The Madcap Laughs 9 ( 1970 )
Terrapin / No Good Trying / Love You / No Mans Land / Dark Globe / Here I Go / Octopus / Golden Hair / Long Gone / She Took A Long Cold Look / Feel / If It's In You / Late Night
Roger Waters and Dave Gilmour helped finish this album, taking over production duties and encouraging Syd at a point where it looked like 'The Madcap Laughs' was never going to be finished at all. Syd had bought a new flat that was so close to where Dave Gilmour lived, that Dave could see right into Syd's kitchen. Although Dave had replaced Syd in Pink Floyd, he was the one member of the group that remained closest to Syd. It's often mistakenly believed that the decline of Syd Barrett
occurred seemingly overnight, the first time he took LSD, which is not the case at all. Syd's consumption of LSD was large and significant in
precipitating his downfall, there's no doubt about that, but Syd was predisposed to mental-illness in any event. He was uncomfortable with the level of fame he'd
achieved with Pink Floyd. Those things would have been the case, LSD or no LSD. It certainly shortened his career, battling not only with images his own mind gave him, but also the bad effects of LSD must have been extremely difficult and frightening. Personally, I was once diagnosed as suffering from 'Severe Depressive Psychosis', that psychosis part worrying me especially. I had audio and visual hallucinations, and the only drugs
I'd taken were a variety of prescribed anti-depressants. Mental Illness is a terrible
debilitating disease that is too often misunderstood or under-estimated. Severe depression is a very difficult thing to overcome, more often than not, a life-time battle. Chances are, you'll never
achieve what you were once capable of. It hurts me. When I went to university, there was a certain time a drug related to LSD was offered to me, I turned it down flat, quite aware of what it could do to me, given the way my mind was pre-disposed. At the time Syd took LSD, the after effects were a lot less well known, and his taking of this drug certainly contributed heavily to his downfall, but was not at all the only reason he became the way he became. Another myth is that Syd was artistically washed up following his departure from Pink Floyd and had nothing more to offer bar a backlog of old compositions. At least one of the songs on this album was written virtually on the spot, in the studio. Others definitely post-date his final days with Pink Floyd, and others were indeed written whilst he was still an active member of Pink Floyd. Does any of this matter? It should give everybody a greater understanding, Syd was still writing good songs all through 1968 and 1969, his decline was harrowing but gradual.
One of Syd's best new songs, 'Opel' was inexplicably left off this debut set replaced by a couple of songs produced by Roger and Dave that openly let everyone see exactly how difficult it was for Syd to record these songs at all. The sound of Syd audibly breaking up on record amid the sound of pages of lyrics being turned whilst he loses his place does nobody any favours at all, least of all Syd. The other way to look at the songs, 'Feel', 'If It's In Me' and 'She Took A Long Cold Look' is that they painted an accurate picture of the state Syd was in at the time. That was the justification Dave Gilmour later gave for their inclusion, but the oversight of 'Opel' was a tragic
omission, not 'corrected' until it gave it's name to a 1988 LP of out-takes. But, given the sound of a man falling apart,
I've still given this album a '9'? How so? Well, plenty of the songs, the actual words and melodies, the vocal sounds and emotionally affecting qualities - are of the highest order. The sound of the music is usually sparse, certainly in
comparison with Syd's Pink Floyd material, but this light, sparse feel suits the material, and suits the state Syd was in at the time. 'Terrapin' is a lovely song with nice acoustic strumming and very interesting lyrics. 'No Good Trying' features a fuller group performance with electric instrumentation, sounds messy but somehow still holds itself together. The differing rhythms and instrumentation that seemingly doesn't know what it's doing at all actually create a very satisfying and interesting musical track. 'Love You' is super-sweet and delightfully bouncy and silly, 'No Mans Land' another performance featuring bass, electric and drums and it's pretty damn fine, actually. The distortion, the lyrics, the vocals. There is something captivating about this loose, yet still just about together performance. 'Dark Globe' is Syd and guitar, the lyrics are again something striking and worthy, the vocal here reveals the strains and state of Syd's mind. There is an incredible affecting loneliness and humanity that is pretty much unsurpassed in Rock music. 'Here I Go' for a song reputedly written on the spot in the studio is pretty damn great, very charming. 'Octopus' evolved from a composition called 'Clowns And Jugglers' and it's this type of material Syd may have brought to Pink Floyd had he still been a member. It's no great stretch of the imagination to picture this as a 'Piper' styled psychedelic adventure. As recorded here, it's still a mighty good song.
