|"Careful with That Axe, Eugene"|
|Single by Pink Floyd|
|A-side||"Point Me at the Sky"|
|Released||17 December 1968|
|Recorded||4 November 1968|
|Length||5:45 (single version)|
8:49 (Ummagumma live version)
|Label||Columbia (EMI) (UK)|
|Pink Floyd singles chronology|
|Relics track listing|
"Careful with That Axe, Eugene" is an instrumental piece by the British rock band Pink Floyd. The studio recording, first released in 1968 as the B-side to the single "Point Me at the Sky" also featured on the 1971 compilation album Relics. Live versions can be found on various releases, the most well-known of which from the 1969 double-album Ummagumma. Pink Floyd re-recorded the track for the 1970 film Zabriskie Point, retitling it "Come In Number 51, Your Time Is Up" on the film's soundtrack album. The track was one of several to be considered for the band's 2001 "best of" album, Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd, but it was ultimately omitted. Various versions, both live and studio recordings, were made available as part of the 2016 box set The Early Years 1965–1972.
Composition and background
The music consists of a light, organ-based jam, with Richard Wright using the Phrygian mode 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; followed by Roger Waters' inhaled-scream. 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. The titular character, Eugene is a reference to Eugene who appears in the song "Point Me at the Sky" to which "Careful With That Axe, Eugene" was the B-side.
For the soundtrack to the film The Committee, recorded in early 1968 (before the released version), one piece has the band playing a long instrumental featuring a very similar riff to this song.
In the re-recording made for Zabriskie Point, retitled "Come In Number 51, Your Time Is Up", whispering and a choir were added. Gilmour and Waters provided the vocals, and Waters' screaming is noticeably louder. 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." The title "Come in Number 51, Your Time Is Up" was a surrealistic line by comedian Spike Milligan shouted through a megaphone as part of his act in the BBC TV show Q5. Milligan's phrase, and means of delivery, was based on the type of command issued on boating lakes to individual boat renters to return to shore because their hourly rental period had expired.
Yet another remake was attempted during the Zabriskie Point sessions, and was eventually released as "Explosion" on The Early Years 1965–1972 box, as part of the 1970: Devi/ation volume. This version would later serve as the basis for a portion of "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast".
Pink Floyd performed the piece frequently from 1968 to 1973 in alternative formats as a concert favourite; at four of 27 shows during 1974; and once in 1977 at the Oakland Coliseum marking its final performance, and the only time Wright used a synthesiser during the piece.
An embryonic form was performed as early as 31 May 1968 at the Fantasio Club in Amsterdam, under the original title of "Keep Smiling People". Another version was recorded on 25 June 1968 at the BBC and broadcast on John Peel's Top Gear radio programme on 11 August 1968 which he introduced as "'Murderotic Woman' or 'Careful with That Axe, Eugene', please yourselves". It was later briefly re-titled "Murderistic Woman".
A version was recorded live in May 1969 for the Ummagumma live disc, the first following the release of the studio recording in December 1968. The Ummagumma version is considerably longer than its studio counterpart, as well as having the organ parts played on Wright's Farfisa Compact Duo rather than a Hammond.
The band recorded at least two versions of "Careful with That Axe, Eugene" for the live film Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii in 1971. One version was used in the final film and another, titled "Careful with That Axe, Eugene (alternate version)" was released on CD as part of the 2016 box set, The Early Years 1965–1972. Both versions run for under seven minutes.
The live renditions were generally slower, with the piece gradually building in intensity before a drum fill signalled Waters' screams (in the version recorded for Ummagumma the scream cues in the drum roll), the piece then picks up in tempo with Gilmour's guitar and Mason's drums becoming prominent. On some occasions Waters' spoken lines are omitted, particularly during The Man and The Journey shows and the screams are of varying duration and intensity. Although generally longer than the studio recording, live renditions of "Eugene" would range from about three and a half minutes to over 15 minutes, usually averaging seven to nine minutes.
