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Syd Barrett - The Madcap Laughs CD (album) cover


Syd Barrett


Prog Related

3.67 | 184 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Going on without the Floyd

Syd Barrett was an excellent prog related artist. His relation to prog? Well, for anyone who doesn't already know - Barrett was the founder of Pink Floyd before they fired him during the recording of their second album. His artistic vision didn't fit in with the rest of the bands', and comparing this album to the middle era of Floyd it's easy to see why. Barrett's approach to his music is a lot different than before, there's no Astronomy Domine or anything of the like on the album - this one is a very pleasant, simplistic album that's quite good at soothing the listener with its calm and crazy moments.

There's two kinds of song on the album. There's the slow and calm songs such as the wonderful closer, Late Night, and the brilliant opening Terrapin - and then there's the crazy and up-beat songs such as the fun and jumpy Love You and the screaming Octopus. There's no lack of inspiration on the album as well as Barrett seems to be pulling all of this off the top of his head. Not making it up as he goes along - but singing his passions out for all to hear. Rumor has it that Barrett would record every song through many times, no two times ever sounding completely the same, and later pick which version he liked the best. The remastered cd versions of the albums contain some of these alternate takes, and though they don't really add to the package they're certainly fun, and different, to listen to.

All in all this is a pretty difficult album to comment on based sheerly on it's simplicity. Barrett plays guitar and sings along while some modest rhythm sections meander around in the background providing structure to the songs. Standouts on the album usually showcase Barrett doing something off the wall, or just plain odd. No Good Trying has Barrett in an almost grumbling voice while If It's In You has Barrett stop and restart the song from the beginning after talking to someone off to the side of the studio - and based on the way Barrett recorded that was probably not scripted. All these little quirky things add up for a very fun and enjoyable album. Some of the songs don't have what most people would call ''high brow'' lyrics such as songs like Love You and Here I Go, while others are simply eerie taken in context all these years later, case in point, Dark Globe (''wouldn't you miss me at all?'').

This is not a prog rock masterpiece, and this is not an album that people world wide will undoubtedly enjoy. But it is a forgotten, lovely, rough gem that can be loved by the people who really have a feel for it. It's an album that either reaches out and grabs you or lets you pass, depending on who you are. As far as Barrett's solo output would go he only had one more album left in him, the self titled Barrett which would prove to be a bit more even content wise, but the good material on this album stand above the best material on his second album by a wide margin. For rating this one gets a strong 3.5 for a prog album. Floyd fans should definitely check it out, although not all will fall in love with it. For people who fancy themselves fans of something a bit more simple this album really does have a wonderful personality to it, and if it's something you're into then you could probably add another full star. It's hit and miss for most people, but it's undoubtedly recommended, if even to see which category you fall into.

Queen By-Tor | 3/5 |


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