03 February 2007

Syd Barrett- Barrett (1970)

Quality: 3.5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4 out of 5

Barrett's second disc is basically a mish-mash of some great songs mixed with some literally half-baked creations. By this time, both Richard Wright and David Gilmour had taken some time away from Pink Floyd to try to shore up Mr. Barrett's music ideas. Whether this stemmed from guilt over Barrett's departure from Pink Floyd or genuine respect is up for debate (I like to opt for respect), but the fact is that on this recording Waters and Gilmore did quite a bit of sonic manicuring and created a much more polished recording that The Madcap Laughs.

This unfortunately erases some of the charm of Barrett's debut solid album. There is some consistant backing on Barrett in the form of James Shirley (drums) along with Wright (keyboards) and Gilmore (guitar and I'd imagine bass). This creates a much less polarized sound than The Madcap Laughs, but tend to homogenize the sound.

Some of the winners here include "Baby Lemonade," which features an awesome 12-string guitar intro from Gilmore and some of Syd's lyrics at its best. "Dominoes" is a hazy yet evocative suggestion of what Pink Floyd may have sounded like had the maestro remained with the band. "Wined And Dined" is a composition that rivals anything on The Madcap Laughs and may be one of Barrett's best songs, with or without the Floyd. "Effervescing Elephant" is a twisted kids song whose composition apparently predates Barrett's days with Pink Floyd. I've also always had a soft spot for the sometime maligned "Gigolo Aunt." The song itself resembles a mildly twisted version of something you might hear on the Brady Bunch. Regardless, it's damn catchy and is one of my personal highlights on the album.

The problem with Barrett is that there is a fair amount of material that suggests lazyness, or Barrett's detachment from reality a bit too strongly. "Wolfpack," for example meanders on for almost four minutes without much of a pont or a melody. "Rats" provides one of Barrett's signature word games, but once again basically wastes its running time musically. Although the acoustic material on Barrett is greatly reduced, "Waving My Arms In The Air" and "I Never Lied To You" are spare tracks that sound much more like the results of mental ravages than anything on The Madcap Laughs.

Despite it's shortcomings. Barrett is one of the few solo recordings that Syd Barrett left behind. The highlights here are truly great and deserve your listening ear. Once again the EMI version of this disc includes some alternate takes that give the listener a window into Barrett's fractured mind.

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Syd Barrett - Barrett

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