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Pink Floyd fans have been diminished to a bunch of pathetic wankers if
you ask me. I know, I am one of them. We discuss the fact if Syd Barrett
was having an Earl Grey or an Orange Pekoe tea on Sunday morning the
18th of November of the year 1967 and we are proud of that.
You slowly become a Pink Floyd wanker (PFW for short) when one realizes
that the amount of Pink Floyd tribute CDs starts to become bigger than
the volume of official Pink Floyd albums. Magazines with Pink Floyd on
the cover make a pile higher than the house you are living in and you
have just bought The Rough Guide To Pink Floyd only because you
want to scrutinize it for possible errors.
Being a grumpy wanker de luxe I am fairly disappointed in Toby
Manning's The Rough Guide To Pink Floyd, because it actually is a
very fine book. I like it, damn! I like the air of blasphemous criticism
it breathes throughout the text, the fine humour, the stabs at all the
(past) members of the band. This is by no way a hagiography. Aren't
there any errors, "Show me the errors!", I hear you scream. Well
probably they are in there, but I have already forgotten them, so much
fun I had by reading The Story section of book.
'Cause the book is divided in 3 segments: The Story, The Music and
Floydology. The Story takes about half of the volume and is a very good
read. The Music tries to delve inside the productive qualities of the
Floyd members and this is where some favouritism creeps in. Finally.
Over the years we have had several Which One Is Pink wars. There are
still people around who think that the post-Barrett-era band does not
have the rights to the name Pink Floyd. Most of those bozos would never
have heard of Syd Barrett anyway without the tributes that have been
buried inside Dark Side of The Moon, Wish You Were Here or The
Wall, so their claims are not to be taken too seriously.
The Waters - Gilmour Wars
Of more importance are the Waters versus Gilmour feuds. Toby Manning has
a fine point when he writes that The Final Cut is a Roger Waters
solo record disguised as a Floyd release, while The Pros And Cons Of
Hitchhiking is in fact a 'Pink Floyd album in all but personnel'. He
certainly has the right to his opinion that post-1986 Diet Floyd was a
fine forgery of the classic original. However, I do not understand that
the author selects only one representative track from the
post-Waters-period: Richard Wright's lament Wearing The Inside Out.
That track is, by definition, not representative for the post-Waters
Floyd at all and if the slightly horrible The Post-War Dream, Your
Possible Pasts and Not Now John made it into his Pink Floyd
Top 50, I fail to see why One Slip, Sorrow, What Do You
Want From Me or High Hopes have not been included as well.
But even if Toby Manning is an erring admirer of the opposite camp he
has probably written the best book about the Floyd in ages. It can stand
without shame next to Nicholas Schaffner's Saucerful Of Secrets
(1991, already) and Nick Mason's Inside Out memories (2004).
Wanking one last time: the 18th November of the year 1967 wasn't a
Sunday after all!
No Pink Floyd release nowadays without a controversy between the fans,
the (ex-)band members and/or record company. The Pink Floyd's first
album 'The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn' has been celebrating its fortieth
birthday and boys and girls that gravy train is riding again. Out comes
a luxury package containing 3 disks: Piper in stereo, Piper in mono and
a third disk containing the first 3 singles - 5 tracks, one B-side is
exactly the same as on the album version and is not repeated - plus 4
alternative versions of Interstellar Overdrive (twice), Apples And
Oranges and Matilda Mother.
So what is the controversy all about then?
1. EMI seems to release a special edition every decade.
Apart from the normal
CD-issue that was basically just an analogue copy onto a digital carrier
without fuddling we have already had a 1994 remastered stereo
version and a limited (only a few million copies or so) 1997 mono
version. The card box of the 1997 mono version was far too large to
contain a single CD so that everyone could insert The
First 3 Singles inside the box (that CD-EP had to be bought
So basically this new edition combines the 1994 and 1997 versions in one
package, adding 4 alternative takes. I know that EMI claims that the
tapes have been remastered again (Why? Did James
Guthrie do a bad job the previous times?) and the odd anorak will be
able to tell you that the mono version of 1997 and the mono version of
2007 have a different fade out on one
2. The tracks we are waiting for since decades are not included.
I don’t want to sound too ungrateful, collectors will find the 4
unearthed tracks worthwhile, but the tracks everybody was really waiting
for are the final real tracks that Barrett recorded with his band: Scream
Thy Last Scream and Vegetable
Man. But perhaps these will find a place on an anniversary edition
Saucerful Of Secrets.
And of course there are dozens of other (un)finished tracks and demos,
believed to be lying in the EMI vaults
that could have been included.
It would also have been a nice gesture to include the Pink Floyd's very
first demo that has been circulating in bootleg circles for decades. Lucy
Leave was Barrett's first song that was recorded by the band,
including guitarist Bob
Klose who would leave between the demo sessions and the band's debut
at Abbey Road. The flip side of that acetate was the Slim
Harpo classic (I'm
A) King Bee, that has also been covered by Muddy Waters, The Rolling
Stones, The Doors and The Grateful Dead.
3. One page is missing on the Fart Enjoy booklet.
Included with the Piper deluxe edition is an 'art' booklet that Syd
Barrett made around 1965 for his friend Andrew Rawlinson. The existence
of it was revealed in the Tim Willis biography Madcap
that printed 6 out of the 12 pages (although a bit truncated). The
remaining 6 could be found in the British Mojo
music magazine (BTW, this month's issue of Mojo has a free CD entitled
In Search Of Syd, containing 15 Pink Floyd inspired tracks).
One of the first people who confirmed that Fart Enjoy would be included
on Piper was Ian
Barrett, Syd's nephew. The official reason why the twelfth page of
Fart Enjoy is missing is cryptically confirmed on the booklet:
This particular page has been left blank for legal reasons. For
further details see www.pinkfloyd.com.
Of course going to the official website of Pink Floyd doesn't give you
extra information at all. Enough reasons for the fans to start
speculating. The missing page contains 9 times the word 'fuck'
and variations of the same verb such as 'fuk' and 'fuc'. According to a
Pink Floyd manager who spoke with Keith Jordan, the webmaster from Neptune
Pink Floyd, the reason was not the smutty language on the page but
the accompanying copyrighted picture that couldn't be released. Very
strange as the missing page has been published in Tim Willis's book
before and can be found on the NPF
website as well.
We haven't been amused like that since the Publius
Update March 2014: The Holy Church found out who the mystery
woman is on the Fart Enjoy booklet and pinpointed the real date that the
booklet was created (and that is quite a surprise). Just another world
exclusive of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit: Smart
Have you ever seen President Sarkozy
on the telly giving a speech? He always thinks he is doing a bloody
Hamlet. His performances, because that is what he thinks they are,
remind me more of Louis
de Funès (or for the non-Francophiles among us: Benny Hill)
than Napoleon Bonaparte, another one of those short short-tempered
little men with a short fuse who think they can rule the world.
This post contains a fairly well hidden review of the Pink Floyd
biography Pigs Might Fly by Mark Blake.
Eloquence is a French way of speech but that was not what I was thinking
of when I read the following, decades ago:
Je ne sais qui doit le plus à l’autre! La France ou le Pink Floyd? Le
Pink Floyd peut-être. (translation) I don’t know who owes the
other more! France or Pink Floyd? Pink Floyd perhaps.
The above is the start of a French rock biography (1977 edition), called Pink
Floyd, written by Rock & Folk journalist Jean-Marie Leduc
and issued by Albin
& Folk was an excellent French music magazine, that started in
1966, hence its name, and that wanted to inform the French public from
the new trends in modern pop music. Jean-Marie Leduc hopped to London
and wrote several articles about the London Underground music scene and
le pouvoir des fleurs. He discovered this incredible band that would
soon be the French progressive student movement’s darling,lePink Floyd.
