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Syd Barrett biography
Roger Keith Barrett - Born 6 January 1946 in Cambridge, UK - Died 7 July 2006 in Cambridge, UK

SYD BARRETT is very famous in the world of prog for helping found space/psychadelia prog giants, PINK FLOYD, and adding his unique vocals and lyrics to their classic debut album, "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn". SYD BARRETT started to develop an unstable mental state and was unable to perform properly on stage or contribute much to the band any more. SYD BARRETT had to leave PINK FLOYD after contributing only one song to PINK FLOYD's second album, "A Saucerful of Secrets". This track, "Jugband Blues" was placed as the last track and served as a nice farewell and good luck song. The albums in this profile show what Syd did after his departure from PINK FLOYD.

His solo career was to be as short as his time in PINK FLOYD, as he only produced 2 real studio albums. The best of these is "The Madcap Laughs". Syd managed to write some memorable solo tracks that were quite remeniscent of his work on "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn".

SYD BARRETT's solo career is arguably the best solo career of any PINK FLOYD member. Fans of early PINK FLOYD should enjoy SYD BARRETT a lot. I would also recommend his work to lovers of 70s Psychadelia/Space rock as well as collectors who enjoy any PINK FLOYD solo efforts.

Why this artist must be listed in :
SYD BARRETT is not only an important figure in the history of progressive rock but he also founded one of the first ever progressive rock albums and progressive rock bands. His solo work should be included on the archives as it displays similar progressive qualities that helped to make PINK FLOYD part of prog rock history. Rick Wright and David Gilmour also appear on some of his works and it seems right the other PINK FLOYD solo careers can be listed then so should SYD BARRETT's.

Syd Barrett official website

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The Madcap LaughsThe Madcap Laughs
Legacy 2016
Audio CD$9.40
$10.16 (used)
The Best of Syd Barrett: Wouldn't You Miss Me?The Best of Syd Barrett: Wouldn't You Miss Me?
Parlophone 2001
Audio CD$5.01
$4.99 (used)
Extra tracks
Harvest 2013
Audio CD$4.97
Extra tracks
Harvest 2013
Audio CD$5.03
Crazy DiamondCrazy Diamond
Box set · Import · Limited Edition
Emd Int'l 1993
Audio CD$167.88
$28.99 (used)
Octopus: Best ofOctopus: Best of
Cleopatra 1992
Audio CD$6.55
$3.35 (used)
The Peel SessionThe Peel Session
Dutch East 1991
Audio CD$38.99
$14.14 (used)
The Photography of Mick Rock: Syd BarrettThe Photography of Mick Rock: Syd Barrett
Single · Box set
EMI 2011
$39.99 (used)
Syd Barrett - Under ReviewSyd Barrett - Under Review
Multiple Formats
Chrome Dreams 2006
$4.06 (used)
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SYD BARRETT discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

SYD BARRETT top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.63 | 181 ratings
The Madcap Laughs
3.28 | 129 ratings

SYD BARRETT Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.29 | 21 ratings
The Peel Sessions
2.37 | 19 ratings
The Radio One Sessions

SYD BARRETT Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

1.27 | 14 ratings
Syd Barrett's First Trip*
3.45 | 14 ratings
The Syd Barrett Story
2.25 | 4 ratings
Under Review

SYD BARRETT Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.89 | 9 ratings
Syd Barrett
2.38 | 49 ratings
2.14 | 6 ratings
4.16 | 16 ratings
Crazy Diamond
3.97 | 20 ratings
Wouldn't You Miss Me?
2.48 | 8 ratings
The Madcap Laughs / Barrett
3.50 | 2 ratings
Maximum Syd Barrett
3.77 | 20 ratings
An Introduction To Syd Barrett

SYD BARRETT Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 5 ratings
3.00 | 6 ratings
The Peel Sessions
0.00 | 0 ratings
Crazy Diamond


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Opel by BARRETT, SYD album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1989
2.38 | 49 ratings

Syd Barrett Prog Related

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

1 stars 'Opel' is the final 'record' of Barrett. I say this with some reserve because this is a compilation of B-sides and unreleased tracks even recorded before his two solo albums 'The Madcap Laughs' and 'Barrett', both released in 1970.

