Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Rumour & Psychedelia: Syd Barrett 75

We'll start off the brand new year with some old music set in the then-distant future.

For today would have been the 75th birthday of a legendary figure many folks feel is the true father of modern psychedelic music.

As is well documented, he didn't last in music very long. Nor did he live very long in terms of years or quality of life.

Probably the first and most tragic LSD casualty of the much-fetishized music of the 1960s, the band he founded and guided to early stardom wrote a whole record about him that went past #1 worldwide.

I think it's still on the charts 233 years later.

He famously crashed the sessions, with it taking 45 minutes for his mates to figure out who the fat bald dude in Studio B was before they burst into tears and took him 'round the pub for tea.

You can't really blame them for kicking him out eight years earlier, can you? There's artists where you'd think OK, I'd rather hear this guy strum one chord over and over again no matter what song the band is playing onstage, but that sorta thing doesn't really work in the traditional verse-chorus structure. 

Even if it's Pink Floyd and they aren't against experimentation... within reason you could explain to a 1960s concert promoter.

They tried to help him, too. The maneuvers they executed on the raw tapes of his solo records are nothing short of perfectly miraculous, given the primitive tech they were making the best of back when those LPs were waxed.

It isn't that he's insensate, and the Mandrax and psychedelics have him so gonzo in the studio they have to prop him up with a winch in the vocal booth with his guitar glued to him with cellotape. 
Those stories are, I think -- based on the evidence on the unadulterated tapes cut over the course of three years -- largely mythological, and speak to the pleasure Baby Boomers seem to take in recounting and reveling in how when they were young they took so much drugs that their pineal glands exploded.

What I hear on these tapes -- yes they are amazing, and should be collected, remastered and fully annotated in an official box set of some sort ASAP as the vital, historical documents they are -- is a better-than-astounding songwriter doing what songwriters do in the studio.

That is, laying down basic, working takes of their songs to mine for arrangement and revision ideas, and beginning to pound them into a sort of shape they would deem releaseworthy.

Was our hero pretty fucked up and difficult? I'm sure... great artists often are. Was he irresponsibly pitiful at following through, or in nowhere near the sort of focused shape he'd have needed to be in not to leave his friends to have to work their magic upon these raw takes to turn them into the classic, revered records they still are to this day? The Magic 8 Ball says "I'm Afraid So".

Did he deteriorate further from there? Sadly, he did. Did the hounding he got from the press and fans help? Not so much.

But what I hear on these incredible, unfiltered recordings that became his three albums is not the incommunicative zombie of Rock-n-Roll lore. 
To cast this seminal creator with such a demeaned, lowest common denominator description, and to take interest in his music in a rubbernecky way -- as some do -- because he was legendarily (and drug-assistedly) mentally ill does a horrifying disservice to a tremendously formative figure, without whom the music of our epoch would arguably be almost unrecognizable.

So this is for the crazy diamond, ever shining on. The legend and martyr, the miner for truth and illusion, and the seer of visions. Blown on the steel breeze, the Piper at the gates of the dawn of psychedelia.
This is for Syd Barrett, who should still be alive, but who will never die in terms of his utterly unquantifiable influence on uncountable numbers of other musicians and artists, and the completely unique and singularly tragi-whimsical songs he left the world in his short time.

Syd Barrett
Mingling Jets & Statuesque
In the Studio, 1967-70

01 Scream Thy Last Scream [Take 4. August 7, 1967]
02 Golden Hair [Takes 1+2. May 14, 1968+Take 1. May 28, 1968, combined]
03 Swan Lee (Silas Lang) [Take 5. May 28+June 8, 1968, April 10, 1969]
04 Opel [Take 9. April 11, 1969]
05 Love You [Take 3. April 11, 1969]
06 It's No Good Trying [Take 3. April 11, 1969]
07 Octopus [Take 2. June 12, 1969]
08 Wouldn't You Miss Me (Dark Globe) [Take 1. July 26, 1969]
09 She Took a Long Cold Look At Me [Take 5. July 26, 1969]
10 Long Gone [Take 1. July 26, 1969]
11 Baby Lemonade [Take 1. February 26, 1970, ending rejoined]
12 Maisie [Take 2. February 26, 1970]
13 Gigolo Aunt [Take 9. February 27, 1970]
14 Waving My Arms In the Air-I Never Lied to You [Take 1. April 2, 1970]
15 Birdy Hop [Take 1. June 7, 1970]
16 Rats [Take 1. June 7, 1970]
17 Wined and Dined [Take 2. June 7, 1970]
18 Milky Way [Take 5. June 7, 1970]
19 Love Song [Take 1. July 14, 1970]
20 Dominoes [Take 2. July 14, 1970]
21 Untitled (Word Song) [Take 1. July 21, 1970]
22 It Is Obvious [Take 5. July 22, 1970]
23 Dolly Rocker [Take 1. July 14, 1970]
24 Let's Split [Take 12. July 14, 1970]
25 Vegetable Man [Unknown Take. October 9-12, 1967]

Total time: 1:18:13

Tracks 01 & 25: Pink Floyd
Syd Barrett - guitar, tapes & vocals
Roger Waters - bass
Richard Wright - keyboards & vocals
Nick Mason - drums

Tracks 02-24: Syd solo
Syd Barrett - guitars & vocals
David Gilmour - bass & drums on "Maisie"
Richard Wright - keyboards
Jerry Shirley - drums

compendium of reels of very low gen raw studio outtakes
sourced from the 2016 bootleg 4CD set Joyful Lunacy on the Sigma label from Japan
selected and sequenced -- with Tracks 02 and 11 repaired -- by EN, January 2021
482 MB FLAC/January 2021 archive link

I created a version of Golden Hair that never existed before -- using two different takes (one vocal, one instrumental) strategically overlayed together -- and reconstituted the full version of Baby Lemonade from the two fragments on the boot CD set. I really feel this is as good a distillation of the 102 tracks on that (crazy hard to find) thing as could be, if I do say so.

Enjoy and I'll be back in a few days with another huge b'day extravaganza. And a happy one to Syd Barrett, wherever he is... hopefully he got the magnesium proverbs and sobs, and the clover honeypots of mystic shining feed, he wanted for his birthday.--J.

1.6.1946 - 7.7.2006


  1. certainly he is up there with skip spence who went bonkers first
    were u able to get those young marble giants recordings?
    thanks for the syd
    ps what a day today was hey?jan 6th 2021

    1. it was a low point, fasho

      yes I got dem YMGs for thee, lemme blast em in the cloud for you

    2. here's your YMGs, just as teetering shared them:

      Enjoy roberth and thank you for being here

  2. Glad that the Floyd supported Syd including ensuring the royalties

  3. Please be so nice and re-up. A lot of thanks in advance.

    1. there's a link at the bottom of the page that links to all the music from this blog... but here's a direct link to this post for you:

    2. Thanks a lot. Very kind of you. I also downloaded a favorite of mine: SPARKS. You put surely a lot of effort in assembling all these rare tracks.

    3. yes that took quite an effort, but I think it came out pretty darn good