Although the most common language at London at that time was the
language of love it would’ve helped Jean-Marie Leduc a little bit if he
had actually understood some English. Which he didn’t. Probably the acid
didn’t help either. That didn’t stop him to write a Pink Floyd biography
that was published in October 1973, and that could still be found, a
decade later, in every bookstore and self-respecting newspaper and
magazine shop in France. Selling figures nearly must have achieved the
same height as a regular Pink Floyd album; Leduc’s Pink Floyd was an
instant classic and a steady seller.
It was also full of blunders. At page 19 Leduc wrongly mistakes the Pink Flamingo
club for the band and throughout the book he will name the lads le
Flamant Rose. This (wrong) translation was taken over by all French
rock magazines and it would take Rock & Folk until July 1994 to
officially denounce the rumour that a Pink Floyd is a Phoenicopterus
Roseus. Another botch is on page 49 where Leduc claims that...
...le 2 novembre (1967) (…) un nouveau simple du groupe
“Apologises / Jugband blues” est commercialisé en Angleterre’.
(translation) on the 2nd of November (1967) (...) a new single of the
band is released in England: “Apologises / Jugband blues” .
This one simple sentence has made French speaking Pink Floyd fans look
for this non-existent track of the band for over a decade. At the end of
the book the mistake is repeated at the discography, Jean-Marie Leduc
keeps on maintaining that the Floyd’s third single was Jugband
blues / Apologies (please note the different orthography and running
Update November 2011: it was later cleared out that once again it
had been Leduc's extended knowledge of the English language that made
him misunderstand 'Apples and Oranges' for 'Apologies' or 'Apologises'.
Jean-Marie Leduc’s biography was probably the very first biography on
the band, as Charles
Beterams wrote in the Echoes, a Dutch fan club magazine, and despite
the mistakes it also contains a stunning revelation about the bands
first recording, forgotten by most of the biographies that would come
next. Leduc interviewed Nick Mason in 1973 and asked if Astronomy
Domine was the Floyd’s first composition. Mason answered (translated
from French back into English):
Not true. Our first composition was titled Lucy Lee in blue tight
or something similar. We recorded it on acetate but it was never
Once again Jean-Marie Leduc’s average knowledge of the English language
made him note the song as Lucy Lee, and not as Lucy
Leave, although Nick Mason’s pronunciation of the song title
may not have been too comprehensible as well. It would take ages for
another journalist to re-discover the truth about the band’s first
One bloke who does remember Lucy Leave is Mark Blake. In 2007 he wrote a
Pink Floyd biography entitled Pigs Might Fly but because I am such a
stingy money spender I wanted to wait until the paperback came
sailplaning to me. The last couple of years it is raining Pink Floyd
related books and accessories as if all kind of shady people want to
have their free ride on the gravy train. It is of course a double
feeling, here we are Pink Floyd fans wanting to know everything (and we
mean everything) on the band but on the other hand we feel as if we are
inside an orange squeezer (or to use Gerald
Scarfe’s weird world of Floydian symbolism: a meat
grinder). The last thing I’ve read on Pink Floyd merchandising is
will bring out a range of shoes
based on the cover art of three of their albums. Part of me is yelling
yuck!, but another part is jumping up and down, not a pretty sight if
you would catch me on my webcam.
About a decade ago, perhaps a bit longer, small record companies
suddenly discovered the tribute album. I jumped on it as a hungry louce
on a passing German shepherd dog. But when my heap of tribute records,
all made to honestly commemorate the band and not to make a quick buck,
started to become bigger than my genuine Pink Floyd collection I simply
gave up. I think that Babies
Go Pink Floyd was the last tribute album I bought, partially because
the concept attracted me. If you also feel tempted to listen to it. Don’t. Not
only the record is tripe and you wouldn’t want to confront any baby with
it without giving him or her a lifelong phobia for Pink Floyd music but
also it doesn’t actually motivates grown-ups either to start
procreating, normally a quite amusing and satisfactory pastime.
Recently I found this add from Dwell
records that goes something like this:
The biggest names in hard rock and avant-garde metal have come together
to pay tribute to the madcap genius of Syd Barrett. Featuring some of
heavy-metals most influential players, this is a hard-rocking trip
through the music world’s most idiosyncratic minds.
Some of the bands present on the record are the following: Dreg, Giant
Squid, Jarboe, Kylesa and my favourite Stinking Lizaveta. Except in some
distant Norwegian fjordic regions where these bands are probably world
famous amongst the local satanic
black metal scene these bands don’t really merit the eptitheton
‘biggest name in hard rock’ to begin with. I would have written the add
for this album a little bit less triumphant:
Several virtually unknown hard rock and avant-garde metal bands that are
constantly struggling to have a record contract have come together to
rip off the musical heritage of Syd Barrett. Featuring some of
heavy-metals obscurest players, this is a fruitless hard-rocking trip
trying to get a fan-base that exceeds the dozen.
Now that is what I call a more realistic description of the project. You
can listen to the songs at MySpace
and I have to confess they don’t all sound like rubbish to me.
But all the above was merely a long, way too long, way to say that I
quit buying Pink Floyd tribute records a while ago as most were, are and
will be… full of crap. I had the same compulsive buying disorder when it
came to Pink Floyd related music magazines and books. Despite the fact
that I can’t play guitar I have dozens of guitar magazines that promise
you the tablature of the third guitar solo in Comfortably Numb and a
brand new exclusive Pink Floyd interview that was in fact already
published in another guitar magazine from three years before that I
already had in my scrapbook.
I define myself more than the average Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett fan,
but less than an anorak, fanorak suits me fine.. Anoraks have the
tendency to start flame wars because someone has told that Syd Barrett
was wearing green socks on the 7th of August 1967 while every aficionado
knows he was wearing brown socks that day. (To avoid death threats: I’ve
just made this whole sock-thing up, but the 7th of August 1967 was of
course an important day in Floydian history, about the importance of
green socks, just check David Gilmour’s inside sleeve of his About Face
album and shiver.)
So I quit buying Pink Floyd books as well, more or less… the last I
bought was The
Rough Guide To Pink Floyd that can now be found at local lo-price
bookshops for the third of the price I bought it for. That is a very
nice Pink Floyd biography by the way, and if you are in search for one,
well don’t hesitate and get it. It’s cheap and cheerful.
Pigs Might Fly
But this post was originally intended as a review of Pigs Might Fly, a
Pink Floyd biography by Mark
Blake and all I did until now is take the piss out of:
a) the very first Pink Floyd biography by Jean-Marie Leduc; b) the
various tribute cds that do exist; c) the growing pile of Pink Floyd
So I had given up buying Pink Floyd biographies but when I wrote on the
Late Night forum that nobody had ever tried to locate Syd’s girlfriend
we know as Iggy Mark Blake promptly replied
that he certainly had. I more or less apologised and answered that I
would read his biography.
So I did.
Who am I to post a review about a book that Record
Collector choose as book of the year, that Q
magazine described as a ‘detailed, orderly, first-rate read’, while Mojo
praised its ‘heroic research’. It’s excellent, well written, full of
anecdotes and it seems to please the casual and the more ardent fan of
the band, although it still forgets to mention the colour of socks Syd
Barrett was wearing on the 7th of August 1967. Anoraks will always find
something to grumble about. I did. I found a mistake from microscopical
importance about the Publius
affair but only people daft enough to look for the Enigma mystery will
probably realise that.
A while ago I started a side-project called the Holy
Church of Iggy the Inuit. In it I am looking for the whereabouts of
the girl who appeared on the cover of the Syd Barrett album The
Madcap Laughs. It is rather amazing how many bits and pieces can be
found after all these years, but apparently Iggy was quite a character
in those flowery powery days. The time was ripe as other people
suddenly started to reveal their Iggy memories, amongst them Anthony
Stern who made a four-minute movie about her in the Sixties that was
premiered this year.
I wrote some things about Iggy that I thought were revolutionary but
apparently Mark Blake had unravelled these before in his biography, only
he didn’t need as many space to write these things down than I did and
if this review goes on like this it might be longer than the book itself.