The story of Syd everyone knows, the beginnings with Pink Floyd, the abuse of drugs, he becoming a vegetable because of this and the band kicking him away to later become the giant that everyone knows.

Much is said about how Syd Barret was brilliant, a lot is talked about how he was a genius, how he had so much to show... the only thing I see in 'Opel' (supposedly the best way to see such a genius in action without any masks) is a lost person who makes an absurdly simplistic music. When I hear a song like 'Opel' I remember 'Bike' from Pink Floyd's first album, a 3-chord song that if it was not for the rest of the band would be the dullest thing on Earth, well, that's it that happens here.

I'm not interested in the fact that these recordings are not the most refined one could have, it's even better, we see how Syd has nothing, the charm came from what happened to him, not the talent itself. Songs sung completely out of time, tracks so silly and ridiculous that even the lyrics of "Rock And Roll" by Led Zeppelin seem like a deep poem when compared. I'll never get back the 3 minutes of my life that I missed hearing something ridiculous like 'Rats', for example.

In short, if you are one of those people who believes Syd Barrett was a genius and who idolizes every note he recorded: this record will make you enjoy life with cheerful excitement. But if you're like me who believe he did (well) his part to the story of one of the biggest bands in history but that solo is just a forgettable Joe: Flee from it!

 The Madcap Laughs by BARRETT, SYD album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.63 | 181 ratings

The Madcap Laughs
Syd Barrett Prog Related

Review by SteveG

2 stars No mere warning.

For those that can't, or refuse, to recognize that artist's such as Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, and even the acoustic duo of Simon and Garfunkel, are folk rock artists, with massive hit folk rock songs like Cowgirl In The Sand, Sundown and The Sound Of Silence, which owe nothing to traditional folk music such as historical instrumentation, traditional instruments, atypical chord voicings, playing motifs like alternate tunings and finger picking, along with the typical subject matter, whether topical or traditional.

Basically, all of the folk music attributes that were jettisoned when The Byrds (An American group) created the folk rock genre (an American genre) after bastardizing Dylan's folksong Mr. Tambourine Man and placing it into the rock format of the times. Or to those that further think that folk rock grew organically out of folk music without the afore noted American genre establishing events having come first, it's important that those who do recognize the folk rock that permeates The Mad Cap Laughs receive a review with the album placed back into it's correct context, along with it's creator.

Long gone are the psychedelic blitzes of Astronomy Domine, Interstellar Overdrive, and outre avant-garde dada of Pow R, Toc H from Floyd's debut album, Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. What remain are Barrett's whimsical story songs and ballads that are more akin to the Gnome and The Scarecrow that featured predominantly on Floyd's break through album.

With only a few psychedelic rock songs on offer like Octopus and Terrapin, Syd plummets into musical ground that's neither hard rock or acid rock. The minor psychedelic flourishes, on songs such as Long Gone barely raise these strickly low key verse/chorus songs into pure archetypical British psychedelic rock with it's many, at the time, distinguishing characteristics, and confined the songs to a boring folk rock style that is further devoid of the lyrical impact necessary to carry such music and raise it above it's mundane song structures.

This may have been Barrett's last true hurrah as a recording artist and, as a select few opine, even a musical and lyrical genius. I, for one, see only a fraction of the man's former talent, which was on the wane due to reasons that are fully known to all of us. I have no problem finding the folk rock in TMCL. I'd just like to know where the progressive rock is, of which this artist is said to be related. 2 stars. Proceed to the other reviews with caution. You have been not been merely warned, but informed.

