A founding member of Pink Floyd who suffered a mental breakdown in the late '60s, Syd Barrett is revered in some circles for his singular vision. While outtake recordings that have surfaced have sadly shown much of his psy... more »chic dislocation, his two solo albums he released have much idiosyncratic beauty to offer. Barrett is the second solo album, joining The Madcap Laughs as a solid representation of Barrett's innate tunefulness and bizarre, surrealist imagery. Produced by the Floyd's David Gilmour and Rick Wright and featuring Humble Pie's Jerry Shirley on drums, the album veers from lighthearted shuffling jug band tunes to the grand and majestic "Baby Lemonade," possibly Barrett's finest song. Several other Barrett staples such as "Dominoes," "Rats," "Gigolo Aunt," and "Effervescing Elephant" showcase Barrett's knack for unexpected chord changes and inventive rhythmic breaks. Ironically, Barrett's music is not some heavy "acid rock" trip but a free-spirited, openly optimistic, and folkie journey through one man's unusual mind. --Rob O'Connor« less
A founding member of Pink Floyd who suffered a mental breakdown in the late '60s, Syd Barrett is revered in some circles for his singular vision. While outtake recordings that have surfaced have sadly shown much of his psychic dislocation, his two solo albums he released have much idiosyncratic beauty to offer. Barrett is the second solo album, joining The Madcap Laughs as a solid representation of Barrett's innate tunefulness and bizarre, surrealist imagery. Produced by the Floyd's David Gilmour and Rick Wright and featuring Humble Pie's Jerry Shirley on drums, the album veers from lighthearted shuffling jug band tunes to the grand and majestic "Baby Lemonade," possibly Barrett's finest song. Several other Barrett staples such as "Dominoes," "Rats," "Gigolo Aunt," and "Effervescing Elephant" showcase Barrett's knack for unexpected chord changes and inventive rhythmic breaks. Ironically, Barrett's music is not some heavy "acid rock" trip but a free-spirited, openly optimistic, and folkie journey through one man's unusual mind. --Rob O'Connor
Kerry Leimer | Makawao, Hawaii United States | 05/08/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There is no way to predict either "The Madcap Laughs" or "Barrett" based on the few things we originally heard from Syd on Pink Floyd's debut album. At once, the records are miles apart and still as close as they could ever be. Of the two solo albums, "Barrett" is perhaps more readily accessible than "The Madcap Laughs" simply because it features a more typical rock line-up and a more traditional "songs" approach. But there is nothing typical or traditional about "Barrett".This album is eccentirc in different ways: the "oh I forgot I was playing a solo" solo in "Gigolo Aunt", the bizarre atmosphere of "Maisie", the stylistic symmetry of song pacing between side one with side two, on the album anyway. (Baby Lemonade / Gigolo Aunt. Love Song / Waving My Arms in the Air. Dominoes / I Never Lied to You. It is Obvious / Wined and Dined. Rats / Wolfpack. Maisie / Elephant.) What it took to make this album one can only imagine and it seems a great deal of credit belongs to David Gilmour for pulling, and keeping, things together. There is a pervasively sad beauty to everything. Sad not from pain, but from surrender to a nostalgia and longing. These are the emotions that provide the record with a deeper sense of organization, intentional or not.There is also a loose and improvised feel to much of what's going on here, and yet there are many many familiar markers. The bluesy riff on "Maisie" is nothing special, but the surpressed, almost mumbled delivery of the lyrics transforms the simple music into something ethereal. And we hear the lyrics of someone, no matter how altered by drugs and shades of mental illness, who has a singular voice. It would be too much to compare Barrett to Rimbaud, but there is a parallel sense of disorientation, dislocation and perceiving the everday as suddenly strange and saturated with new and concealed meaning. The clowns of "Baby Lemonade" remind us of "Octopus" from "The Madcap Laughs" -- originally called "Clowns and Jugglers". Here reality is transformed through incongruous juxtaposition: "sad town; cold iron hands; party of clowns; rain falls in grey." For lack of a better term, these are signature lyrics and belong only to Barrett because they show an uncanny ability to turn everything inside-out: "In the evening, sun going down, when the earth streams in, in the morning."Even with these brilliant words "Barrett " is a disarming record because as familiar as the music is, the whole is much stranger than the surface reveals. The instrumental passages are almost all very casual and offhand, and still unique -- the backwards guitar on "Dominoes" is something that would usually make me breathe the word "cliche", yet in the context of that most sad song it feels neither cliche or even derivative. At every moment, we're experiencing something very different and very unique. Taken apart and taken together "Barrett" is remarkable music, and anything but obvious."