On page 140 Mark Blake writes about how Iggy performed The Bend (Church
It!), on the next page he reveals the existence of the Anthony Stern
movie (before it became an item on YouTube)
and how she used to go dancing at The Orchid in Purley (Church article: Shaken
not stirred). And all this a year before the Church was started and
something of an Iggy hype was created. Hats off to Mark Blake.
Mark Blake is not only an accurate but also a beautiful writer (I’m not
speaking about his physical appearance here), reading the bit about the
Live 8 reunion gave me tears in my eyes although I normally only weep
when I read sweet little things about dying puppies. That more or less
sums it up really; Pigs Might Fly moved me and I thank Mark Blake a lot
(In America the book has been published under the alternative title
Comfortably Numb, this was the working title of the book but as the
cover has a snapshot from Battersea Power Station, including flying pig
balloon, this was changed
for the European market.)
A final word about Jean-Marie Leduc
One of the funnier parts of the very first Pink Floyd biography are the
translated song texts. The Floyd’s first album is called Le
joueur de flûte aux grilles de l’aube, but my favourite
still is a song that is called Bonbons et pain aux raisins. And
what to think about the following, I let you guess what song this has
been taken from:
De tortueux signes voltigent. Lueur. Lueur. Lueur. Fla. Pom. Pom. Escaliers
d’épouvante et lois de mort…
And a final word for collectors
If you are looking for a copy of the Pink Floyd book by Jean-Marie Leduc
be sure to buy the Albin Michel / Rock & Folk versions (several editions
from 1973 till 1983). In 1987 another book by Jean-Marie Leduc, also
called Pink Floyd, and in the same mini format, was presented to the
public by Le Club Des Stars / Seghers. Although based upon the previous
versions this book has been completely rewritten and most of the errors
have been edited out.
If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: Fasten
Your Anoraks This post has been previously published at
Felix Atagong's Unfinished
Projects. (The lyrics above are Leduc's French translation
of Astronomy Domine.)
The best Pink Floyd book I've read in years is of course Mark
Blake's Pigs Might Fly. Don't tell this to his friends and relatives
but I know from a reliable source that he prays at the Holy
Church of Iggy the Inuit from time to time.
The funniest book about the Floyd are the memoirs, not of Nick gentleman
drummer boy Mason, although they are good for a chuckle or two, crusty
apple pie indeed, but those of Guy
Pratt. About a third of My Bass and Other Animals colours
pink as Guy joined the diet Floyd, although diet was not exactly the
right word to describe the intake of Mr. Gilmour at that time, on their A
Momentary Lapse of Reason world tour. Pratt has a very weird kind of
humour and one of his pranks was an attempt to crash the Pink Floyd tour
plane by frantically running up and down the corridor, in mid-flight!
Normal bands have a tour bus; Pink Floyd has a tour plane and the
drummer was flying it. If you don’t want to read the book, you can watch
where Guy tells about his Floydian encounters.
The best, best as in anoraky, Syd Barrett biography is Julian Palacios' Lost
in the Woods, he is a silly bugger if you ask me as he invited the
Church on the SBRS
forum. Around this time a second (more condensed, I’m afraid) version of
his book should finally appear. So far for this commercial break-up.
Speaking about Barretthings, the amount of Syd related books is slowly
overhauling the man’s solo output and recently two new ones (in French)
have made it onto my desk. Written by Jean-Michel
Espitallier, Syd Barrett, le rock et autres trucs, looked the
most promising. It doesn't claim to be a biography but a personal
rendition, part essay, of a French Barrett connoisseur.
In my opinion France and rock go together like Germany and humour, Italy
and efficiency, Belgium and world soccer finales but this one, I hoped,
could be an exception as Mr. Jean-Michel Espitallier is not only is a
devoted Barrett fan, but also the translator of the French edition of
Tim Willis' Madcap biography, a renowned minor poet
Xavier Enderby) and drummer of the French rock band Prexley?
(although that last is not exactly a reference, see above).
The title is a nice pun, un jeu de mots, as it can be interpreted
as rock and other stuff but also as rock and other tricks.
That is why I preferred to start with this tome instead of the other
French Barrett book lying on my desk, called The First Pink Floyd,
already deserving the price for lamest title of the year.
Stuff & tricks
It is 30 November 2004 and Jean-Michel Espitallier is nervously
strolling around St. Margaret’s Square hoping to get a glimpse of the
man who was once known as Syd but now prefers to be called Roger. When
Syd-Roger drives by (in his sister's car) and the vehicle has to stop at
the crossroads - I deliberately use this term here - where Jean-Michel
is sitting on a bench, both men meet in the eye and both pretend, for a
couple of minutes, not to see the other one. This anecdote sets the tone
of the book, marvellously described by the drummer who can't hide his
poetic roots. Strong stuff. Nice trick.
I once remarked at the, now defunct, Astral Piper forum that I couldn’t
understand the romantic feelings some female Barrett fans had for Syd. I
mean, this guy was a slightly disturbed diabetic elderly and if I should
have asked them to have a fling with my grandfather they would’ve been
insulted… Espitallier is aware of this dichotomy and compares Syd
Barrett to Peter Pan. Syd was a Cambridge youngster who refused to grow
up and died in the early Seventies when he, like Icarus, reached for the
sky too soon. After all these years, fans were still hoping to find a
glimpse of Syd, although only Roger had survived.
From old aged Roger it goes to old aged rock. Espitallier makes the
point that we have forgotten about the My
Lai massacre but only remember its soundtrack. Good Morning
Vietnam has turned into an infomercialised cd-compilation (I have a Tour
Of Duty TV-Shop-six-pack myself). Television documentaries use The
Mamas and The Papas to comment napalm
warfare. We look at a vintage take of an American soldier who has just
placed a bullet through a women’s head but all we discuss is Suzy Q by
the Creedence Clearwater Revival. Although the above is not
really new, innovative or original, it is good to see it in print from
time to time.
Jean-Michel Espitallier is not always well informed. I can forgive him
that he mistakes the Dutch designer
duo Simon Posthuma and Marijke Koger for a couple of Germans but
when it comes to Syd some facts should better have been checked before
putting it into print. That Mick Rock did not shoot the cover
of The Madcap Laughs is perhaps stuff for anoraks (Mick Rock
himself has more or less hinted he was behind it anyway, a fact that
Storm Thorgerson denies) but the story that, shortly before his death,
Syd Barrett found a guitar from his brother-in-law and started strumming
it can be found in the Mike Watkinson & Pete Anderson Crazy
Diamond biography, that appeared 15 years before Syd Barrett passed
away. And that particular anecdote probably dated already from a few
years before it went into print. There are so many myths about Syd
Barrett that one doesn’t need to create new ones.
It is perhaps understandable, the man is a poet and not a biographer.
His book is about the Barrett phenomenon and not about the historical
Lost in translation
Jean-Michel Espitallier writes : Il y a la musique qui nous rentre
dans le cerveau musical et il y a la musique qui passe directement dans
Espitallier not only has been hit in the stomach by Syd’s music but
received some hits on the head as well, resulting in some serious brain
damage. He heard his first Syd song in 1973 and remembers it as Babe
Lemonade; actually it is Baby Lemonade. And Jean-Michel’s lethargic
song title memories keep on going on. Barrett’s James Joyce adaptation
is baptized Golden Air (not Hair) and Syd’s final Pink Floyd
statement Jugband Blues is changed to Jugband Blue. A couple of
decades ago I started reading a promising French novel but quit after a
dozen pages because the author kept on insisting on a Beatles’ song
called Eleanor Rugby. Things like that make me grind my teeth. It
makes me even wonder if Jean-Miche Espitallier is a real Barrett fan or
a mere fraud trying to cash in, like a few others, on the Barrett
legacy. For Ig’s sake, it just takes a 10 seconds look on a record
sleeve to see if a title has been noted down without mistakes.
The book ends with a list of creative geniuses who stopped being
creative at a certain point in their lives. One of these persons is the
19th century poet Arthur
Rimbaud, who stopped writing at 21 and proclaimed: Merde à la
poésie! I would like to end this review with: Merde au poète!
