on 6 September 2007
This 3-CD release makes all those grumblers about 'another fan rip-off' look a bit daft. Sure - I've owned this album on vinyl, cassette, CD (twice) and STILL wanted this the day it came out. What sold it to me? The great price, the nice packaging . . . but most of all, another excuse to reappraise the music.
The mono version (designated Disc 1) is the definitive disc for me. It just rings out with greater clarity, clearly emphasising each band member, and has better internal balance. The stereo version is fine too of course - especially for that 'demented duck' noise at the end of 'Bike' (though perhaps the swinging from left to right channels at the end of 'Interstellar Overdrive' has always been a bit corny, if fun).
The singles disc is just over half an hour long, so with two copies of the same album (at 42 mins each), you really have bought the value of a double CD. The alternate versions are fascinating, with the always slightly dense 'Apples and Oranges' benefitting from being opened up by stereo.
The packaging is very generous - I see no 'fan rip-off'! It resembles a well-bound book, and has a decent booklet attached, containing lots of interesting band pics and lyrics. There's no essay (just as well, they are usually badly-written and full of errors!!), and sadly no reference to recording dates. But let's face it - the number of books and websites out there make up for it, and it's the music that counts. Slipped in is a Syd Barrett collage booklet, which does add to the 'confectionary' atmosphere. I'm glad to have this on the shelf next to the treasured Japanese-issue mini-sleeve CDs, and hope that EMI consider using the same format for other Pink Floyd albums. I'd love an enhanced 'Saucerful of Secrets' done exactly the same way, which would wrap up the Barrett legacy properly.
(Actually, an enhanced 'Saucerful' would surely have to include the legendary unreleased songs 'Scream thy last scream' and 'Vegetable man' . . . not only replacing the easily-found poor quality bootlegs every hardcore fan has, but making lots and lots of money. An artistic and financial coup. Come on, EMI, you know it makes sense!)
on 4 September 2007
When I heard that The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was being re-released to commemorate its 40th anniversary, I was really pleased because this is an album that has stood the test of time for four decades, and in this day and age, that is something of an achievement. The reason why it is so beloved is because of the wealth of classic material on the album from epic tracks Astronimy Domine and Intersteller Overdrive to quirky little numbers such as The Gnome and Bike. This album really shows off the genius of lead vocalist and writer Syd Barrett, who unfortunately did not remain with Pink Floyd beyond their second studio album (A Saucerful Of Secrets).
This new version of the album comes in very attractive packaging - it resembles a red cloth book with a photo on the front of the classic 1967 album cover. The new version contains three discs. The first is the original mono recording, the second is the enhanced stereo version and the third contains Pink Floyd's early singles including the classics Arnold Layne, See Emily Play and Apples and Oranges as well as alternative versions of Matilda Mother and Intersteller Overdrive.
This truly is a great release and is a must for any true Pink Floyd fan.
on 10 August 2007
Another anniversary of another classic album and once again, a record company decides that it is yet another opportunity to fleece the public. Before I go any further, I should say that this is a great album and an excellent introduction to British psychedelic music. It is also one of the jewels in the crown in the Floyd back catalogue and the only one to feature original guitar player Syd Barrett (who would be ousted from the band he had helped to create due to his ever increasingly unreliable behaviour). It is most probably the only album to feature songs about Gnomes, cats, bikes, outer space or scarecrows. The majority of the songs were credited to Barrett alone and all of these are highlights. It is on the songs which Barret co-writes or had nothing to do with where the album falls down. The two psychedelic instrumental jams (which made up quite a large portion of the Floyd's live set at this time) have not stood the test of time that well and the one credited to Roger Waters is terrible.
