Monday, September 3, 2018

Review of Pink Floyd's "The Early Singles"

I dropped this review on the Sputnik Music website just a few minutes ago:

Review Summary: This album is primarily for Pink Floyd completists and Syd Barrett fans.

This compilation was originally released in 1992 as part of the Shine On box set, although nowadays, it's easy enough to get the LP as a standalone. It comprises all five of the band's non-album singles and their B-sides from 1967 and 1968. It's one of those collections that's less an album you listen to repeatedly from beginning to end, and more of a historical curiosity. 

The Early Singles has two main attractions. The first is that it's a collector's item for Pink Floyd completists. Some of the more popular songs here, such as "Arnold Layne", "See Emily Play", and "Careful With That Axe, Eugene" were already available on such compilations as The Best of the Pink FloydRelics and Works, but you've got them all in one place here. The album's second selling point is that the first six songs serve as a nice sample of Sid Barrett's strange, psychedelic flavored singles and shorter songs. ("Paintbox" was actually written and sung by Richard Wright, but still features Barrett on guitar and backing vocals). 

The stress on the "singles" aspect may be a little misleading. The truth is, Floyd never was much of a singles band to begin with, and their early 45's releases with Barrett were so distinctly British that they seldom made much of a dent outside of the UK. The most successful of the five singles here is "See Emily Play", which reached #6 on the UK chart, and was their only charting song in the U.S. during this period, coming in at an anemic #134. (It also reached #25 in Germany.) Outside of that, the only other charting single in this collection is "Arnold Layne", which reached #20 in the UK and #24 in The Netherlands. 

A number of the other songs on the LP do have a certain charm to them, though, including "The Scarecrow" (which was the "See Emily Play" B-side), "Apples and Oranges" and its B-side "Paintbox", and "Julia Dream", a Roger Waters-penned track written in Syd Barrett style as a B-side for the largely forgettable "It Would Be So Nice". And of course, "Careful With That Axe, Eugene", included here as a studio version (and as the B-side of "Point Me to the Sky") is considered something of an early Floyd classic.

In general, the rarest of the tracks included here, "Candy and a Current Bun", and especially "It Would Be So Nice" and "Point Me at the Sky", are also the least interesting musically. However, fervent Pink Floyd fans will want to own them anyway.

This is one of those LPs I'm glad to have in my collection. However, if you're somehow a fledgling fan of this band, it's probably about the 20th or so Pink Floyd album you'll want to explore/obtain. Give it an extra star or so if you're a rabid Barrett fan, though.

Rating: 3 of 5 stars