(Warning: this blogpost contains gratuitous nudity.)
Happy New Year, dear sistren and brethren, followers of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, we know these wishes come a tad too late, but for us, Sydiots, the sixth of January is all that more important, isn’t it?
Barrett’s seventieth birthday, as you probably know, was going to be remembered with the launch of a renewed official website at www.sydbarrett.com, under the supervision of Ian and Don Barrett and the help of some fans who want to stay anonymous, except the one bloke who bragged about it on that particular Whining Madcaps group we have long been blocked from.
Who is it who’s credited in 4 Syd books, spent months of (…) free time collating photos of Syd and the early Floyd cos NO ONE else had done it before, (…) has a credit at the end of the Technicolour Dream documentary, was interviewed by Storm for his Syd film, helped Pink Floyd’s manager with the original Syd website THEN was asked by Ian and Don Barrett for (…) help with the new one.
Who you gonna call?
The rant goes on after that and we seriously wonder why the man still hasn’t got a statue in that cultural indifferent town that is Cambridge, instead of the one that is going to be erected for Syd.
Saturday the ninth saw two magical gatherings, one at the Geldart in Cambridge and one at the Cirio in Brussels. The one in Cambridge had the usual gang of Sydiots who don’t want to be remembered of the madcap’s London exploits. The one in Brussels was just an alcoholic debauchery between two webmasters and their mutual adoration for ginger pussies, which is a far more interesting starting point to, uhm..., start a conversation.
But, like we said, on the sixth of January of the year 2016 a new official Syd Barrett website was launched. It also immediately crashed which means that it either was inundated by the amount of hits or that the chosen internet provider happens to be a cheap and cheerful one who can’t handle more than a dozen clicks per minute.
Apart from that the website is a nice surprise, compared to the old one that already looked outdated the day it was uploaded (and that had many wrong entries, including wrong release dates for Syd's solo albums and examples of Stanislav's dadaist fanart that crept into several sections). See: Cut the Cake (2011) and/or Syd's Official site gets a makeover (2010).
Much effort has been put into a short biographical Introduction that tries to condense Syd's life into a readable article that won't scare the fans away. While every Barrett scholar would probably highlight other aspects of the madcap's life it is a nice treat, written by someone who cares.
The Photo section is what probably will attract most of the fans to the new site, publishing many unseen portraits of the artist as a young man, hidden – up till now - in private family albums. Obviously there are also sections of the early Pink Floyd and Syd's solo years, nothing really earth-shattering can be found in there (for the anorak, that is) but it is a nice touch though that the pictures with Syd and Iggy (by Mick Rock) have lost the legend that they were taken during the autumn of 1969. We don't see any Storm or Hipgnosis pictures in there but this could be a coincidence...
A ridiculously wide menu banner (it looks cool on a smartphone though) brings us to the Music page where different songs will be analysed. For the launch it is Octopus that gets the geek treatment, with – next to an introduction – Paul Belbin's Untangling the Octopus essay, in a Julian Palacios revision. It is great to see this 'Rosetta stone for decoding the writing inspirations for one of Syd Barrett's most beloved songs' appear on an official website.
Hidden underneath the introductory Syd Barrett Music page are four sub-sections that are, at first sight, not entirely coherent and can be easily missed.
Syd's Recordings gives an overview of his discography, Pink Floyd and solo, including compilations and different formats. This list omits the 1992 Cleopatra Octopus CD compilation (although you can mysteriously find its cover on a different page) and also two early Pink Floyd compilations: The Best Of The Pink Floyd (1970) and Masters Of Rock (1974). Obviously the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band release that was confiscated by Pink Floyd, unaware of the fact that a second copy of the tape was still hiding in a Cambridge cupboard, is nowhere to be found either.
Syd's Songs publishes a complete list of Barrett's compositions, released and otherwise, and it is a section that gives already much food for debate, especially as an early Pink Floyd Immersion set could be in the make.
Dedicated Albums tends to give an overview of tributes. It is a bit a superfluous (and very incomplete) list, perhaps only added to do Men On The Border the favour they deserve. Personally I don't understand why the pretty ridiculous Vegetable Man Project is listed 6 times, but the equally ridiculous Hoshizora No Drive not. Closer to home I don't see Rich Hall's Birdie Hop And The Sydiots, nor Spanishgrass by Spanishgrass, appearing in the list.
Concert Posters gives what the title says, but also here the list is pretty random, although (early) Pink Floyd poster collectors are known to the people coordinating this section of the website.
But we've seen things change rapidly, even for the past few days, so when you read this some of these glitches may already have been repaired.
Obviously there is also an Art section on the site, divided into several sections: Student Days, Later Art, Notebooks & Sketches (this section has some unseen pictures of Roger's notebooks) and Syd's DIY furniture (and his bike). The Fart Enjoy art-book is published as well, but mentions that it was made in 1965, while it contains a pin-up from a 1966 Playboy (don't pretend you didn't see it!) and refers to a March 1966 Pink Floyd gig (see: Smart Enjoy). But here we are meddling with muddy Sydiot territory again.
Last, but not least, there is a Barrett Books entry. Also here it is all in the mind of the webmaster. Needless to say that the 'classic' biographies in the English language have all been mentioned, as well as other publications in a pretty arbitrary way.
London Live by Tony Bacon still makes it to the list. Other than the picture on the front, this book has got no real connection to Syd Barrett. It contains a history of London Clubs and the bands who played there. Pink Floyd is mentioned, obviously, but so are a couple of hundred other bands and artists.
The first two Mick Rock Syd Barrett photo books are included but not the third one: Syd Barrett – Octopus - The Photography Of Mick Rock, EMI Records Ltd & Palazzo Editions Ltd, Bath, 2010. There are other things as well, like the weird way some Italian and French books make it to the list and others don't, but this review is already messy enough.
Oh, by the way, there is a Links page as well (that we nearly missed) but we will not spend another word on it. Just check it for yourself and draw your own conclusions.
But it is a start all right, and one in the good direction. Things can only get better.
Many thanks to: Anonymous, Paul Belbin, Mary Cosco, Stanislav Grigorev,
Rich Hall, Antonio Jesús, Göran Nyström, Julian Palacios.
Untangling the Octopus (version 3), by Paul Belbin & Julian Palacios can also be consulted at the Holy Church: Untangling the Octopus v3 (PDF).
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