A double-disc distillation of the massive box The Early Years 1965-1972, The Early Years 1967-1972 condenses that 28-disc set into a 27-track compilation. Naturally, most of the real rarities remain exiled to the big box, but that's fair: only the diehards will recognize the importance of Floyd's collaboration with artist John Latham. Instead, The Early Years 1967-1972 tells the same tale as The Early Years 1967-1972 but in an easily digestible form. The double-disc relies relatively heavily on familiar songs -- it opens with "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play," perhaps the two best-known Syd Barrett songs, and finds space for "Careful with That Axe, Eugene" and "Free Four" -- but what distinguishes 1967-1972 is that it's the first early Floyd compilation to trace their journey from Barrett's warped psychedelia to the majestic art rock of the early '70s. Some essential songs are missing -- this doesn't sample the albums, after all, so songs as varied as "Astronomy Domine," "Let There Be More Light," and "One of These Days" are all absent -- but the repetition of "Careful with That Axe, Eugene" and "Embryo" illustrates how the band rapidly gained confidence and ambition, which is essentially the story of this compilation and its parent set. Certainly, the details of the box are missed, but on its own terms, The Early Years 1967-1972 is absorbing: it illustrates how Pink Floyd became Pink Floyd.
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