Posthumous compilation and introduction to the music and lyrics of the Pink Floyd founding member, combining recordings from the Floyd’s debut 1967 album and Barrett’s own short lived solo career……..
Syd Barrett was a major influence on David Bowie as well as his fellow musicians in Pink Floyd, and without that the 70’s may never have developed as we know it. The selection of acid tinged pop songs included on EMI’s new collection offer a glimpse of a talented often majestic musician who ultimately retreated from the limelight and society. But why do people still talk about Syd after all these years?
Released in 1967, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was an impressively assured debut album for the fledging Pink Floyd with a compact pop sound (influenced by blues and jazz) which edged out into sonic landscapes and eerily quieter moments. The sound between Nick Mason (Drums), Roger Waters (Bass), Richard Wright (keyboards) and Barrett was tight and colourful but it’s Barrett who emerged as the initial creative force.
Barrett created a unique presence with lyrics embracing a lost Edwardian era (Lewis Carroll and nursery rhymes) and 50’s Science Fiction, although latter songs would hint at the darker issues of loneliness and despair.
Combined with this was that guitar sound (The Shadows meets Buddy Holly wrapped up in blues jazz rock sound with wave after wave of rolling feedback and rhythmic spiky edges) and over the years I’ve heard it’s influence everywhere from the 70’s (Talking Heads, XTC), 90’s (Blur) and even more recently via Franz Ferdinand.
The compilation commences with the two debut singles Arnold Layne and See Emily Play. The first an acid tinged rocker about a knicker thieving clothes line watcher still sounds explosive, with it’s darkly sarcastic humour balanced with Barrett’s stinging guitar and Wrights swirling keyboards. The latter is a more conventional sixties pop song flavoured with music box charm.
From the Floyd’s debut album we have the nursery rhyme inspired Matilda Mother and fan favourite Bike. Bike is unique and what starts out as a music hall inspired parody of a boy offering a lift to his girl slowly gives way to a cacophony of clockwork noises in someone’s basement.
The much documented influence of the counter culture and illegal substances began to not only affect Barrett’s ability to perform live but seems to have been the major contributor to his then increasingly erratic behaviour which eventually saw him dropped from the band.