As this released is no doubt aimed at the serious record buyer (who more than likely owns this album in at least incarnation already), my earlier comment about fleecing the public should be explained. To be a fully representative special edition of this album and to give the fans what they have been after for many years would be to include songs that have never been commercially available, but have been the preserve of bootlegs. There was so much scope for so many of the songs that Barrett recorded with the band to be have been included but for one reason or another, are not. These include Scream thy Last Scream, Vegetable Man, In the Beachwoods, She was a Millionaire, Lucy Leave, I'm a King Bee (made when the Floyd was a five piece band), the original lyric version of Candy and a Current Bun (which was entitled Let's Roll Another One) as well as the BBC recordings the band made. The only rarities that have been included are a version of Interstellar Overdrive that was previously only available on an EP in France, and the true stereo version of their third single Apples And Oranges.
The other incentives of buying this collection are it will include all the singles from 1967 as well as their B-sides, as well as presenting the album in both its Mono and Stereo mixes. With the Mono mix, we can only hope that the record company don't make the mistakes they made at the 30th Anniversary. They didn't release same mix as the original album, but included a slightly edited version of Flaming (which was actually the A-Side of a US only single) rather than the full length LP mix. All of the 1967 singles have been made available on CD before as well.
It is a shame when the record buyer is pursuaded to buy items for the inclusion of one or two hard to find or previosuly unreleased songs. The album deserves its four stars (well, it really should be four and a half) but we all pray for the day when major artists such as Pink Floyd give the fans what they want instead of money making exercisies such as this.
Whilst today stereo is the norm, in 1967 it was a small minority market and much more time was lavished on the monaural version than on the stereo mix, which would be done in a day or two, after the mono master had been completed, and was often not released until after the standard mono version. Consequently, there were often significant differences between the two. I can remember spending far too many teenage hours comparing mono and stereo versions of albums by the Beatles, the Pink Floyd and others on headphones using a customized mono record player with a stereo cartridge wired to a second amplifier. To me, a psychedelic record such as Piper cried out for stereo effects, and thanks to the crisp production of the late Norman Smith and the sound engineering of Peter Bown at Abbey Road, I was not disappointed.
It was an exciting time at Abbey Road, too, as the Beatles were ensconced at the same time in another studio working on Sergeant Pepper, and met the Floyd while they were working on Pow R Toc H. The Pretty Things also started work on SF Sorrow there, again with Norman Smith (who also engineered Sergeant Pepper), before the Floyd's sessions were complete.
Piper was the only album that Syd Barrett made in full with the Floyd. He wrote eight of the nine songs and contributed his unique space guitar flourishes to Interstellar Overdrive and the noodly Pow R Toc H. Piper At The Gates Of Dawn is really a benchmark album of the genre now known as psyche. Roger Waters may now dismiss it as juvenilia, but I still listen to it more often than is probably healthy.
The stereo version has been newly remastered for this edition, and sounds superb. A mono version of the album has been out before, but this is apparently the first time the authentic mono mix as on the original vinyl album has been remastered, and it clocks in some seventeen seconds longer than the new stereo re-master. In particular it seems an edit of Flaming (used as an American single which had The Gnome on the flipside) was used in error on some mono editions, though at 2.43 now it is barely a second longer than the 1997 mono CD version that I already had, but though I wonder now in what way the 1997 edition did differ from the original album and why, I certainly have no complaints with the 2007 re-mastering.
The bonus disc is probably the strongest bait to attract the Pink Floyd enthusiast. It is logical that it should contain the five tracks released on singles that year (the sixth, Scarecrow, was taken from the album), and it is good to have them in catalogue again, but many collectors will already have these on the 6-track mini-LP released in 1997 or from the Shine On 1992 box set. They collect in one place all the released material that feature Syd Barrett, apart from the three tracks on A Saucerful Of Secrets.
