Syd goes unplugged live on the BBC...and he's terrific!
Adam Rickards | Las Vegas, NV United States | 10/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Peel Session EP is the limited edition release of Syd's live-on-the-air BBC performance in February of 1970. He is backed by David Gilmour on bass and Humble Pie's Jerry Shirley, who provides percussion in the form of bongos. Since the tracks aren't listed here, I will go ahead and list them right now.
2. Gigolo Aunt
3. Baby Lemonade
4. Effervescing Elephant
5. Two of a KindMany diehard Barrett collectors seek this one because of the inclusion of a non-LP track "Two of a Kind" (which is now available on the "Wouldn't You Miss Me" best-of compilation). "Two of a Kind" has one of the best and catchiest melodies that Syd has composed. I love the chord progression, especially in the middle section ("I knew it when I saw you..." etc.) I have actually heard that the real author of "Two of a Kind" was Floyd keyboardist Rick Wright, but since Barrett is credited on the sleeve as the composer, I don't know if this is true or not.
"Two of a Kind," though definitely a hidden gem, is far from the whole story; although the other four songs are found on Barrett's two solo albums, the versions here are much looser and laid back, and they are absolutely essential listening. The version of "Terrapin" found here far exceeds the version found on "The Madcap Laughs." While I think "Terrapin" is a fine song indeed, I always felt that the version found on "Madcap" was far too long for what it was (clocking in at around five minutes), and that this version (clocking in at a spunky three minutes), is punchy, to the point, and even downright fun. A definite must-listen. "Gigolo Aunt" sounds absolutely alive, much like an informal studio jam session. The absence of the jammy ending found on "Barrett" is most welcome; after it goes through the final chorus, it simply just ends. I think this suits the song much better. If "Gigolo Aunt" had been put on "The Madcap Laughs," this is probably what it would have sounded like. Definitely a highlight of this collection. "Baby Lemonade" is minus its guitar intro, but overall it doesn't sound much different than the album version. Still a good listen, though.All in all, I must say that this EP is an absolute joy to listen to. Despite all of the stories that I have heard about Syd's atrocious live performances during his final tour with Pink Floyd, he remains in top form throughout this entire collection (and this was recorded live in the studio at the BBC, in case you didn't already know). Seeing Syd thrive in this stripped-down, unplugged atmosphere is truly something to behold. Syd Barrett is probably one of my top five favorite musicians, and was a HUGE influence on my recent decision to take up playing the guitar. He went from crafting whimsically demented psychedlia to hauntingly beautiful acoustic material, and now he has shown a loose, laid-back unplugged side. Clearly there was more to Syd than just being some guy who was known for his LSD-inspired madness, he was in fact a great musician till the very end of his recording career. "Peel Session" is an absolute must for any Syd Barrett CD library, for the reason that this EP is excellent from start to finish. Diehards may want it for the rare "Two of a Kind," but I think that this album is great for anyone who is just starting to discover Syd Barrett and doesn't want to spring for all his albums or get in to too much of his music at once for fear that it is too "strange." In short, this album is essential, and I HIGHLY recommend it to casual listeners."
Syd? Crazy, but not crazy!
rob | stuttgart germany | 09/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"OK, so there has been a lot said and written about this guy and I've heard most of his stuff. His departure from PF might have been unhappy and or forced, but I seem to think there was something among friends here that nobody wants to recognize.
These guys were all lifelong friends. To see Syd crack up from that perspective would mean to see one of your own peers that grew up with you as a kid go nuts. What would you do if you had a band with him? So they left him out one night on the way to a gig. They were all just kids.
But back to the album. Peel shows a lot more of this friendship as regards Barrett and Gilmour. These two, after all went on the famous busking holiday in France, almost getting arrested and being fast friends through it all.
This comes through all the way in this album. Their guitar playing and harmonizing sounds like they could still be busking together, making a stop with Jerry Shirley somewhere in France again. There is an obvious friendship between Gilmour and Barrett and after all the fallout and Gilmour taking Syds place and Syd glaring at Gilmour on the stage from the front row seems to be just another falling out among friends that know they will work it out.
Of course Syd was half bonkers by then but he made it a few more years - two solo ambums - and he had his confidence back as a solo artist before giving up the music industry altogether. Thanks to Peel, we can see Barrett at the peak of his game before making that decision.
The quality of the mixing is excellent and the all the songs, especially Baby Lemonade, show Barrett and Gilmour sharing a nice vibe together. Yeah it's sad and bittersweet what happened after all was said and done, but I think Syd made his own decision. Probably just in time to go back home and work the excess acid and mandys out of his system.
You might have heard all these songs before, but I really recommend getting this CD. Then wonder what would have happened if Gilmour had been recruited into PF before Syd started losing it. PF would have been a lot different, and, in my opinion, have a happier sound. This CD is a hint of how that chemistry could have worked out."
Doug Daubert | OK | 11/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although by the time Syd barrett performed this, he was no longer producing music because of his capabilities to perform do to his mental illness, but somehow he did perform on the BBC radio show quite well. The album is short but has the previously unreleseased song "Two of a Kind" which is a great song. Also, the totally acoustic version of "Effervescing Elephant" is nicely done. Short but well done for a live performance. If you're a Syd Barrett fan this is another great album to add to your collection."