Posted by: "Joseph" lovedacapo
Sat Apr 17, 2010 7:06 am (PDT)
Okay, let's move to the reviews section where there's cause for a huge celebration due to the impending release of the very excellent 400+ page biography SYD BARRETT: A VERY IRREGULAR HEAD by Rob Chapman, whose impeccable research herein is nothing short of that of a Culture Hero. Again and again, Chapman trawls up specific poems and children's rhymes whence came Syd's endless lyrical plunderings, until you begin to groan at your hero's Muse being so spectacularly outed. Specifically? Well, I'm not sure I wished to learn that this section of `Octopus' was a direct lift from Sir Henry Newbolt's 1931 poem `Rilloby Rill':`Madam, you see before you stand,
Heigh ho! Never be still!
The Old Original Favourite Grand
Grasshopper' s Green Herbarian Band,
And the tune we play is Rilloby-rilloby… 'Eventually, Chapman traces a large proportion of Syd's lyrics to, get this, THE LAUREL & GOLD ANTHOLOGY, first published in 1936. Shit, there goes the charabanc! I'll not let you down with any more mythbusters: read the book – it's compelling. Better still, after you've finished this book, you're gonna hate the rest of Pink Floyd even MORE than you already do. Many conspiracy theorists had long suspected (and since before Punk, you young'uns) that R. Waters, N. Mason and R. Wright had railroaded Syd out of his own band because he was no longer capable of `playing the game'. Author Rob Chapman, however, presents us with four cynics with such a taste for pop success (and such a fear of impending architect futures should they lose their success) that they arbitrarily changed the rules of the group without informing their leader. So Syd's one-note-freakouts and refusal to play `See Emily Play' at provincial gigs – an anti-commercial attitude regarded so positively throughout 1967 – are turned against him as evidence of madness when he performs similarly on their US tour. The spineless Richard Wright even admits to sneaking out of the flat he shared with Syd in order to play Pink Floyd gigs. With the abortion that is `Wish You Were Here', these energy vampires demanded that we should feel sorry not for Syd but for THEIR loss of Syd, after it was their goalpost-changing and hiding from him that precipitated his slide into oblivion. Read this book and you'll agree that Syd's increasingly plaintive yearning for lost love in the BARRETT and THE MADCAP LAUGHS collections were directed not at some ex-girlfriend but at his former musical partners. "I'm trying to find you", sang Syd on the MADCAP-outtake `Opel'. But his cohorts were actively hiding from him, even his organist flatmate: each so suffocatingly English and proper, so ingrown and unconfrontational that their betrayal became Syd's only Muse. Read the book, just read the book. Rob Chapman, Sir Rob Chapman, you're a heartbreaker, sir, but what a heroic piece of Cultural Retrieval. Kiddies, file this sucker next to Paul Drummond's equally heroic 13th Floor Elevators biog EYE MIND and get trawling eBay for a copy of THE LAUREL & GOLD ANTHOLOGY … The torture never stops!