Careful with That Axe, Eugene


Careful with That Axe, Eugene
"Careful with That Axe, Eugene"
Single by Pink Floyd
from the album Ummagumma
A-side "Point Me at the Sky"
Released 17 December 1968
Format 7"
Recorded 4 November 1968
Genre Psychedelic rock, progressive rock, Acid rock
Length 5:45
Label Columbia (EMI) (UK)
Writer(s) David Gilmour
Roger Waters
Richard Wright
Nick Mason
Producer Norman Smith
Zabriskie Point soundtrack track listing
"Dance of Death"
(10)
"Come in Number 51, Your Time Is Up"
(11)
Ummagumma track listing
"Astronomy Domine"
(1)
"Careful with That Axe, Eugene"
(2)
"Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun"
(3)
Relics track listing
"Julia Dream"
(6)
"Careful with That Axe, Eugene"
(7)
"Cirrus Minor"
(8)

"Careful with That Axe, Eugene" is an instrumental song by the British band Pink Floyd.[1] The studio recording was originally released as the B-side of their single "Point Me at the Sky" and is also featured on the Relics compilation album; live versions can also be found on Ummagumma and in the film Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii. Pink Floyd re-recorded the track for Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni's film Zabriskie Point, retitling it "Come in Number 51, Your Time Is Up" on the film's soundtrack album.[2]

Contents

Composition

The music consists of a light, organ-based jam (using the "Egyptian" style organ that is common of Richard Wright in this period), and an accompanying bass guitar playing just one tone (in this case, D) in octaves, with a segue into the song's only lyrics: the title of the song whispered menacingly, followed by a Roger Waters scream, as in "Candy and a Currant Bun". This scream would reappear on many subsequent songs such as "Run Like Hell", the very beginning of "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2", and "Two Suns in the Sunset". Then the song becomes much louder and more intense before gradually settling down again. In the heavier parts and later, quieter parts, David Gilmour can be heard with guitar and scat vocals; in concert, Gilmour would often sing along with his guitar line.

For the re-recording made for Zabriskie Point, "Come In Number 51, Your Time Is Up", whispering and a choir were added. David Gilmour and Roger Waters provided the vocals, and Waters' screaming is noticeably louder. It is a complete instrumental; unlike the original "Careful with That Axe, Eugene", "Come in Number 51, Your Time Is Up" does not feature the spoken words "Careful with that axe, Eugene", and is in the key of E minor instead of the original D minor. In the film, it plays at the end during an explosion sequence filmed in slow motion. In the booklet of the soundtrack's reissue, David Fricke writes: "'Come In Number 51, Your Time Is Up' is a cryptically titled remake of the Floyd's volcanic 1968 B-side 'Careful With That Axe, Eugene.' But its bonfire sound — all roaring guitars, crashing drums, and death-throe screaming — is the perfect complement to the movie's cataclysmic finish." "Come in Number 51; your time is up" is a line from the Beatles' movie "A Hard Day's Night". Ringo has been wandering around London alone, and yells this to some canoers in a canal.

Live history

Pink Floyd performed the song at almost every show from 1968–1973, and once in 1977. An embryonic form was performed as early as 23 May 1968 (captured in a recording at The Paradiso in Amsterdam) under the original title of "Keep Smiling People", and another version was recorded on 25 June 1968 at the BBC Piccadilly Studios and broadcast on John Peel's Top Gear radio program 11 August 1968 with the title "Murderistic Woman".[3]

During many 1969 shows, it was performed as "Beset by Creatures of the Deep" as part two of The Journey. From autumn 1969 until August 1971 it was often played as a medley in conjunction with "Green Is the Colour".

During Pink Floyd's late 1972 European tour, the song was occasionally performed with a loud (and largely indecipherable) Pictish rant preceding the uttering of the song's title and its trademark scream. Particularly well-known examples are the performances from the band's December 1972 concert in Zürich and their concert on November 15, 1972 in Böblingen, Germany.

Pink Floyd dropped "Careful with That Axe, Eugene" from their act after their short 1974 French tour, performing it for the last time as an encore on 22 June 1974 in Colmar. A one-off performance was done in Oakland, California, on May 9, 1977, also as an encore. For this rendition, Richard Wright had to use a mini-Moog synthesizer in place of the Farfisa organ he used originally on the live version and the Hammond organ on the studio version. Snowy White, the band's touring guitarist at the time, was coaxed into performing the piece with the band despite having never heard the song before, let alone played it.

Cover versions and references

  • The song is used in the 1973 BBC television documentary series, The Ascent of Man (in part 1, titled Lower Than the Angels), during a hunting scene when an oryx is brought down by a spear.[4]
  • In The Damned's song "Nasty", Dave Vanian sings "Careful with that axe you meanie". Pink Floyd's Nick Mason had produced The Damned's second album, Music for Pleasure.
  • The song title is the name of one of the levels in the 1984 computer game Revenge of the Mutant Camels developed and published by Llamasoft.
  • This song is referenced also by Half Man Half Biscuit on their Back in the DHSS album. In "Time Flies By (When You're the Driver of a Train)", Eugene is asked to be 'careful with that spliff'.
  • Phish also references "Careful with that Axe, Eugene" in their 1997 live release Slip Stitch and Pass during "Mike's Song".
  • The song title has been referenced in the lyrics of Dream Theater's song "Octavarium", from the album of the same name.
  • Rumah Sakit are unquestionably referencing the song with the title of their own "Careful With That Fax Machine".
  • The song is referenced in the game Divinity II: Ego Draconis, when the player character, a Dragon Slayer, comes across a man named Eugene, who carries an axe. The axe has the flavor text, "Careful with that axe, Dragon Slayer!"

Personnel

References

  1. ^ Mabbett, Andy (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-4301-X. 
  2. ^ "Albums: Zabriskie Point (1970), Pink Floyd". Floyian Slip. http://www.floydianslip.com/pink-floyd/albums/album.php?id=53. Retrieved 25 February 2011. 
  3. ^ Hodges, Nick and Priston, Ian (1999), Embryo: A Pink Floyd Chronology 1966–1971. Cherry Red Books, p. 126.
  4. ^ The Ascent of Man, episode 1: Lower than the Angels (part 4). BBC, 1973.

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