Apart from The Velvet Underground, Syd Barrett has got to be everyone’s favourite cult legend. Much of the initial mystery came from Nick Kent’s brilliant 1974 NME piece The Cracked Ballad Of Syd Barrett which continues to bewitch new generations to this day. When I read it for the first time it just happened to coincide with my purchase of the cheapo early Floyd comp Relics and an obsession with Syd’s odd little nursery rhyme ‘Bike’ tucked away at the end of side two.
Much like The Velvets, I’d never heard anything like it and similarly, while it was music from only seven years before, it sounded more like a hundred. Little did I know that by the time ‘Bike’ appeared on The Floyds Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, Syd’s mind had already begun to shred, unbalanced by his gargantuan daily dose of LSD. And yet for a while his diamond continued to shine as bright as anyone’s. It was what happened next, when he was finally booted out of The Floyd that it really got intriguing.
Theories, plots and sub plots abound but as Syd saw his brilliantly bright star fade in the dark globe of his battered brain, he chose to soundtrack his own collapse on two solo records. As both artistic and human documents, you only have to hear them once to know they offer uncomfortable creative evidence of an altered state pushed well beyond any endurable limit.
While those records still sound strangely other worldly, it was only when Syd retreated to his mother’s Cambridge semi forever after that he became the endlessly fascinating enigma who could never quite be reached. From innocent beauty to the edge of reason he epitomised the psychedelic age more than anyone else, lost in the woods for all eternity. And that’s why, even after his death, he remains so beguiling and as cool as fuck.
1. Lucy Leave (The Pink Floyd Sound) / Originally unreleased October 1965
2. Candy And A Currant Bun (Pink Floyd) / Single B Side February 1967
3. Arnold Layne (Pink Floyd) / Single A Side February 1967
4. The Scarecrow (Pink Floyd) / Single B Side March 1967
5. Lucifer Sam (Pink Floyd) / Piper At The Gates Of Dawn LP April 1967
6. Bike (Pink Floyd) / Piper At The Gates Of Dawn LP May 1967
7. See Emily Play (Pink Floyd) / Single A Side May 1967
8. Matilda Mother (Pink Floyd) / Piper At The Gates Of Dawn LP June 1967
9. Flaming (Pink Floyd) / Piper At The Gates Of Dawn LP June 1967
10. Scream Thy Last Scream (Pink Floyd) / Originally Unreleased August 1967
11. Vegetable Man (Pink Floyd) / Originally Unreleased October 1967
12. Jugband Blues (Pink Floyd) / A Saucerful Of Secrets LP October 1967
13. Apples And Oranges (Pink Floyd) / Single A Side October 1967
14. Swan Lee / Originally Unreleased May 1968
15. Love You / The Madcap Laughs LP April 1969
16. No Mans Land / The Madcap Laughs LP April 1969
17. Golden Hair / Single B Side June 1969
18. Octopus / Single A Side June 1969
19. Dark Globe / The Madcap Laughs LP August 1969
20. Baby Lemonade / Barrett LP February 1970
21. Dylan Blues / Originally Unreleased February 1970
22. Gigolo Aunt / Barrett LP February 1970
23. Rats / Barrett LP June 1970
24. Dominoes / Barrett LP July 1970
25. Effervescing Elephant / Barrett LP July 1970