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SYD BARRETT

Prog Related • United Kingdom


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Syd Barrett picture
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 www.progarchives.com :
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.

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The Madcap LaughsThe Madcap Laughs
Legacy 2016
$7.98
$13.19 (used)
BarrettBarrett
Reissued · Extra tracks
Harvest 2013
$5.32
$9.61 (used)
OpelOpel
Legacy 2016
$7.72
$5.01 (used)
Crazy DiamondCrazy Diamond
Box set · Limited Edition
Emd Int'l 1993
$99.99
$74.98 (used)
The Best of Syd Barrett: Wouldn't You Miss Me?The Best of Syd Barrett: Wouldn't You Miss Me?
Parlophone 2001
$5.30
$3.90 (used)
The Peel SessionThe Peel Session
Dutch East 1991
$38.99
$12.86 (used)
Syd Barrett - Under ReviewSyd Barrett - Under Review
Multiple Formats
Chrome Dreams 2006
$9.95
$1.82 (used)
An Introduction to Syd BarrettAn Introduction to Syd Barrett
Remastered
EMI 2010
$48.44
$21.00 (used)
Side By Side: Dark GlobeSide By Side: Dark Globe
Single · Limited Edition
Imports 2015
$19.99
$20.05 (used)
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SYD BARRETT discography


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

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

3.65 | 190 ratings
The Madcap Laughs
1970
3.29 | 139 ratings
Barrett
1970

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

2.38 | 23 ratings
The Peel Sessions
1987
2.50 | 21 ratings
The Radio One Sessions
2004

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

1.26 | 15 ratings
Syd Barrett's First Trip*
2001
3.45 | 14 ratings
The Syd Barrett Story
2004
2.25 | 4 ratings
Under Review
2006

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

3.00 | 11 ratings
Syd Barrett
1974
2.41 | 52 ratings
Opel
1989
2.14 | 6 ratings
Octopus
1992
4.18 | 19 ratings
Crazy Diamond
1994
3.98 | 22 ratings
Wouldn't You Miss Me?
2001
2.66 | 10 ratings
The Madcap Laughs / Barrett
2003
3.50 | 2 ratings
Maximum Syd Barrett
2006
3.61 | 25 ratings
An Introduction To Syd Barrett
2010

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

4.29 | 7 ratings
Octopus
1969
3.50 | 8 ratings
The Peel Sessions
1987
0.00 | 0 ratings
Crazy Diamond
1993

SYD BARRETT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 An Introduction To Syd Barrett by BARRETT, SYD album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2010
3.61 | 25 ratings

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An Introduction To Syd Barrett
Syd Barrett Prog Related

Review by 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.

 Barrett by BARRETT, SYD album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.29 | 139 ratings

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Barrett
Syd Barrett Prog Related

Review by mariorockprog

4 stars 3.5: The second and last album from Barret, also produced by Gilmour as the first one and with the help of Richard Wright, instead of Roger Waters this time. After hearing Madcap, I wasn't entirely satisfied with what I heard, I was expecting something better, It has its moments, but really doesn't stand out. So, for this one, I wasn't expecting too much, also by the given rating in the page, but musically and lyrically, I think is better and make more sense. I liked the way Syd Barret composed for Pink Floyd, and I think I can hear here some of those moments in this record. Obviously, musically is better than the first one, it is not only acoustic songs without feeling and nothing more, as in te first one, but it includes better produced moments adding the music of his past members of Pink Floyd. There is so much difference with the first, lyrically it makes more sense, the lyrics are more deep and with different level of interpretations. Musically, so much better, Roger Water didn't put any effort in the first one, I think, and I can say that the Wright feeling improve a lot the quality of the songs. Finally, is a good record, better than the first one, however you are not going to have a lot of prog here, so It is a nice to hear album, but nothing more.
 The Madcap Laughs by BARRETT, SYD album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.65 | 190 ratings

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The Madcap Laughs
Syd Barrett Prog Related

