Happy New Year, sistren and brethren of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. 2014 is gone and again what a long strange trip it has been, to quote – once again - musician, lyricist and poet Robert Hunter. Syd Barrett is dead all right and unfortunately his legacy hasn't been ageing gratefully at all last year. An enlightened visionary once said that if you put two Barrett fans together they will start a group and if you'll put three they will start a fight. This is past year's history in a nutshell and enough reason for the Reverend to say adieu to all Facebook Syd Barrett groups, without exception, even the ones he co-founded. 2014 showed they are as unique as Pepsi is to to Coca Cola, perfect clones and excelling in superfluous and sickly sweet mediocrity. This crusty dinosaur needed to get rid of the bickering, the hijacking of each other's members, the shouting to and fro, the arrogant standpoint of people who never heard of Syd Barrett three months before but who feel it their constitutional right to surpass their ignorance and insult the old farts for the only reason they can.
Luckily there are still some free minds around who do the things they do, unburdened, in all artistic freedom and who we can call our friends. Rich Hall comes to mind, over the years this multi-instrumentalist has acquired an impressive back catalogue of indie records, with of course the impressive Birdie Hop & The Sydiots that appeared in 2013.
This year he surprised the lethargic Syd Barrett world with an enhanced version of the Barrett track Opel. Opal, as some people claim it should be, is a haunting tune and has some of Barrett's finest verse (crisp flax squeaks tall reeds) but it only exists as a demo. Hall added additional layers of guitar, thus creating something that could be close to the definitive Opel / Opal version.
Link: Opel (Rich Hall upgrade)
Roger Keith Barrett Superstar
In the privacy of the confessional Rich had already whispered into the Reverend's ears that he was of the opinion that Barrett's seminal 1974 sessions could be turned into something more coherent and because nobody believed him, the Reverend included, he decided to give these tapes the Opel treatment as well.
The Dark Side of the Moon had made Pink Floyd a supergroup and their record companies decided to earn some quick cash, surfing on the success of the million seller. The first budget release was A Nice Pair (1973) that combined the Floyd's first two records, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn and A Saucerful Of Secrets, although American copies had some alternative mixes of some of the tracks. Actually this was not such a bad idea, because in America Pink Floyd had been a relatively unknown band till then. The compilation hit the Billboard top 40.
For the first time American kids heard of Syd Barrett and his two solo albums, that had never crossed the ocean, were re-packaged in 1974 as a double album with a 'founder member of Pink Floyd' sticker on the front. The album rose to position 163 in the American charts, which was an unexpected success and made the record executives hunger for more at both sides of the Atlantic.
Bryan Morrison, who was still Barrett's agent, convinced Syd to get back in the studio with Peter Jenner (who we interviewed this year: An innerview with Peter Jenner) to start a third studio project, but it only resulted in some hastily shambolic recordings. But now, in 2014, Rich Hall took the 1974 demos, added extra guitar, bass, drums and sleigh bells (where would rock music be without sleigh bells?) and here is how it sounds. The result is still best described as your drunk uncle torturing his guitar on Christmas eve after his fourth coffee cognac, but kudos to Hall for enriching the demos. At least we hear now where it could have led into if only Barrett would have had the balls...
|Boogie #1 (with a trace of Bo Diddley’s ‘Pretty Thing’)||0'00|
|If You Go #1||4'24|
|If You Go #2||6'38|
|John Lee Hooker (actually Lighting' Hopkins' Mojo Hand)||15'20|
|Chooka-Chooka Chug Chug||18'18|
Opposed to a band called Pink Floyd there is a company with the same name that seems to have other interests than to serve the band it represents, even going as far as insulting and legally threatening webmasters and active forum members (read: über-fans) because they dare to write something that doesn't fit into saint David's money scheme, who thinks he is the caretaker of all things Syd Barrett, which – in reality – means buying all possible Barrett-related items, movies and recordings and hiding them in a storage place, out of sight of the public and the fans. Ted Shuttleworth about his Crazy Diamond movie script in 2011:
Presently, the script is with a guy who has been placed in charge of the Syd Barrett estate. He is also David Gilmour's manager, and ostensibly Pink Floyd's manager as well. I have no idea if he's ever read it. I imagine he hasn't. But if a movie about Syd is ever going to seriously happen, he is the man who is going to give the first OK. Maybe one of these days he'll call me back. (Taken from: Ted Shuttleworth and the "Crazy Diamond" Movie)
Well, in the case of the Crazy Diamond movie, that was equally trashed down by Roger Waters and by David Gilmour, this might have been a good thing.
