Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn - Pink Floyd

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was Pink Floyds first album, and the only one with Syd Barrett as leader of the band. Roger Waters is coauthor in only two songs. The eternal and futile question asked by members of the band is how the band would have been different had Barrett remained in it.

The first albums of Pink Floyd are very different from their most famous works. From a purely musical perspective, The Piper of the Gates of Dawn has nothing to do with albums like The Wall, or The Dark Side of the Moon other than the spirit of innovation that can be heard in every song. This is not a good introductory album to the Floyd, but it is definitely a great album.

I have argued before that the way technology is shaping the way of producing and understanding music would have limited bands like Pink Floyd, which understood their albums as a whole rather than as a collection of singles. While this is evident for productions like The Dark SideThe Wall, or even Wish You Were Here, this also applies to The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. With songs 10 minutes long and lyrics that really don't make too much sense,  The Piper at the Gates of Dawn is the testimony of an age more than anything else. I don't say this to demerit the album. Quite the contrary. For instance, in "Pow R. Toc H." you can appreciate how rock is a byproduct of jazz. "Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk" is also another example of how bands in the sixties discovered the possibilities offered by electrical instruments.

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