A Mad Genius at work
Kerry Leimer | 02/09/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I should start with a few caveats. First, I thinks it's something of a scandal that no one has reviewed this album before me. Second, I freely admit that although I love Syd Barrett's music, and count him among the greatest songwriters ever, I'm a little hard-pressed to explain why. The best I can do is to say that this is music that bypasses the head and goes straight for the heart."Barrett", Syd Barrett's second solo album, is a little more polished than his first ("The Madcap Laughs", q.v.). This seems to be due to the contributions of his ex-bandmates, David Gilmour and Rick Wright, who produced this album. It's almost as if they led Syd into the studio, sat him down, bid him play, recorded what came out, and fleshed it out later. (Maybe that's exactly what happened, I don't know.) In any case, some of Barrett's lovliest songs are here, including "Baby Lemonade", "Love Song", "Dominoes", and "Gigolo Aunt". "Waving My Arms In The Air" ranks very high among my favorite Barrett songs (I like to bemuse my friends with this one), "Wined And Dined" is an achingly beautiful love song, and "Effervescing Elephant" is a charming nursery ditty (try singing this one as fast as possible without running out of breath). Hardly a bad song here."
Madness: it takes one to know one
Kerry Leimer | 08/18/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Barrett is a fine album, a bit choppy and unrefined, but spotted by such wonderful explosions of chaos (Rats whips me into a frenzy every time I hear it.) It also provides some fine juggling of the English language (The Effervescing Elephant has great metre, Rats has a wonderful rhythm (comparable to Cirrus Minor)) and every song has very creative lyrics. I don't recommend this album to any superficial Floyd fans who can only extend their affection to The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon, while, with supercillious airs, spurn Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Saucerful of Secrets ("Gee, this music's getting creepy...")"
Difficult, emotional, intensely rewarding
Kerry Leimer | 11/13/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album is not for casual listeners. And it is not for those who require the jauntiness of some of Syd's Pink Floyd songs. Syd's life was falling apart when this album was made, and it shows. The songs often seem to start off as simple, perky pop songs and take turns for the worse; the chord progressions are unexpected and weird; Syd's voice is unbearably broken and plaintive. Songs like "Baby Lemonade" are hooky enough to be immediately satisfying, but on repeated listening the poppiness conceals a terrible ache: "In the evening, sun going down, when the earth streams in in the morning. Send a cage through the post, make your name like a ghost..." The lyrics are brilliantly surreal; like all the best art, they cannot be understood, but must be FELT. There is a reason this album became a bible for generations of "alternative" songwriters. The more you listen to it, the more emotion it reveals. The odd musical turns and evocative lyrics are what makes it endlessly rewarding; your brain never quite gets used to it all. This is one of the only albums I've ever heard that is not dated at all; it could have been made yesterday. Even the production values are plain, simple, up-to-the-minute. This is the album all those DIY, lo-fi bands are trying to create, but no one can equal Syd. This is where it started."
Perhaps a little erratic but then this is Syd
filterite | Dublin, Ireland | 03/07/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Unfortunately you cannot seperate the music from the stories that have been told about Syd. There was help from his former pals at Pink Floyd and while some prefer the "nakedness" of The Madcap Laughs I do prefer this album. Yes it does kinda feel like a masking of Syd's problems and sometimes Syd can barely strum a note but there's a feeling you get in the song Dominoes that hits harder than anything else. Syd sounds depressed and sings with an utter hatred that's not apparent in songs these days. He doesn't even want to sing the song and it's all the more effective. It does seem like such a shocking waste that Syd went the way he did. Some songs Syd sings is in on his own tune while the others are trying to stay with him and in a sense that perfectly describes him really - he was walking away from it all and being in his own world. It's confusing and sometimes perhaps scary but this is Syd's world and it really is hard not to feel sorry for him. As the Pink Floyd song goes " Shine on you crazy diamond ""