But let’s have a look at the pros and cons of his Syd-hiking first (bad
pun, I know)…
Pros: instead of the umpteenth biography this book is a personal
journey from the author through music, art and literature, using the
Barrett legend as a guide. Interesting viewpoints about music, fandom,
culture and politics are intertwined with nice wordplays such as ‘Bob
Dylan had a Plan Baez’.
Cons: actually Jean-Michel Espitallier gets more Barrett song
titles wrong than he gets them right. At a certain moment I even thought
he did it on purpose, the man is a poet after all.
I used to have this philosophy teacher who subtracted points from our
exam results if we made spelling mistakes. Although we were angry with
the man in those days I can now see he had a point (our points,
actually). So out of 10, Syd Barrett, le rock et autres trucs gets
an 8 for its content, but I feel obliged to subtract at least 5
points for its many mistakes.
...it is silent in here. Did a poet pass or did someone fart?
(This book is further trashed in another Church post: Tattoo
Espitallier, Jean-Michel: Syd Barrett, le rock et autres trucs,
Rey, Paris, 2009, 192 pages, 17 €.
Note: This book grew out of an essai radiophonique
Jean-Michel Espitallier gave on radiostation France Culture on 4
November 2007. Called Syd Barrett Quand Même it can be found
on the (interesting) French Floyd fansite Seedfloyd.
Webbrowser version: http://www.seedfloyd.fr/article/syd-barrett-quand-meme.
Direct downloads in MP3 or WMA format can be found on the same page.
In a new Syd Barrett biography
that was recently published in France its author, Emmanuel Le Bret, can
get quite lyrical from time to time. How this reacts, interferes or
enriches the biography is a question that will be further investigated
in our review to be published here in a while (see: Barrett:
first in space!). But the Church can’t of course not
ignore some Iggy statements to be found in a chapter well spend on The
La cinquième chanson est Dark Globe (Sphère Sombre),
un titre inspiré du Seigneur Des Anneaux. C’est l’un des moments les
plus forts de l’album, une chanson où Barrett démontre une fois encore
ses talents d’écriture.
The fifth song is Sphère Sombre (Dark Globe), a title
inspired by Lord Of The Rings. It is one of the strongest moments of the
album, a song where Barrett can once again demonstrate his writing
Then, in fine French tradition, starts an in-depth review of some of the
themes to be found in Dark Globe. What to think of the following:
Il y a une allusion à la drogue (l’opium que l’on fume allongé) et qui
explique le vers suivant: « Ma tête embrassa la surface de la Terre. »
Quant à « La personne enchaînée à une Esquimaude », c’est bien sûr Syd
qui vit épisodiquement avec Iggy, moitié Inuit!
There is an allusion to the drug opium that is smoked lying on the floor
and that explains the following verse: “my head kissed the ground”. “I'm
only a person with Eskimo chain” is of course about his short episode
with Iggy, who was half Inuit!
The opium reference is quite far-fetched and the head down / ground
image symbolism can be found in several Syd songs: I'll lay my head
down and see what I see - Love Song She loves to see me get down to
ground - She Took A Long Cold Look Creep into bed when your head's on
the ground - It Is Obvious.
That the Eskimo Chain verse could refer to Ig is something that the
Church has wondered about before in When
Syd met Iggy... (Pt. 3) , but according to JenS, who knew both Iggy
and Syd in the Sixties this is quite a preposterous idea:
Syd wrote songs and not all of them were about one person or another. It
was his job. His songs were more often a jumble of ideas put together
to serve his purpose. I think it’s risky, even though you like the idea,
to project this as it just leads to further mythologizing. Syd was not
romantically inclined this way. “I'm only a person with Eskimo chain”
refers to the evolutionary chain, not to a specific person. He was on a
very much higher spiritual plane, not so much on the material. I find
this idea quite funny and I just hear Syd roaring with laughter.
But Emmanuel Le Bret mythologizes, to use JenS’ discourse, even a bit
Le célèbre vers « J’ai tatoué mon cerveau », qui fit les gorges chaudes
de journaux à sensation, possède un pouvoir évocateur exceptionnel.
Parmi les nombreux sens qu’on peut lui donner, n’oublions pas que, dans
la tradition shamanique Inuit , il existe une tradition du tatouage
(comme chez les Maoris) qui consiste à se tatouer le crâne en bleu. L’on
peut interpréter ces mots comme l’allusion à un rite initiatique pour
rentrer dans la « famille » d’Iggy.
The famous verse ‘I tattooed my brain all the way’, which was a splendid
headline for the tabloids, has an extraordinary evocative power. Of all
the significances one can find, we may not forget, that in Inuit
shamanic tradition, there is a tattooing tradition (as with the Maori)
to tattoo the skull in blue. One could interpret these words as an
allusion to the ritual initiation to enter Iggy’s ‘family’.
Krutak, an anthropologist who specializes in body adornments, has
written about Inuit tattoos:
Arctic tattoo was a lived symbol of common participation in the cyclical
and subsistence culture of the arctic hunter-gatherer. Tattoo recorded
the “biographies” of personhood, reflecting individual and social
experience through an array of significant relationships that oscillated
between the poles of masculine and feminine, human and animal, sickness
and health, the living and the dead. Arguably, tattoos provided a nexus
between the individual and communally defined forces that shaped Inuit
and Yupiget perceptions of existence… (Taken from: Vanishing
Tattoo. An updated version of the same article can be found at: Lars
Although all the writings of Lars Krutak are very interesting it would
take us to far to dig further into the specifics of tribal tattooing.
Further more, regardless of the fact that ‘Eskimo chain’
may well or not refer to Iggy, who may have acted as a muse for Syd,
rather than the groupie some biographers have made of her, she probably
was not Inuit at all.
And as far as the Reverend can see, with his little piggy eyes, he
cannot distinguish any tattoos on her body.
I was pretending to be very busy at Atagong mansion and so the review
for the most recent French Syd Barrett biography, Syd Barrett, le
premier Pink Floyd by Emmanuel Le Bret vegetated in that
small Bermuda triangle called 'My Documents' for a while.
Right after I had read the book my opinion about French authors was as
follows. I give you an unpublished exclusive excerpt from my first draft:
As long as French biographers keep on insisting that les
Pink Floyd is part of their national treasury just because David Gilmour
had a fling with BB
once they will need to be hunted down by a mob of critics armed with
boiling tar and blood stained feathers.
According to the credits on the back cover Emmanuel Le Bret is not only
a Sixties collector and connoisseur but also a well known lecturer,
although in French this is described as a conférencier what
is not exactly the same. Anyway and this is a cheap blow under the belt,
I apologize beforehand, a search on the world wide web doesn’t reveal
any of his performing qualities to me but perhaps he only reads on
Syd Barrett, le premier Pink Floyd, is not Emmanuel Le Bret's first book
so tells me Google. He debuted with an esoteric study about Uranus,
a subject he knows more about than you dare to imagine. I could add in a joke
or two here, but I won't. Uranus is not something one makes jokes about,
unless you're from Klingon
The biographical planet orbits between two opposing points. At the
sinister side all attention goes to meticulously verified, double
verified and triple verified facts. This does not always lead to
readable books, I'm afraid. Spiralling at the other side are those who
will not hesitate to add a good, albeit probably untrue, anecdote
because it goes down so well. They probably think they're writing telenovelas
Emmanuel Le Bret certainly admires the second biographical viewpoint.
Several times he warns us, the innocent reader, not to give too many
attention to the many legends around Syd Barrett and continues then by
giving us a page and a half of the wildest rumours circling around about
the madcap. Some of these were even unknown to me but this could be due
to the French and their legendary lust for the baroque and the
bizarre. It took them until the mid nineties to finally understand that
Pink Floyd wasn't a bird
so one juicy Syd rumour more or less can't hurt Emmanuel must have
thought. Le Bret is as passionate about the rock star as he is
passionate about Uranus and this shows in the many sentences that end
with an exclamation mark! Like this!! And that!!! And
then just another one when you least expect it!!!! French love
this kind of stuff as you can see in their many movie comedies filled
with screaming people who keep on smashing doors.
