hailed not only as a psychedelic masterpiece but LSD is named as a direct influence. In 1999, Rolling Stone magazine gave the album 4.5 stars out of 5, calling it "the golden achievement of Syd Barrett". Q magazine described the album as "indispensable" and included it in their list of the best psychedelic albums ever. It was also ranked 40th in Mojo magazine's "The 50 Most Out There Albums of All Time" list. In 2000, Q magazine placed The Piper at the Gates of Dawn at number 55 in its list of the 100 greatest British albums ever. In 2003, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was ranked number 347 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time", maintaining that rank in the 2012 update and climbing to number 253 in the 2020 reboot of the list.
James E. Perone says that Piper became known as a concept album in later years, because listeners wanted to play it all the way through rather than pick out a favourite song. While Beatles biographer Philip Norman agrees that Piper is a concept album, other authors contend that Pink Floyd did not start making concept albums until 1973's The Dark Side of the Moon. Author George Reisch called Pink Floyd the "undisputed" kings of the concept album, but only starting from Dark Side. In July 2006, Billboard described The Piper at the Gates of Dawn as "one of the best psychedelic rock albums ever, driven by Barrett's oddball narratives and the band's skill with both long jams and perfect pop nuggets".
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was reissued in the UK in 1979 as a stereo vinyl album,[nb 8] and on CD in the UK and US in 1985.[nb 9] A digitally remastered stereo CD, with new artwork, was released in the US in 1994,[nb 10] and in 1997 limited edition 30th anniversary mono editions were released in the UK, on CD and vinyl.[nb 11] These limited editions were in a hefty digipak with 3-D box art for continental Europe and the world outside the United States. This mono CD included a slightly edited version of "Flaming". A six-track bonus CD, 1967: The First Three Singles, was given away alongside the 1997 30th-anniversary edition of the album.
In 1973, the album, along with A Saucerful of Secrets, was released as a two-disc set on Capitol/EMI's Harvest Records label, titled A Nice Pair to introduce fans to the band's early work after the success of The Dark Side of the Moon. (On the American version of that compilation, the original four-minute studio version of "Astronomy Dominé" was replaced with the eight-minute live version found on Ummagumma.) The American edition of A Nice Pair also failed to properly restore the segue between "Interstellar Overdrive" and "The Gnome".
For the 40th anniversary, a two-disc edition was released on 4 September 2007, and a three-disc set was released on 11 September 2007. The packaging – designed by Storm Thorgerson – resembles a cloth-covered book, along with a twelve-page reproduction of a Syd Barrett notebook. Discs one and two contain the full album in its original mono mix (disc one), as well as the alternative stereo version (disc two). Both have been newly remastered by James Guthrie. The third disc includes several Piper-era outtakes from the Abbey Road vaults, along with the band's first three mono singles. Unreleased material includes an alternative, shorter take of "Interstellar Overdrive" that was previously thought lost, the pre-overdubbed abridged mix of "Interstellar Overdrive" previously only available on an EP in France, an alternative mix of "Matilda Mother" as it appeared early in the sessions and also the 1967 stereo mix of "Apples and Oranges", which features extra untrimmed material at the beginning and end.
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was remastered and re-released on 26 September 2011 as part of the Why Pink Floyd...? reissue campaign. It is available in this format as either a stand-alone album, or as part of the Why Pink Floyd ... ? Discovery box set, along with the 13 other studio albums and a new colour booklet. Then the album was re-released on the band's own Pink Floyd Records label on 3 June 2016 for the world outside Europe.
Although there was never an official tour of the album, the band gigged in the UK to promote the album. They played dates in Ireland and Scandinavia, and in late October the band was to embark on their first tour of the United States. It was unsuccessful, mainly because of the mental breakdown of Barrett. In his capacity as tour manager, Andrew King travelled to New York to begin preparations, but he ran into serious problems. Visas had not arrived, prompting the cancellation of the first six dates. The band finally flew across the Atlantic on 1 November, but work permits were not yet obtained, so they settled into a hotel in Sausalito, California, just north of San Francisco. After a number of cancellations, the first US performance was given 4 November at Winterland Ballroom, following Janis Joplin fronting Big Brother and the Holding Company.
