Syd Barrett
The Madcap Laughs


2.5
average

Review

by Thomas Bambaataa Ghidrah Towers USER (67 Reviews)
October 21st, 2005 | 58 replies | 13,941 views


Release Date: 1970 | Tracklist


12 of 17 thought this review was well written

Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, these are the names you usually hear when people speak of great musicians who didn't make it into the 70s (well Jimi and Jim did, but not by a lot). But Syd Barrett didn't die, yet paid a higher price; he made it into the 70s, but with what? Those three are to Kurt Cobain, as Barrett was to Richey James. Cobain 'burned out' as the Manic Street Preachers songwriting enigma James disappeared. But Syd Barrett lives on to this day, shadowed by his band's gargantuan success after him. He was the front man for Pink Floyd in 1967, and with them created what is known as one of the greatest psychedelic albums of all time, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. He penned down two hit singles before that, and their album reached #6 on the UK charts. Who was behind the glorious psychedelic album? Syd was, but after their sudden success the pressure began to build. Barrett would have acid trips up to 4 times a day, sometimes involuntarily. And with all the drugs and Barrett's inner psychological problems, he came crashing down. He wouldn't perform, go through erratic bouts of anger and confusion, the rest of Pink Floyd were fed up and didn't pick him up one night on the way to a show. He was left, abandoned, and The Madcap Laughs proved that he could no longer do what he did three years before or couldn't do it alone.

The Madcap Laughs is a scattered piece of work. Some of the songs are unfinished or just stuff that should've been left as studio outtakes. The best example is If it's in you, where at the beginning Syd screws up the vocals at the beginning. He tells to the producer that he'll start again, basically they could've easily just not have included the first bit. The song, like a few on this album, is just Syd singing with an acoustic guitar with a weak melody and sloppy playing. One of these, surprisingly, is the more well-known song Dark Globe song, like on If it's in You, Syd goes way out of range with his weak voice. His voice has drastically worsened from Piper at the Gates of Dawn, seeming less vibrant. Dark Globe is a pretty short song; most of them here are around 2 minutes, only one being more than 3 minutes. Long Gone is an improvement on the quiet acoustic songs, having a strong melody and Syd singing with more character. The vibrant organ and cheery backing vocals coming in it help Long Gone a lot too, in terms of variety.

The psychedelic feel of Piper at the Gates of Dawn is lost here; Barrett makes his own style of mysterious rock, very different from what others were doing at the time. But while the psychedelic touch is gone, Barrett's enigmatic, child-like lyrics remain. Barrett fans will all agree that his lyrics are the essence of his records. Well as it is debatable whether Barrett is schizophrenic or not, it's also debatable whether Barrett was a lyrical genius or not. He tells fairy tales or simple stories of common events in life in his lyrics, but in it all he, perhaps unnoticeably, reveals himself and his feelings in the process. Genius songwriter or stoner who questions everything? It's probably hard to decide, given his puzzling mental history.

The Madcap Laughs starts promising with the song Terrapin (the only one over 3 minutes), another more varied acoustic song about two fish in love. Catchy little numbers like the static coated No Good Trying, the honky-tonk Love You and the peppy but bland Here I Go prove Barrett can still construct great melodies. Octopus is one the best songs here, capturing the poppy, frenzied sound of early Floyd. The Madcap Laughs starts to go downhill in the second half, generally with boring, tuneless, acoustic songs. The album ends on a so-so note, with Late Night. While it could be viewed as another dull acoustic song, it has some pleasant slide guitars adding a psychedelic touch.

All and all, The Madcap Laughs probably isn't another brick in the wall of your fine Pink Floyd collection. It doesn't relate to any of Floyd's music (perhaps their pastoral period), so forget about expecting another Piper.... To actually like the album, you'd probably have to be adapted to Barrett's unpredictable style, which many aren't and rejected his music. But even I can see nothing special or groundbreaking with his debut solo album. If you're a big Syd fan, check this out, you probably won't be disappointed. If you're anyone else, expect nothing more than some catchy songs, if even that. Either way, it takes some listens to get into, especially the acoustic songs. And in conclusion, whether Barrett was forgotten or a burnout, he's definitely one of the most unique musicians out there.