This albums closing sequence is difficult, beautiful, ugly, saddening - still captivating. Syd was reportedly very proud of 'Golden Hair', a James
Joyce poem set to music, and very beautiful in its simplicity and pure quality
it is. 'Long Gone' is Syd, a jaunty guitar figure, another good song. 'She Took A Long Cool Look', 'Feel' and 'If Its In Me' combined together..... words fail me completely. Why does 'If Its In Me' have to include Syd singing completely waywardly, before the song falls apart? On the otherhand, there's a resonance and such emotion here. This isn't a sequence of songs, especially this latter 'If Its In Me' that is easy or 'enjoyable' in the usual sense, but if you like music that affects your emotions in a way that isn't music to party or dance to, then here's a great example. The closing song on the other hand is totally 'together' in an admittedly fragile fashion. The
song is soft, delicate - the guitar sounds absolutely beautiful and gorgeous, sparse, interweaving, pretty and hypnotic. There is little else in music like this 'A Madcap Laughs' album. From an objective viewpoint, it'd be hard to justify giving this a '9', but from an emotional viewpoint and a subjective viewpoint, it's easy to give this a '9'. There's something about this album, a certainly character, that is unmatched anywhere else.
simon B email@example.com
This is one weird, bizarre, peculiar and eccentric album.
You have two types of songs here: well-produced songs with a band and vocals, and
acoustic guitar with vocals songs. Syd Barrett was one of the founding members and
song writers of Pink Floyd, but left after one album with them, PIPER AT THE GATES
OF DAWN (he wrote and sang only one song on their second album, A SAUCERFUL OF
SECRETS). He was forced out of the band because he was hooked on LSD, and was going
insane. Roger Waters and David Gilmour of Pink Floyd helped produce THE MADCAP
LAUGHS. When recording different takes of the same song, Syd would play the song
differently each time, or sometimes he played a completely different song
altogether. On the songs with the band, the tempo and time shifts sometimes, and
it's fun to hear the band trying to keep up with the occasional twist and turn. (you
also feel kinda sorry for them, and of course for Barrett, too).
I must admit, some of the songs are kind of a!
nnoying ("Feel") or long and repetitive ("Terrapin") but the rest of the album is
You should get this album if you're a fan of early Pink Floyd, and especially if
you're a fan of Syd Barrett. It's kinda hard to find, though.
Best Songs: "No Good Trying" (psychedelic), "Love You" (fun, catchy), "No Man's
Land", "Dark Globe", "Here I Go" (fun, catchy), "Octopus" (psychedelic), "Golden
Hair" (beautiful, yet weird and even creepy).
review by simon B.
Brooks Schwartz Steelmover@hotmail.com Syd Barrett has really influenced some of my song lyrics even though I'm a beginner
songwriter.The first song I heard of his(octopus)really blew my mind.I have great
respect for him dispite his LSD problem. Joe H firstname.lastname@example.org This is definately an album like no other. One of my favorite albums ever, and the
sparseness and eccentricity just add to the beauty and uniqueness of the album.
Syd wasn't an ordinary songwriter, as everyone who knows who he is already knows.
But that makes him and this album special. Songs like "Terrapin", "Dark Globe",
"Feel", and "Golden Hair" are gorgeous songs. "Dark Globe" was the song that really
got me into Syd in the first place, as its pure emotion and insanity blew me away.
