The madcap life and psychedelic music of Syd Barrett, the founder of Pink Floyd, is once again being revisited this week thanks to a new biography, "A Very Irregular Head: The Life of Syd Barrett" and a greatest hits collection of his music fittingly called "An Introduction to Syd Barrett." Barrett, as the legend goes, was the mad genius behind Pink Floyd's debut album "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn," then heavy drug use and mental illness forced him out of Pink Floyd after the recording of their second album. Barrett released two solo albums filled with his obtuse lyricism and off-kilter melodies before spending the final decades of his life essentially as a recluse, only making sporadic appearances in public. (One visit to his former bandmates in the studio inspired the recording of Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond.")
What Barrett lacked in prolificacy he more than made up for in eccentricity, and he's gone on to achieve cult status for his exploits as much as his music (Barrett's LSD consumption was rumored to rival that of Timothy Leary and the entire cast of characters in "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test"). Barrett passed away in 2006 at the age of 60, and while we're not entirely sure why his legacy is being reexamined now -- there's no specific event to anchor the biography and "Introduction," unless we're celebrating what would have been Barrett's 65th birthday three months early -- we fully endorse an opportunity to look back at his strange career and stranger discography.
While "An Introduction to Syd Barrett" is fairly comprehensive and all the songs have gone through the much-needed process of digitally remastering, a handful of Barrett's best songs, like "Octopus" and "Here I Go," are presented here as reconfigured "2010 mixes" that don't hold a candle to their original versions. The "Introduction" spans from the Barrett-era Pink Floyd's pre-"Piper" singles to Syd's self-titled second solo album and serves as a decent entry point for young fans interested in Barrett's music, but by no means should their journey into Barrett's discography end there.
Check out five essential Syd tracks that should be a part of any introduction to the late "Madcap Laughs" singer:
"Wined and Dined"
[Photo: Chris Walter/WireImage.com]
- Syd Barrett
- Pink Floyd