The real treats here are the final four tracks. The French Edit of Interstellar Overdrive is a substantially re-mixed mono version of Take Two (the one used on the album) of Interstellar Overdrive, unheard since it first turned up on the French EP of Arnold Layne in 1967, and the CD also includes Take Six, a previously unreleased take recorded three weeks later, which shows the extent of variation between performances of this largely improvised piece, and is great to have. There's a rare stereo mix of the extraordinary Apples And Oranges single, too, which is said to be previously unissued but might be the same as the one on the French vinyl LP The Best Of The Pink Floyd; and finally an unreleased early version of Matilda Mother, recorded at their first Abbey Road session. The song was inspired by Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales and this version has lyrics that were changed on the released version, possibly to avoid copyright problems. Obviously missing are the unreleased gems Vegetable Man and Scream Thy Last Scream, although as these were recorded for a potential single for release in 1968, long after Piper had been released, they could just as justifiably be included on an edition of A Saucerful Of Secrets.
The packaging is nice and glossy and has a facsimile of a booklet of Syd's art collage notebook as well as photos and album lyrics. Given that the primary market for a package such as this must be the avid collector, the booklet surprisingly lacks any technical details at all about the mixes, recording dates, sources and so forth.
This clearly is the definitive ultimate edition of Pink Floyd's debut album, until the next re-issue of it, and corrects the shortcomings of previous releases that most of us hadn't been aware of. Cynicism aside, this is an important sixties album for a number of reasons and deserves to be heard in both mono and stereo mixes, and the bonus disc and lavish packaging make it a considerable treat, especially for collectors.
Iconic, groundbreaking and damn it - cool. Pink Floyd's debut album "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" is all of those things - but it has been plagued with half-assed CD reissues for years now. At last - this 2007 '40th Anniversary' 3CD celebration does that aural brute some justice. And that's before we even talk about the astonishing MONO mix. Here are the many-faced Astronomical and Interstellar details...
UK released September 2007 –"The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" by PINK FLOYD is a '40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition' 3CD Book Set on EMI 50999-503919-2-9 (Barcode is the same) and plays out as follows:
Disc 1 – MONO MIX – 42:15 minutes:
1. Astronomy Domine
2. Lucifer Sam
3. Matilda Mother
5. Pow R. Toc H.
6. Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk
7. Interstellar Overdrive
8. The Gnome
9. Chapter 24
10. The Scarecrow
Tracks 1 to 11 are the MONO MIX of their debut album "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" – released August 1967 in the UK on Columbia SC 6157 and October 1967 in the USA on Tower T 5093. The US album had 9 tracks instead of 11 and featured the UK non-album single "See Emily Play" as its opening track. Using Disc 3 in this compilation and Disc 1 above – the US Mono LP can be sequenced as follows:
Side 1: 3 (from Disc 3), 5, 6, 2, 3 and Side 2: 10, 8, 9 and 7
Disc 2 – STEREO MIX – 41:58 minutes:
As per tracks 1 to 11 on Disc 1 – Stereo LP catalogue numbers are Columbia SCX 6157 (UK) and Tower ST 5093 (USA)
Disc 3 – BONUS TRACKS – 32:06 minutes:
1. Arnold Layne – non-album track, the A-side of their debut UK Mono 7" single released 10 March 1967 on Columbia DB 8156
2. Candy And A Currant Bun – non-album track, the B-side of "Arnold Layne" in Mono
3. See Emily Play – non-album track on UK release, the A-side of their 2nd UK 7" Mono single released 17 June 1967 on Columbia DB 8214 (B-side was "Scarecrow" from the Mono LP)
4. Apples And Oranges - non-album track on UK release, the A-side of their 3rd UK Mono 7" single released 18 November 1967 on Columbia DB 8310
5. Paintbox - non-album track, the B-side of "Apples And Oranges" in Mono
6. Interstellar Overdrive (Take 2) (French Edit) - Mono
7. Apples And Oranges (Stereo Version) – PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
8. Matilda Mother (Alternative Version) – PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
9. Interstellar Overdrive (Take 6) – PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
The outer hessian-feel Book Pack has been designed by STORMSTUDIOS (Storm Thorgerson has long been associated with Pink Floyd LP artwork) while the reproduction of the Syd Barrett 'Fart Enjoy' booklet is courtesy of Andrew Rawlinson. The facsimile booklet (60% size of the original) amounts to little more than painted sketches and random typed words - and with the centre booklet providing only the lyrics (no appreciation nor history of the album) – it all feels 'pretty' but lacking somehow. Thankfully the real meat and potatoes comes in the sensational new Audio...
