Pink Floyd: Syd Barrett (vocals, guitar); Roger Waters (vocals, bass); Rick Wright (piano, organ); Nick Mason (drums).
Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London, England.
When the Beatles recorded SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND in 1967, they kicked a new band out of a neighboring studio to do some overdubs for "Lovely Rita." The band was Pink Floyd and, while the Beatles were polishing up what many consider to be the gold standard of British psychedelia, Syd Barrett and Co. were already upending the young genre with PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN. Produced by Norman Smith--the Beatles' chief engineer in the early '60s--PIPER catapulted the British Invasion into the cosmos. With an explosive spirit barely contained within pop's dictates, the tracklist has an array of classics. Roger Waters's sinister bass slinks beneath the aural lysergy of "Instellar Overdrive" and "Lucifer Sam," while Rick Wright's organ drones envelop harmonic whimsies like "Matilda Mother."
Ultimately, PIPER, the only Floyd record that seriously included him, belongs to Barrett. Using the electric guitar as a textural dervish, turning pop convention into shifting melodic quicksand, and introducing childlike lyricism into the psychedelic lexicon (the album's name comes from his favorite children's book, THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS), his voice and songwriting astound. Indeed, Barrett's blown-mind cadences are as much a symbol of psychedelia as Hendrix's strat or George Harrison's sitar. His voice simply sounds like tripping, and captures all the ungraspable beauty and fearful fragility of the experience. An extraordinary debut record, PIPER remains Barrett's visionary statement of purpose.
Rolling Stone (12/9/99, p.82) - 4.5 stars out of 5 - "...a masterpiece of the [psychedelia] genre....the golden achievement of Syd Barrett....a milestone in what soon would be called 'head music'..."
Q (8/99) - Included in Q Magazine's Best Psychedelic Albums of All Time
Q (6/00, p.69) - Ranked #55 in Q's "100 Greatest British Albums"
Q (1/95, p.275) - 5 Stars - Indispensable - "...PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN is, even counting SGT. PEPPER, possibly the defining moment of English psychedelia and Syd Barrett's magnum opus; strange, sad, and a record that all should own..."
Uncut (p.101) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "[T]hese Edward Lear-ish messages from the mind of Syd Barrett served as a reminder to even The Beatles...that pop is at its best when it's headed into the unknown."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.48) - Ranked #40 in Mojo's "The 50 Most Out There Albums Of All Time" - "Thirty eight years on, there's nothing like it..."