“Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast” is the fifth and final track from the 1970 Pink Floyd album Atom Heart Mother, written primarily by Nick Mason but credited to the whole group. It is a three-part instrumental.
Recording and sounds
The track features Pink Floyd playing in the background as Alan Styles (a Pink Floyd roadie, who appeared on the back cover of Ummagumma) speaks about the breakfast he is preparing and eating, as well as breakfasts he has had in the past (“Breakfast in Los Angeles. Macrobiotic stuff…“). There are significant breaks before the first and in between all three instrumental parts where only Alan’s muttering and movements, with occasional exterior background noise, are heard. Much of Alan’s speech is overdubbed throughout the piece in gradually fading echoes e.g. “Macrobiotic stuff” is repeated every couple of seconds, more quietly each time. It was performed live three times in the United Kingdom during the winter of 1970.
In addition to the talking, the sounds of Alan making breakfast—such as lighting the stove, cooking bacon, pouring milk and cereal (which makes a popping sound associated with Kellogg’s Rice Krispies), loudly gulping and drinking, and loudly and vigorously eating cereal—are clearly audible in the background, which adds a conceptual feel to the track. Alan can be heard entering the kitchen and gathering supplies at the start of the track, and washing up and exiting the kitchen at the end; a dripping tap can be heard during both of these instances. On some copies of the vinyl version, the dripping tap at the end of the song is cut into the run-off groove, so it plays on infinitely until the listener removes the stylus from the album, an effect lost on the CD release. However, on the CD release, the dripping continues for approximately 17 seconds after all other sounds have ceased.
Rise and Shine
This piece consists of two pianos, bass, Hammond organ, drums, and a steel guitar fed through a Leslie speaker.
During the opening of this section, Alan can be heard muttering to himself, deciding what to have as he begins to prepare his breakfast. He can be heard saying the following: “Oh… Er… Me flakes… Scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes, toast, coffee… Marmalade, I like marmalade… Yes, porridge is nice, any cereal… I like all cereals… Oh, God. Kickoff is 10am.” At the end of this section, the sound of a whistling kettle can be heard as the music stops.
Sunny Side Up
This piece takes the form of a modified fugue, and was written and performed entirely by David Gilmour on two acoustic guitars and a steel guitar.
This piece was performed by the entire band. The main instrument is Richard Wright’s piano, which was overdubbed three different times (one in the left channel, one in the centre, and one in the right channel). The piece also features very prominent bass, electric guitar, ADTed drums, and Hammond organ. At the end, after saying “My head’s a blank”, Alan picks up his car keys and leaves via the door. Faintly, a car can be heard starting and driving away.
In a review for the Atom Heart Mother album, Alec Dubro of Rolling Stone described “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast” as “the only redeeming feature on [side 2 of Atom Heart Mother], but only partially so.” Dubro found “the integrated Arising and Breakfast sounds” as the redeeming factor, not the music in the track itself. In a less-than-enthusiatic review, Stephen Deusner of Paste described “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast” as “a cut-and-paste assemblage of sounds that never coalesces into much of anything.” Because Deusner enjoyed “If” and “Fat Old Sun“, he was disappointed Pink Floyd ended Atom Heart Mother with this track. In another review for the Atom Heart Mother album, Irving Tan of Sputnik Music described the track as an ‘incredibly effective form of “wallpaper music'”. However, Tan also described the track as not so much a “song”, but rather an ambient psychedelic sketch.
- Alan Styles – voice, sound effects