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Syd Barrett - An Introduction To Syd Barrett CD (album) cover

AN INTRODUCTION TO SYD BARRETT

Syd Barrett

 

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3.61 | 25 ratings

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TenYearsAfter
2 stars Everybody loved the handsome, witty, creative, smart, charming and charismatic, 'Bohemian dressed' Syd. He was also considered as an extraordinary tunesmith, with a potential at the level of John Lennon and Ray Davies. And Jimi Hendrix praised Syd for his experimental use of echo and feedback. But then in July 1967 Syd didn't appear for a BBC Radio session, and when he came back after a few days his friends noticed that 'the crazy diamond' had changed: "Now there's a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky". I agree with those who think this was his first psychotic decompensation, part of a severe underlying mental disease, paranoid schizophrenia, and triggered by excessive LSD use. One month later Pink Floyd its debut album Piper At The Gates Of Dawn was released, Syd was embraced as the highly creative force. But more and more he felt depressed and confused, about his status as rock star, and his increasing inability to keep control over his mind and behaviour. Like catatonic states on stage and frequent physical aggression to his girlfriend in his apartment. Due to this unpredictable and erratic behaviour Syd was even fired in Pink Floyd, in April 1968. But Syd was still able to make two solo albums in 1970, with the help of many known music friends. Unfortunately shortly after Syd was no longer able to function as a musician. He went to a mental hospital for a few months and then lived for the rest of his life in Cambridge: first with his very caring mother Winifred (who died in 1991), and later in a semi-detached-house, where Syd died in 2006 (due to the complications of diabetes). It's an honour to Syd his creative mind that his songs were covered by known bands, like Al About Eve (See Emily Play), The Boomtown Rats and The Damned (both Arnold Layne), REM (Orange Crush), The Smashing Pumpkins (Terrapin), The Jesus & Mary Chain (Vegetable Man) and Neil from The Young Ones (The Gnome). And keep in mind that in 1992 Atlantic Records offered Syd 500.000 dollars for new material, but his family turned it down, afraid for too much pressure on Syd.

This compilation starts with 6 Pink Floyd tracks, including the legendary psychedelic pop songs Arnold Layne and See Emily Play featuring Syd his distinctive voice, wonderfully blended with Rick Wright his soaring Farfisa organ. The song Apples And Oranges contains Syd his raw Fender Telecaster guitar sound. And it is trademark whimsical Syd Barrett in the cheerful and funny Bike, let's name it typical British humor.

The other 12 tracks showcase hardly the Syd Barrett who became famous as the inventive Pink Floyd psychedelic pop tunesmith. Many tracks feature Syd as a troubadour, strumming on his acoustic guitar and singing with strong melancholical undertones. Like in Terrapin (a bit bluesy lullaby), Dark Globe (with the legendary Wouldn't you miss me?, sung slightly hysterical), Here I Go, She and Took A Long Cool Look. But Syd also went back to his roots, as a young teenager who discovered rock and roll and The Beatles and Rolling Stones: Octopus (energetic climate with nice rhythm guitar and in the end fiery rock guitar) and Baby Lemonade (captivating psychedelic guitar sound). Some tracks even sound more elaborate, like Dominoes (dreamy with Hammond organ, dark vocals, a distorted experimental guitar sound and electric piano) and Gigolo Aunt (catchy beat, delicate Hammond, funny lyrics and sarcastic vocals, the exciting distorted raw rock guitar sound is my highlight). The track Effervescing Elephant is trademark Syd, simplistic and humorous, like My Bike. A very special composition is Bob Dylan Blues, Syd sings in the vein of Bob Dylan, like a tribute, but looking at the lyrics he is pretty sarcastic about his former musical hero. Finally the 'download bonus track' Rhamadan: a 20 minute improvisation with strong propulsive percussion (from the T Rex drummer), mellow organ and electric piano and experimental guitar work, to me this composition sounds too unbalanced, sometimes close to cacaphonic, with only a very few sparks that reminds of great improvisional work like Interstellar Overdrive.

Syd was far from easy to collaborate with in those days, nonetheless a wide range of known musicians were willing to contribute to his solo efforts, from his former Pink Floyd collagues Roger Waters, Rick Wright and David Gilmour to Mike Ratledge, Hugh Hopper and Robert Wyatt. They did a fine job to support an often fragile and vulnerable Syd Barrett. Although in general I miss that captivating vibe, energy and creativity as in Pink Floyd, I like some more energetic tracks, I am touched by Syd his pure emotion in some troubadour songs, and I consider his lyrics as the most interesting part of Syd solo, in many ways!

A final note. Due to the increasing amount of royalties from Pink Floyd and Syd solo albums, Syd could stay in luxury hotels, watching tv and ordering every meal he liked, because his family wanted him to be happy, this gives an ironical extra dimension to the title of his first solo album, The Madcap Laughs!

My rating: 2,5 star.

TenYearsAfter | 2/5 |

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