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Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Making of the "Have You Got It Yet?" Series (and 2)

 Second (and last) part of The Making of Have You Got It Yet? series, the definitive compilation of unreleased material of Syd Barrett with and without Pink Floyd.
Click HEREin order to have a look at Part 1.

Steve Czapla speaks

What did you do for HYGIY?
I did a lot of the grunt work. I was involved in the music, had nothing to do with the visual end, but I determined how most of the audio would go:Kiloh had conceived the project, had gotten people to send in their best material (or so they thought), and found someone to put it together. It turned out he wasn't quite up to the job, and so I was recruited. I got the mass of discs that had been submitted to him and had to make some sense of it. Much of it was unlabeled, mislabeled, redundant, in varying quality, and there were some hoax tracks. It took a fair amount of time just sorting and comparing before there was a rough idea of what would fit together and how.

The whole point was to present the material more or less chronologically, in the best possible quality, to give the clearest possible picture of Syd's career. It wasn't to be just another bootleg recycling the same old stuff; we wanted the definitive historical document, all under one roof. That hadn't been done before, that I'm aware. The closest I'd ever seen was "The Afterhours Tapes" by the Velvet Underground Appreciation Society. (I did some work on those back in the 80s). They put out pretty much everything available, but things were a bit scattered and a lot of solo material was mixed in. They weren't chronological; each cassette had a theme or two. History doesn't fit easily into 45-minute segments; they didn't have any wiggle room. Around 2000, suddenly we had the freedom to burn our own CDs, and that was a revolution. And so, once we had a rough template, it was my job to process the audio as well. This might involve declicking acetates, noise reduction (a controversial topic), EQ, sound levels, and sometimes speed correction as well.

There are a handful of Syd tapes that had never been heard in the proper pitch, because somebody's tape recorder had been wrong from the beginning. I've been a musician all my life and I know all the chords to the songs. I've even been known to play them in public. And if I hear a note, I can name it. So I knew for a fact that, say, "Terrapin" from (6/6/70) had to be brought down 10%, because Syd would only ever have played or sung it in E, not in F#. And if the tempo is slower than we were used to? That is what they played, so get used to it. We'd fight among ourselves over things like that. That was one particular skill I could bring that someone else couldn't, and I'm glad we got it right.

So anyway, that's essentially what I did. I organized the material, selected the best tracks, processed them, and compiled the audio discs. I had help, of course. Early on there was a member of the Yahoo Group, he went by the name SwanLee. He had compiled and processed his own ten CD set of Syd and early Floyd, called Early Effervescence. He donated that, and we borrowed a fair amount of material. His audio processing involved some fairly radical techniques. He's very talented but there was some controversy around that. (In the second edition of HYGIY? we phased out the SwanLee tracks from the core volumes, but much of it will be found on the later discs.) He was an essential collaborator at the beginning, though, and helped us get off the ground.

I also had invaluable input from Pschnob and ChrisM, bouncing ideas off of them, sending them proto discs to critique, that sort of thing. One pair of ears is never enough, and I'll usually defer when somebody sees a flaw I might have missed. I worked closely with Pschnob. He is a professional engineer, and a little "bootlegging" on the side might not look so good. He is responsible for the video discs though. ChrisM had a lot of input as well. He's always had his ear to the ground, trying to locate material.

Mark Jones, from Manchester, speaks: 
How did you end up designing the covers of HYGIY? Did you offer your services?
I was always interested in doing some covers for bootlegs but didn't really know how. It just so happened that I'd not long just got a PC and had just started a full time college course studying Graphic Design so by the time it came for some covers to be made I'd had a little bit of practice. At the end of first year I had to pick a biggish project to do and it so happened to tie in that it was at the same time as the first batch of CD's being finished, so I volunteered my services and did the first four covers as my end of year project.

Were you alone in the task?
Yes I did them all myself, but I did get a guiding hand from my college tutors.

Did you follow any pattern for the design?
I love doing collages and had a huge collection of photos to work from so used that as a starting point. I learnt a lot making them and if I did them now they would be much better. I've got better since then! For instance, looking at them now, I would have used a bigger main image for each cover then surrounded them with smaller ones, instead of just using smallish pictures all over. I would do that differently now. I had sort of got the idea by Volume 4, where I used a bigger image of Syd in the middle.

How did you find the Syd Yahoo group?
It's so long ago now I don't really remember. It most probably would have been just me typing in 'Syd Barrett' into Google.

Once you had the first volumes on your hands, and listened to it… what did you think?
It was amazing. There was so much stuff all over the place that it was brilliant to have it all in one place. For instance, I had the song 'Lucy Leave' on a bootleg called 'Magnesium Proverbs', it was great quality but the very beginning was missing. I had the same song on another bootleg but in lesser sound quality, but the start was there. I didn't want two versions that each had something the other different. I sent off my complete 'Lucy Leave' to the compilers and they grafted the missing beginning on to the better quality version from the 'Magnesium Proverbs' version so there you had it, the most complete and best quality version. That's why 'Lucy Leave' now starts off a bit murky then becomes clearer a few seconds in. It was great to have the best quality and most complete versions of all these unreleased tracks in one place. Then there was the discovery of the backing track of “In the Beechwoods” and the “Vegetable Man” jam. Those had NEVER been on any bootlegs before. For Kiloh to unearth them and put them on these CDs was the cherry on the cake. It was brilliant to be able to hear them for the first time. [The story of these tracks are in part 1]

Volume 11 has every Syd picture available, from childhood to retirement, including articles,
clips and his paintings. Hard work, indeed, and in constant updating. Are you still working on it?

It was hard work but didn't feel like it when I was doing it. I loved piecing together the photo shoots, finding black and white photos in color and discovering new photos. I loved every minute. I'll ALWAYS be working on it, I think, but since the “Barrett” book came out, unearthing some brilliant unseen shots, the well has sort of dried up for now. There's not been many new pics come to light since that book came out. I'm sure they'll be some more though. I'm still here, waiting for them to surface! Oh, and then to be asked to help with the official Syd Barrett website by Pink Floyd's managers was amazing. Justification that I hadn't been wasting my time for all those hours I'd put in collating this stuff. That was great!

What is the most unexpected picture you’ve ended up receiving?
One sent to me by one of Syd's girl friends that had never been published anywhere!

Syd in the times of Those Without
Any favourite one?
The one of the band performing on a Dutch TV in colour performing “Arnold Layne”! Just makes you wish the TV station had saved the clip and we had a video of it to watch!

Will there be a new release of Volume 11?
Yes there will. The only thing I have left to do is check that the new photos that have surfaced in the last few years are all in place. I didn't want to do that so soon after the book came out, but that's a few years ago now.

In order to download Have You Got It Yet? click HERE
In case you want an introduction to this collection, click HERE

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