 The Madcap Laughs by BARRETT, SYD album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.63 | 181 ratings

The Madcap Laughs
Syd Barrett Prog Related

Review by ExittheLemming
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Painter and Interior Decorator

So beautiful and strange and new! Since it was to end all too soon, I almost wish I had never heard it. Nothing seems worthwhile but just to hear that sound once more and go on listening to forever. No! There it is again!' he cried, alert once more. Entranced, he was silent for a long space, spellbound.

from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham

There is a still warm drool flecked altar in the Church of Sydology that pilgrims swarm to some 45 years after their Savior uttered his last unwitting sermon to an adoring flock. This one man Lysergic Skiffle sect bequeathed to the world just two solo albums, neither of which could be described as fully formed, coherent or in places, even competent but despite that, somewhere through that thick lo-fidelity fog and cringe-worthy indolent amateurism, there is an abiding light that doesn't look like being extinguished any time soon. The continuing fetishisation of mental illness that Barrett has come to represent does little service to either his abilities or resilient influence as a songwriter. His 'deadpan jestery' practically defines the English psychedelic imprint of the late 60's on both popular music and the popular consciousness which is the reason I've reproduced a quote from one of Syd's favourite books (Wind in the Willows) as it could be describing, entirely presciently, the profound spell that Barrett's exquisite delivery could cast on so many receptive listeners. It's also probably the main reason why I seem to have spent the last 30 years listening to singers, when faced with a remit of emoting 'derangement of the senses' without exception or even knowingly, resort to imitating him.

The Mad Cap Laughs is not a communal activity either in execution or appraisal. It probably belongs to a tradition of tousle haired bedsit troubadours like Leonerd Cohen, Tim Hardin, Nick Drake et al whose devotees tend to believe he is addressing them alone. Unable or unwilling to play along to a backing track or synchronise with the assembled studio musicians, Syd's songs inevitably suffer from an accompaniment that is either trepidatious or half a beat behind a composer who could never play any number the same way twice. Either way, a Syd album at full blast is an infallible way to empty your house of unwelcome guests (including termites).

'There's nowt queer as folk' as northerners say but it's even odder that his music is so often routinely shoe-horned into the ill fitting sandals of 'Psyche Folk, Acid Folk and Folk Rock' Let's not however bicker about the vase when Cambridge's most celebrated gardener has given us this many beautiful blooms to oggle. I mean, there is hardly a sliver of traditional folk vocabulary in Barrett's entire songbook. His melodies and chord progressions certainly have anticipated cadences and obey the basic conventions of harmonic resolution but you wont find Jug Band Blues Bm to F#m and ending on F# major sequence in any busker's three chord trick. There are numerous examples of such departures from the norm in the Barrett/Floyd oeuvre: Candy and a Currant Bun's verse is unequivocally A major but Syd's melody is A minor pentatonic where the ambivalence of the clashing C# is exploited to memorable effect. That momentary frisson of the Bb major during Terrapin which is otherwise, anchored squarely in E major. Ditto It's No Good Trying where A# major gatecrashes a G major party and ends up snogging the host. Octopus doesn't appear to have a tonal centre at all but instead a shifting and fluid arbitrary sequence of possible suburbs leading away from the metropolis. (Ab major?) Arnold Layne's melody switches stealthily between G natural and G# on a tune that seems to be grounded in the key of Bb. The latter song probably holds the key to unlock the Escher architecture of Barrett's constructions and might very well serve as a template for the psychedelic pop song. Gravity is the enemy of flight and similarly, the gravitational pull of the tonic is the enemy of the acid head space cadet. Listen to how Barrett delays the inevitable denouement of the Bb major 'bully' and earns himself a reprieve by tripping up the tyrant with one of the most astonishing and brilliant creations in popular music ever thus:

Bb Fm6 G F# F7

Arnold Layne, had a strange hobby collecting clothes etc

The effect is a thrilling albeit neurotic and unnerving weightlessness which clearly alludes to the heady euphoria of its author. So many of Syd's songs step outside the comforting capsule of our diatonic tonality but are somehow never less than 'kinda catchy' Maybe if Schoenberg has grown his hair, bought some bongos and learned to muzzle his yin these are the sort of treasures 12 tone serialism could have unearthed. Syd's imitators merely confirm that writing a 'Syd Barrett song' is a damn sight harder than they sound. The efforts of Robyn Hitchcock, David Bowie, Marc Bolan and Robert Smith are uniformly unconvincing. The jury's out however on Messrs Kevin Ayers and Ray Davies as both might be the only contemporaries I can think of who even remotely inhabit the Syd realm. I will concede that Barrett's phrasing, rhyming and overwhelming preference for descending chromatic movement shares common ground with English nursery rhymes (although he manipulates these features to create entirely new song forms much like Bartok's use of gypsy peasant scales and modes from Eastern Europe)

And here he is!

