This month’s Throwback Thursday is based on the 1960’s – The decade that changed everything.
This week we look at the band that were destined for drug fuelled stardom instantly.
This week, we will be looking at Pink Floyd’s debut album, ‘The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn’, which was the album that started everything for Floyd, and nobody could have imagined what was to come in the next few years. The album was released under Columbia Records, and peaked at 6th in the UK, and a disappointing 131st in the US. This album was released with the original Floyd lineup, Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, Nick Mason, and Richard Wright, as it wasn’t until December 1967 that David Gilmour joined, and then 1968 when Barrett was kicked out of the band for his eccentricities.
This album came out in August 1967, after they had been signed by EMI in February, and released their first single ‘Arnold Layne’ in March, which Radio London refused to play, due to it being about a kleptomaniac transvestite. Floyd had signed quite a cheap deal with EMI, as they got very low royalties, no free studio time, and had a £5,000 advance over 5 years. However, they were given free reign to record what they wanted, as EMI were unsure as to what Pink Floyd were all about.
The album featured 11 songs, all of which were wrote/co-wrote by Barrett, as he had the help of other band members for two songs, ‘Pow R. Toc H’ and ‘Interstellar Overdrive’. The full track listing for the album is as follows:
- Astronomy Domine
- Lucifer Sam
- Matilda Mother
- Flaming (Single)
- Pow R. Toc H
- Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk
- Interstellar Overdrive
- The Gnome (Single)
- Chapter 24
- The Scarecrow (B-side to ‘See Emily Play’, released as a 45rpm before the album)
Although it was early days for the band, it was the late 60’s, and the band had already began to experiment with LSd and other drugs, which resulted in the the artwork for the band being quite trippy, as the photographer used a prism lens, given to him by George Harrison, to take the pictures of the band in bright coloured clothing.
These pictures then made it on to the album cover, and the unused pictures were later released online. Something else that contributed toward the psychedelic feel of the album was the heavy use of reverb and echo, and right from the opening track ‘Astronomy Domine’, you know that this album came from the height of LSD use in the music industry, because it just has bits everywhere, but they all work beautifully together, and the effects and all the extra bits that were put in during the mixing really contribute to the whole hallucinogenic atmosphere the album creates.
This album wasn’t as straight forward to record as other albums had been at the time, as some of the songs were improvisations that the band wanted to add lyrics too, some were already songs, and some were just lengthy improvisations, but this resulted in one of the many masterpieces that came from Abbey Road, and also one of the many masterpieces that came out of Pink Floyd. From double tracked vocals and instruments, to the excessive use of echo on just about everything that is on the album, this album is a confusing and mind blowing experience, and really shows how successful Floyd would be, even though it was their first album.