Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd
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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Interview: Men on the Border - Live in Brighton

Live in Brighton
Recently, the Laughing Madcaps, Syd Barrett, group sat down with Goran and Phil, from Men on the Border, to ask them about their newest Syd tribute effort - Live in Brighton.

Stream the album on Spotify:
https://open.spotify.com/album/6MStF6YtxCYNY7FTIoeNzq

Here is the interview:

1
OK, who is the band and how did you manage to convince everybody to try to make a go at playing Syd Barrett music?

Goran: We are borderline men of course. Caught between the conflicts of life. The seed of an idea germinated after a visit to the Idea Gallery arts and letters exhibition in March 2011 and then a Floyd festival in July. Phil and I started recording in October. The first song we completed was Octopus, which was quite a challenge, and then we sort of entered the whole amusement park. 



Phil: Goran convinced me to give this project a shot with a couple of very rough and weird acoustic demos recorded on his iPhone which he sent me. I found Octopus intriguing with its odd non-structure and I got lots of psychedelic vibes which I found inspiring. It was a difficult song to learn to play for working out all the parts, but it was actually a very satisfying experience. We spent a few weeks working on and off with Octopus and found a pretty good way of working together – mostly based around sending suggestions back and forth. As it was just the two of us at that time and we were both travelling a lot in our day jobs that was a good way to progress. 

We loved that first attempt at an arrangement and I had no qualms about immediately starting on another song, which I think was “Feel” – 7 minutes of dreamy opus. The first half is piano and acoustic 12-string guitar-driven, then it concludes with a strummed Rickenbacker like John Lennon’s rhythm guitar on “Hey Jude” and a wailing solo on top. That song kind of clinched the deal and sparked off the idea of maybe putting together a whole album of Syd songs. Right from the start the aim was to make these songs our own and I didn’t once refer to Syd’s original recordings. Goran could play them all on guitar, but I had never heard any of them! So my starting point was only Goran’s demos.

2
It's exciting to see a whole new album of Syd Barrett music performed live. Is the CD out? Where can the fans buy it? Give up the information! Do you have your papers!? Let me see your papers!

Goran: We have earlier made two CD's and a total of 24 tracks. Then we wanted to release a single in July this year but decided that streaming was the way to go. Our fan base is global and CD distribution is a hassle. Besides, it seems plastic is selling less and less, so finally we decided not to waste time and money by producing a CD for the “Live in Brighton” album. CDs are now totally dead in Sweden except for the Christmas albums you can buy in supermarkets and gas stations. All the music stores have closed down, so how do you sell them?

Live in Brighton
Phil: The live album was recorded in Brighton in June this year at a great little venue called the Prince Albert. The sound guy had 24-channel recording capability on his mixing desk, but at the time we had no idea at all that everything was being recorded. Goran and I found that out 3 months later when we visited Brighton again for David Gilmour’s tour premiere and we were sent the files a few weeks later. They were very clean 48 kHz, 24 bit recordings of our 45 minutes on stage. About 9 gigabytes in total. I still don’t know the name of the sound guy, though. I’ve asked, but there’s been no panic rush to tell me. I mixed and mastered it in Cubase. 



Interestingly, the entire outside wall of one side of the Prince Albert is painted with deceased rock and pop icons like Jimi, John Lennon, Syd, Brian Jones, Phil Lynott and many more. So we took a photo and put that on the album cover. We had to move some images around in Photoshop to cover up the door and windows, but it’s still pretty striking. That evening was a Syd/early Floyd event with five or six bands playing. We agreed on a set with the organizer the week before the concert so as not to play the same songs as everybody else, but that worked fine for us. The album is fairly short, only 9 songs, but that’s the slot we got! 

I haven’t heard of any other releases from that gig, though I did hear from Stuart that Ham Legion’s superb bass player Nick was mixing songs. There could be some songs on YouTube, but I haven’t looked. 

3
It's cool to see that our friends at Neptune Pink Floyd were involved. Why, I remember when Keith Jordan was knee-high to a scarecrow. Tell us about how that happened. The full story!