If you want to know what the general tone of the book is, I invite you
to read the following post that I found at the Holy
Church of Iggy the Inuit. The author of that blog is a complete
nutter, ready for the strap jacket, but I can follow the Reverend in
what he has to say about Syd Barrett, le premier Pink Floyd: Tattoo
You. (Note: this review was originally posted at Felix Atagong's Unfinished
I am now also pretty sure that the French lack the proper DNA string
that give other nationalities the magic force to copy and paste English
words. For fuck's sake how moronic do you need to be to keep on
insisting throughout the entire book that Syd's one time girlfriend is
named Libby Gausdeen or that David Gilmour's early band is called
There must be a zillion Internet joints, from Albania to Zambia, where
they do manage to spell these names right, except in France. I made a
list of the dozens of spelling mistakes in the book, and boys and the
one single Nordic girl reading this blog, you are lucky that it has
disappeared mysteriously from my harddisk, and I am too fed up to look
for them again. Spoken about a narrow escape!
One could say that Emmanuel Le Bret writes English like officer Crabtree
Allo fame) speaks French (I know that this blog is not spotless
either but we Belgians are semi-French anyway).
One time I really had to laugh out loud and that was when le brat
re-baptises the hippy couple Jock and Sue, you know those hipsters that
according to popular believe and certainly to our brave Uranus spotter
spiked the drinking water and the cat food with LSD, as Mad Max
and Mad Sue.
In real life Mad Jack was Alistair Findlay and Mad Sue was Susan
Kingsford, and they both deny that they have ever mixed LSD in Barrett’s
tea. Alistair Findlay even stated in Tim Willis’ Madcap
biography that ‘spiking was a heinous crime’. Although these testimonies
date from 2002 (and were repeated in Mark Blake’s biography from 2007)
Emmanuel Le Bret still describes this as a proven fact and categorizes
the couple as:
…un couple infernal (le mot n’est pas trop fort) [qui] biberonne le
genie, rêvant sans doute de l’accompagner dans son voyage, à défaut de
partager son talent… …a devilish couple (that depiction is
not too harsh) boozing the genius, without doubt dreaming to accompany
him in his voyage and to share his talent… (translated by FA, original
found on p. 138)
Pure bollocks, if you ask me, and further proof that the French are at
least 7 years behind compared to the rest of the world.
What is there more to say? Le premier Pink Floyd has no pictures,
although some French photo material does exist, and no index, what is a
pity, especially for a biography. Basically the book reads like a train
but flies like a brick...
To end this misery, a positive note. Here is a proposal to all French
would-be authors who want to write the next Floydian biography, if one
more is still needed: send me a copy before it goes to the publisher and
I will check it for copy and paste errors. It will cost you nothing
except a free copy once it does gets out, promised!
Le Bret, Emmanuel : Syd Barrett. Le premier Pink Floyd., Editions
du Moment, Paris, 2008
Notes (other than the above internet links) Willis, Tim, Madcap,
Short Books, London, 2002, p. 75, repeated in: Blake, Mark: Pigs
Might Fly, Aurum Press, London, 2007, p.83.
Illustration (top left) by synofsound - thanks syn!
Rejoice, dear followers of the Esqimau, as The Holy Church of
Iggy the Inuit celebrates its first birthday. On the eight day of the
eighth month of the eight year of the third Millennium the Church was
born. That day two messages were posted, the first,
a very modest one, was a mere introduction that was basically written by
someone else, the second
post however told the story of the first public appearance of Iggy,
already nicknamed the Eskimo, in November 1966.
Ig, as the Church prefers to call her now, was spotted by NME on a party
in the presence of Patrick Kerr, the main choreographer of the Ready
Steady Go!-show, one hit wonders Twinkle and Adrienne Posta, Frank Allen
from the Searchers and Mick Jagger wannabee Chris Farlowe. Already then
she was about a mover and could bend it better than Wickham. (Read the
article here: Bend
It is possible that Ig was a dancer / guest / visitor at a couple of
Ready Steady Go!-shows, but the Church’s investigations have only found
circumstantial evidence of that. The Church is still trying to get hold
of some courageous witnesses who want to testify this before the Holy Igquisition.
Also present at the NME party was pop-PR-publicist Simon Hayes who may
have made the aspiring model believe that he was her agent. Up till now
The Church couldn’t trace the man although several attempts to contact
him have been made.
But this is no time for grief, let us rejoice, rejoice, as today, so
declares the Church, is Ig’s day. And celebrate we will…
In the summer of 2006 Denis Combet, professor at Brandon
University, wrote a collection of poems as a tribute to the musician
and painter Roger Keith Barrett who passed away in Cambridge on the 7th
of July 2006. The poems highlight the life of the young artist as a
nonconformist who preferred – or was forced – to withdraw from the music
world for a more humble existence.
About a year later, part of the collection was published under the title Guitars
and Dust Dancing, in the student webzine Ecclectica (site no longer
active), together with art work from Lou Visentin and music from Pascal
The poems describe fragments of Barrett’s life, his youth, his hometown,
his friends and relatives and the collection contain poems dedicated to
and inspired by David Gilmour, Gala Pinion, Lindsay Corner, Nick Mason,
Rick Wright, Roger Waters, Rosemary Breen and Winifred Barrett. And one
of them From Quetesh
is all about Ig.
From Quetesh to Bastet
the Eskimo, Girl of space.
Often very alone, But
always a friend.
Star fallen from the black sky: Solar,
solitary, solstice, soloist.
Pale blue crystal dawn, pearl
wine dusk. A mauve Venus, disrobed on the silk orange milky way.
music, medieval Median, magnetic: Even in worlds where love is
Transcended, transparent, translucent,
transitory: Life together unconditionally and forever.
that black cat caressing him with a glance, the night. The malefic
vision of Lucifer Sam.
Denis Combet had originally written the poetic cycle in French and when
the Reverend contacted him to get permission to publish the above the
Church also asked for the original to be published as well. It is with
great proudness that we hereafter present the original version of the
Iggy poem that, as far as we know, has never been published before… Just
another world exclusive of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit.
De Quétesh à Bastet
l’Esquimo, Fille de l’espace.
seule, Mais toujours amie.
Étoile tombée du ciel noir: Solaire,
solitaire, solstice, soliste
Aube de cristal bleu pâle,
crépuscule de vin de perles. Une Vénus mauve, dénudée sur voie
lactée de soie orangée.
Musique magique, médique
médiévale, magnétique: Même dans des univers où
l’amour est impossible.
translucide, transitoire: La vie ensemble sans détours et pour
Et ce chat noir qui le caresse du regard, la nuit. La
vision maléfique de Lucifer Sam.
Originally it was planned to launch a separate website
(poemstosydbarrett.com) in 2008 containing the complete works (poems,
music and art) and to publish the cycle in book form. But due to the
high costs involved to print an art book the author is still looking for
a publisher who would be interested. For the time being the Reverend
wants to invite you all to read the poems, have a look at the artwork
and listen to the music at Ecclectica: Guitars and Dust Dancing (website
no longer active).
The Reverend wants to thank Dr. Denis Combet for his permission to
publish the Ig poems on this space. And with this final message comes an
end to the official proceedings of the first anniversary of The Holy
Church of Iggy the Inuit. Let's have some booze and party! Rejoice,
rejoice, we have no choice but… to carry on… A la
prochaine, my friends, et ne fait pas ce que Iggy ne ferait pas…
Update 31 12 2013: The original Ecclectica and Poems To
Syd Barrett links no longer work. In 2011 Denis Combet allowed the
Church to upload his poems and artwork as a Flash 'pageFlip' book: Crystal
Notes: Born in Marseille, France in 1955, Professor Denis
Combet holds a doctorate from the Universit de Nancy II. Since 1975 he
works in Canada at the University of Manitoba, the College Universitaire
de Saint-Boniface, and the University of Victoria. He is currently an
associate professor in Arts > Languages at Brandon University (Brandon,
Dr. Denis Combet is (co-)author of several historical works and articles: º
Gabriel Dumont, Mémoires/Memoirs was nominated by the
Manitoba Writing and Publishing Awards for the Alexander Kennedy
Isbister Award, Winnipeg 2007. º In Search for the Western
Sea/A la recherche de la mer de l’Ouest, mémoires choisis de La
Vérendrye, Selected journals of La Vérendrye was selected
by The Globe and Mail (November 24, 2001, p. D 40) among the «Best of
the year» 2001, in the category Gift-History. It was nominated by the
Manitoba Writing and Publishing Awards, for five awards, and won two,
Best Design, and the Mac Williams Awards, for best Popular History book.