JAMES GUTHRIE and JOEL PLANTE at Das Boot Recording (the same team who did all the 'Discovery Edition' Pink Floyd CD Remasters) have handled the Audio Transfers and Remasters and a stunning result has been achieved – especially on the elusive MONO mix (an extraordinarily expensive vinyl item out of the reach of most collectors). As you can see from the playing times provided above – they mixes of the LP differ in that the Mono variant is slightly longer (Disc 3 is all Mono except where stated).
When you play lead-in voices and plucked guitars of "Astronomy Domine" for the first time (on the Mono version) – the Audio kick is quite amazing. There's the same punch applies to the almost 60ts TV Spy Series theme that is "Lucifer Sam" with those strange noises pushed further back as the guitar and bass take centre stage. But I'm properly amazed at the clarity on "Matilda Mother" – I played the Stereo version right after the Mono and I prefer the sound stage given to the vocals – but both are different beasts of the same colour. The voice-chants at the beginning of "Pow R. Toc H." are so clear in the Stereo version – but the Piano notes have more centre impact in the Mono mix actually.
The lyrics to the wicked "Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk" where Syd gives us "...Gold is lead...Jesus bled...Ghoul greasy spoon..." still sound so The Doors to me (I think I still prefer the Stereo mix where they flange that wild guitar across the speakers). Some people love the near 10-minutes of "Interstellar Overdrive" – I’ve always felt it was an instrumental indulgence taken too far and is massively overplayed – but there's no denying the Audio kick in the teeth the MONO mix gives the track – like I'm listening to something new. "Gnome" and "Chapter 24" are much improved compared to my battered copy of 1973's "A Nice Pair" – but if I was to nail down one track that shows up how good this remaster is – it would be the bare and percussive "The Scarecrow". It sounds unbelievably clean – those vocals and that thinny organ – and then as the guitars fade in towars the end – amazing.
Disc 3 makes a good bedfellow – it allows fans (using "The Scarecrow" from the Mono Mix) to sequence the A&B-sides of their first three UK 45s on Columbia – "Arnold Layne", "See Emily Play" and "Apples And Oranges". The French Edit of the Mono "Interstellar Overdrive" cuts the album take down from 9:40 minutes to 5:16 minutes but sounds to me like its been dubbed from a very used disc – audiowise its good but hardly great. Far better is the Previously Unreleased Take 6 of "Interstellar..." - again just over five minutes and also in Mono. It offers different guitar parts and is heavy on that distorted Bass (wild soloing towards the end passage where the organ floats back in). The Alternate Take of "Matilda Mother" is almost Pop for them and probably closest to the finished album mix. And how bizarre is it to hear "Apples And Oranges" in STEREO after all these years and with a small bit of studio chatter at the beginning – love it...
They would go on to bigger and better things with "Atom Heart Mother" (1970), "Meddle" (1971) and "Obscured By Clouds" (1972) – never mind "Dark Side Of The Moon" (1973) and "Wish You Were Here" (1975)...and beyond (I've reviewed most). Admittedly this over-the-top Sonic Psych barrage will not be everyone's cup of Typhoo in the 11's – but if you're a fan – the amazing Audio make it a must own...
on 6 August 2014
Very pleased with how this sounds. I imagine this is the next best thing, when it comes to listening to Piper At The Gates of Dawn. The mono mix CD showcases the album's sound in a way I had never heard before and, thusly, highlights details and strengths (and, to be fair, weaknesses as well) that would've escaped me otherwise. I haven't heard the 2011 remaster in detail yet, but so far I'm not sure how the sound can be improved on this album. Perhaps, cleaner and more defined, but there's something more authentic to the original sound that this version offers. There's also the stereo mix to get a different glimpse of things, although that one is frankly unnecessary and a topic of curiousity, when you've got the mono, in my opinion.