Goran: It was all much by chance and through the wonders of web searching. We had this gig in Cambridge on June 13 and were looking for more places to play. Not quite sure how Neptune Pink Floyd was involved, but I believe they had done something similar earlier. Stuart Avis was the key person there and he seems to have a great network. 

Phil: Goran found the event on the net, and it was an incredible coincidence that there happened to be a Syd evening the day before our gig in Cambridge. So we rang the organizer Stuart at Black Bunker, sent him some links to YouTube, iTunes, Spotify etc. and a day later we were in! The only slight problem was that there was already a bunch of people booked, so it meant squeezing us in with a short set. But it was easy to do as the backline and PA was all fixed. We just needed to show up with guitars and pedals. Stuart put us on as next to last band, but we were first up for the sound-check. That was easy too, basically just to plug in and play! We got to Brighton from the Channel Tunnel just a few hours before the gig, and left for Cambridge directly after. We got there at 4 in the morning. 

4
The posters for the gig. Where can I score some? I want!

live in brighton
Goran: Yeah! We missed picking one up. Stuart Avis of Black Bunker Studios is your man. 

Phil: We also have digital copies which could be printed. I think. 

5
Tell us about the gig. How many people showed up. What was the sound system like. What did you use to record the gig and whose idea was it. You know, EVERYTHING!!!

Goran: Maybe a hundred people. But the right kind, you know! Really avid fans and great in music knowledge. The other bands were very good and fun to see. It was pretty varied too. Some did Syd stuff and others did Floyd. And who is in the audience, but Monty Oxymoron from The Damned. He really loves his Syd Barrett and gave us some compliments on our version of Scream Thy Last Scream. Although my singing is honestly not in good form. I had a cold. Probably from that damned tour bus and a strange gig and late night in Copenhagen two nights earlier. 



Phil: The audience wasn’t huge, but was enthusiastic. They were there were for what we were going to do, so we were able to relax and just enjoy playing. Goran’s voice was in fact pretty shot, but that gave the whole performance some bite and it shows how far we’ve come as a live band since recording the songs. I’ve played with David Parkin, the bass-player, since the late 80s and we’ve made four albums together as a duo in the last 20 years. It’s a similar thing with Bjorn Hammarberg, the drummer. We’ve played together in various constellations since 1980. The line-up for the album is completed by Lasse Forsberg on rhythm guitar. He was front man for one of bands I’ve played with for the last 12 years.

The PA system at the Prince Albert looked ancient but sounded great and the engineer had what looked like a new digital mixing desk, which he put to good use. So the sound was very good and we know that from watching the other bands. Onstage the bass sounded a bit like a horse farting but in front of the PA it was massive. So kudos to the engineer and I hope someone tells me his name one day.  

6
What are the future plans for the band? Playing the USA! Are you going to add some Nick Drake and Roky Erickson to the setlist?

Live in Brighton
Goran: USA! That would be amazing. If somebody can get us the right audiences we'd come. Next thing is actually a symphony. No kidding! Tentatively titled Dark Floyd and it is all Syd related. Nick is an old love, but we like it more edgy. Roky, yeah, but that's too much edge! 

Phil: We’ve started working with a symphony orchestra and we’re now waiting for an offer from an arranger. The concert itself will take place in October 2016, but Goran and I have been asked to put together a promotional package by mid-January 2016, for release at the beginning of February. This is serious shit! So I expect that we’ll start collaborating with the arranger in the New Year and the thought of that is mildly nerve-racking. I’ve never worked on symphonic arrangements, but I believe the arrangements on the albums will lend themselves to this form without any problems. This will be truly awesome! We have plans to take a small section of the orchestra with us for a couple of major gigs in August next year. That idea has so far also been bought by the orchestra. 



We'd love to play in the States, but how the hell do you do that without someone to organise it and pay for it. Our pockets are not that deep, but it's an interesting thought.

To book Men on the Border contact them HERE or on Facebook.

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Friday, April 3, 2015

Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd, and the Binson EchoRec.