The above poems are the property of Denis Combet and are
protected by international copyright laws. You may not reproduce,
modify, distribute or republish materials contained on this site (either
directly or by linking) without prior written permission from the
Authorised subsidiaries: The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit Youtube
channel The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit Facebook Fanpage
As if the world has suddenly been hit by a temporal rift in spacetime
the March 2010 issue of Mojo
music magazine has inundated the stores bearing a big (slightly photoshopped)
portrait of a mister Syd Barrett. The well-written and rather accurate
cover article, by Pat Gilbert, ranges from page 70 to 81 and tells the
story of The Madcap Laughs, Syd Barrett’s first solo album.
Two other articles are of particular interest to the Church as they
describe the mythical presence of a ‘girl whose naked body graced the
back cover of The Madcap Laughs’.
Who’s That Girl (page 76 insert) is written by Mark
Blake, author of the Pink Floyd biography Pigs Might Fly, and
an occasional visitor (and contributor) of the Church. Out of courtesy
(and for copyright reasons) the Church will not publish the article as
long as the magazine is for sale in the shops. Update: Direct
link to the article: Mojo
March 2010 (hosted at the Church as the article was removed from the
official Barrett website in 2016).
People reading magazines with binoculars will find an odd reference to
the Church as the Croydon Guardian article from the 17th September 2008
has been reproduced as well, however in such small print that one needs
to xerox it in blow-up mode to distinguish individual letters. The
article in full can be consulted at the Church (Where
did she go?) but is also still present on the archives of the
Croydon Guardian (Where
did she go to our lovely?).
Mark Blake writes in Mojo:
In 2008, (Jeff) Dexter and (Anthony) Stern tried to trace the elusive
Iggy, and were interviewed in the Croydon Guardian for leads to the
whereabouts of the “carefree girl who captured the spirit of the ‘60s”.
Actually the motor behind this article were not Dexter and Stern but the Holy
Church of Iggy the Inuit, after - truth has to be acknowledged –
Mark Blake had revealed earlier that Iggy ‘was known as one of the
regular teenage girls at the dancehalls around Purley and Caterham’ (see
not stirred ).
Researching The Orchid dancehall in Purley, the Reverend found two
articles that had appeared in the Croydon Guardian: In
dance hall days (9th August 2006) and We
remember the Orchid (29th August 2006).
The Church tried to contact Brian Roote in September 2008, an amateur
historian writing a book about the Purley dancehall, but this resulted
more than a year later in the simple comment: ‘I have no knowledge of
this girl whatsoever'.
The Reverend had more chance with journalist Kerry McQueeney author of
the two Orchid articles, but no longer working for the Croydon Guardian.
He passed the story to Kirsty Whalley who was now editor of the Heritage
pages of the newspaper. On the 3rd September of 2008 she replied:
We would like to feature this story in the newspaper next week and
hopefully it will prompt a few people to call in.
In the same mail she also asked if the Church could give some leads and
amongst the people to contact the Reverend mentioned the names of Mick
Rock and Anthony Stern. Kirsty Whalley did an excellent job and did not
only interview both men, but also Jeff Dexter who had been a DJ at The
The next sermon at the Church will cover the second Iggy-related article
from Mojo 196. In My Room, written by Paul Drummond, contains
interviews with Duggie Fields, Mick Rock, Storm Thorgerson and Jenny
The Madcap Laughs Again (Mojo Tribute CD)
Mojo 196 comes with a Madcap Laughs cover CD as interpreted by (amongst
others): R.E.M., Captain Sensible, Hawkwind, Jennifer Gentle, Marc
Almond and Robyn Hitchcock. Reviews of this CD can be found at Late
Madcap Laughs Again, including the one written by the Reverend.
The Mojo website contains a Syd Barrett top 20 jukebox
and three YouTube links to Syd's legendary unreleased material. One of
those fan-made videos (Lucy
Leave) has been created by limpidgreen aka dollyrocker, a much
Night forum member. Way to go, dollyrocker! (All links dead, we're
(This is part two of our Mojo magazine review, for part one, click here).
As if the world has suddenly been hit by a temporal rift in spacetime
the March 2010 issue of Mojo music magazine has inundated the stores
bearing a big (slightly photoshopped) portrait of a mister Syd Barrett.
The well-written and rather accurate cover article, by Pat Gilbert,
ranges from page 70 to 81 and tells the story of The Madcap Laughs, Syd
Barrett’s first solo album.
Two other articles are of particular interest to the Church as they
describe the mythical presence of a ‘girl whose naked body graced the
back cover of The Madcap Laughs’.
we discussed the Who’s That Girl article written by Mark
Blake, and this week the Church will scrutinize Paul Drummond’s In
My Room (Mojo 196, p. 82 - 84). Out of courtesy (and for copyright
reasons) the Reverend has decided not to publish the articles as long as
the magazine is for sale in the shops. Update: Direct link to
the article: Mojo
March 2010. (hosted at the Church as the article was removed from
the official Barrett website in 2016).
The article, about The Madcap Laughs photo sessions, has interviews with
Duggie Fields, Mick Rock and - so it seems - Jenny Spires. But although
she was interviewed by email for the main article by Pat Gilbert, she
has told the Church she wasn’t really questioned about Iggy.
I guessed, when I saw it, they must have looked at your site (re Daffodils
and photo shoot etc…), as I was not asked about this
or about Iggy. (JenS, 10th of February 2010, mail to the Church)
The Reverend could do no other thing than to summon the Holy Igquisition
to stick in a few comments as the In The Room article clearly
breathes the holy air of the Church but neglects to mention its
existence in its columns.
Ig and Jenny Spires meeting each other for the first time
Mojo 196 reports:
Jenny Spires first met Iggy in January 1969 and introduced her to Syd
and he let her stay. (p. 83)
The Holy Igquisition wants to set this straight: According to
the Church’s archives JenS first met Ig in summer 1966 (cfr. When
Syd met Iggy). The year thereafter (1967) they met again and from
then one they went on clubbing together. This has once again been
confirmed by Jens this week:
I was surprised they had mistakenly printed that I met her in 1969. This
annoys me really because of its inaccuracy.
The date of The Madcap Laughs photo shoot
Mojo 196 reports:
Iggy’s involvement appears to date the shoot as spring ’69 as she was
long gone by autumn. (p. 83)
The Holy Igquisition wants to set straight: JenS has situated
the photo shoot in spring 1969 (March or April) (cfr. When
Syd met Iggy 1). Further investigations by the Church have
pinpointed a possible date in April 1969 (cfr. When
Syd met Iggy 2).
Mojo 196 reports:
It’s more likely Syd picked them (the daffodils found on the cover of
the album) while in the park with Iggy, as captured on Super-8 film.
The Holy Igquisition wants to set straight: The Holy Church of
Iggy the Inuit has discussed the lost In The Woods movie at great extent
and Pontiacs). However the theory that the Lost in The Woods video
was shot before the photo shoot is new and quite intriguing. However the
idea that Iggy, Mick and Syd picked the daffodils is, according to JenS,
Mojo 196 writes:
When the photo shoot was over, Rock continued outside using Syd’s blue
Pontiac Parisienne as a prop. (…) The life of this inanimate object
(registration: VYP74) helps confirm that the shoot wasn’t in the autumn.