Excuse me! I ask the spherical figure who's just ambled past me, head down, chuntering.

I'm writing a piece about Syd Barrett


Syd Barrett. He used to be in Pink Floyd

Never heard of 'im. Is he one of them rappers?

No - he was a psychedelic genius. Are you Syd Barrett?

Leave me alone. I've got to get some coleslaw

I take this as a no. (Tom Cox - the Observer)

As amusing as the casual reader might find such media coverage, there is a stubborn misunderstanding at the heart of the Syd cult: As if mind altering substances could mine talent that never existed in the first place. Hostels, hospital beds, graveyard waiting lists and certain parts of Serbia are full of such feckless disciples who believe that madness is somehow glamorous, that external chemicals beget a muse that can be coaxed into taking possession of their soul for benign purposes. You cannot score talent and these beautiful songs still resonate beneath the shoddy execution and were created in spite of their author's disintegrating mental condition not because of it. Can we now please kick firmly into touch that redundant notion perpetrated by the likes of the late Bill Hicks who would have us throw out our entire album collection if we hold that drugs don't facilitate the creative process but merely provide a surrogate for a mundane reality the user cannot handle. Enough already grateful dead hippy, and lose the smug grin, Osmonds and Bread fans.

Schizophrenia? There is no evidence that Barrett was ever diagnosed or treated for mental illness. His sister Rosemary attests that he did agree to some sessions with a psychiatrist at Fulbourn Psychiatric Hospital in Cambridge but neither medication or therapy were considered appropriate. Tales of the late RD Laing insisting Syd was incurable on hearing a tape of him speaking appear to be at best, like so much Sydology, apocryphal kidology. Art is therapy in so far as it might have a limited ability to distract us from an inexorable disintegration.

Like so many other celebrated talents that emerged from the late 60's Syd was a visual artist first and a musician second e.g. Ray Davies, Keith Richards, Bryan Ferry, Dick Taylor, Phil May, Captain Beefheart and Pete Townshend all attended art schools and would probably admit that they were enthusiastic dabblers rather than die hard careerists in Pop music. Syd seemed particularly ill suited to the demands of celebrity and the scrutiny afforded to pop star fame. It's an enduring irony that those best equipped to withstand such invasive pressure are the sorts of ruthless and ambitious critters who turn out to be the least talented members of any creative association. Step forward one Roger Waters who had the unedifying task of having to learn to write songs in lieu of Syd's sacking/abandonment. It took him until Dark Side of the Moon to master this and it's no happy accident for this reviewer that the albums Floyd released in the interim were possibly the most experimental/avant-garde and least satisfying of all. After leaving Floyd, Syd left the myopic public eye forever. Always the transmitter, never the receiver (apart from the generous Piper royalties). His life thereafter appears to have been a bucolic idyl spend pottering around his art studio and garden, writing an unpublished History of Art and cycling to the shops on his bike. (but no, we couldn't ride it if we liked)

If we'd parted with him earlier, we'd have sunk without trace. But I don't think we could have saved him. Almost certainly the drugs drove him into a state but we don't really know. And there was no cry of help from Syd

Nick Mason washes Floyd's hands squeaky clean of any culpability. No 'I' in team but two in schizophrenia and not a single 'U' in blame. Is crushing mandrax tablets into your entirely brylcreamed head prior to going onstage to play just one note for the entire set while staring blankly straight ahead waving not drowning?