Syd Barrett Binson EchoRec
If there is one effect that truly defined the Pink Floyd sound from the beginning, it’s the Binson Echorec. The "Binson" has a unique sound and both Syd and Rick Wright (Roger too) used it to create sounds that were quite innovative at the time. That so many have enjoyed the strange, lush atmospherics of the Echorec, if not it’s name, is thanks largely to Syd Barrett and David Gilmour. Syd Barrett used it for psychedelic echo effects on songs such as “Interstellar Overdrive”.


Syd Barrett Binson EchoRec
Barrett used the device to conjure manic sheets of sound and unrest to complement his whimsical outings live and in the studio for The Piper at the Gates of Dawn LP in 1967. In Barrett’s hands, however, the Binson’s unusual multi-head design and capacity for convoluted, syncopated, and interstellar repeats helped shape the foundations of U.K Space and Progressive Rock. When Barrett left, Gilmour took up the lead guitar role and began expanding on the sounds that made the band famous.


Syd Barrett Binson EchoRec
Syd had seen a Binson Echorec being used in May 1966, when he'd been invited to watch experimental electronic band AMM recording their debut album with Joe Boyd. AMM's guitarist was Keith Rowe, who favored an unsentimental approach to his instrument that made use of effects, treatments and the use of assorted household implements on his guitar strings making for an unusual grating sound.


Syd Barrett Binson EchoRec
Apart from Interstellar Overdrive, Syd used this trick on the middle section of Arnold Layne while the guitar was routed through the Binson. Seeing AMM liberated Syd; he began to use his guitar more as an effect generator than a mere device for playing chords and solos. The Echorec was a spectacularly sounding device as can be heard on tracks like Interstellar overdrive and Astronomy Domine, it's interesting to note that rumours had Syd Barrett placing 2 different Echorecs in 2 different Amps to have a more 360 degree sound!


Syd Barrett Binson EchoRec
Produced in Milan, Italy, the Binson had its peak in the 60’s. They were unique in their construction, utilizing a specially designed steel/alloy disc or drum, which carried a durable flat metal ‘tape’. The drum was driven by a powerful AC motor, in most cases, via a rubber jockey wheel, which kept the transport very stable. Record and playback heads were arranged around the drum periphery.



Four playback heads were mounted at different distances from the record head and these delayed the input signal at different times, up to about 350 milliseconds. You could switch between the heads to choose a delay length or combine them for additional sounds. Complex, fragile and fussy, they were capable of incredible sounds, but also a source of great frustration.



Syd Barrett Binson EchoRec
The original Echorec's tube preamp imparted a flavor to the guitar tone, even in delay bypass mode. In general, it warmed up the guitar tone and helped to drive the signal just a little. The Echorec pedal incorporates a preamp that provides a lush, open sound that doesn't get muddy in the deep delay settings. When not engaged, the true bypass pedal seems to have little noise or effect on the guitar signal. It also has a buffering effect that works well with other pedals, too. You can also select whether the repeats are cut, or continue to “trail off” as the effect is disengaged. That's a nice feature to have available. This is a pedal that opens up your playing simply by virtue of its sounds.


Syd Barrett Binson EchoRec


Armed with a Fender Esquire, a Danelectro 3021, a Binson Echorec, a Selmer Treble N’ Bass 50 head, and a Watkins Dominator (a 2x10, 17-watt combo), Barrett unleashed furious, jarring blurs of chordal shrapnel on Piper’s “Astronomy Domine,” and delivered proto-metal palm-muted chunks, and loopy, string-mashed-on-polepiece skronk for the psychedelic tour de force, Interstellar Overdrive.
Barrett worked wonders with the Binson and the wah-wah pedal, and, perhaps most impressively, turned the slide guitar (previously associated mostly with the blues) into an integral component of his space odysseys. Syd’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn was Psychedelic Pop, and everything but conventional, including it’s song titles, like Pow R. Toch H. and Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk. Released later than the UK on September 11, Piper was criminally butchered in the U.S. by Capitol, and released omitting the amazing tracks "Flaming," "Bike," and "Astronomy Domine. When Gilmour joined Pink Floyd in early 1968 he continued with the same setup Syd Barrett had been using for some years, – Telecaster, Selmer amps, Vox wah wah, Fuzz Face and the Binson Echorec 2. 