For the American tour, many numbers such as "Flaming" and "The Gnome" were dropped, while others such as "Astronomy Dominé" and "Interstellar Overdrive" remained, and were central to the band's set list during this period, often performed as encores until around 1971. "Astronomy Dominé" was later included on the live disc of Ummagumma, and adopted by the post-Waters Pink Floyd during the 1994 Division Bell tour, with a version included on the 1995 live album Pulse. David Gilmour, though not a member of Pink Floyd at the time the song was originally recorded, resurrected "Astronomy Dominé" for his On an Island and Rattle That Lock tours.
Communication between record company and band was almost non-existent, and Pink Floyd's relationship with Tower and Capitol was therefore poor. Barrett's mental condition mirrored the problems that King encountered; when the band performed at Winterland, he detuned his guitar during "Interstellar Overdrive" until the strings fell off. His odd behaviour grew worse in subsequent performances, and during a television recording for The Pat Boone Show he confounded the director by lip-syncing "Apples and Oranges" perfectly during the rehearsal, and then standing motionless during the take. King quickly curtailed the band's US visit, sending them home on the next flight.
Shortly after their return from the US, beginning 14 November, the band supported Jimi Hendrix on a tour of England, but on one occasion Barrett failed to turn up and they were forced to replace him with singer/guitarist David O'List borrowed from the opening band the Nice. Barrett's depression worsened the longer the tour continued. Longtime Pink Floyd psychedelic lighting designer Peter Wynne-Willson left at the end of the Hendrix tour, though he sympathized with Barrett, whose position as frontman was increasingly insecure. Wynne-Willson, who had worked for a percentage, was replaced by his assistant John Marsh, who collected a lesser wage. Pink Floyd released "Apples and Oranges" (recorded prior to the US tour on 26 and 27 October) but, for the rest of the band, Barrett's condition had reached a crisis point, and they responded by adding David Gilmour to their line-up, initially to cover for Syd's lapses during live performances.
Tracks 8–11 on the UK album edition were played the least during live performances. The success of "See Emily Play" and "Arnold Layne" meant that the band was forced to perform some of their singles for a limited period in 1967, but they were eventually dropped after Barrett left the band. "Flaming" and "Pow R. Toc H." were also played regularly by the post-Barrett Pink Floyd in 1968, even though these songs were in complete contrast to the band's other works at this time. Some of the songs from Piper would be reworked and rearranged for The Man and The Journey live show in 1969 ("The Pink Jungle" was taken from "Pow R. Toc H.", and part of "Interstellar Overdrive" was used for "The Labyrinths of Auximines").
Beginning in September 1967, the band played several new compositions. These included "One in a Million", "Scream Thy Last Scream", "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" and "Reaction in G", the last of which was a song created by the band in response to crowds asking for their hit singles "See Emily Play" and "Arnold Layne".
All tracks are written by Syd Barrett unless otherwise noted.
|1.||"Astronomy Dominé"||Barrett and Richard Wright||4:12|
|3.||"Matilda Mother"||Wright and Barrett||3:08|
|5.||"Pow R. Toc H."||instrumental, wordless vocals by Barrett, Waters and Wright||4:26|
|6.||"Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk"||Waters||Waters||3:05|
UK 8-track releaseEdit
|1.||"Astronomy Dominé"||Barrett and Wright|
|3.||"Matilda Mother"||Wright and Barrett|
|2.||"Pow R. Toc H."||instrumental, wordless vocals by Barrett, Waters and Wright|
|1.||"Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk"||Waters||Waters|
|4.||"Interstellar Overdrive—Part 1"||instrumental|
|1.||"See Emily Play"||Barrett||2:53|
|2.||"Pow R. Toc H."||instrumental||4:26|
|3.||"Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk"||Waters||Waters||3:05|
|5.||"Matilda Mother"||Barrett and Wright||3:08|
40th anniversary editionEdit
Released in 2007, some releases have 2 CDs (first CD in mono and second CD with same tracks in stereo) and some releases include the third CD.