Naturally, I imagine those who'll be interested in buying this product will already be familliar with the album, at some length. Yet, for those just getting started with Pink Floyd's earlier works, know that this is a very rough product of what would come later, commercially. However, there's an immense well of raw creativity and experimental thoughts for the time, which create a tremendously original palette of sounds and arrangements, for what would better be known as Psychedelic Rock. The Piper At The Gates of Dawn also exhibits some of the band's cruder, but powerful displays of technique in each respective instrument. Namely, Mason's drumming comes to mind as bold and interesting, as opposed to his later renditions (say, in The Wall).
Recorded at Abbey Road studios at the same time as The Beatles were recording "Sergeant Pepper" , Piper At The Gates Of Dawn is actually the more ambitious and revolutionary work but that has been lost in the myth and hyperbole surrounding Sgt Pepper. The Beatles album undoubtedly tip toed the tightrope between the on rushing upheaval of the psychedelic era and conventional song writing better than Pink Floyds debut album which is why it sank into the public consciousness easier but Piper At The Gates Of Dawn goes rushing gleefully into that sunset of new possibilities leaving virtually everyone else sucking on the fumes from their last joss stick.
This re-issue is lavishly packaged with a cloth outer cover and a twelve page reproduction Syd Barrett notebook, a slightly superfluous item but real Syd-ophiles will love it. The album is presented re-mastered by James Guthrie in both stereo and mono versions while a third compiles bonus tracks : all the Pink Floyd singles from 1967, ("Arnold Layne", "See Emily Play", and Apples And oranges"), plus the B sides "Candy And A Currant Bun " and "Paint Box". Other tracks are a version of "Interstellar Overdrive" - Take 2 of the original recording sessions, previously only available on an EP in France - and the 1967 stereo version of "Apples and Oranges". Plus an alternate "Matilda Mother(at their first EMI session in February '67, Pink Floyd recorded a 4 minute version of Matilda that had vocals). Plus another alternate Interstellar Overdrive from a session in which they did six alternate version's.
The album is primarily the work of Syd Barrett , there is one Roger Waters song "Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk" which is pretty awful truth be told and some songs are co-credited ;"Interstellar Overdrive" ( the one track that comes close to approximating their live sound with its powerful "Space rock") and "Pow R Toc H" are all credited to the entire band. Rick Wright shares vocals on two tracks -"Astronomy Domain" and "Matilda Mother". Otherwise its Syd,s show , one of the reasons it's probably looked back on with such fondness. Syd left midway through the recording of their next album "A Saucerful Of Secrets" and passed into rock mythology .
Syd had an unequivocal English take on his subjects, an eccentric fascination with ephemera and everyday objects like bikes, gnomes and errr scarecrows where he evinced a sort of child like wonder at the everyday world around him . But songs like "Lucifer Sam" ,a song about a cat , also had a sense of foreboding and danger which prevents them from veering into sickly sweet concoctions or mere whimsy. The album is generally accepted as a psychedelic milestone and indeed it is. It's also a pretty good pop album at the same time -some of the time , showcasing that if Barrett hadn't succumbed to his mental demons he could have been a pop star , but then he would never have been willing to make the commercial sacrifices required for continued marketable success. He was also an innovative guitar player using esoteric sounds and textures and feedback something that really hit the zeitgeist in the 80, with bands like The Jesus And Mary Chain
Piper At The Gates of Dawn is a landmark album but it's hard to shake of the feeling that this latest re-issue , though marking the albums 40th anniversary ( it was actually released on August 5th 1967) is a bit of a cash-in. If it had compiled material till now , only available on bootlegs on a fourth disc then it would have been a truly worthy release. As it is only true Floyd completists or those investigating this album for the first time should be tempted to part with their money .