"If Its In You" is also a personal fave, because although it's as insane as "Dark
Globe" by the way Syd performs it, i can totally see an awesome arrangement of it
played by The Byrds or something. The melody is stunning, but the way it sounds here
is very candid with the way Syd felt and his state of mind at the time and it's not
for everyone. The full band arrangements are perfect to me. They are sloppy, but i don't think the songs would be justified with fully immaculate ! overdubs. I sometimes imagine Syd doing all the instruments on some songs itself, as i think it fits that well. I'd most likely give this one a 10/10 rating. I think every song is great in their own way, and only "She Took A Long Cold Look" ever coming close to being a weak song. But it's short, has a distinguishable melody (i can remember the song when it's not playing), and plus has that weird part in the middle where Syd just stops the song.br>Nick email@example.com I would give a 9 too! The Madcap Laughs is a tender, deep, unique great album. Syd's
best solo performance. It shines as if it had a little dust upon it. Syd's last
sparkle. Sometimes a bit caotic and lonely, other times simply full of hidden
genius. It's nice listening to it in a "right-throgh" way: it clearly gives you
clues on how he must have felt. Thank you Syd! Anyway... your "description" of the
whole LP is simply terrific! There's not much to add.
Brian firstname.lastname@example.org A beautiful fragile and very human album. Definitely a one-off full of great songs that really grow on you over time.
Jamie email@example.com I love listening to this when I have the house to myself or "subjecting" people to it in my car. I say subject because alot of people can't see beyond its ugly exterior. Golden Hair is one of my all-time favourites. Hear my songs: http://www.angelfire.com/theforce/jamieboyer/suitcase
frood in the hood glasgow firstname.lastname@example.org ive forgot the names of some of the useful commenters but how correct is the fact that with the help of david and roger they almost destroyed the albums of a genius by hurrying songs they were involved in and roger is quoted as more or less saying this himself in an even more insulting way. Never mind the time limit the album had it still had more potential but just as well the talent shone through.as for piper it along with everything he done is a 10 for me based on enjoyability.i dont ever remember a feeling of that when i heard bike for the first time what a buzz. the singles-emily candy layne and even vegt man and apples and oranges speak for themselves here i go is probably the best song ever written and bearing in mind im a big doors and beatles fan thats saying something and i love and have heard every song by they 2 and have not been let down once,as with barrett.bearing in mind im 17 the future looks good i suppose if any of u r nockin on a bit dont worry all my fri! ends have been impressed 1 way or another and hopefully it will live on. by the way stanley the simpleton is not on any collectoins as far as im aware,good laugh!!! also people, i know i might get slated for something not about barrett but youv got to check out EVERY libertines song even on the internet the songs that have not been released for whatever reason are an absolute must to any music fan.biddy well and somebody is right i do hope for some news on syd that is not tragic it would be so nice!!!fingers crossed!!! a fan of barrett for less than 6 months. thank xxxx for the ability 2 download hooray!!!
Sean email@example.com Syds mental condition can be glimpsed much earlier than this album. I think it's true that while LSD had a major part to play in his downfall, it baught to the surface rather than caused his coindition. LSD has never really been a popular drug like canabis or cocain, it's effects are unpredictable and vary wildly between users. It has been used in experiments to cure alcoholism and as a potential weapon of war. It is impossible to describe it's effects to somebody who hasn't experienced them. But LSD does not cause depression, loneliness or paranoia. These things are, unfortunately, part of the human condition, and how they are dealt with is up to the individual.
It is a great shame that Syds talent was stiffled by such a debilitating illness, but lets not forget that syds worst song is preferable to 99.9% of the aural junk food foisted upon us by "The Media". Your choice: (a) Listen to MTV for eternity. (b) Listen to Long Gone for eternity. I know which one! I'd choose.
