Syd Barrett – Under Review
Well folks, when the DVD arrived, I was certainly impressed by the Limited Edition cardboard slipcase enclosing this brand new release, but do the contents of this DVD live up to the expectation of quality? Read on...
The program commences with a brief reading from Kenneth Graham’s classic piece, “The Wind in the Willows”. Part of the chapter read is of course from Piper at the Gates of Dawn. The fact that the producers had done some research and decided to kick off the program with that particular reading was a sign that I was in for a treat.
This 1 hour documentary (Under Review) bares a striking resemblance to the recently released BBC Special about the life of Syd Barrett. The voice-overs are similar, as are the production values. Under Review appears to have a more underground feel however, and prefers to analyse Syd’s brief body of work rather than simply tell a story.
The producers have chosen to use mostly unofficial and/or Radio recordings, (accompanied by small text credits for the copyright holders) of Syd's music, to complement the rich tapestry of various opinions and well written narrative.
The program treads over a lot of ground already covered in most biographies on Syd Barrett, and therefore does not enlighten us with anything startling or new. The DVD however is saved by it's slick production values built into the integrations surrounding the subject matter and the intelligent comments and insights offered by those interviewed.
It was nice to see some actual footage of Pink Anderson playing guitar, including well-sourced footage from other artists and themes which influenced Syd, along with already recognisable, (yet not terribly rare footage) of Syd playing in his band “The Pink Floyd”. For those who haven’t yet seen the Jugband Blues promo video featuring Syd in full-colour on 16mm film, this footage will be a delight to view first time round.
Commentators and those interviewed include David Parker, who has an incredible knowledge of Syd Barrett’s recorded works, after having published his wonderfully insightful and accurate book “Random Precision”. David makes some very interesting comments and brings a great deal of integrity to the program. In addition, a handful of well-respected, well versed and passionate Rock Journalists offer their opinions on Syd’s music and psyche. One of these journo’s is young writer Mark Sturdy of Mojo Magazine who delivers well-researched and intelligent comments about the man and his music, and clearly displays a keen respect for his hero. Malcolm Dome of Total Rock Magazine imparts a number of colourful and very enthusiastic stories about Syd, and Nigel Williamson from Uncut Magazine puts forward a very intriguing analysis of Syd’s mind and the strange music it created. Author, Chris Welch also contributes some reliable history to the documentary, based on his formative years as a Contributor with famous music mag, Melody Maker.
Some sympathetic, yet respectful words are welcomed from Hugh Hopper, the Bass player from “Soft Machine”, also famed for playing alongside Syd Barrett. I thought it was great that the producers had managed to track him down and get him involved in this unique documentary.
The Special Features include a mildly difficult interactive multiple-answer style quiz, plus a Contributors’ Page giving an accurate detail and bio on each of the interviewed participants within the DVD.
Of most interest is the interview in the Special Featues with Gary Lucas, regarding a lost recording that has recently and mysteriously surfaced. Gary is currently seeking permission to release the very rare live recording of Barrett in the near future!
I guess if I had to rate the DVD, (which I prefer not to) I would give this a 6 out of 10, compared to say the BBC version which would have received an 8 out of 10. Both would have scored an extra 2 points if they had included a recent interview with their subject, (which we all know, simply cannot happen). Unfortunately though, whenever a documentary is made about Syd, the fact that the man himself and “his comments” are missing from the program, leaves gaping black holes in an otherwise very blue sky.
In summary, the new DVD (Syd Barrett – Under Review) will not offer much to the hard-core fan who has read all the biographies and collected all the rare footage and recordings from Record Fairs over the years. However to the recently initiated into the kingdom of Syd or the early Pink Floyd fan, the 66 minutes contained in this new release will certainly deliver some interesting rare pieces of footage and commentaries, painted in a very positive light beaming down on the Cambridge born song-smith we all know and love.
The kind folks at Chrome Dreams have offered us 20% Discount on this DVD, but the offer is only available to joined Astral Piper Members.
To order your copy please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org quoting your full name and Piper member number, plus this special Members Only code - SYD7983
The winner of our Under Review DVD Competition is Cecilia Hogkvist - Piper_0283
Cecilia got all of the questions correct and submitted a wonderfully huge piece of art which was actually painted onto a wall in her house! Below are photos Cecilia e-mailed us of her painting and work in progress. BRILLIANT!!!
Here are the four questions...and correct answers in green.
What was Syd Barrett's mother's name?
A. Gayla Pinion
B. Emily Layne
C. Winifred Flack
D. Marie Thompson
Which record company recently offered Syd Barrett's family 200,000 pounds to record some new material?
Which famous artist (painter) shared a flat with Syd in 1969?
A. Peter Blake
B. Roger Dean
C. Duggie Fields
D. John Waterhouse
What was the name of the girl who posed naked in The Madcap Laughs photo session?