Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Interstellar Overdrive (Piper album)

Interstellar Overdrive 9:41
     (written by Barrett, Waters, Wright, Mason)


Another true classic from the early Floyd, and possibly the first group composition. For information on the piece's creation, see the other entry for Interstellar Overdrive (released on the Tonite Let's All Make Love in London soundtrack).

This was the second version of Interstellar Overdrive to be professionally recorded, at the very first EMI Abbey Road sessions of 16 March. Norman 'Hurricane' Smith, previously the engineer for the Beatles until his promotion to producer, was assigned to the band as their record producer by EMI executive Beecher Stevens, in order to "keep a firm hand on the sessions," as "one of the boys in the group, and some of the people around them, seemed a bit strange." At least one author has claimed that the 16 March recording of Interstellar Overdrive consists of two separate run-throughs of the piece, dubbed directly over one another. This seems unlikely though, considering the precise timing and repetitiveness that would be necessary in the two takes for the overdubs to fit together, especially in the less improvisational section of the main riff.

Norman Smith's comments about working with Syd confirm this.
Norman Smith: "It was a pretty difficult job actually with Syd, because I think Syd used music... [as] a statement being made at a given time that meant if you came back five minutes later to do another take, you probably wouldn't get the same performance. You probably wouldn't get the same tune."

Interstellar Overdrive was re-released on the Relics compilation in 1971. An edit of the version on the mono mix of Piper was released on a French EP, and has been frequently mistaken for another version altogether.

Rick Wright: "In the old days we used to do a hell of a lot of [improvising], some numbers we'd do for half an hour. Interstellar Overdrive has a theme but that's it and you can go wherever you like in between."

Astronomy Domine
Lucifer Sam
Matilda Mother
Pow R. Toc H.
Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk
Interstellar Overdrive
Gnome, The
Chapter 24
Scarecrow, The

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