Pink Floyd – Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)

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Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Pink Floyd‘s 1967 debut, is the one most strongly influenced, lyrically, by the doomed genius Syd Barrett.

It is, quite simply, the greatest psychedelic album ever. (Don’t bother writing, Sgt. Pepper fans. You either, proponents of Their Satanic Majesties Request. And Smiley Smile? Please.) The title — taken from a chapter in Barrett’s favorite children’s book, “The Wind in the Willows” — illustrates the kind of whimsical, very British humor Barrett once possessed (see the positively poppy tune called “Astronomy Domine” — a song which the reconstituted, David Gilmour-led Floyd opened each show with during a 1994 tour).

And the angst? It comes from the pleasing friction between Syd and the band: That hallucinogenic, but I feel ultimately innocent, lyricism is decisively offset by the spacey gloom of the instrumentation — in particular the work of keyboardist Richard Wright.

When you’re ready to move past mega-blockbusters like The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon, start here.

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