Roger (Syd) was unique; they didn't have the vocabulary to describe him and so they pigeonholed him. If only they had seen him with children. His nieces and nephews, the kids in the street, he would have them in stitches. He could talk at length and he played with words in a way that children instinctively appreciated, even if it sometimes threw adults (Rosemary - Syd's sister)

Those of you familiar with the idea of threshold consciousness i.e. hypnagogic/hypnopompic states (that exist on the cusp of waking and sleeping) will recognise a kindred spirit in Ivor Cutler who, like Syd Barrett, doesn't so much return you to your childhood as reprise those moments where the learned filter of rationality hasn't yet kicked in and you are free to enjoy uninhibited, unfettered and uncontaminated ideas straight from their otherwise untapped unconscious source.

As far as lyrics go, I haven't the faintest idea what Syd is banging on about most of the time but I can happily report he never lapses into 'surrealism by numbers' a la Beefheart or Lennon. The adhesive 'whimsical' tag gets a little flappy when you consider that the formative inspiration is Hilaire Belloc, Edward Lear, CS Lewis, AA Milne and erm..Tolkien? (I'm at a loss as yeah, that's wee beige trad pixieland maaan) It's illustrative that Syd chose James Joyce's poem V from Chamber Music a.k.a. Golden Hair to set to music. I've tried to read Finnigan's Wake on several occasions but given up in exasperation every time. The imagery where things are unglued from their names and causality is abandoned altogether clearly appealed to Barrett. The only other instance of him using another's words was Chapter 24 (from Piper) an extract from the I-Ching

Along with Ray Davies, (and erm....Anthony Newley) Syd Barrett was one of the first internationally successful singer/songwriters to sing in an English accent. Why is this important? Well maybe the pivotal point of Psychedelia was reached in the late 60's when UK musicians decided: let's stop pretending to be Americans (this is also manifest in UK jazz a la Neil Ardley, Mike Taylor, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Ian Carr, Joe Harriott, Stan Tracey etc)

When people called him a recluse they were really only projecting their own disappointment. He knew what they wanted, but he wasn't willing to give it to them (Rosemary - Syd's sister)

Of avowedly middle class origins and upbringing, Syd's demise was not that of a bluesman's romanticised death. Never on the run from the sheriff riding a boxcar about to jump the county line with buckshot in his bottom, Syd ended up a wealthy man, doing what he wanted, when he wanted. He chose his fate. I imagine him happy. His portrayal as a sad, pitiful and tragic figure is therefore somewhat wide of the mark. Descriptions of his solo work being tantamount to an audio nervous breakdown are crassly glib and bear no relation to the recorded music. He was the only Rock 'quitter' who actually had the stamina and resilience to stay true to his word. I love Syd for that alone - he wouldn't play the star game and had the brazen effrontery to tear up his membership card for the 27 Club in front of the door staff (who wanted to throw him in) We never had to endure the pitiful spectacle of an orotund balding septuagenarian squeezed into leather pants singing See Emily Play to coach parties from Rhyl. There was no floating turd in the swimming pool. Syd was the real uh deal.

 An Introduction To Syd Barrett by BARRETT, SYD album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2010
3.77 | 20 ratings

An Introduction To Syd Barrett
Syd Barrett Prog Related

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Great Barrett days!

Most people know that Syd Barrett was the first lunatic inside Pink Floyd; that his work with the band produced the most psychedelic tunes; but only a few people know his solo work, and that's a fact. Given that fact, I think it was a good decision to release a compilation album from his work, because it is a nice way of reliving him, of giving him a deserved credit, of spreading his tunes with new listeners. It is a nice tribute to someone who changed rock history.

And though I am not fond of compilation albums, I received this one with open arms; and though I don't regularly listen to it, I think it deserves exposure and a word from us, the fans. It was a pretty cool decision to begin this 18-song album with some early Floyd tracks, of course, Pink Floyd songs composed by Barrett whose sound has his truly personal touch, so you will smile and sing with songs such as "Arnold Layne", "See Emily Play" and "Bike", which are representative from those early years.

