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Syd Barrett - The Madcap Laughs CD (album) cover

THE MADCAP LAUGHS

Syd Barrett

 

Prog Related

3.64 | 143 ratings

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Prog Sothoth
4 stars I remember getting this album ages ago when I was young and in my "discovering Pink Floyd" phase. Man, I had a crush on 'Iggy The Eskimo', the girl seen in the background on the back cover. It certainly wouldn't be the only time Pink Floyd members would prove their fondness for female derrieres, but I find the photo session that came out for The Madcap Laughs the most memorable and coolest with some serious sweet cheeks displayed while Syd remained in the foreground looking oblivious and a bit lost in general. Even a fine rump couldn't save this man.

The music itself has aged surprisingly well, and today plays like some proto-alt-folk rock with psychedelic touches that indie rock fans and side-burned hipsters could even appreciate. It certainly feels a bit more contemporary than his former band's stuff from that time (Atom Heart Mother & such), and I personally just dig it more than what Floyd were doing during the same period. The songs have lots of acoustic guitar playing, and have lyrics that focus much if not more on love and personal feelings than, say, brooding interpretations of insanity. It's often whimsical and unpretentious as well. Of course, there's also some wacked out lyrics tossed about, such as the howling "Octopus" or how the sweet opener "Terrapin" starts off cute but gets odder in the verse department as the song moves along.

The playing is skillful enough for the material, with some interesting bits aided by The Soft Machine dudes such as on "No Good Trying", which plays like an acid drenched rock tune on the verge of chaos. "Dark Globe" should be mentioned for Syd's strained and almost manic delivery, particularly near the song's end. Yeah, Roger Waters had to have taken that cue for his "The Wall" persona. "Late Night" is a gorgeous closing track, atmospheric and sorrowful with some nice slide guitar.

There are a few songs that don't match up to the best tracks here, but as a whole it's a fascinating document of a musician and former star losing his marbles. It could be considered as exploitive concerning the album title, imagery and a few of the takes used for the album (the disastrous but hilarious "If It's In You"), but I'm sure Syd was still quite in on the whole thing and wasn't ready to give up recording music yet. It wouldn't be too much longer though for him to withdraw completely, leaving behind strange ditties like the ones on The Madcap Laughs that are playful, weird, fun, and yet more than a little sad.

Prog Sothoth | 4/5 |

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