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The Madcap Laughs

4.3 out of 5 stars 157 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 7, 1990
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Track List: 1. Terrapin 2. No Good Trying 3. Love You 4. No Man's Land 5. Dark Globe 6. Here I Go 7. Octopus 8. Golden Hair 9. Long Gone 10. She Took a Long Cold Look 11. Feel 12. If It's in You 13. Late Night

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Having left Pink Floyd in 1968 after a daily LSD habit had taken its toll, Syd Barrett's first solo album finally appeared two years later with ex-Floyd sidekicks David Gilmour and Richard Wright riding shotgun with him in the studio. The Madcap Laughs is a brilliant but brittle album, with every strum of the electric guitar seeming to take its toll on Barrett's increasingly frayed nerve strings. On songs such as "Love You," his state of mind is well concealed beneath the sort of jolly jangle-pop Blur would later indulge in. On "Dark Globe," however, the strain is palpable: "Please lend a hand ... won't you miss me? Wouldn't you miss me at all?" he pleads, ominously. The best tracks are "Octopus," which possesses all the controlled mania of early Floyd, and "Golden Hair," a still moment of musical rapture whose lyric is taken from a James Joyce poem. --David Stubbs

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Terrapin
  2. No Good Trying
  3. Love You
  4. No Man's Land
  5. Dark Globe
  6. Here I Go
  7. Octopus
  8. Golden Hair
  9. Long Gone
  10. She Took A Long Cold Look
  11. Feel
  12. If It's In You
  13. Late Night


Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 7, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Capitol
  • ASIN: B000007MVM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (157 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,949 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
There is no question that Syd cuts a fascinating figure, full of loss and mystery. But, set the personality stuff aside - something you should do with everything you listen to - and pay attention to the music.

First and foremost, intentionally or not, Syd's lyrics are high art. Not self-conscious, referential and elitist nonsense. These lyrics are poetry, and poetry can only result from experience. We don't need to know or speculate about that experience, we need only comprehend that it somehow resulted in some amazing work.

The music is the perfect match for the words. The feeling of accident, of the joy of finding the right note and the frustration of being just sharp or just flat, a split-second early or a half-second late, is all there to hear. It brings a remarkable one-to-one feel to the music, somewhere between the rehearsed and the improvised, and it never comes off as self-conscious or calculated.

What are the influences? I can't detect any -- short of the James Joyce poem made into the song "Golden Hair". Has anyone else ever given us this specific combination of intent and accident? None that I'm aware of. The Madcap Laughs and Barrett both work because the artist we're listening to is a natural at what he does. Whether the drugs heightened his ability or killed it hardly matters now. The work is still here, still with us and like all lasting art, it resists classification and interpretation. Let's just say that whatever life brought to Syd, his particular nervous system had a singular way of transforming it into the transparent and immediate experience of a music all his own.
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Format: Audio CD
Syd Barrett was a poet and genius of the highest order. Fragmented and tattered, the songs on this album lay it all out on the table. This is the reflection of a man who was dying on the inside and who's reality was slipping away literally as he sang.

Songs like the opening Terrapin and the closing masterpiece Late Night seem to speak volumes of the feeling of disassociation he must have felt in his life at the time. And, the truth is, every song in between the two are more than worth the their weight in gold. Jaunty tunes, such as Love You, Here I Go and Octopus, mingle with material that is, for a lack of better words, absolutely soul crushing.

The production is fittingly sparse -- some songs are literally just Syd and his acoustic (Dark Globe, Feel, If It's In You), while many others are filled with small psychedelic flourishes that keep the ambience intact. The only low point on the album exists in the admittedly weak She Took A Long Cold Look. This song would have found a better home on the B-sides collection Opel (ironically, the song Opel would have been a perfect fit). Long Gone is a darkly chilling highlight -- chromatic acoustic scalings, thick harmonies, and dynamically interesting organs make for a particularly sinister song.

Syd's voice is often broken and fragile. On songs like Dark Globe, it is on the verge of sounding tortured. This IS NOT a pop album and it IS NOT an extension of his more whimsical Piper At The Gates Of Dawn album. Be forewarned: this is an album that will haunt you for years to come.

-This review was written in his honor. We will miss you.

So long, Syd. (January 6, 1946 - July 7, 2006)-
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Format: Audio CD
Ok, so it's more like disintigration on CD these days. Syd Barrett's first solo album is the work of a man completely falling apart. As the founder of Pink Floyd, Barrett ingested enough LSD to drive a medium sized country mad, and by 1968 and 1969 (when this album was recorded) his mental state was very schizophrenic. Even with these problematic mental disorders (or maybe becasue of), Barrett managed to create a classic.

Following Barrett's dismissal from Pink Floyd in early 1968, the band's managers followed Barrett, assuming that the band could not survive without their creative light (oops). While time has obviously proved them wrong, they soon set Barrett to work with producer Malcomb Jones and the trippy combo The Soft Machine to create a pop album. Barrett's performances soon proved to be erratic and strange, and it was soon apparent that the music was not going to set the teen scene on fire. The sessions were shelved (although temporarily as many tracks are included on the album) and "Octopus" was unleashed as a single. It unsurprisingly did not go far.

Cut forward a few months and former bandmate Roger Waters and Syd's own replacement David Gilmour wheel Barrett back into the studio for some more fun and games. These sessions were acoustically based, and allowed Barrett to do pretty much whatever he wanted to do, even if it was endlessly strange.

The final album is a somewhat daunting listen, but quite phenomenal if you can get your mind into Syd's world, where things like rhythm are rather amorphous. "No Good Trying," "No Man's Land," "Octopus," and "Late Night" are strange but amazing masterpieces of psychedelic rock. On the first two especially, the backing musicians sound like they're furiously trying to keep up with Syd (no good trying?
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