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on April 28, 2015
I hate to sound like other "Barrett fans" and "Pink Floyd purists", but listen - this truly is an album of ORIGINAL poetry and musical genius... I hesitated buying this album (and his follow up album, "Barrett") for FORTY YEARS. When I was 14 years old back in '75 - visiting the Paperback Booksmith in Nashua, NH - I actually held this album in my hands and contemplated buying it (I settled for Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" instead). Alas, here I am a 'middle-aged teenager', and I went ahead and purchased this CD purely out of interest. Now that I've listened to it several times, I am completely lost for words, other than to say, "brilliant", "ahead of its time", "genius"... and for me - "stupid"; stupid, because I suppose I was just never ready for this incredible album until now. I hope you don't make the same mistake that I made so many years ago. This is an undated disc of poetry and music that has no era. It could have been released today by some unknown musician, and no one would be the wiser. When I listen to this album of songs recorded by a mentally ill poet/musician at the end of his rope, I get a bit choked up. David Gilmour believed enough in Syd to produce his album. I've read that this was an extremely difficult recording to make due to Syd's declining health and mental abilities to create, remember and concentrate - hence the importance of this collection of songs by a true "Mad hatter", par excellence. To this day, Gilmour and Waters miss him with incredible misery, and now I can see why.
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VINE VOICEon July 6, 2013
Admit it - I'm a Syd Barrett FANATIC. Anyway, this album is a very personal testament to the artistry of Syd Barrett. Not crazy about every single song on the album, but there's some very strong material, and Syd Barrett's personal presence here is immense. Piper at the Gates of Dawn is a masterpiece, and a major portion of that was composer, lyricist, singer and lead guitarist - Syd. However, with that album you don't get a sense of Syd Barrett as a person, but on The Madcap Laughs you strongly do. So that makes it all the more heartbreaking the downward spiral this man suffered.

This is a very iconic album cover - damn I wish I had the vinyl version. Syd famously painted the wooden floor of his Wetherby Mansions flat alternating orange and turquoise in preparation for the photo shoot. Additionally, he cleared out all furniture of his already spartan living conditions. The resulting photograph (by Storm Thorgerson who also designed other Floyd covers) beautifully reflects the descending twilight of a musical genius.

Accompanying Mr. Barrett on this album were musicians Robert Wyatt and Jerry Shirley from the Soft Machine (sans Kevin Ayers). Contractual restrictions prevented them from being listed in album notes (which are minimal). Syd plays some nice acoustic and electric as well, and I like the stripped down feel. But what stands out about the re-release of this album: the SIX bonus tracks of alternate takes. Take the inclusion of "No Good Trying" Take 5 for instance. Not the greatest of Syd's repertoire, but still a charming song with Syd wonderful vocally. But what I love especially is the studio chatter. The song starts and stops. Syd says "OK, I'll do it again." Then, you hear an exchange between Syd and the studio engineer who is posing a question. Syd answers "No. It's nice, jangly. Keep it there." Then you hear a heavy sigh before he starts anew. Music had become a chore, and yet Barrett continues in a beautifully clear and resonant voice. For further reference, all alternative takes and Syd's full output have long been collected in the extremely thorough bootleg "Have You Got It Yet?" Quality is very mixed, but there are some serious gems therein. A portion of the collection on vinyl is available right here on Amazon. (But it will cost you major bucks.)

So without any doubt, if you want to acquire "The Madcap Laughs" most definitely reach for this 2010 version.
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on November 9, 2007
Pink Floyd co-founder/original guitarist/singer/songwriter Syd Barrett's first solo album entitled The Madcap Laughs was released in January of 1970.
The album would not be released here in the US until the Syd Barrett double album entitled Syd Barrett came out in 1974.
The album was recorded throughout 1968 and 1969 with producers Malcolm Jones whom produced most of the first half of the disc and the closing classic "Late Night". It was also produced by Roger Waters and David Gilmour of Pink Floyd.
By this point, the effects of Syd's drug use sadly started to deteriorate his songwriting skills and his mental state (he sadly passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2006).
There are an abundance of great tracks like the opening "Terrapin", "No Good Trying", "Here I Go", "Octopus", "Golden Hair", "Long Gone" and the aforementioned "Late Night".
The songs that show Syd stripped and just him and his guitar are the haunting "Dark Globe", "She Took A Long Cold Look" (now, as of 2010 called "She Took a Long Cool Look"), "Feel" (which has him stopping and flipping the page and continuing the song) and "If It's In You" (complete with its false start).
In 1993, as part of the UK boxed set Crazy Diamond, the album was digitally remastered and re-released with six bonus tracks. There's different takes of "No Good Trying", "Love You", "She Took a Long Cool Look" and "Golden Hair". There's also the first takes of "Octopus" and "Love You". Now (in 2010), to coincide with the release of An Introduction to Syd Barrett, EMI Europed re-release the CD which now has the original album artwork and also the booklet has updated information and the CD has the original Harvest/EMI label on the CD art.
This is a great album nevertheless and if you liked Piper at the Gates of Dawn era Floyd and are a Floyd connoiseur, I recommend you buy this album and its follow-up Barrett!
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on March 20, 2017
even greater music from syd!!
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on March 8, 2002
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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on March 26, 2016
I am a 60 - 70s British Rock fan, and although this is an odd album, it is enjoyable. I like the early takes, as it gives you a glimps into what it takes to make a polished album.
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on January 13, 2015
So happy to have bought this. Such a great album by Barrett. Thanks for wrapping it safely!
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on January 6, 2004
As most of you probably know, Syd Barrett was the leader of Pink Floyd until his mental breakdown. This is the first of his solo albums, recorded after his breakdown. These are some of the strangest songs ever written. Most of them don't make sense in a conventional sense, but they may have some inner meaning that only Syd's fragile mind can understand. From what I understand, Syd was recorded solo, just singing and playing acoustic guitar, and then other instruments were overdubbed onto the tapes. The results work fairly well, although Syd's singing and guitar playing sometimes are a bit shaky. In fact, there is a false start before "If It's in You" where he hits an awful note. I found this album to be only moderately interesting, but then again, I am not a Pink Floyd fan.
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on February 25, 2015
His best solo album... Reminds me of urban culture a little. Very modern for its time. Lots of memorable tunes. A must if you are a Syd fan.
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on June 25, 2015
Disturbing look at the mind of Syd Barrett.
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