Monday, March 27, 2017

Pink Floyd: The Piper at The Gates of Dawn (1967)

     Pink Floyd are a notable band for having evolved its style in very dramatic ways throughout its history, going from psychedelic rock to improvised sound collages to highly structured progressive rock compositions.  The members of The Pink Floyd included:
  • Syd Barrett – electric guitars, acoustic guitars, slide guitar, lead vocals
  • Richard Wright – Organs (Farfisa/Hammond/Lowry), piano/tack piano, electric harpsichord, electric piano, backing vocals
  • Roger Waters – bass guitar, slide whistle, vocals
  • Nick Mason – drums
     The band's early years were dominated by the wry and "arty" stylings of guitarist/vocalist Syd Barrett.  The first two singles (March and June, 1967) under the band name "The Pink Floyd" are clearly psychedelic rock, but with some outstanding instrumental solos using exotic scales and unconventional "noise" techniques.

Arnold Layne 2:56 Vocals: Syd/Rick
0:00: Pulsing twang guitar-driven psychedelic groove and harmony vocals.
1:30: Organ solo.
1:45: Pulsing groove resumes with verse.
Candy and a Currant Bun 2:46 Vocals: Syd/Rick
0:00: Groove based on rhythmic, accented chords, spoken-sung chorus.
1:08: Echoey feedback guitar and organ solo over looser uptempo groove.
1:48: Rhythmic chords resume, ends with echoey loops.

See Emily Play 2:55 Vocals: Syd/Rick/Roger
0:00: Exotic organ lead over mid-tempo groove joined by verse, various piano/synth/harpsichord interludes and ornaments, slide guitar glisses.
1:29: Organ solo over feedback guitar groove texture.
1:57: Verse groove resumes.

     Pink Floyd's first full-length LP, "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn", further developed their psychedelic style and began to incorporate even more improvisatory jams and abstract sound textures.  Nonetheless, they still managed to retained a sharp sense of humor, and their vocal performances present some very interesting sides to their (or Syd's) personalities.

The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Aug. 1967
1 Astronomy Domine 4:11 Vocals: Syd/Rick
0:00: "Control room" sounds, staccato guitar pulse dominates with harmony vocals, chromatic guitar/synth descending harmonies.
1:35: Textural interlude with multiple guitar leads, interspersed with "Control room" dialogue.
3:10: Verse resumes, ending with held chant and organ ornaments.
2 Lucifer Sam 3:07 Vocals: Syd
0:00: Based on a "spy-theme" riff, uptempo chorus.
1:30: Tremolo bass solo, verse, chorus.
2:18: Guitar and organ ornaments, final chorus.
3 Matilda Mother 3:08 Vocals: Syd/Rick
0:00: Slow falling harmonies, somewhat staid, then wry chorus.
1:23: Syncopated bass riff/vocal sounds under organ solo, verse returns.
2:30: Coda based on held vocalise and bass solo.
4 Flaming 2:46 Vocals: Syd
0:00: Dissonant organ/textures.
0:15: Playful verse with some exotic ornaments, becoming strummy/psychedelic.
1:35: Organ/drums solo, harpsichord/guitar solo.
2:16: Verse.
5 Pow R.
Toc H.
4:26 Vocals: Syd/Roger
0:00: Textural and exotic vocal noises in mid-tempo rhythm.
0:17: Bluesy piano over drums/bass vamp.
1:44: Subtle guitar-driven rave-up joined by organ, joined by vocal shouting.
3:05: Relaxing into organ-based harmony joined by vocal noises, climax into coda.
6 Take Up Thy Stetho-
scope and Walk
3:06 Vocals: Roger
0:00: Drum intro into playful chant with psychedelic lead guitar, wild guitar solo joined by competing organ/bass.
1:30: Insistent bass groove, panning effects.
2:39: Rising chromatic vocal chant back into playful chorus.
7 Interstellar Overdrive 9:41 Instrumental
0:00: Loose, chromatic heavy metal riffing with psychedelic guitar ornaments, high bass pulses, stabbing organ leads to free-form groove.
2:17: Textural interlude with dense organ chords and skittish guitar, guitar starts loose rhythm, picked up by drums/bass but still fairly free-form, low riffs joined by echoey guitars.
6:12: Pulsating organ harmonies (panning) with reverb-ey guitar noises, layers of falling organ lines duel with guitar.
8:40: Guitar starts rhythm leading back to opening riff but with wild panning, free-form coda winds down to hand drums.
8 The Gnome 2:14 Vocals: Syd
0:00: Brief rhythmic pulse leads to playful, strummy verse with light percussion.
0:57: Organ/celeste joins 2nd verse with vocal layers (whispered).
9 Chapter 24 3:42 Vocals: Syd
0:00: Exotic synth and textural cymbals with lullaby verse joined by piano figures/bass ornaments.
1:48: Brief synth solo rejoined by verse.
2:49: Layered harmony vocals in coda .
10 The Scarecrow 2:11 Vocals: Syd
0:00: Hand percussion rhythm joined by synth line.
0:27: Playful verse/guitar chord harmony.
1:32: synth solo over acoustic guitar/bowed bass/hand perc.
11 Bike 3:22 Vocals: Syd
0:00: Playful/wry chromatic vocal with odd psychedelic effects and guitar chord accents.
0:47: Harpsichord, piano enters verses.
1:28: Tempo slows to a march.
1:51: Abstract percussive textures/noises/chimes becoming subtly rhythmic and joined by cymbals, weird stuttering vocal sample.

     Pink Floyd's final single for 1967 (November) was "Apples and Oranges".

Apples and Oranges 3:04 Vocals: Syd/Rick/Roger
0:00: Hendrix-ey fuzz guitar verse into harmony chorus with piano/vibe ornaments.
1:15: Bridge with held harmonies, vibraphone-led interlude with distant high choir and cymbals.
2:20: Guitar groove resumes, ending in scat and feedback.
Paint Box 3:48 Vocals: Rick/Syd/Roger
0:00: Exclamatory acoustic guitar accents into psychedelic crooning grooves, chromatic falling harmony leads to saloon piano ornaments with harmony vocals.
 2:52: Piano-driven guitar vamp with chorus moving away.

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