The Holy Igquisition wans to set straight: The story of Syd
Barrett’s car has been the object of different posts at the Church (cfr. When
Syd met Iggy 2), but the initial quest for the car was done at the Late
Night forum by Dark Globe, Sean Beaver and others… they found out
that the car appeared in the movie Entertaining Mr. Sloane. Unlike Mojo
magazine, the Church does like to give credit to the people who deserve
The Holy Igquisition concludes:
It is clear that Mojo magazine has extensively browsed through the pages
of the Holy Church of Inuit but has somehow forgotten to mention
this in its articles. The Holy Igquisition has therefore sent the
following objurgation at Mojo:
It was nice to see that the many theories of the Holy Church of Iggy the
Inuit have been reproduced in The Madcap Laughs photo shoot article,
albeit without mentioning where these originally came from.
However the Holy Igquisiton knows that any true believer will find the
Church, so every Iggy publication will be beneficiary in the end. Ig’s
story as published in the March issue of Mojo may be the butterfly
effect that will cause the storm at the other side of the world. So
perhaps, thanks to Mojo, the Church will be one day able to fulfil its
Rather than to start an endless polemical discussion the Holy Church of
Iggy the Inuit would like to end this post with Duggie Fields’s
magnificent description of our skyclad sistren (p. 82):
I remember being at a 31 bus stop and seeing her coming down the stairs
very elegantly in this gold lame 1940s dress that had bell sleeves that
buttoned to a train but with no underwear and completely exposed…
Not a care in the world.
Lo and behold brethren and sistren, and don't do anything
that Ig wouldn't have done.
In my very early days of Internet I wanted to know everything of my
favourite band: Pink
Floyd. Webpages were still something very exotic, and a webpage that
changed its appearance once a month even more so, but luckily there was
mailing list that I still read every day for over a decade and half now.
Subscribing to Echoes would automatically give you a copy of the latest
Echoes Pink Floyd FAQ, maintained by that monument of Floyd oddities Gerhard
den Hollander. Divided in 10 sections it learned me more about the
brothers Floyd than anything else, I kept it close to me just like that
other, lavishly illustrated, monument of knowledge and wisdom, Pink
Floyd, The Visual Documentary (1980) by (Barry) Miles.
The Echoes FAQ is not updated anymore since 1999, although a feeble
attempt to resuscitate it was once made a couple of years ago, but there
are zillions of websites and blogs dealing with those matters nowadays
and in case of doubt, there will always be Wikipedia.
Mailing Group FAQs are now as hip as a telex machine was when the fax
came out. So it goes.
Thus when Amazon nicely proposed to send me Pink Floyd FAQ from Stuart
Shea I followed their advice, mainly because my memories of the original
Pink Floyd FAQ were still short and sweet. The moment I clicked I felt
remorse because this book could easily be a rehash of the original FAQ
that I already had, updated with news that I already knew and the four reviews
I found ranged from "this is a great book" to "the book is one of the
most useless publications about that band in years". Nice.
Let me start with the obvious. The book is not half as bad as I feared
it would be but neither is it as good as a book could be that pretends
to contain a FAQ, a whole FAQ and nothing but a FAQ.
The subtitle Everything Left to Know… and More! (exclamation point
included) is a bit overzealous if you ask me.
The book does not give a chronological overview of Pink Floyd but ranges
its subjects by the subject, as shows the table of contents that you can
Unfortunately the book has got no index, what duly pisses me off, so if
you want to know something about, let's say: You
Gotta Be Crazy, there is no other way to find it than to start
reading the bloody thing all over again. So called biographies and
reference books (as a FAQ, by definition should be) without an index (or
an alphabetical or chronological filing system) are immediately put
aside by me and won't be touched again. Ever. Probably the author won't
care, the book was sold anyway.
Got A Moment?
Some of the chapters look like they have been inspired by these non
informational page filling articles in pop magazines that keep on
appearing whether you like it or not.
What are ten great Syd Barrett moments? What are ten great David
Gilmour moments? What are ten great Roger Waters moments? What are
ten great Rick Wright moments?
and last but not least the quite ridiculous…
What are ten great Nick Mason moments?
Probably you see it coming, but there is something basically irrational
in the previous list. You can most likely find ten memorable Syd Barrett
songs in the short period he was with the band (although Stuart Shea
can't and cheats by adding Barrett solo stuff), obviously you can find
ten memorable Rick Wright collaborations in Pink Floyd, although the
The Inside Out, that is, in retrospect, his musical testament has
been unexplainably overlooked. And so is, Syd almighty, The
Great Gig In The Sky. That song, I'm sure, is treated in another
chapter, but as the book has got no index, I haven't got a clue where to
find that information.
To note down ten notable Nick Mason moments you have to scrape the
barrel a bit. Don't get me wrong, I think that Nick Mason probably was
the best drummer Pink Floyd ever had and he was a crucial part in
creating the classic Pink Floyd sound (on recent albums he insisted to
record his drum licks analog instead of digital to name just one
useless, but nevertheless interesting, point that is overlooked in the
FAQ), but he didn't get a lot of official credits for it.
But let's be honest, only ten great David Gilmour or Roger Waters
moments? Roger Waters thinks he has ten great Roger Waters moments
between getting out of bed and his morning pee! All fun aside, making a
'ten great moments' list is considered more appropriate for internet
fora (with all discussions and no-no-s involved) than for a book.
Bob Dylan Shoes
Although a FAQ can't answer all possible questions, it is - by
definition - a list of the most frequent questions, it helps the reader
if he finds as much information as possible. If, at chapter 12: what
acts influenced Pink Floyd?, Bob Dylan is mentioned it would, perhaps,
be interesting to know that Syd Barrett once recorded a tune called Bob
Dylan Blues or that Roger Waters covered Knocking On Heaven's Door,
but it doesn't. According to Stuart Shea one of the ten most influential
bands or artists for Pink Floyd was the legendary disco outfit Chic
Brick In The Wall (Pt. 2) carries a hundred-beats-per-minutes
beat. I would have preferred to see a reference to AMM
Soft Machine instead.
And when there is talk of a FAQ, I would also like to have some accurate
information as well. Page 132 has a picture from the Floyd with the
caption 'The Floyd on an oddly small stage during the early 1970s. By
this time, they had graduated to playing large halls'. The fact why the
Floyd stands on an oddly small stage is because the picture comes
from the movie Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii (1972). Their rendition of Careful
With That Axe, Eugene, however was not recorded in Pompeii but in a
studio in France and in order to get them all four on screen they had to
be standing close to each other. Simple as that. No need to create an
extra Floydian fable when there is no need to do that.
Despite the fact that you can answer a lot of Pink Floyd questions (the
original FAQ had 10 sections, each with dozens of questions and answers)
several chapters do overlap each other, and this happens more than once. How
did the US discover Pink Floyd goes one about their early (American)
tours, so does the chapter What were Pink Floyd concerts Like in…,
so does The 1972 and 1973 Tours, so does A Pink Floyd live top
What I do like is that some articles have been written by guests that
ring distant church bells with Pink Floyd fans: Mark Campbell, Steven
Leventhal, Ron Geesin, John Leckie, Toni Tennile, Ginger Gilmour…
overall the book is fun to read (and written in an agreeable way) but
the bottom line is: this is not a Pink Floyd FAQ and certainly not THE
Pink Floyd FAQ. Easily read, but also easily forgotten.
People who don't know nothing about the Floyd are, in my opinion,
better off with The
Rough Guide To Pink Floyd (Tobby Manning) that combines the band's
history, has a discography (with reviews for every album) and a thematic
approach like 'Floyd's finest 50' and 'Floyd on Film'. This is an
excellent book for starters (and as a Pink Floyd fan for over 35 years I
enjoyed it as well).
If you would like an in-depth Pink Floyd biography I can recommend Mark
Might Fly or, if you have a lot of money, the memoirs of Mr. Nick
Mason himself (Inside
Out). And for anoraks who want to look up the nitty-gritty there is
Pink Floyd Encyclopaedia by Vernon Fitch (alphabetically) and Echoes
by Glenn Povey (chronologically).
