Friday, February 26, 2010

Careful With That Axe, Eugene (single)

Careful With That Axe, Eugene  5:43
Studio recording 2 November 1968 
* Released on single B-side 17 December 1968 * 
Re-released on Relics, 1971; and on the Early Singles CD in the Shine On boxed set, 1992

Written by Waters, Gilmour, Wright, Mason
Recorded at Abbey Road
Produced by Norman Smith

Careful with that axe, Eugene

Vocals: Roger Waters

The band went into the studio at the beginning of November to record this piece, which they had been working on since the spring. This was the fourth version of the song, but the first one to be officially released.

Careful with that Axe, Eugene is an acknowledged Pink Floyd classic. It was performed live from 1968-1973, and brought back one more time in 1977. The piece is incredibly effective in creating a dense mood of paranoia and anxiety, a subtle hypnosis of feeling; Roger's quiet whispering and screams provide just the right touch. The piece is one of those (like Pow R. Toc H. and Several Species...) that really shows off the wide range of sounds that Roger could create with voice during this period, though later versions (such as in Live at Pompeii) would do so even more effectively. This version ends with strange eating noises, which given the title of the song (though 'axe' does have a double meaning, also referring to a guitar), conjure up rather disgusting images. The 'one-chord wonder' continued to develop over the course of its performance; note the difference between this single version and the live cut on Ummagumma less than a year later. Compared to what came later, this version, in the words of Nick Mason, is "extremely mild, jig-along stuff."

Dave Gilmour: "Careful with that Axe, Eugene is basically one chord. We were just creating textures and moods over the top of it, taking it up and down; not very subtle stuff. There was a sort of rule book of our own that we were trying to play to — and it was largely about dynamics."

In live performance, Roger's screams would show off the quadraphonic sound system by spinning around the concert hall, completely enclosing the enraptured audience.  Careful with that Axe, Eugene would be released twice more under that name, once more under an alternate title. In addition, another version would be created for The Journey Suite.

Including the versions that had come before, the total would come to eight different versions, four released and four unreleased. In chronological order:
Untitled (The Committee soundtrack)
Keep Smiling People
Murderistic Woman
Careful . . . (single)
Beset by Creatures of the Deep (The Journey)
Careful . . . (Ummagumma)
Come In Number 51, Your Time is Up (Zabriskie Point)
Careful. . . (Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii).

As if that wasn't enough, it would also appear in the Roland Petit ballet. All of the above are covered in their respective entries.

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