"Careful with That Axe, Eugene" was often performed under different titles and of varying durations. Until the release of The Early Years 1965–1972 only three versions had been officially released while many other versions were available on bootlegs. "Careful with That Axe, Eugene" has been released on the following releases:
- "Point Me at the Sky" single, B-side of the single; mono (5:46)
- Relics, single version; stereo remix (5:46)
- Ummagumma, a live rendition of the track (8:50)
- Zabriskie Point, a re-working for the film soundtrack, re-titled "Come in Number 51, Your Time Is Up" (5:01)
- Shine On, single version included on a CD called The Early Singles (5:44)
- A Breath of Fresh Air – A Harvest Records Anthology 1969–1974, single version (5:46)
- The Early Years 1965–1972 – various versions, see below
- Volume 2 – 1968: Germin/ation, appears as the single version (5:46) and a BBC session under the title "Murderotic Woman" (3:38)
- Volume 3 – 1969: Dramatis/ation, appears as live renditions from a BBC session (3:21), 'Live at the Paradiso' (10:09) and as part of The Man and The Journey under the title "Beset by Creatures of the Deep" (6:27)
- Volume 4 – 1970: Devi/ation, appears as live renditions from a BBC session (8:25) and as a re-working for the Zabriskie Point soundtrack under the title "Explosion" (5:47)
- Volume 6 – 1972: Obfusc/ation, appears on the Live at Pompeii CD. Two versions appear on this CD – the original (as seen in the film) (6:45) and another titled "Careful with That Axe, Eugene (alternate version)" (6:06).
- Replica vinyls, single version appearing on a replica of the 1968 "Point Me at the Sky" 7" single. (5:46)
- Creation – The Early Years 1967–1972, a 2 CD compilation to promote the 'Early Years' box set, the track appears as the single version (5:46) and from a BBC session (3:28).
- The Dark Side of the Moon immersion box set, 'Live in Brighton 1972' (7:43)
- The Early Years 1965–1972 – various versions, see below
- Volume 3 – 1969: Dramatis/ation, The Man and The Journey: Royal Festival Hall, London, rehearsal re-titled as "Beset by Creatures of the Deep"; Essencer Pop & Blues Festival and Music Power & European Music Revolution, Festival Actuel Amougies Mont de L'Enclus
- Volume 4 – 1970: Devi/ation, An Hour with Pink Floyd: KQED (9:09) and Pop Deux Festival de St. Tropez (12:21)
- Volume 5 – 1971: Reverber/ation, GTK Randwick Race Course
- Volume 6 – 1972: Obfusc/ation, Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii (6:40) and Live at Brighton Dome
- Volume 7 – 1967–1972: Continu/ation, The Amsterdam Rock Circus
- Roger Waters – bass, screaming, whispered phrase
- David Gilmour – guitar, scat vocals
- Richard Wright – Hammond organ and vibraphone (studio version), Farfisa organ (live version)
- Nick Mason – drums
In popular culture
- "Careful with That Axe, Eugene" is featured in the 2010 film Mr. Nice.
- "Careful with That Axe, Eugene" is a level in the Llamasoft game Revenge of the Mutant Camels.
- The 1973 anthropolical TV documentary The Ascent of Man features the song while hominid hunting practices are described.
- "The 50 Greatest Pink Floyd Songs: Critic's Picks". billboard.com. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
- Di Pena, Alan (2002). "Mysterius Ways". Guitar World Presents Pink Floyd (1st ed.). London: Alan di Pena. p. 13. ISBN 1-84353-575-0.
- Mabbett, Andy (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-4301-X.
- Albums: Zabriskie Point (1970), Pink Floyd: Roger Waters revisited this theme in "One Of My Turns" from the Wall, in a lyric that reads "Run to the bedroom, in the suitcase on the left, You'll find my favourite axe."
- Guthrie, James. "James Guthrie: Audio: Building A Compilation Album". Pink Floyd. Archived from the original on 2 June 2010. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
- Reisch 2011, p. 108.
- Jones, Cliff (28 October 2002). Another Brick in the Wall: The stories behind every Pink Floyd song. London: Carlton Books Ltd. pp. 60–61. ISBN 1-85868-849-3.
- "Pink Floyd Oakland Coliseum 9/5/77". Retrieved 2 August 2012.
- "Pink Floyd : Keep Smiling People". Retrieved 2 August 2012.
- Hodges, Nick and Priston, Ian (1999), Embryo: A Pink Floyd Chronology 1966–1971. Cherry Red Books, p. 126.
- Mabbett, Andy (2010). Pink Floyd – The Music and the Mystery. London: Omnibus. p. 160. ISBN 978-1-84938-370-7.
- Manning, Toby (2006). "The Albums". The Rough Guide to Pink Floyd (1st ed.). London: Rough Guides. p. 160. ISBN 1-84353-575-0.
- Crawfurd, Jacob. "Unreleased Pink Floyd material". pinkfloydhyperbase.dk. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
- "A Breath of Fresh Air: A Harvest Records Anthology, 1969-1974 - Various Artists : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
- "Retro View - Revenge of the Mutant Camels play tips from Jeff Minter".