The Last Minute Never Mentioned Boogie Band
Not that the webmasters of the Pink Floyd fan sites are any better. The three big Pink Floyd fan-sites, two of them serious and a third who copies all from the others, wet their trousers whenever a Floyd member or Floyd collaborator does a 'thing' however trivial that 'thing' might be. The Igquisition made a nice table about some recent Floydian events, counting the times they have been mentioned.
|Goldtop 1957 auction||Snowy White||2||1||0|
|Bombay Bicycle Club||David Gilmour||1||1||1|
|Kirsty Bertarelli||Nick Mason||1||1||1|
|Signal To Noise||Andy Jackson||2||3||0|
|The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band||Syd Barrett||0||1||0|
Of course we don't mind that Snowy White selling his 1957 Goldtop Standard Les Paul guitar gets a mention, it can be heard on the 8-track version of Animal's Pigs On The Wing (this track was later re-issued on Snowy's Goldtop compilation).
It is not more than normal that Nick Mason, sitting in on drums on a (frankly dreadful) Kirsty Bertarelli Christmas single (The Ghosts Of Christmas Past), or David Gilmour, joining Bombay Bicycle Club at the last gig ever on Earls Court, is documented on the fan-sites, that is what fan-sites are for.
But that Andy Jackson's solo album gets mentioned 5 times more by the fan-sites than the The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band, with Syd Barrett guesting on 3 tracks, is frankly unbelievable. The original tape of this concert was confiscated in 1985, in a rather NSA-shaped way, by a Pink Floyd black suit and then hurled into the maelström they call their archive (see: The Last Minute Put Together Reel Story). Luckily a second copy of this tape was found back in 2005 and issued by Easy Action records after nearly a decade of legal struggle.
When I am A Good Dog They Sometimes Throw Me A Bone In
That Neptune Pink Floyd is not aware of this release is probably just a sign of their overall ignorance. However it is more problematic for A Fleeting Glimpse not mentioning it. Col Turner, by his own words a fan of Pink Floyd since 1966, should be well aware of Syd Barrett's importance and legacy. His website, that has attracted over 50 million visitors and whose forum has over 13000 members, brags that it is the most accurate, the most informed and the first to come out with officially confirmed news. Not mentioning the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band could be a sign that Col T only publishes what his One Fifteen puppet master allows him to publish, as the Endless River incident has clearly proven past year (see: The loathful Mr. Loasby and other stories...).
Update 2015 08 02: Browsing through the Late Night forum we came across a post from Lee Wood who made the Syd's Cambridge DVD Box Set, limited to 100 copies, in 2009. He send a copy of the box to one of the leading Pink Floyd fan-sites but was informed by the webmaster that they would not review the release. Lee Wood:
"The Management" of PF seems to like total control. I sent a review copy of the box set to Brain Damage whom I always thought were a good source of information but they couldn't run a review until they got permission from official sources. Needless to say it's been several months and nothing has appeared. So perhaps its not worth looking to them for unbiased information or any form of news of interest to fans. (Source: Syd's Cambridge Box Set.)
Oh by the way, the official Syd Barrett website never mentioned the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band release either. But they are a One Fifteen product as well, and as such only interested in selling t-shirts, some of those are quite nice even.
The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit published several articles about this record, with interviews of Carlton Sandercock, Mohammed Abdullah John Alder (Twink for short) and Fred Frith. Pearls for the swine, one might say, because even the self-proclaimed Syd Barrett fans largely ignored this release and were openly shouting for the tracks to be illegally published on YouTube.
Caca Del Toro
When a Mexican Syd Barrett fan asked the Church, in May 2012, if we knew anything about a third solo album, allegedly recorded in a Spanish monastery, we didn't know this old urban legend would rip the Barrett community open like zombies with their entrails gushing out of their bellies.
All the Church did was looking into this (obvious) myth and reporting about it. The research was taken a step further by Antonio Jesús from the phantasmagorical blog Solo En Las Nubes who not only tracked down the rumour to its source, an article in a satirical magazine, but also managed to interview the person who started this hoax. What we thought was a fine piece of investigative journalism, taking months of research (the last articles were published in 2013), was considered inappropriate by those people who fill their time by studying the hair-length of Barrett (see: Hairy Mess) on coloured photographs that were once published in magazines back home.
However, the myth was far from over. In August of this year, four reel-to-reel tapes were sent in a luxury 'immersion' box to 4 people on 3 continents containing a 2014 re-imagination of the record. Two of them were the people who had published the Spanishgrass files on their blogs: Antonio Jesús & the Reverend. The two others were Rick Barnes, record collector, music investigator, administrator of the Facebook Syd Barrett group Birdie Hop and Stanislav Grigorev, whose Floydian con-artistic artwork even fooled the professionals that are Barrett's management.
Obviously the Church reported and commented about this (quite intriguing and musically excellent) record and published a review when it was streamed on Bandcamp (see: Spanishgrass by Spanishgrass, a review of the 2014 album). Useless to say that it was mostly disregarded by those fans who squawk orgasmically over photoshopped Barrett images where it looks as if someone has just vomited a bowl of three-coloured pasta all over him.
The general disinterest and the continuous backstabbing was a sign o' the times, so thought the Reverend, to seek up new pastures and to say goodbye with a cheerful bless you all.
Welcome to 2015.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