Review: Pink Floyd - Piper at the Gates of Dawn (40th Anniversary Edition)
Label: Capitol-EMI (2 CD and 3 CD)
Released: September 4, 2007 (originally released August 5, 1967)
Piper at the Gates of Dawn is almost universally accepted as a great album. Certainly, "Astronomy Domine" is amazing in its own right. The three group compositions in the middle of the album are good, though somewhat underdeveloped, indicators of where Pink Floyd would be headed after Syd's departure. Otherwise, the album consists of Barrett compositions that are still firmly rooted in the British Invasion and baroque pop of the 60s. No doubt, they too give some inkling of the future and, dated as they are, still have a good deal of freak out quality to them, but had they not led to Meddle, to Dark Side of the Moon, to Wish You Were Here, they would likely have fallen into the pack of psychedelic experimentation that defined the time in which they were written. Don't get me wrong, Piper at the Gates of Dawn is a very good album and it should get extra points for laying the groundwork for Floyd's greatness to come, but it also has to be judged on its own to some degree, something that likely hasn't happened since Dark Side of the Moon changed the face of rock music less than six years after Piper's release.
As far as the re-issue is concerned, the only thing the new two disc edition gives you is the mono version of the album and new, poorly modified artwork (why would they do such a thing?) all for about $5 more give or take. However, there is also a limited three disc release that also includes all of Pink Floyd’s singles from 1967 (“Arnold Layne,” “See Emily Play,” and “Apples And Oranges”), the B-sides “Candy and a Current Bun” and “Paintbox,” as well as an exclusive edit of “Interstellar Overdrive,” (previously available only on an EP released in France) and the 1967 stereo version of “Apples And Oranges” (which is seeing the official light of day for the first time). If that isn't enough, it also comes with an eight page reproduction of one of Syd's notebooks (which either provides many insights into the mind of a drug-addled lunatic or is entirely incomprehensible, I'll bet on the latter). All in all though, it seems that while the two disc edition offers little other than added expense, the three disc edition provides some nice bonus material for the more serious Floyd fan.
If you're interested in winning a copy of the two disc set, check out my contest.