The first thing you notice about this deluxe fortieth-anniversary reissue of Pink Floyd's first album is the packaging. The hard-back cloth binding and gold lettering of the outer sleeve is intended to make it feel and look like a book. It's a shame that this promise isn't lived up to, however, as the handsomely produced booklet within actually contains very little information. Nevertheless, it looks great, with blobby, trippy artwork, full page colour pictures, and even an extra little booklet tucked in the back designed by Barrett himself. It's fun and quirky with some inspired artwork and Beat-like text. As for the music itself: the new digitally re-mastered version of the album is just as mind-blowingly crystal clear as you'd expect, cutting a sharp contrast with the rough-edged mono disc. The mono mixes of "Lucifer Sam", "Flaming" and "Pow R Toc H" are particularly ridden with tape noise, but over all the quality is okay with a slightly harder, more garage sound. There are many noticeable differences, with Syd's voice and guitar more prominent throughout and some extra little bits of spooky effects which, although most likely present on the stereo version, are lost in that more layered production. There's also quite a bit of studio chatter going on in the background. Once you've got over the disappointment of "Vegetable Man" and "Scream Thy Last Scream" not being included, the third disc makes an interesting listen. The early singles are all here, in never-heard-before super-dooper quality ("Paintbox" seems to have particularly befitted from the treatment) but the real treats are the two alternative "Interstellar Overdrives", the stereo mix of "Apples and Oranges" and the alternative version of "Matilda Mother." The last of these is very different from the album cut, with extra instrumentation and totally new lyrics on all verses. The stereo "Apples" has an unfinished feel to it, which is odd, because the production is extremely good. The French edit of "Overdrive" is shorter and with more emphasis on the keyboards, revealing melodic undercurrents totally eclipsed on the UK edit. And finally: the alternative version of "Overdrive is even more spaced out than the one we're used to and will I'm sure prove a huge success with Heads everywhere. All-in-all, this edition of the most widely respected psychedelic album not recorded by the Beatles is well worth purchasing, especially considering the very reasonable price.
on 16 August 2014
The definitive mono mix is absolutely astounding. If you can get this, the 30th Anniversary Mono edition, then you'll be more than happy. Don't be put off by the fact that a 40th Anniversary edition exists with both the mono and stereo mixes plus a third disc containing contemporary singles and alternate takes. The single disc 30th anniversary edition is beautifully packaged but most importantly the music sounds fantastic. You won't bother listening to the stereo mix except out of curiosity (I bought the 1994 remaster when it came out and l plan to keep it but will be listening to the recently acquired 30th anniversary edition from now on). Vibrant, full of body and sounding utterly dynamic, "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" remains one of the finest examples of English psychedelia. Light years ahead of all the Sgt Pepper-inspired imitations that followed in the wake of 1967's other well-known album, "Piper" is of its time but continues to reach across the decades and bring much pleasure and excitement. Significantly, it is dominated by Syd Barrett's songwriting and is another reason it retains much of its power and beauty.
on 19 May 2015
This has got to be the best "psychedelic" album of the sixties ! Written by a man ( Syd Barrett ) who at the time of recording this music, was, i believe a genius. Sadly within a few months due to excessive consumption of LSD, he was lost, and never capable of anything approaching this again. You could say that this was "The Pink Floyd" but afterwards, they were "just" The Floyd. Barrett left and so did the Pink element. All the songs are by Syd, except Take up thy stethoscope and walk, by Roger Waters, and a couple of band collaborations. An infectious collection of whimsy and nursery rhythms, backed by jazzy inventive sound. It sounds as good today as when released, in fact even better, on this re-mastered Cd. I have the original LP but this is clearer, better defined. Sadly his last gig was at the 'Ally Pally, where he was incapable of playing his guitar, but just listen to this Cd and be thankful that when he was in his prime, it has been preserved, for the rest of us to enjoy now and forever. R.I.P. Syd.