Syd Barrett – An Introduction to Syd Barrett

January 01, 1970

(Capitol-EMI)

 

Who
knows what kind of music would have emerged from the madcap mind of Roger Keith
Barrett, lovingly known as Syd for the better part of his life, had the
enigmatic former frontman of The Pink Floyd not imprisoned himself with the
confusion of his own LSD-induced schizophrenia that kept him out of the public
eye until his quiet death from pancreatic cancer in 2006. Would the bald, fat,
diabetic Syd that sauntered into Abbey
Road when his old chums were in the throes of
recording their classic paean to his absence, 1975’s Wish You Were Here, been able to muster the same hallucinogenic
magic the young, dark and dapper Syd crafted in his creative heyday?
Unfortunately, the remainder of Barrett’s adult life was spent painting,
listening to The Beach Boys, wearing Hawaiian shirts and living as a recluse in
the room where he grew up in his mum’s house never seemed to let on the promise
of a rumored third album-so all we have to his legacy are two solo albums, 1970’s
The Madcap Laughs and Barrett (both of which we hope to see
deluxe editions in the near future), an odds-and-sods collection in 1988’s Opel and, of course, his brief output
with Floyd that includes the band’s 1967 debut LP Piper At The Gates of Dawn and the early freak-folk nugget “Jugband
Blues” from 1968’s A Saucerful of Secrets.
Neither that song nor, strangely enough, “Interstellar Overdrive” made the
final track listing of this latest “best of” package released by Barrett’s
label, EMI, and the first to feature a combined collection of tracks from both
his Pink Floyd and solo days. And, unless you are a Pink Floyd completist, there is really nothing on An
Introduction to Syd Barrett
that a well put-together podcast could not have
conveyed. But what makes this 18-track collection an indispensible addition
to any true fan’s library is the lovingly crafted way with which this set was
made. Executive produced by David Gilmour, a lifelong friend of Barrett’s and
the man who replaced him as the guitarist in Pink Floyd, and featuring gorgeous
cover art by longtime Floyd jacket artist Storm Thorgerson along with an
informative 40-page booklet, this is, warts and all, the most enjoyable compendium
of Syd’s most cherished compositions, rife with such staples as “Arnold Layne”,
“See Emily Play”, “Matilda Mother” (modified with some 2010 input),  “Bike”, “Terrapin,” “Dark Globe”, remixed
versions of “Octopus” and “Dominoes”, “Gigolo Aunt” and the recently unearthed
“Bob Dylan Blues”. There’s also a cool Easter egg in the form of a download
code that comes along with the purchase of this set and will unlock an mp3 of a
previously unreleased 20-minute long instrumental jam called “Rhamadan”, said
to feature T. Rex percussionist Steve Peregrine Took on congas. Not including
“Jugband” or “Interstellar”, as well as Barrett’s intended second contribution
to Saucerful, the autobiographical
“Vegetable Man”, or-for shame!-“Astronomy Domine”, definitely takes away from An Introduction to Syd Barrett serving as the most comprehensive word on the artistry of rock’s greatest tragic
figure. But it most definitely offers a lasting glimpse of his underrated
greatness as a pop songwriter, a rock ‘n’ roll bard as lovelorn as Paul
McCartney and Brian Wilson, albeit on a copious amount of blotter acid.

 

 

DOWNLOAD: “Arnold Layne”, “See Emily
Play”, “Matilda Mother”, “Dark Globe”, “Bob Dylan Blues”, “Rhamadan” RON HART

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