Review by mariorockprog

2 stars 2.5: The first solo album from Syd barrett. After leaving or left behind for his addiction problem, Syd dedicated to make two albums, and create a lot of unreleased material. After really making a lot of investigation of the life of Barret, I got very interested to know more about his material. As a fan of Pink Floyd, I liked the first album, but really didnt think that it was the Pink Floyd I really love, however a different taste that I also like. So I re heard the Piper album and analyze the lyrics of every song, and really enjoyed more. As the other members of the band said, They will never started, if he wasnt there. So, although I like the style of Syd Barret with PF, I am not the PF fan that thinks that after Syd, there was not PF anymore. So, I began to hr in hearing more material of Syd Barret, first, with Pink Floyd and his unreleased songs, I liked them too, and then decided to get into his albums. The best of having a band with talent members is that the songs are filtered and improved for the contributions of the others, I say this because it applies to any of the solo works of any PF member. Musically you are going to find a folk album with really simple songs, not prog at all, sometimes funny and catchy lyrics, while a few having oustanding meanings, but some of them being really forgettable, in fact, some look unfinished or out of tune. Most of the song are about love, other about his acid trips and maybe about Pink floyd leaving him behind. I think most of the people try to find incredible meanings to his lyrics, I agree that sometimes he shines like diamond with his powerful lyrics, but I also think that his better work was made with Pink Floyd. So, I considered an average album, and recommended to any who love his style in composition, but if you dont listen to it, you are not going to miss too much.
 Barrett by BARRETT, SYD album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.29 | 139 ratings

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Barrett
Syd Barrett Prog Related

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams

3 stars This album "Barrett" has seen the light in 1970 as Syd's second (and the last) studio-based full-length album. Already he's been abused in and broken out by lots of illegal psychic agents and could have floated in another dimension, plus his distorted soundscape should have been overthere, and sounds like a couple of collaborators should have taken him back to the real world (sounds like he could not have beaten at all though). Anyway wondering why this album is less addictive than the previous one. Maybe as follows.

Honest to say, he runs along at full speed from the beginning "Baby Lemonade" until the epilogue "Effervescing Elephant", where such a psychic agent created by him is pretty effective for the audience. At least for me this track should be one of his masterpieces. Every single track is quite drenched in mad and polluted muddy space. Sounds more productive than ones in the previous creation actually. However, something confusing comes around me after completing this entire album. As though I would have drunk a bottle of wine where are many kinds of flavour and essence but the atmosphere is loose and disarrayed ... as a result, this wine is not so good, despite of many kinds of fascinating flavour. Guess Syd might have created material just as he wanted to do under abusive condition.

Sadly in this stuff a great madcap Syd got to be a real madman suitable for another dimension. This album would just be a moment he stepped into the inferno, Roger could never reach eternally.

 The Madcap Laughs by BARRETT, SYD album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.65 | 190 ratings

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The Madcap Laughs
Syd Barrett Prog Related

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams

5 stars Exactly dispersed, dissected, distorted authentic acid folk. 'The Madcap Laughs' is kinda vertigo accelerator for me, that cannot be removed by antihistaminic agents. Am I wrong?

A transcendent musical madness 'The Madcap Laughs' has been created by Syd BARRETT, the frontman of Pink Floyd and at the same time the emotional support for their debut album / the progressive rock masterpiece 'The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn', and been released as his debut solo album in 1970. 'The Madcap Laughs' features Syd's acoustic guitar and lazy voices with a couple of simple rock instruments in collaboration with some session musicians like Roger Waters, David Gilmour or a producer Peter Jenner. Obviously such a simple formation should highlight Syd's composition or soundscape, each of that synchronizes with the other.

13 songs all are short and primitive, filled with downtempo, drone essence launched up via Barrett psychic world, where is no polyrhythmic footprint nor complicated melody line. But crazy, his terrific acoustic discharge based upon his own acid folk vision should drive the audience mad definitely. 'Here I Go' sounds like sorta mediocre folk song but in this track are lots of hallucinogenic or adrenalized melodic, rhythmic elements. 'Golden Hair', one of my faves, is full of Krautrock-ish acidity and antiviral activity. Even one of the most acceptable stuffs in this album 'Octopus' has melodically cynical atmosphere and weird symphonies of sickness. We the audience should digest this madcap enough to make ourselves schizophrenic. Yes enough is enough.

This incredible creation notifies us of the reason Roger could not exceed Syd in a musical and emotional career. Yes because he lived in another world, another dimension of musical and real life. Anyway who is 'Madcap' he mentioned in this album. I do not consider it might be Syd but be all people around him, who would have thought himself decent I guess.

 Opel by BARRETT, SYD album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1989
2.41 | 52 ratings

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Opel
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
3.65 | 190 ratings

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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
3.65 | 190 ratings

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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

Who?

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
3.61 | 25 ratings

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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
3.65 | 190 ratings

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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.

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

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