Recommended Tracks:
Octopus
Terrapin
Long Gone

The Madcap Laughs-------------> 2.5 stars



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Comments:Add a Comment 
pulseczar
October 21st 2005



2385 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

ermmm i put 2.5 but it came out as 2... ignore that

edit- fixed it myselfThis Message Edited On 10.21.05

masada
October 21st 2005



2733 Comments


Great review as always, Galileo. It's good to see people reviewing different stuff, and also having a sense of modesty when considering aspects of albums.

*thrust*

Duff Man, ooooooh yeah!

StigmataSD
October 21st 2005



43 Comments


Good review. I'm not a big fan of Barrett, but he's still pretty good. I can definitely tell a difference of vocals between Piper at the Gates of Dawn and any other Pink Floyd album.

pixiesfanyo
October 21st 2005



1223 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I think it's better then a 2.5.

3.5 for me.

Some great stuff on here.

Jawaharal
October 21st 2005



1832 Comments


This review is an example of why galapogos is one of my favorite reviewers. He freakin' pWNZ.

guitarded_chuck
October 22nd 2005



2406 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review. It really is sad what happened to Syd. I find this album quite haunting and depressing.

I'm a pretty big Syd fan, mostly because of the mysteriousness and the questions "Where would Pink Floyd be if Syd remained the front man?" and "What kind of music would they have written?"

BlackDeathMetalJazz or really ANYTHING else please-
October 22nd 2005



200 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Even though your reveiw is good you left out one of the best songs "Golden Hair" and you didn't describe the songs to well at all other than that good reveiw. I think it's insulting to say "Genius songwriter or stoner who questions everything?" Syd is a genius damnit! Maybe a bit insane in this album but all he's missing here is a backing band and a producer. It gives a glimpse at Syd's state of mind at this point. They could hardly get him to sing or play guitar at this point. It's really a shame I think this has some great moments in it. This is by far the best Pink Floyd solo slbum btw.

Zebra
Moderator
October 22nd 2005



2647 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review, short and sweet.

Syd Barret was a genious, I think this is at least a 3.5 or maybe even a 4/5.

pulseczar
October 22nd 2005



2385 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

ummm so who negged my review, you know no ones ever explained why they've negged me. meh, thanks for the feedback guys.

Jawaharal
October 22nd 2005



1832 Comments


schyma negged you I think

pulseczar
October 22nd 2005



2385 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

but he said it was good. Maybe he's missing the point of an overall review.

MindlessPickle
April 9th 2006



8 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I can understand that many people don't like this but personally it's something with it that appeals to me. Oh well.

francesfarmer
April 9th 2006



1477 Comments


By the way...it is impossible to have acid trips 4 times a day, as the effects last from 10-12 hours at a time.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
April 9th 2006



16071 Comments


Oh, silly criticisms, who cares. I wish I could do an overall this good. Two thumbs up.

Digging: Trophy Scars - Holy Vacants

pulseczar
April 9th 2006



2385 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Well, he did sometimes take acid up to 4 times a day, regardless of how long the trips lasted.

PiperattheGatesofSyd
June 23rd 2006



8 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

im sorry to tell you this but actually syds food and water was constantly spike by the people he lived with and you can have up to 4 trips a day you take it 4 times and it intensifies the trips.

This album is great!!!! Syd owns you!!!

Kingofdudes
June 23rd 2006



294 Comments


This album is a bit generic, Octopus is the only track that stands out

pulseczar
July 15th 2006



2385 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

RIP Syd

Rocksta71
July 18th 2006



1023 Comments


R.I.P......

PiperattheGatesofSyd
October 12th 2006



8 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Rip Syd you are a genius and we all love you



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