Barrett 8 ( 1970 )
Baby Lemonade / Love Song / Dominoes / It Is Obvious / Rats / Maisie / Gigolo Aunt / Waving My Arms In The Air / I Never Lied To You / Wined And Dined / Wolfpack / Effervescing Elephant
It was reportedly some kind of mighty struggle to get Syd to make this album at all. Dave Gilmour produced, a variety of musicians helped out, and one way to record Syd was for the band to lay down a backing track, complete. Syd would add his parts over the top. This made for a more
professional sounding record, but some would say lost a vital part of the character of Syd, which shone through more fully if the recordings were live, or originated by Syd, with overdubs added later on. The lack of new material coming from the pen of Syd Barrett was certainly a problem when it came round to this, his second solo effort - so much so, 'Effervescing Elephant' pre-dates Pink Floyd, and was one of the very first songs Syd ever wrote. That is ties up the album nicely was a nice stroke of fate. Some of the songs here sound pretty heavy and dark, although not in the way 'If Its In Me' did from 'Madcap'. 'Dominoes' displays this well. It's a glorious song and well performed, but the vocal seems to have come from some deep well of misery and pain. Organ swirls around, it also swirls around the far more cheerful feel of 'Gigolo Aunt', but 'Gigolo Aunt' really doesn't work as recorded here. Overproduced, if such a thing is possible with Syd Barrett, but this brings me back to my initial point. 'Gigolo Aunt' is clearly the sound of the studio musicians laying down a 'professional' backing track based on a Syd idea, with Syd playing and singing over the top, after the event. 'Gigolo Aunt' has a few good catchy melodies, but at close to six minutes meanders for too long. Syd recorded a version of the same song for BBC Radio One DJ Johns Peel's show back in the early Seventies, and that version is well worth hearing. 'Barrett' does have it's share of special songs that work completely however, no matter how long it took for them to be recorded.
The opening 'Baby Lemonade' arrived pretty quickly though, the version that made the finished record being the first take. The sound of Syd alone with his guitar forms a brilliantly distinctive introduction, a series of great lyrics arrive - the song is as catchy as any kind of disease you can imagine, and I apologise for using the word disease in this context. 'Baby Lemonade' has absolutely no bad connotations, it's just a great, wonderful song, slightly
wayward vocals included.
'Love Song' has a gem of a melody, Syd sounds affectionate and happy, even. It's a lovely to hear. He sounds more than a little stoned, but whatever! The glory of 'Dominoes' is followed by 'It Is Obvious' and in this case, we can hear Syd laying down his tracks first of all, with the band added later on. It sounds messy, all over the place - but still the melody shines through as Syd rambles his way through the song. He had a natural way with melody, he was fading fast but there is
still something special here. 'Rats' absolutely pounds, which is even the more remarkable because Syd's contributions were taken directly from his demo version with overdubs added later. 'Maisie' sounds like it was recorded pretty much live, Syd sounds slow and stoned again, and 'Maisie' sounds like a dirge, and not an enjoyable one either. The way the track threatens constantly to collapse, followed by the very closing sung 'Maisie' is quite funny though. 'Waving My Arms In The Air' is enhanced by Piano sections and a clear and decent Barrett vocal. 'I Never Lied To You' is almost too
not there to be called a song at all, for all the ideas it contains but it's brief length results in the song simply being overlooked, rather than problematic as such. A gem arrives with 'Wined And Dined', a gorgeous beautiful little melody sung with real feeling. Take 10, this one. Strange noises in the background and organ parts which sound redundant still can't take away from the beauty of the song. 'Wolfpack' seems to be a half-hearted attempt at psychedelia, and never really holds together despite some more than interesting vocal and guitar sounds. The childs-song of 'Effervescing Elephant' closes proceedings - so daft in nature and childlike - it was written originally when Syd still WAS a child. What did you expect? It makes me smile. 'Barrett' doesn't have as many highpoints as 'Madcap', and a few songs are hardly essential pieces of Barrett, were it not for the fact he never really recorded again.
Ever Since hearing Sydley back in 75/76 Maisie has always struck the Barrett Chord,
I have even named my newly arrived daughter 10.03.04, after this track, After
looking on the internet and seeing your explanation of a masterpiece as "Dirge" -
begs the question - "what qualifies you to pass opinion" - or as Syd might say "It
is obvious, My I say Oh baby that it is found on another plane" - No bad feeling
intended (Honest!) but lets just enjoy and either praise or let the listener decide
(depending on the "plane" at the time)
gnome king firstname.lastname@example.org
Syd, Roger Keith, Barrett is a genius,quite simply-an artistic genius. In a way, I
often feel like I'm going through EXACTLY what he went through in the 60's, but I
know this isn't true.I just feel this way. I've been listening to Syd Barrett's
music for 10 years now and I Never get tired of it. When I'm alone, depressed,
feeling inspired, or just plain spaced-out and yes, his music makes complete sense
while expanding one's mind with various key elements of psychedelic chemistry. I
don't blame him for taking a lot of hallucinogens, and in fact I kind of respect
him for having courageously explored regions of his mind that few others would dare
to compare with the level of ground breaking explorations that Syd did. Yes, I
don't care if you hate me for it, butI respect him for having broken the boundaries
of conventional wisdom. He's a spiritual seeker in a way. I just think that I , or
no one could really understand the true reasons for his mental breakdown. I wish he
created music, and not a day goes by that I don't wonder what he's doing now- or I
wish that I could just meet him and talk to him. I've even sketched several
fluorescent neon portraits of Syd that I would gladly give him if I could meet him
in person. One thing I read recently puzzles me though.I heard that he does
paintings, but then burns them afterward.How could you burn a piece of artwork that
you work hard to create?! Maybe he just cannot please himself artistically,
anymore. I also heard that he is going blind from diabetes. If this is true I worry
about him ,and truly wonder ,but pray that the last piece of news we hear about Syd
won't be tragic.