From track 7 to 17 the album has songs from his solo career. The first batch has music taken from "The Madcap Laughs", with tunes such as "Terrapin", "Dark Globe", "Octopus" and "If it's in You", songs that show his melancholic, depressive and crazy elements, songs that one can sing and enjoy, because his voice and guitar were good enough to enjoy. The second batch contains songs from "Syd Barrett", there you will listen to "Baby Lemonade", "Dominoes" and "Effervescing Elephant", among others. It is worth mentioning that some of the songs featured here were remixed in 2010.

Last but not least, track 18 is "Bob Dylan Blues", a kind of tribute that Syd composed for Bob, and that was lost somewhere and found several years after its composition by David Gilmour. I think this was a good choice for finishing this great compilation. So if you would like to explore a bit more about Barrett, this is a great way to start.

Enjoy it!

 The Madcap Laughs by BARRETT, SYD album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.63 | 181 ratings

The Madcap Laughs
Syd Barrett Prog Related

Review by The Truth
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

4 stars I have to agree with fellow reviewer Chris H. when he says that this is one of rock music's most simple triumphs, it truly is a great record by a very fragile individual and that fragility is laced throughout the psychedelic folk of The Madcap Laughs.

Barrett at this point was an absolute wreck to work with and David Gilmour and Roger Waters had what is said to be a real heck of a time trying to get Syd to create something they could work with. In a way, that's the true genius behind it, only Syd really knew what he was trying to do. The seemingly simple folk songs Barrett creates here that at times have a psych edge never fail to captivate me and also have an emotional effect on me. The Madcap Laughs is as the title suggests, a madman in a fit of laughter, but what is madness? Genius in disguise?

Simply put, many prog fans will have a hard time with this because it's a pretty raw recording but there are some of the best songs ever written on this album. Barrett was the human symbol of an artist and true fans of music can see the imprint the man left on his band members and other artists to come.

Aloof and enjoyable, serious and yet not so serious, The Madcap Laughs is a great album.

 An Introduction To Syd Barrett by BARRETT, SYD album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2010
3.77 | 20 ratings

An Introduction To Syd Barrett
Syd Barrett Prog Related

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars As of this writing Syd Barrett now has four times more compilations of his work than actual studio albums: not a bad ratio for a burned-out acid casualty who released only a pair of solo LPs over four decades ago.

This one is a winner, however, and not just for new fans wanting what the title promises: a one-stop primer to the brief, troubled career of PINK FLOYD's original crazy diamond. The songs here have all been re-mastered (and in many cases entirely remixed) by none other than David Gilmour...that's right, the same guitarist who took Syd's place in his own group and then went on to international superstardom is ironically now the caretaker of Syd Barrett's legacy.

Thankfully so, I might add. Geriatric chestnuts like "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play" have never sounded better, and other tunes are greatly enhanced by the sympathetic remixes. The whimsical early Floyd nursery school daydream "Matilda Mother" is the most radically different, using an alternate take with unfamiliar lyrics and an extended instrumental coda.

I still question the inclusion of the ragged false start to "If It's In You": the song by itself reveals more than enough of Barrett's disintegrating psyche without the voyeuristic look at his struggling attempts to find the right key. And the absence, once again, of the still unreleased but widely bootlegged Barrett classics "Vegetable Man" and "Scream Thy Last Scream" is a disappointment: both are essential to any understanding of Syd Barrett's fragile genius, for reasons beyond even the obvious implications of the song titles by themselves.

Instead we get relative rarities like "Apples and Oranges" and the stinging Folk Rock parody of "Bob Dylan Blues", neither one completely unknown, but welcome additions to this set. And buyers of the CD (or borrowers, like me) will be allowed to download the bonus track "Rhamadan": a rambling twenty-minute (!) jam from one of Syd's more desperate studio sessions.

As a cultural artifact it's a fascinating (but failed) attempt at instant composition. But as a piece of music it doesn't add up to anything more than a rather pathetic group improvisation by players obviously unskilled in the art of extemporaneous music making (notice how little Barrett himself actually contributes to the track). I suppose it deserves to be heard for historical (if not quite for aesthetic) perspective. And for armchair Barrett archeologists in particular the experience will be like striking a rich vein of glowing pyrite.

