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Syd Barrett | Wouldn't You Miss Me (EMI Harvest)
This CD is a big deal. There were about 25 songs on Syd's original studio albums. Twenty appear here plus a couple of rarities so there's few omissions of concern although the first album deserved even more plundering than the patchy second one - where is the jaunty Love You?. Whatever, despite the near insanity of it all, this man, in his 1967-70 heyday, when he could still discern his muse through the acid haze, wrote melodies to blow us away. The quaint and lazy Terrapin has the sweetest tune. Imagine that the very English Rupert Bear was a musical prodigy, was in love and this was his finest love song. Oh and he was very fond of LSD. In some ways Syd can suggest a sort of English Arthur Lee, not only in his acidhead mentality but in the mood swings within a single song and the completely unexpected twists in a tune. Take Baby Lemonade (apparently a Scottish and a Californian band both did by copping that moniker). After a deceptive guitar intro the song delivers constant surprises, each one a delight. Another adopted moniker may be Gigolo Aunt. Another great melody I couldn't stop humming, it bounces along in a rather jazzy way. Did Georgie Fame or Jimmy Smith sit in to play that cool Hammond? Indeed the accompaniment to every song is so interesting, so right. Every great artist knows when to stop, knows when more is less and throughout, on every track every note counts. Indeed Syd himself has a distinguished and clear guitar style - just listen to the magical Golden Hair. We received no CD booklet at the time of press but the most important supporting musicians are Pink Floyd members and thus this album sounds like, virtually is another early, very tuneful PF venture. Occasionally the image of the frazzled hippie ranting from a psychiatric ward did spring to mind: Opel plods on for six and a half minutes plus but felt like 60 plus minutes and Wolf Pack soon outstays its welcome with its psychotic mood swings and grating guitar. Otherwise everything else sounded rich, worth knowing and full of satisfying payoffs after a few listens. Ace.

Stephen Ridley
June-July 2001

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