James Morrell James.Morrell@nyhis.nhs.uk This is a record ruined, either intentionally or unintentionally by Waters and Gilmour - maybe intentionally on Waters' part, as placing Syd in front of a microphone and telling him to get on with it, and then including in the finished record Barrett's preambles to each song/ false starts/ mistakes, hardly constitutes 'production'; maybe Waters wanted to justify his firing of Barrett by presenting him in this apparent state of disintegration. Waters would later claim that he wanted to give a 'real' picture of Syd's incapacity at the time - a spontaneous approach to recording that Waters refused for his own meticulously rehearsed records. Don't forget that Waters is the man who fired Syd from his own band for taking drugs and generally behaving erratically - in a rock and roll band! what next? -and ran Pink Floyd like an office of architects for the next 15 years.
If Waters/Gilmour’s sabotage of this record was only apparant on side two’s acoustic tracks then that wouldn’! t be too bad. Unfortunately, almost every contribution they make to this record is a disaster. Octopus sounds as if it’s from a different album altogether. Gone is the echo, reverb, ‘space’ and volume of pre Waters/Gilmour production tracks such as ‘No Man’s Land’, ‘No Good Trying’ and ‘Love You’ and in comes compression, flatness and ‘order’ totally at odds with the material. Not only that but the Gilmour mix down of ‘Late Night’ is a botch – the vocals are far too high in the mix and the music sounds compressed. Charged with the task of rescuing this record you’d have thought that Gilmour and Waters would at least have tried to complete the album in the same style and spirit of the already existent tracks – but no. Even the placing of ‘Dark Globe’ makes no sense –and it’s also massively louder than the previous track. Idiots.
Pride of a bull email@example.com Is it that rare to think that Barret is the better album?
I have yet to read a review that says rats and maisie are quality songs... this feels like real Syd to me, dark and seclusive, weird and beyond, and if any album feels forced it should be Madcap ;)
Opel 6 ( 1988 )
Opel / Clowns And Jugglers / Rats / Golden Hair / Dolly Rocker / Word Song / Wined And Dined / Swan Lee / Birdie Hop / Let's Split / Lanky / Wouldn't You Miss Me / Milky Way / Golden Hair
The Syd Barrett catalogue was re-issued on CD in 1988, with 'Opel' also appearing due to popular demand of a kind. Daily newspapers in the UK were running 'Have you seen Syd?' stories, fascinated by his history. Rumours of a lost third album proper were put to bed very quickly when it emerged just how little was left in the vaults, so is 'Opel' a worthwhile project? The number of previously unheard songs here amounts to six songs, and that's all. They could have issued those six as bonus tracks on 'Madcap' and 'Barrett', rather than the alternate takes they eventually did choose to issue. Apart from the aforementioned six songs, the rest of 'Opel' consists of demos and early takes of songs that appeared on 'Madcap' and 'Barrett'. 'Clowns And Jugglers' was an early title for 'Octopus', 'Wouldn't You Miss Me' an early title for 'Dark Globe' - these aren't different songs. A demo of 'Rats', an instrumental track for 'Golden Hair' - is this essential listening? 'Opel' can be fascinating listening for fans, but is it enjoyable listening, and does it work as an album? Of the alternate versions and demos, an early 'Wined And Dined' sounds lovely, the vocal is there and the guitar pattern as attractive as ever. 'Golden Hair' appears twice, the version that appears as track fourteen is very minimalist. There's a strange fascination for me listening to this version, but at the end of the day it's just a variation on the way to the finished 'Golden Hair'. I wonder if a day will come when the entire sessions get released, warts and all? Music fans would pour over 19 odd takes of 'Clowns And Jugglers' and watch it turn into 'Octopus'. By the way, the 1993 CD version of this album features six bonus tracks, an alternate take of 'Gigolo Aunt' being better than the version eventually used on 'Barrett'. Two versions of 'It Is Obvious' are pretty fun to listen to as well. Fun, but not major or essential works.
