Laughing Madcaps Syd Barrett Facebook Group
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Kiloh Smith: I think Syd's entire recorded career shows a talent in disintegration. Arnold Layne and Emily are kind of the peak. The first 'Floyd album is a notch down in quality. Then come the singles after the first LP, definitely a notch down. The come Vegetable Man and Scream They Last Scream. Those tracks are clear indicators that something is very wrong. Syd isn't even on the second LP much except for one song - Jugband Blues. This is a further withdrawal and step down in quality.
Then comes the first solo album. Gone is Syd the Psychedelic Guitar God and on these two albums he is (mostly) playing the songs on an acoustic and then the Producers are having the band come in and lay down the track after him. That's because he was so difficult to work with. They did the same thing on Roky's solo album All That May Do My Rhyme; Roky banged out the song on acoustic and then the professional musicians came in afterwards and lay down the backing track around that. That's BACKWARDS from how it's done. They did this because Roky was living in his rented room above the porn store off the highway with thirty radios and TV's, that he fished out of the trash, blaring at once all tuned to a different station. He was so nuts at that time, with his untreated mental illness, that he was incapable of working with professional musicians.
Then the second solo album is a further notch down from the first. It's more withdrawn and has a more stark feel.
Then we have the 1971 Peel Session and Syd sounds like he's just going through the motions. He sounds disinterested and lackadaisical. No new material is presented.
In 1972 he tries Stars and that falls apart.
Then we have the 1974 sessions and they are the cherry on top of the cake. They are so unprofessional and different that they sound nothing like Syd. The withdrawal was complete.
To me this seems to indicate the progression of some powerful mental illness. I think that Syd wanted to come back and kept trying for about five years. The results were ever disappointing and diminishing to him until he gave up. It must have been very frustrating for him.
Kiloh Smith: Reading Syd's comments about Madcap Laughs he doesn't seem happy with it. He's like... being painfully honest. Not at all like somebody like Lou Reed who says every new album is his "best ever". Even a piece of shit like Street Hassle Lou loudly exclaims to Lester Bangs: "BEST ALBUM I EVER RECORDED!"
Steve Czapla: "Street Hassle" and "The Bells" are my two favorite Lou albums, it was mostly downhill after that and Lou wasn't talking to Lester by then anyway. Actually it was "Metal Machine Music" and "Coney Island Baby" that Lou tried to chat up as his "best ever." (Lester's bud Peter Laughner spent an entire lost weekend wallowing in his own puke after hearing "Coney Island Baby," and then wrote it up for Creem.) As for Syd, he didn't care. He didn't want "Octopus" out as a single. He sort of liked "Madcap" but was bored with it once he was done making it. He was more or less dragged into everything after that, so why would he sit there and hype it?
Michael Rawding: An interesting thread. It reminds me of the movie Crumb, about the famed comics writer R. Crumb. Artistic talent clearly runs in his family, and we see the visual talents of Robert, Charles, and the other guy whose name I forget!
Anyway, you can see the disintegration of Charles' talent: early on, his drawings are realistic, and the panels tell a coherent story. Later in life, after having been institutionalized, his work is very obscure and almost heiroglyphic. Charles would commit suicide before the release of the film. Well worth watching if you haven't seen it. Just be warned that Crumb's art is...challenging.
Boab Thomas: Yes what if Syd had 'done a Roky' and came back is the biggest underlying question here i think for most folk!
Kiloh Smith : What if he HAD answered the door for Johnny Rotten in the Seventies? That's what Roky did, drag some Punk Rock band around by the scruff of the neck while he screamed out his songs.
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