If nothing else the extra track is a generous afterthought to an already well-rounded compilation, maybe the best of the many Syd Barrett collections on the market. Until the next one, at least...

 The Madcap Laughs by BARRETT, SYD album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.63 | 181 ratings

The Madcap Laughs
Syd Barrett Prog Related

Review by Prog Sothoth
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

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.

 Opel by BARRETT, SYD album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1989
2.38 | 49 ratings

Syd Barrett Prog Related

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Had this been an EP containing only those songs not released in different versions on Syd's other studio albums, I'd have probably given this one an extra star; as it is, it's needlessly rounded out with alternate takes of material from The Madcap Laughs and Barrett, and unless you are an absolutely devoted fan of Syd's solo material there's really little need to have so many alternate takes of songs you already own - especially considering that these versions don't really reveal any hidden beauty or previously untapped magic to the material. (It gets even more silly when you consider the CD versions of this album and Syd's solo albums include *even more* alternate takes as bonus tracks.) Hardcore collectors only, I'm afraid.
 Barrett by BARRETT, SYD album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.28 | 129 ratings

Syd Barrett Prog Related

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is the point where it became clear that the Syd Barrett solo experiment just wasn't expendable. With backing musicians far more predominant this time around - with the result that Syd's guitar playing is buried in the mix a lot of the time and, at points, entirely absent from the album (or replaced with Dave Gilmour's 12-string work, as on Baby Lemonade) - the album is essentially Gilmour, Wright and friends trying to make commercial songs out of Syd's lyrics and guitar lines.

The man himself on is on only middling form here. His guitar work, where it is audible, consists of uninspired noodling far from the inventive heights he achieved on The Madcap Laughs and with Pink Floyd. Lyrically speaking, when he's on form he's as much of a poet as he was on Madcap, but on some tracks like Rats or Gigolo Aunt it's clear he's just doing some word association to get through the track. Only on a few songs, like Waving My Arms In the Air, I Never Lied to You, and the closing Effervescing Elephant, does Syd's personality shine through the obscuring barrier erected by the session musicians and his own personal issues to produce something worthy of the album's predecessor. It's a pleasant enough listen, more than worth sitting through for those few gems and for the occasional moment in other songs, but Barrett is clearly heading downhill fast at this point. Like The Madcap Laughs, it's an uncomfortable listen, but Madcap was uncomfortable because it was an eloquent and penetrating look at isolation, whereas this time the discomfort is embarrassment on Syd's behalf.

 The Madcap Laughs by BARRETT, SYD album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.63 | 181 ratings

The Madcap Laughs
Syd Barrett Prog Related

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Produced from torturous sessions - with much help from fellow Floydians Roger Waters and David Gilmour, as well as the Soft Machine guesting on a couple of tracks - Syd Barrett's first solo album conceals within its fairytale lyrics a harrowing insight into mental illness. In the themes of isolation, alienation, and separation pervading songs like Dark Globe or Late Night, Barrett acknowledges - if obliquely - the stresses and torments that had overtaken his musical career, and in doing so offers an insight into that strange and troubled place his mental state had brought him to.

Whether Barrett was schizophrenic, deeply depressed, or simply stressed out and confused from a drug-filled and frenetic lifestyle will be a matter of speculation for as long as his career is remembered; what cannot be denied, though, is the genuine feeling communicated in these simple, stripped-down, beautiful songs. It is tremendously difficult to understand, for those who have not experienced issues similar to Syd's, exactly how mental illness feels from the inside, and it's often extremely difficult for sufferers to express it. There are those who would consider this album exploitative of Syd's condition, but I think on balance it would have done Syd a far worse disservice to silence him by discouraging the production of the album. If it sometimes makes for uncomfortable listening, it's because it opens our eyes to ideas and issues which we all too often prefer not to acknowledge. I think it's Syd's finest musical statement.

Thanks to frenchie for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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