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Syd Barrett 1974 Sessions (Finished)


Many people, including this blog, refer to the 1974 sessions as some exercise in futility. As someone who does multi-track recordings frequently, upon further inspection, I found them to be a solid foundation to edit together into a cohesive unit. I added a few layers of bass and drums and ended up with this amazing recording. Why we continue to get the story that these were a complete waste of time is beyond me.


direct link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcrbdzoSbwY

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Meatball Fulton Syd Barrett Interview Analyzed

Syd Barrett Interview
Syd Barrett Interview
This is an analysis of the Syd Barrett Interview by Meatball Fulton from London, August, 1967. This Interview has been misclassified by many as "stoned gibberish". I think that classification is incorrect. To me, Syd sounds pretty lucid and is trying to answer Fulton's off-the-wall questions as best he can.

Syd Barrett Interview
Syd Barrett Interview
The Interview starts out with Syd talking about his art and uses painting as an example. He states that his desire to paint came out of a very genuine desire to paint within him. Then, this desire was identified and he went into Art School and he speaks about his Teachers "altering" his critical thinking about painting. This is called: Education.

Syd Barrett Interview
Syd Barrett Interview
Syd states that he painted a picture "the other day" and he could hear "quite clearly", in his internal dialog, criticisms and instructions that he could relate back to Art School. Then he speaks about his music career as possibly a "very valuable break" where he can leverage *that* experience against his painting talent and education to try and improve his painting. It's quite interesting about how he refers to his music career as a "break" from painting that he plans to resume.

Syd Barrett Interview
Syd Barrett Interview
Then Meatball Fulton asks him if he ever gets "frightened" by the observation that the world is made up of various "systems" that change the way one thinks when one learns them. This is a pretty off-the-wall fooking question! But Syd does his best to answer it.

Syd Barrett Interview
Syd Barrett Interview
Syd says that it bothers him a bit, like Meatball. But he relates back to Art School by referencing his painting again and states that it was "quite enjoyable" to assimilate *that* system of knowledge (painting technique) and that he wanted to hold onto that enjoyment while assimilating new systems (business, money, music, film, etc, etc...).

Syd Barrett Interview
Syd Barrett Interview
Then Meatball asks him: "Do you find yourself in patterns and constantly repeating the same patterns over and over?" Another off-the-fooking-wall question! Syd does what anybody would probably do when asked such a question; he goes "huh!" and says nothing more. Then Fulton asks him what he is working on at the moment that is inside himself (???!) and Syd says: "Yeah, I can't really say..."

Syd Barrett Interview
Syd Barrett Interview
Then Fulton asks him: "Do you often observe people and think that you could tell them something about themselves that they don't know?" Syd is fumbling for words because it's such an off-the-fooking-wall question. Then he says that talking is not as important as "sensing" people and much of the time that "sense" about somebody can't be adequately put into words and that's cool with him. Again, I think that this is a coherent answer to an off-the-fooking-wall question.

Syd Barrett Interview
Syd Barrett Interview
Then it gets uncomfortable when Fulton asks him "what do you 'sense' about me?" Syd sees it for what it is; a loaded question and one can tell that he doesn't want to answer. Meatball says: "Really be honest.' Syd says maybe the strangest thing is "meeting you at all" in an attempt to steer the conversation back into less confrontational grounds. But Fulton keeps at it and says that he can "edit out" anything bad and that he has all this professional etiquette and he has "done this a few times."

My take, on careful listening to this Interview, is that it is not "proof" that Syd Barrett was going mad. I really think that Syd tried to answer this guy's stupid questions as best that he could.





