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Old 07-12-2006, 02:00 PM   #12 (permalink)
Urban Hat€monger ?
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Special tribute post.....


103. SYD BARRETT - THE MADCAP LAUGHS (1970)


104. SYD BARRETT - BARRETT (1970)


105. SYD BARRETT - OPEL (1988)

When I was about 13/14 I remember having Pink Floyd forced upon me by many different people. And I just thought they were sooooo dull.
A few years later I was staying with a friend & got talking to her step father about music. He was a huge Pink Floyd fan and I told him that they didn`t really do anything for me.I told him about the stuff I liked and he gave me a copy of Piper At The Gates Of Dawn & told me to give that album a chance. I played it & loved it instantly. Eventually I did get into Pink Floyd , and I could see why people thought that the likes of Dark Side Of The Moon & Wish You Were Here were so great , but for me it was the Syd Barrett era of the band that I thought was special. Some people like Pink Floyd for Dave Gilmours guitar skills , other for Roger Waters lyrics but for me it was Syd Barretts songwriting that made me like that band.
I`d always been aware of Syd`s solo albums but never really bothered to check them out , then about 10 years ago I found myself reading in detail about them in various magazines (I think it may have been the hype over his 50th Birthday) and decided I should check them out.

His first album 'The Madcap Laughs' is a very erratic affair ,it`s pretty directionless & raw as hell. The opening song 'Terrepin' is a slow bluesy acoustic number that sounds like it`s about to breakdown any minute. Just listening to songs like this you can tell in what a fragile state the guy was in. 'No Good Trying' is more like the psychdelic pop that he wrote with Pink Floyd , it just sounds totally random. The lyrics hardly fit the song , the guitars sound like they`re doing what the hell they like , the song is just utter chaos.'Love You' is a little more cohesive sounding like an early Beatles song with a bit of music hall piano ,Barrett seems to be really putting effort into this song. One of the best songs on the album.The next two tracks No Mans Land & Dark Globe are light psychadelia inspired acuostic songs , they`re nothing special really but they keep the album flowing.'Here I Go' could be a great 60s style pop song but Barretts vocals spoil it , it`s just like he`s mumbling the whole song.'Octopus' is the best song on the album , This is probably the best song Barrett ever recorded as a solo artist.It probably closer to something on the Beatles Sgt. Pepper album than anything Pink Floyd ever recorded, but it`s a fantastic piece of 60s psychadelia thats worth hearing the album for.After that the album goes downhill quite dramatically of the 5 remaining tracks only 'She Took A Long Cold Look' is really any good the other 4 tracks basically being directionless acoustic songs where Barretts voice really sounds strained.

His second album 'Barrett' is a huge improvement , probably due to the added influence of Roger Water & Dave Gilmour who were much more involved with this album than the first.It`s said that Barrett had very little to do with the music side on this album , he wrote & sang the songs but did very little else & would disappear for days on end during the recording of it.The opening song on the album 'Baby Lemonade' is another of Barretts best songs as a solo artist, a wonderful example of pop at it`s purest form with vunerable edge to it.'Love Song' is a beautiful piano led ballad , easily on par with anything on 'Piper' , one of my favourite Barrett songs too.The next couple of songs 'Dominos' & 'It Is Obvious' are more of the same psychadelic pop , much better than anything on the first album , showing the consistancy that this album has that 'madcap' didn`t. 'Rats' is probably the nearest Barrett song ever made to what could be classed as 'rock' , he even shouts some of the lyrics.'Maisie' is possibly the weakest track on the album , just a slow steady drum beat with Barrett mumbling over the top of it.'Gigalo Aunt' would probably be Barrett`s best known track , A nice upbeat guitar pop song that i`ve lost count of the number of indie bands that have covered it.The album picks up after this with 4 nice songs in 'Waving My Arms In The Air' , I Never Lied To You' 'Wined & Dined' and 'Wolfpack', again these 4 songs are nice gentle examples of psychadelic pop that was missing from the first album,if there is a fault they do all sound rather similar.The album ends off with 'Effervescing Elephant' which is basically a nursery rhyme put to music , a bit like 'Bike' of 'Piper At The Gates Of Dawn'

'Opel' was a compilation of unreleased songs & alternate takes released in 1988 , of the new tracks here 'Clown & Jugglers' is a highlight being an version of 'Octopus' with different lyrics , in fact it reminds me a lot of 'Sally Simpson' off the Who`s Tommy.'Swan Lee (Silas Lang) is just plain weird , it just sounds like someone tuning up a guitar mumbling over it , in fact it probably was.in 'Lanky Part 1' Syd actually picks up an electric guitar , it sounds like the weird bits in 'Intersteller Overdrive' but it makes a nice change from all the acoustic pop on the album. Speaking of which the song that closes the album 'Milky Way' is one of the better ones of that nature.

I`m not going to pretend these are the greatest albums ever recorded , if you are into the 'rock' music Pink Floyd put out in the 70s you may as well look elsewhere because these albums are all psychadelic pop / folk music. But for anyone whos willing to give them a chance between the three of them there`s enough good material to make up one albums worth. But it has to be said given the circumstances that they were recorded under given Syd`s mental state it`s a miracle that we even have these out at all. There are some real gems buried in these albums and I hope that people will check them out with the raised awareness of them around his death.

Thanks for everything Syd.

Beginners guide to Syds solo work : Terrepin , No Good Trying , Octopus , She Took A Long Cold Look , Baby Lemonade , Love Song , Gigalo Aunt , Effervescing Elephant , Clown & Jugglers , Lanky Part 1, Milky Way.
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