RADIO EMACM #5: Syd Barrett, Dolly Rocker (1946-2006)
Don’t know if you guys are aware that the experimental musicians and artists co-operative malaysia (EMACM) runs a great streaming radioshow at their site. For the 5th show, one of them, Ayah Mejelis did a tribute on recently deceased Pink Floyd founder member and main inspirational figure, Syd Barrett.
The tracks included are awesome, especially a cover version of “Astonomy Domine” by my fave post-metal band Voi Vod, and also At The Drive-In doing “Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk”; and of course there are tonnes of rare Syd’s & Floyd’s tracks.
go there and trip out! emacm.org/radio
Tracklisting and special article below:
Radio EMACM #5: Syd Barrett, Dolly Rocker (1946-2006)
Hosted by Ayah Mejelis
** Tracks 15-21 are Pink Floyd or Syd Barrett covers. Tracks 22-24
are homages or tributes to Barrett.**
1. Introduction by Paul McCartney on the Pink Floyd (Granada TV, 18 January 1967)
2. Pink Floyd – Interstellar Overdrive (from Pink Floyd, Piper At The Gates of Dawn)
3. Pink Floyd – Astronomy Domine (live at Star Club, Copenhagen, 9/13/67)
4. Pink Floyd – Interstellar Overdrive (from London – `66-’67)
5. Syd Barrett – Octopus (from Syd Barrett, The Madcap Laughs)
6. Syd Barrett – Terrapin (Peel Session)
7. Syd Barrett – The Effervescing Elephant (BBC Session for “Sound
of the Seventies”, 24 February 1970)
8. Syd Barrett – Gigolo Aunt (Peel Session)
9. Syd Barrett – Dark Globe (from Syd Barrett, The Madcap Laughs)
10. Syd Barrett – Bob Dylan Blues
11. Syd Barrett – Jugband Blues (from Pink Floyd, Saucerful of Secrets)
12. Syd Barrett – Baby Lemonade(BBC Session for “Sound of the Seventies”, 24 February 1970)
13. Syd Barrett – Dolly Rocker
14. Paul Breen (Barrett’s brother in-law) Interview (BBC 27/10/1988)
15. At The Drive-In – Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk
16. Soft Boys – Vegetable Man (studio)
17. Ghost – Dominoes, Celebration
18. The Melvins – Interstellar Overdrive
19. Robyn Hitchcock – Wolfpack (live)
20. Voivod – Astronomy Domine (live, Stockholm 10-14-99)
21. Skullflower – Golden Hair
22. Amid the Mimic – Run! Greg P Run! (or something about that Syd‚Ä¶)
23. Kevin Ayers – Oh! Wot a Dream
24. Jolie Holland – The Littlest Birds
25. CBC Radio Interview with Syd Barrett and & Roger Waters, February 1967
Excellent stuff realy!
and here’s the write up:
RADIO EMACM #5: Syd Barrett, Dolly Rocker (1946-2006)
By Ayah Mejelis
Over here in Mejelis land (and sometimes EMACM land), we like to view the legacy of Syd Barrett in 2 halves. These 2 halves parallel his unfortunately short-lived musical career. The first half of the story concerns the catalytic originality and seminality the early years of the Pink Floyd were/are for many generations of psychedelic and experimental rock that came after. This early stage of the band was principally a brainchild of Barrett’s singular vision. And on the other half:
Barrett’s post-Floyd solo career has become something of a customary reference point for a large legion of singer-songwriters — a perpetually growing subsection of which of an “outsider” disposition (anyone from the legendary Robyn Hitchcock to the posterchild of “freak folk”, Devendra Banhart, to the irrestibly sumptuous Jolie Holland). Although these two halves should never be taken as absolutely, necessarily and altogether mutually exclusive, we do find that making such a distinction conveniently places everything Barrettian into a negotiably simplified explanatory perspective.
To elaborate further:
On the first half:
The early incarnation of Pink Floyd spearheaded by Barrett was and still is the quintessence of psychedelic experimental rock music — the type of musical force that realised the very literality of “psychedelic” in psych rock as “ultimate drug music” which should not be mistaken for the partaking of opiates as a precondition for the enjoyment of music BUT the sonic and musical equivalent of an intoxicated consciousness veering dangerously closely intensely towards that other side of itself and beyond.
