Thursday, December 20, 2007

Syd Barrett-Barrett

Info From Wikipedia:

After leaving Pink Floyd, Barrett distanced himself from the public eye. However, at the behest of EMI and Harvest Records, he did have a brief solo career, releasing two solo albums, The Madcap Laughs and Barrett. Much of the material on both albums dates from Barrett's most productive period of songwriting, late 1966 to mid 1967, and it is believed that he wrote few new songs after he left Pink Floyd
Barrett was the second and final studio album of new material released by former Pink Floyd member Syd Barrett. In February 1970, shortly after releasing his first album, The Madcap Laughs, Barrett appeared on John Peel's Top Gear radio show where he presented only one song from the newly released album. Two days later, he began working on his second album in the Abbey Road Studios.It was produced by David Gilmour and featured Gilmour on bass guitar, Rick Wright on keyboard and Humble Pie drummer Jerry Shirley.

Review By George Starostin:
A good chance wasted. The barrel was far from being empty - maybe Syd's new ideas were getting more and more messed up as he was falling further into insanity, but his back catalogue was not yet depleted, and the second album promised to be at least as good as the first, if not better. Some of the first-rate material here proves it, actually: 'Baby Lemonade', 'Dominoes', 'Gigolo Aunt' all have that fire in them, being as madly beautiful as the Madcap material.But there was a problem. Dave Gilmour and Rick Wright, who had already took the informal position of Syd's musical curators, made a fatal mistake by deciding to make Syd's second album more 'commercial': that is, take most of the material and develop it to a certain state that would be acceptable by the general public, like writing some tight arrangements, inserting some generic keyboard solos and mixing out all of Syd's mistakes and lapses. This proved to be a double-sided decision. On one hand, this really contributes to the album's listenability: this I would never deny. Some of the songs here do sound like real and true rock songs instead of sounding like personal raving confessions of a schizophrenic. This probably explains why some people rate this as Syd's finest hour - just because they're not able to stomach Madcap and run for cover into the company of more 'normal' arrangements. In another world I would probably have done likewise, as I'm always in favour of the "golden middle" - a nice balance between the 'weird' and 'traditional'. Hell, I gave Zappa's Freak Out a 10, after all, just for that reason.
But unfortunately, there's no true "golden middle" here. The problem is that what the Floydsters did was contorting Syd's real image and personality in favour of rather dubious 'acceptability'. Yes, rockers at heart will probably appreciate this second album more, but goddamn is it boring. Maybe if they had let Syd mess around in the studio alone with his guitar, the results would have been more satisfying (actually, this is proved by some of the outtakes on Opel). As it is, lots of songs are stuffed with half-spirited instrumental passages that have nothing to do with Syd (indeed, as Dave later admitted, quite a lot of work was done on the songs after Syd had already left the studio) but instead have everything to do with a nearly-comatose, totally uninspired Rick Wright. The worst blow comes on the would-be good, classic tune 'Gigolo Aunt', an upbeat pop rocker where Syd seems to come to his senses and deliver something nice and 'stable'; but it ends in a lengthy jam and goes on for almost six minutes when it should have certainly been limited to three. Is this really Syd Barrett?
However, if it were just for the instrumental passages, the situation would have been tolerable where it really isn't. The reason is that the lame Pink Floydsters manage to overshadow Syd on virtually every track - the vocals are buried so low that sometimes they're hardly audible at all. I mean, it is understandable that Syd could hardly be coped with at the time - most of the period he was in total prostration, only coming out once in a while, but wouldn't that mean that the people around him were obliged to make the best of his abilities? Yet they wouldn't, instead letting him rave and rant and then muddying up his vocals even further which leads to such freak-outs as the mumbling 'Rats' where Syd sounds like a person in total delirium muttering incoherent words on his deathbed.
The throwaways here are even more throwaway than the ones on Madcap ('Waving My Arms In The Air', 'It Is Obvious' and 'I Never Lied To You', for instance, never seem to do jack for me), and as it is, there are only about three or four finished songs. 'Baby Lemonade' is probably the best of these, recalling Syd's childish stuff on Piper, and 'Gigolo Aunt' and 'Wined And Dined' are also very good. The latter even has something Beatlesque about it, don't you think?
Finally, 'Dominoes' should probably hold the record as Syd's saddest song, certainly written in a particular fit of melancholy. Speaking of Beatles, it also reminds me of Paul McCartney's 'Junk' a little, in the atmosphere department - so sad, personal and deeply moving for no particular reason. And the record closes with one of Syd's earliest compositions, 'Effervescing Elephant', which is just about one minute long and is very very funny indeed.
My personal favourite here, though, is not very Syd-dish: it's a heavy, bluesy tune with menacing booming drums ('Maisie'), where Syd unexpectedly adopts a very low growl and is obviously just having fun, I mean, real fun. Face it, it's interesting to hear a madman having fun. It's not much of a song, and it's certainly not representative at all, but it has a dark charm of its own: like a generic blues song reinterpreted by a schizophrenic. Or, rather, a schizophrenic trying to concoct a generic blues and captured in the process of struggling with the melody and lyrics...
I fully understand that quite a lot of people would never agree with me in my assessment of this album. Well, tastes are tastes, but one thing's obvious: if Syd's nature and Syd's genius is what you're looking for, this is not the first place to stop. Better still, just keep listening and re-listening to Madcap until its mad brilliancy soaks deep into you, and you'll be surprised at how dull and ultimately predictable and generic this second record is, even with all the high points

Syd Barrett-Barrett @320 Artwork Included

All songs by Syd Barrett.
1) Baby Lemonade – 4:10 Take 1, Recorded 26 February 1970
2)Love Song – 3:03 Take 1, Recorded 17 July 1970, overdubs added 17 July
3)Dominoes – 4:08 Take 3, Recorded 14 July 1970
4)It Is Obvious – 2:59 Take 1, Recorded 17 July 1970 overdubs added 20 July
5)Rats" – 3:00 Recorded 7 May 1970, overdubs added 5 June
6)Maisie" – 2:51 Take 2, Recorded 26 February 1970
7)Gigolo Aunt" – 5:46 Take 15, Recorded 27 February 1970, overdubs added 2 April
8) Waving My Arms In The Air" – 2:09 Take 1, Recorded 27 February 1970 overdubs and new vocal track 2 April
9)I Never Lied To You" – 1:50 Take 1, Recorded 27 February 1970, overdubs and new vocal track 2 April
10)Wined And Dined" – 2:58 Take 10, Recorded 14 July 1970
11)Wolfpack – 3:41 Take 2, Recorded 3 April 1970
12)Effervescing Elephant" – 1:52 Take 9, Recorded 14 July 1970

Bonus Tracks
13)Baby Lemonade Take 1
14)Waving My Arms In The Air Take 1
15)I Never Lied To You Take 1
16)Love Song Take 1
17)Dominoes Take 1
18)Dominoes Take 2
19)It Is Obvious Take 2

Part 1:
Part 2:


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