|1.||"Astronomy Dominé"||Barrett, Wright||4:17|
|3.||"Matilda Mother"||Wright, Barrett||3:05|
|5.||"Pow R. Toc H." (Barrett, Roger Waters, Wright, Nick Mason)||Instrumental, wordless vocals by Barrett, Waters||4:24|
|6.||"Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk" (Waters)||Waters||3:07|
|7.||"Interstellar Overdrive" (Barrett, Waters, Wright, Mason)||Instrumental||9:41|
|1.||"Astronomy Dominé"||Barrett, Wright||4:14|
|3.||"Matilda Mother"||Wright, Barrett||3:08|
|5.||"Pow R. Toc H." (Barrett, Roger Waters, Wright, Nick Mason)||Instrumental, wordless vocals by Barrett, Waters||4:26|
|6.||"Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk" (Waters)||Waters||3:06|
|7.||"Interstellar Overdrive" (Barrett, Waters, Wright, Mason)||Instrumental||9:40|
|2.||"Candy and a Currant Bun"||Barrett||2:45|
|3.||"See Emily Play"||Barrett||2:54|
|4.||"Apples and Oranges"||Barrett||3:05|
|6.||"Interstellar Overdrive (Take 2) (French Edit)"||Instrumental||5:15|
|7.||"Apples and Oranges (Stereo Version)"||Barrett||3:11|
|8.||"Matilda Mother (Alternative Version)"||Barrett||3:09|
|9.||"Interstellar Overdrive (Take 6)"||Instrumental||5:03|
Numbers noted in parenthesis below are based on original UK album tracklist and CD track numbering.
- Syd Barrett – electric guitar (1–7, 9–11), acoustic guitar (4, 5, 8, 10), percussion (4), vocals
- Roger Waters – bass guitar (all tracks); slide whistle (4), percussion (4), gong (9) (uncredited), vocals
- Richard Wright – Farfisa Combo Compact organ (1–7, 9–10), piano (2, 5, 11), tack piano (4, 11), Hammond organ (3, 4), harmonium (9, 11), celesta (8, 11), cello (9, 10), Lowrey organ (4), vibraphone (8), Hohner Pianet (9), violin (11), percussion (4) (uncredited), vocals
- Nick Mason – drums (1–7, 11), percussion (2, 4, 5, 8–11)
- Syd Barrett – rear cover design
- Peter Bown – engineering
- Peter Jenner – intro vocalisations on "Astronomy Dominé" (uncredited)
- Vic Singh – front cover photography
- Norman Smith – production, vocal and instrumental arrangements, drum roll on "Interstellar Overdrive"
- Doug Sax, James Guthrie – 1994 remastering at The Mastering Lab
- James Guthrie, Joel Plante – 40th Anniversary Edition and 2011 remastering at das boot recording
Charts and certificationsEdit
- They were already well known in the underground scene.
- This was not the first time the band had recorded the song as it had been recorded earlier in the year at Sound Techniques Studios in London, between 11 and 12 January, for producer Peter Whitehead's documentary Tonite Lets All Make Love in London.
- An early, unoverdubbed, shortened mix of the album's "Interstellar Overdrive" was used for a French EP release that July.
- 14 takes of "Astronomy Dominé" were recorded, over a seven-hour session.
- "Percy the Rat Catcher"."
- Child was employed by Peter Jenner as a secretary and general production assistant.
- Barrett believed he had a dream-like experience meeting Pan, with characters from the book. Andrew King said Barrett thought Pan had given him understanding of how nature works.
- UK EMI Fame FA 3065
- UK EMI CDP 7463842, US Capitol CDP 7463842
- US Capitol CDP 7463844
- UK EMI LP EMP 1110, EMI CD EMP 1110
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