December 24, 2014

Syd Barrett - Barrett (1970)

In one of the greatest tragedies of music history, Syd Barrett had a mental breakdown (stemming from pre-existing mental issues and excessive drug use) and left the music world in 1974. He left us with just three albums; the first Pink Floyd album, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, and two solo albums The Madcap Laughs and Barrett. These three works provide a glimpse into the musical genius of Syd Barrett, with the purest psychedelic rock one can find.

His mental instability was readily apparent in his music, showing in everything from the absurd lyrics to the inconsistency in quality. Piper at the Gates of Dawn didn't have any sub-par tracks, though there is a slight variation in caliber. The Madcap Laughs suffers somewhat more, with some clear filler in between the genius of songs such as No Good Trying and Long Gone, but Barrett struggles the most. None of the songs are actually terrible, but some pale in comparison to Syd Barrett's earlier releases. Many songs aren't as focused as those on Madcap Laughs, with long wandering instrumental sections on some, and with the recording errors left in by Gilmour on others, including a number of false starts. While these issues detract from quality, it does paint a troubling picture of a deteriorating genius, with the spark only showing part of the time.

Shine on, you crazy diamond.