The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit celebrates its fifth birthday.
An official statement by the Reverend:
The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit is five years old. It has always taken an independent road and has maintained an ironic and satirical view on the Syd Barrett phenomenon and its fans.
While we have the utmost respect for the casual Barrett fans, the cosmic brides (persons [m/f] who claim to have a relationship with Syd of some kind, often crossing spiritual boundaries) and the Sydiots, we intuitively question the official Barrett organisations, record companies and nincompoops who circle around Syd like vultures. We will not automatically endorse their websites, their records and their books... and this has not always been appreciated. It seems that nothing has changed much since those days in 1967 when Norman Smith was reprimanded by his boss:
EMI were ignorant, lazy and paranoid. I'd once been carpeted by Sir Joseph Lockwood, almost fired, told to stay away from courting Pink Floyd. But I took no notice.
If Norman Smith had obeyed we would never have had The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. Taking no notice was, is, and will always be the Holy Church's attitude, even if this puts us in the firing line of some of the minor half-gods and makes us wonder if this Church was just a waste of time. But:
This is my church
This is where I heal my hurt
It's a natural grace
Of watching young life shape
It's in minor keys
Solutions and remedies
Enemies becoming friends
When bitterness ends
This is my church
(Faithless, God is a DJ, 1998)
All tomfoolery aside, we are proud to have put a thing or two on the Floydian agenda in the past five years that would otherwise have stayed unnoticed. If we may lead you to one paragraph on this blog, that we are particularly fond of, it is this one and we constantly try to live by those standards. So-called social media make witnesses easy accessible nowadays but this doesn't give the Sydiot nor the Reverend a wildcard to constantly harass them with questions about how 'Syd really was'. Remember:
A granddaughter's smile today is of much more importance than the faint remembrance of a dead rock star's smile from over 40 years ago. (Taken from: We are all made of stars.)
And for those who don't agree the Church can only bring solace by citing the following words of that great Cantabrigian band:
So I open my door to my enemies
And I ask could we wipe the slate clean
But they tell me to please go fuck myself
You know you just can't win
(Pink Floyd, Lost For Words, 1994)
But this speech has been going on for too long, so...
It's a fucking birthday godammit! And we have exactly the right party album for that... and you can have yours too!
Birdie Hop and the Sydiots
Richard Michael John Hall is a self-publishing artist in the 'alternative' or 'indie rock' genre with about a dozen releases on his name. In March 2013 he surprised the world with his songs The Reverend and Uncle Alex and it came to the Church's ears that this was going to be a part of a quintessential concept album. Written in about a month's time the album has been released a couple of weeks ago.
Birdies and Barretts
Birdie Hop and the Sydiots is named after a rather decent Facebook group and its members who range from the wacky to the insane now that an old cricketer has left the crease. Its first song, Birdie Hop, is a pastoral tune about this relatively calm oasis and how it is a reference to all who have enclosed Syd Barrett in their hearts.
I've seen your mother (and she's beautiful) is a track about our most cherished and most hated family member. Rich Hall perfectly catches that ambiguity (see also John Lennon & Roger Waters) but apparently that is not what the song is about. Let's just resume by saying that Barrett fans come in different colours and sizes. Cosmic brides are fans, who declare their unconditional love for Syd and sometimes meet him on a higher esoteric level. It is good that what happens in the spirit world cannot be seen by the naked eye although sometimes weird erotomanic anecdotes drip through. Cosmic brides are usually harmless, although they can be annoying when they start messaging people with important directives from the other side.
With Cheesecake Joe, a catchy hard rock tune built around one of Birdie Hop's most flamboyant members, the Birdie suite lifts off into the higher stratosphere. Cheesecake is the deadhead equivalent of the Floydian fan. He is the UFOnaut who still claims Pink Floyd is a stoner band and that their main message is to turn on, tune in & drop out...
The Reverend is the first highlight of the album, what a psychedelicate song, what a fine realistic description of this genius, what an adoration for Iggy the Eskimo, what a magic looking glass. But even after having heard this song for about 45 times I still don't know if the song really isn't an insult packaged as a gift. But walking the thin line between praise and mockery is what the Holy Church is all about. Great song. It should be a hit. Really.
A high-res Flash clip of this song can be found here.
And for those who prefer a somewhat lighter YouTube version:
Just when you think that it can't get any better there is Uncle Alex, an ear-worm of a song. Not wanting to go too far into details I can only say that some of the apparently throw-away lines are far closer to the truth than you possibly can imagine. Rich Hall is a poignant observer. This should even be a bigger hit.
A videoclip for this song can be found on the Reverend's YouTube channel.
Solo en las Nubes could be the theme song for a Sergio Leone spaghetti western with Antonio Jesús as the vengeful balded bad-ass. On his own this man is responsible for most of the Barrett admiration in the Spanish-speaking world and thus he is, by definition, regarded as a potential danger by the powers that be. Speak out his name in a certain provincial university town, close by the river Cam, in East Anglia and gallows are spontaneously risen again. This is a song that should be played around camp-fires all over the world. This is an urban hymn.
Jenny and Libby makes me think of the Television Personalities for one thing or another. Throughout the song Rich Hall name-drops several Birdie Hop alumni and their doings. I wonder if the artist has amazing powers of observation and if he knew, when he wrote the song in spring 2013, that the refrain was predictive for the shape of things to come.
Jenny and Libby ends, what I call, the birdies section of the album. This is being followed by the madcap suite, a trilogy about the darker side of Barrettism where the weirdness, the madness and the obsessiveness turns into a Stephen King nightmare...
Madcap Laughter & Hammerings
Fuggitaboutit, build around a fifties teenage tragedy song, is based upon the endless laments of certain self-proclaimed Barrett scholars.
Your Significant Other is a track about those weird trolls who infests groups with different aliases, spreading false information and starting discussions, sometimes among themselves, just for the sake of argument. So what's your name today, which identity will you choose?, is the question Rich Hall asks. Based upon a true story.
Yer List Monger. Call it this album's The Trial but with a haunting Twin Peakish atmosphere, a hot burning sun, a mad priest preaching on the telly about sin and redemption, a fat red-neck orating conspiracy theories at the end of the bar, suddenly spitting out the venomous question: are you real Syd Barrett fans? Dwarfs are passing by, walking backwards and speaking in tongues. Meet the Hannibal Lecter of the Syd Barrett world.
A Cry From The Outside
Birdie Hop and the Sydiots has its coda with a rather alienated version of Barrett's Feel that leaves me with a bitter-sweet taste in the mouth. It's puzzling, it's not nice. It's all dark, as a matter of fact.
At times Rich Hall's way of words makes me think of Jason Lytle and Lee Clayton, his music is a kaleidoscope of sounds that reminds my fragile memory of T-Rex, neo-psych or garage rock. But of course Rich Hall is at first Rich Hall and nobody else.
Throughout this article I have dispersed some quotes from Pink Floyd and I did catch some resemblances here and there with themes from The Wall, but that is probably because I've recently watched a Mr. Roger Waters show. Let's hope this album will never grow into a monster and that a 69 years-old Rich Hall will not be obliged to lip-synch next to a 130 metres long plastic wall with hi-tech projections and a ridiculous flying cactus balloon in the air.
Birdie Hop and the Sydiots
Streaming & digital download (name your own price system, 0.00 is an option as well).
Sources (other than the above internet links):
Jefferies, Neil, Dartford's Finest Band, Record Collector 417, August 2013, p. 54-55.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥
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