Of the 'new' songs that appear here, 'Dolly Rocker' opens quite strongly with a good melody, the lyrics are interesting. The performance is pretty raw and certainly not polished, but 'Dolly Rocker' adds to the legacy of Syd. 'Word Song' sounds like it was made up on the spot, Syd sings a series of words that don't seem to have anything to do with anything or each other. Strange combinations of words, 'Word Song' comes across as ( possibly? ) unintentionally hilarious. 'Birdie Hop' is difficult to listen to, Syd sounds like he's not even there. 'Let's Split' opens with Syd saying, "I've haven't got a title...... I really haven't got a title.... yeah.... okay" and then performs something that sounds like he didn't really have a song either. He stops, nearly stops, starts again - has few words mapped out so repeats words and really does sound like he's making it up on the spot. 'Lanky' is a gem of an instrumental and the earliest recorded Barrett here, the performance taken from May 14th, 1968 - very close to his final days with Pink Floyd. Syd plays electric guitar, really tries to play it as opposed to the more stumming style he'd later adopt. 'Lanky' sounds like it could have been whipped up quite nicely into shape by Pink Floyd and turned into something very special. 'Milky Way' is a gem of a song and would have made for a good inclusion on the 'Barrett' album. The lyrics and melody are both utterly charming. I've been saving the best til last. The title song, a song unjustly overlooked for inclusion on 'Madcap' - lost in the shuffle according to producer Dave Gilmour, is simply glorious. It's Syd and guitar, and that's all it is, no overdubs and a song lasting in excess of six minutes. The lyrics are extraordinary poetry and self diagnosis. Syd was aware of what was happening to him. The passages of guitar work come across as triumphs of the human spirit over incredible pressures and strain, yet these are beautiful guitar passages. 'Opel' is hypnotic, you can lose yourself in the minor guitar variations. Something special happens, nearly four minutes into the song Syd sings and it kills me - "i'm trying.....i'm trying.... to find you". "i'm living, i'm crying...", he sounds so desperately lonely, a true cry for help, a state of address - here I am.
gnome king firstname.lastname@example.org
I think this album stands alone as the final statement concluding everything Syd
worked so hard to full fill in his artistic vision.I think I like this album even
better than "Madcap Laughs" . "Milky Way" reminds me always of a really fun trip I
had a decade ago in high school. Yes, there are similarities between "Madcap
Laughs" and "OPEL" butI still think OPel stands alone as a decent album all
together as original as any one of his other two releases. I like "Word Song"
because of its stream-of consciousness attempt at pure poetry-even though it makes
no rational sense, some of the best art ever created was never meant to be
understood in a rational sense.It almost paints a perfect picture of the
subconscious and enables a sober person to feel what it's like to trip. The music
and vocals have just as much harmony as any Beatles song, and I think Syd is just
as much of a genius as John Lennon in the pinnacle of his creativity.
LuminousGrin email@example.com your reviews of Barrett's work are pretty much spot on and womderfully sensitive to the artist. i love what you said about Rats and also Opel (the song) yes you're correct -the sonmg is hauntingly beautiful-i love it but it makes me cry...so belak.. but i hope if you see this (i have no idea how old the reviews are...) since you were kind enough to share your own experiences of Menatl issues.. that Syd who is roger now ... not using his childhood nicname anymore is fine and doing very well just has learned the hard way that the music business eats a sensitve soul alive... so he does his art, and enjoys a very quiet life take care and thank you