It’s easy to forget how groundbreaking, unconventional, and different Pink Floyd were when they first appeared in the London underground rock music scene during the 60s. There was nothing quite like the group at the time. The now commonly associated image of Pink Floyd as a dinosaur rock monolith or/and the epitome of “Progressive Rock” have certainly been less helpful in properly constructing an assessment and appreciation of the early phase of the band’s existence and history. Barrett’s influence on the band then was undeniably immense and formative. Their adventurous and experimental sensibilities at the time were largely a profound and direct consequence of Barrett’s creative fertility and singular vision.
Although his active involvement with the band was considerably brief (roughly around 3 years) despite being the chief founder and instigator, his influence nevertheless continued to affect the band during their post-Barrett years. That inimitably adventurous and experimental Barrettian spirit remained after Barret’s departure. For instance, two distinctive highlights of that era were A Saucerful of Secrets (what could be regarded as a “transitional” record for the band as it ushered in David Gilmour’s inception following Barrett’s inevitable departure. Barrett was nonetheless involved with this recording but only minimally by contributing a single track in the shape of the poignantly haunting “Jugband Blues”) and _Ummagumma_. Both albums are essential reference points for any right (and left) minded psych/experimental rock aficionados.
Outside of Pink Floyd, Barrett’s influence as an experimental rock hero (of any variety) is far-reaching and transcend beyond the milieu which gave rise to his visionary music. The penchant for improvisational “freak-out” extensions of the band’s output as repertoire of their live performances (notoriously with Interstellar Overdrive) that would often include Barrett utilise extended techniques or various experimentations with the guitar (allegedly an influence from AMM’s Keith Rowe) are features that have been impactual directly or indirectly on things to come.
The immediate impact during the time was obviously Krautrock. It’s now considered a gospel truth that Krautrock as a paradigmatic musical cannon would not have found much of a foundational foothold if not for Piper at the Gates of Dawn and other related Barrettian psych rock histrionics. Krautrock, according to our ears, was the ultimate cerebral realisation of the 60s psych/experimental rock cannon (of which Barrett was undoubtedly at the forefront) right to its absolute logical, primal, tribal, and creative conclusions — it is psychedelic experimental rock at its excessive best and fecund.
Beyond Krautrock and other permutations of experimental and psych rock sensibilities, the Barrett led Pink Floyd was and is an influence on a big portion of musical acts that cut across genres as disparate as punk, indie, new wave, rock, alt metal, goth, etc.. But especially we would like to make special mention of the psych rock underground that has been thriving for at least a good two decades or so notably with the likes of Bevis Frond, Acid Mother Temple, Charalambides, Neutral Milk Hotel, Brother JT, Ghost, Maher Shalal Hash Baz , Roy Montgomery, etc. etc..
On the other half of the story, there is Syd Barrett the singer- songwriter, which is equally if not more a captivating side of his career. More recently, and amongst the many singer-songerwriter associations that have been thrown at him, he has been regarded as an avatar of the “outsider folkie”. This other half of Barrett’s story is reflected in his post-Pink Floyd solo career which unfortunately was as short-lived as his time with Pink Floyd.
Two albums were recorded and released at the time:
The Madcap Laughs and Barrett. Admittedly this side of Barrett’s proclivity was already germane during the time with Floyd — from the numerous songs on Piper at the Gates of Dawn to “Jugband Blues” — but this other half of his career, which culminated in these two albums, was certainly an occasion (albeit implicitly) to expressly foreground and animate a naked intimacy and delicate fragility along with a subtle derangement (no doubt translated understatedly from a background of absolute chaos) that found difficult articulation and any whatsoever affinity with individuals who presumably were cohorts of creative vision.
Understandably, the effability of an idiosyncratic pathos brought to bear within an intimate and delicate setting, characteristic of these two albums, (along with _Opel which was released much later) is perhaps why he is (and remains) such an endearing figure for a huge and ever growing legion of singer-songwriters who find such fragility and madness so compelling and exemplary for their craft. The acknowledgement of Barrett as a direct influence ranges from anyone from Bowie, Bolan, Robyn Hitchcook (who has often been compared to Barrett in more ways than one), to the recent burgeoning contingent of “new psych folk” singer-songwriters like Alastair Galbraith (a comparable oldie to the others on this list), Greg Ashley, Devendra Banhart, Jolie Holland (more alt alt country folk than psych folk), Andy Cabic (better known for his group Vetiver), Kelley Stoltz, Theo Angell, Nick Castro, Rusty Santos, and the list goes on…