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Syd Barrett - Opel CD (album) cover


Syd Barrett


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2.43 | 54 ratings

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2 stars Be warned: "Opel" isn't a missing studio album from the tragic and too-abbreviated solo career of PINK FLOYD's wayward acid casualty Syd Barrett. Instead, it's a collection of (mostly) unreleased outtakes and unpolished rehearsals from the sessions for his two legitimate albums, most of them left in the studio bins for good reason.

The more or less finished songs, as they finally appeared on "The Madcap Laughs" in 1970 and the self-titled "Barrett" later that same year, revealed much of the charm and childlike imagination still untouched by the singer's erratic mood swings. But the unadorned outtakes only expose the sorry degradation of his drug-ravaged mind. Put another way: the completed albums show the damaged genius of Syd Barrett; the outtakes on "Opel" show only the damage.

The highlight of the album would have to be its haunting title track, with a truly heartbreaking chorus echoing the artist's increasing isolation from reality ("I'm find you...") And the alternate early take of the song "Dark Globe" is far superior to the ragged version chosen (why?) for "The Madcap Laughs".

But too much of the material here is simply too sad and embarrassing, for example the unreleased "Word Song" (the only surviving take, not surprisingly) and the original two-track demo of the song "Rats". The former is a haphazard recitation over a slow, catatonic acoustic guitar chord, and the latter is one of several free association improvs in search of a stable tempo. In both examples (and elsewhere on the album) it sounds like Barrett was either killing valuable studio time in front of a live microphone, or else having a piss in an LSD fog at the expense of his beleaguered engineer.

Compare too the engaging "Octopus", from the "Madcap" album, to the clearly exasperated, overdubbed jamming on the early version of the same song included here. Barrett may have already self-destructed, but his accompaniment wasn't exactly rock-steady either.

In the end the album's only virtue is to suggest something of the superhuman efforts made by his friends and ex-bandmates to help produce two albums of halfway professional quality for public release. And, with unsentimental hindsight, it might also go some distance toward excusing the other members of PINK FLOYD for their seemingly callous decision to abandon Barrett on the eve of the band's inevitable ascent to superstardom.

Neu!mann | 2/5 |


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