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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Pink Floyd Vegetable Man

Pink Floyd Vegetable Man
Pink Floyd Vegetable Man
Vegetable Man was a song recorded from 9–11 October, 1967 Pink Floyd Sessions. The song was an attempt to record a follow-up single to "See Emily Play", as well as the beginning of sessions for the album which would eventually become A Saucerful of Secrets. Among the songs considered were "Paint Box", "Scream Thy Last Scream", "Jugband Blues" and "Apples and Oranges". "Vegetable Man" was scheduled for release, as the B-side to "Scream Thy Last Scream", but cancelled and both tracks remain unreleased but nevertheless have appeared on uncountable bootlegs 


Pink Floyd Vegetable Man
Pink Floyd Vegetable Man
To be fully understood, Vegetable Man, and Syd's swan song - Jugband Blues, must be viewed as satire. At the time Syd was under a lot of pressure to write another "catchy" follow-up to See Emily Play. Legend has it that he needed another song for the session and stooped by Peter Jenner's house and penned a darkly satirical description of himself which described his yellow shoes, blue velvet trousers and bad hair cut, finishing with "It’s what I wear, it’s what you see. It must be me, it’s what I am, Vegetable man. I’ve been looking all over the place for a place for me, but it ain’t anywhere, it just ain’t anywhere. Vegetable Man." 


Pink Floyd Vegetable Man
Pink Floyd Vegetable Man
Peter Jenner: "It was really stressful waiting for Syd to come up with the songs for the second album. Everybody was looking at him and he couldn't do it. The last Floyd song Syd wrote, 'Vegetable Man', was done for those sessions, though it never came out. Syd was around at my house just before he had to go to record and, because a song was needed, he just wrote a description of what he was wearing at the time and threw in a chorus that went 'Vegetable man - where are you?' It's very disturbing. Roger took it off the album because it was too dark, and it is. It's like psychological flashing."


Pink Floyd Vegetable Man
Pink Floyd Vegetable Man
In Vegetable Man, Barrett describes his alienation from the Pop Culture and civilization in general. Really? He is describing the "Bell Jar" descending upon his consciousness, or the beginnings of his mental illness. Jugband Blues is the complimentary song to Vegetable Man and describes the "Bell Jar" fully descended.

Peter Jenner wishes the song was released: "I always thought they should be put out, so I let my copies be heard. I knew that Roger would never let them out, or Dave. They somehow felt they were a bit indecent, like putting out nude pictures of a famous actress: it just wasn't cricket. But I thought they were good songs and great pieces of art. They're disturbing, and not a lot of fun, but they're some of Syd's finest work – though God knows, I wouldn't wish anyone to go through what he's gone through to get to those songs. They're like Van Gogh."


syd barrett-vegetable man by bobstinson

Pink Floyd Vegetable Man

In yellow shoes I get the blues
Though I walk the streets with my plastic feet
With my blue velvet trousers, make me feel pink
There's a kind of stink about blue velvet trousers
In my paisley shirt I look a jerk
And my turquoise waistcoat is quite out of sight 
But oh oh my haircut looks so bad 
Vegetable man how are you? 

So I've changed my gear, and I find my knees, 
And I covered them up with the latest cut, 
And my pants and socks all point in a box, 
They don't make long of my nylon socks, 
The watch, black watch 
My watch with a black face 
And a big pin, a little hole, 
And all the lot is what I got, 
It's what I wear, it's what you see, 
It must be me, it's what I am, 
Vegetable man. 

I've been looking all over the place for a place for me, 
But it ain't anywhere, it just ain't anywhere. 
Vegetable man, vegetable man, 
He's the kind of person, you just gonna see him if you can, 
Vegetable Man.


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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Pink Floyd See Emily Play

See Emily Play
See Emily Play
See Emily Play" is Pink Floyd's second single, this 1967 tune was written by Syd Barrett and was originally titled “Games for May,” after a free concert where the group performed. Recorded on 23 May 1967, it featured "The Scarecrow" as its B-side. Though it was initially released as a non-album single, the song appeared on the Tower edition of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967). Long-time Barrett fan John Peel rated the song highly. "It is one of my favourites from that time,' he said. 'I wish they had written a song about me. Syd was a great talent and at one time I was even going to record an album of his lyrics, but when I heard myself reading them I decided to abort the project."


See Emily Play
See Emily Play
It's said to be about Sculptor Emily Young. While at Holland Park School in 1966, she became a regular at the nearby London Free School night sessions around the Notting Hill area, which brought her into contact with many in the UK Underground. Here, Ms. Young talks about the London Free School, "I used to go there because there were a lot of Beat philosophers and poets around," she says. "There were fundraising concerts with The Pink Floyd Sound, as they were then called. I was more keen on poets than rockers. I was educating myself. I was a seeker. I wanted to meet everyone and take every drug."


See Emily Play
See Emily Play
The details as to the recording remain shrouded in mystery due to the lack of paperwork in the EMI archive. Engineer Jeff Jarrett recalls that "See Emily Play" was recorded in a much longer form which was then edited down for the single release. It was recorded at Sound Techniques studios on 21 May 1967. Barrett did the slide guitar work on this song with a Zippo lighter.


See Emily Play
See Emily Play
There was much trickery involved in the recording with backward tapes, much use of echo and reverb, and the first piano bridge between the first chorus and second verse was recorded at a slow pace then sped up for the final master. The four-track master tape was wiped or misplaced. It no longer exists and has never been mixed into true stereo; it was reprocessed for fake stereo on the 1971 Relics compilation. The US single (Tower 356) was released by Tower Records three times between July 1967 and late 1968. Each time it failed to duplicate its UK success.


See Emily Play
See Emily Play
Barrett, reportedly, was not happy with the final studio cut. He protested against its release, which producer Norman Smith speculated was based on his fear of commercialism. It was during sessions for the song that David Gilmour became a frequent visitor to the studio, and although being invited by Barrett, was shocked by the perceived changes in Barrett's personality when he did not appear to recognize him. For many years Gilmour would recall this, saying, "I don't know at quite at what point Syd started to go very strange, but I know I came back from France and I called Syd up while I was there and he said why don't I come down they were doing a recording session and he told me the studio. And I went down to the studio and he didn't even recognize me, and that was when - the day they were making 'See Emily Play'"


See Emily Play
See Emily Play
Part of the vocal melody was played on a Mini Moog at the very end of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX)" at the end of Wish You Were Here, as a tribute to Barrett. It later appeared on the compilations Relics (1971), Works (1983), Shine On (1992), Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd (2001), The Piper at the Gates of Dawn 40th Anniversary Edition (2007), and on A Foot in the Door – The Best of Pink Floyd (2011). The song was also included on the Barrett retrospective, An Introduction to Syd Barrett (2010). In 2014 it was a Record Store Day product packaged with a Columbia range bag with a 7” 4 panel booklet / poster (i.e. like a 7” booklet with one single piece of paper folded) / backer card.




"See Emily Play"

Emily tries but misunderstands, ah ooh

She often inclined to borrow somebody's dreams till tomorrow
There is no other day
Let's try it another way
You'll lose your mind and play
Free games for may
See Emily play
Soon after dark Emily cries, ah ooh
Gazing through trees in sorrow hardly a sound till tomorrow
There is no other day
Let's try it another way
You'll lose your mind and play
Free games for may
See Emily play
Put on a gown that touches the ground, ah ooh
Float on a river forever and ever, Emily
There is no other day
Let's try it another way
You'll lose your mind and play
Free games for may
See Emily play



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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Have You Got It Yet? YouTube Playlist & Channel!

Have You Got It Yet?
Have You Got It Yet?

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!

Have we got an announcement for YOU! The (world famous) Laughing Madcaps group, with the help of Syd Barrett Fannus Extremus - J.t. Spranklin, has created a Have You Got It Yet? Youtube Channel! This will have ALL of the volumes up on it! Right now, we have HYGIY? Vols. I & II up! All the old Pink Floyd! No more loading CDs! Just point and click! Point and fucking click! The HYGIY? YouTube Channel is going to be a really cool place where we do really cool things! How cool? I DON'T FUCKING KNOW!!!!! We have to get *with* the technology. But it's gonna happen; as sure as the Pope is Catholic.

J.t. Spranklin really stepped up! He delivered the goods promptly and amazingly. Please, don't thank me... A big hand to the New Man: J.t. Spranklin!

Now, go to your little playground and splash around. Please remember it's still under construction.

The fut'chum is heah! This be the fut'chum! This be the fut'chum! Yeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!

CLICK HERE BITCHES!!!!!


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