I am not entirely sure what kind of public Stuart Shea wanted to reach
with his book but what I am sure of is that, throughout the book, the
author likes to ventilate his own opinion rather than to stick to the
facts. Here is what he has to say about The Cult of Syd Barrett (p.313):
Some Syd Barrett fans are as sick as the man himself was at his worst.
Despite the voluminous evidence of his excessive drug use, physical
assaults on girlfriends and business associates, disastrous attempts at
recording and gigging, and largely incoherent interviews from his
post-Floyd period in the late 1960s and early 1970s, there are those who
wish to romanticize his illness as a willful subversion of pop stardom.
There are now more Syd Barrett biographies around (in the English
language alone) than Syd Barrett records and several Pink Floyd
biographies consecrate the same amount of pages for the first three
years of the Floyd than for the next 30. So obviously there must be
something mysterious going on with this Syd character.
The last in line to open Pandora's box is Rob Chapman. He was actually
one of the few people (around 30 to 50) who saw Syd's mythical band Stars
at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge (24 February 1972) and is still
relatively sane enough to recall it. Young chap Robert Chapman even
wrote a review
magazine, that would disappear a few years later for 'lack of Syd' but
also because no three Syd Barrett fans can come together without having
a tremendous fight. Try running an Internet joint for that lot nowadays
and you'll see what I mean.
Writing a biography is a difficult job and I once remarked in a (quite
pompous) review that biographers are situated on a scale, ranging
from those who meticulously verify, double verify and triple verify tiny
facts to those that will not hesitate to add a good, albeit probably
untrue, anecdote just because it goes down so well.
Rob Chapman is, and often quite rightly so, annoyed with the many
legends around Barrett and wants to set the record straight. I kind of
like this way of working. But he doesn't indulge us either in an ongoing
shopping list of facts and figures. The art of writing biographies is
not in adding details, that is the easy bit, but in weeding out the
superfluous so that a readable book (rather than a shopping list)
But sometimes I have the feeling that he weeded a bit too much. The trouvaille
of the name Pink Floyd (p. 53) is literally dealt with in a single line.
Of course ardent Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett fans alike already know the
story about Philips
BBL-7512 and its liner notes by heart, but the occasional reader
might as well benefit from an extra wee bit of information. And quite
frankly it is about time that David (Dave) Moore
gets the credits for the mail he sent to Bryan Sinclair on the 14th of
March 2005 entitled: “RE: [pre-war-blues] Pink Anderson / Floyd Council.”
From an LP apparently in the possession of Syd Barrett: Blind Boy
Fuller, Country Blues 1935-1940, issued on Phillips BBL-7512, c. 1962.
The sleeve notes were by Paul Oliver, and include the following: "Curley
Weaver and Fred McMullen, Georgia-born but more frequently to be found
in Kentucky or Tennessee, Pink Anderson or Floyd Council -- these were a
few amongst the many blues singers that were to be heard in the rolling
hills of the Piedmont, or meandering with the streams through the wooded
valleys." (Source: Pink
Anderson / Floyd Council @ pre-war-blues Yahoo, membership probably
Update 2015: The complete story of the Blind Boy Fuller album
that gave Pink Floyd its name can be found at: Step
It Up And Go.
Chapman, the fearless vampire killer
You might say, that piece of information is too anoraky and Rob
Chapman was right not to include it, but why then, when he can lash out
at previous Syd Barrett biographers, doesn't he apply his own rules
anymore? Every new biography should have its new findings, otherwise
there would be no necessity to write it, and I do understand that you
can point out a flagrant mistake that has been made in a previous
biography, but Chapman acts repeatedly as a vindictive (and verbally
Helsing, wooden stake in his hand, ready to stick it through the
heart of a vampire on the loose. Only, in my book, a fellow biographer
should not be treated as a vampire but rather as a colleague, perhaps an
erring colleague, but still a colleague... Writing that some biographies
should have a government health warning on their cover is not nice and
is better left to amateur blog authors like yours truly and journalists
of The Sun.
We have established by now that Rob Chapman does not like false and
superfluous information, but on top of that he also has some theories of
his own. David Gilmour recalls how he was invited at the See
Emily Play recording session (officially the 21st of May 1967, but,
according to David Parker, a first session could have taken place on the
18th) and how he found that 'the golden boy had lost the light in his
eyes'. Somewhere around that date Syd turned 'crazy' so we have been
lead to believe for the past 40 years…
Chapman is of the opinion that Barrett didn't turn mad, but rather that
he was alternatively wired and that, what other people have described as
mad behaviour, was really Syd playing cosmic jokes on the rest of the
world or setting up dadaist and misinterpreted avant-garde performances.
Just like the proverbial fish in a fisherman's story gets bigger and
bigger so have Syd legends accumulated weight over the years. Rob
Chapman doesn't like these apocryphal stories and wants to debunk these
once and for all. He does a good job at that, but - once again - weeds
to much. It is not because you can correct a couple of false rumours
that - by definition - all memories from all witnesses have to be
categorised untrue. And that is what Chapman implies. Even more, in
order to prove his theory, he deliberately skips several events that
have happened but that he can't immediately minimise or contradict.
It is good to counterbalance the Syd Barrett articles and biographies
that have thriven upon sensationalism (Le
premier Pink Floyd from Emmanuel Le Bret comes to mind, luckily that
2008 biography was written in French and completely ignored by the
Anglo-Saxon world) but that is not a reason to indulge into a fairytale
world of Barrett the mystic, but misinterpreted, genius. That is
unethical and close to historical revisionism and it turns the middle
part of the biography (covering the Piper and Madcap years) into a
somewhat misplaced hagiography.
You will probably not believe me when I tell I didn't do it on purpose,
but when Chapman quotes Nick Mason's autobiography Inside Out on
page 198, saying that Nick writes that 'Syd went mad' during the
American tour of 1967, I grabbed my copy (actually, I carefully took and
opened it, as it is quite heavy) and read pages 87 till 97 over again. I
did this three times. I can't find it. I will not conclude that
Nick may never have written (or said during an interview) that 'Syd went
mad' but it isn't there where Chapman claims it is. It makes Chapman a
sloppy researcher, to say the least.
Update October 2010: By accident I stumbled upon the Syd is
crazy quote (or one of the Syd is crazy quotes) from Nick
Mason in Barry Miles' The Early Years book: "You can't believe that
someone's deliberately trying to screw it up and yet the other half of
you is saying 'This man's crazy - he's trying to destroy me!'"
Nick however does write that on two different occasions on the American
tour Syd detuned his guitar, one time even 'until the strings fell off'.
This apparently made Roger Waters so angry that he 'gashed his hand in a
furious attack on his bass guitar', smashing the (lend) instrument to
pieces at the end of the show.
Rob Chapman doesn't see where the problem is and remarks joyfully that
Syd had been deliberately detuning his guitar in the past (during the
Floyd's early free-form jams) and that it was tolerated and even
encouraged then. He seems not to realise that there might have been a
time and place to detune a guitar and a time and place NOT to
detune a guitar. When I visit my doctor, who is looking gorgeous by the
way, and unbutton my trousers in front of her she will not be offended,
but if I catch her at the local supermarket, choosing a deep-freeze
pizza (the living proof that deep-freeze pizzas are healthy, by the way)
and dangle my ding-a-ling in front of her, I will be in hell of a
trouble. Not that I have done that, those rumours are incredibly
exaggerated and I am again allowed to enter the supermarket anyway.
The Big Barrett Conspiracy
Chapman more or less suggests that, over the years, there has been a Big
Barrett Conspiracy going on, claiming that Syd went mad while he was
just being artistically misunderstood. It is obvious that Waters, Mason
and Wright, and to a lesser extent Gilmour, were behind the conspiracy.
They quit their studies and promising architectural career to follow the
narrow path of psychedelic pop music and when money was finally starting
to come in a whimsical Barrett wanted to turn the clock back (probably
through a washing machine) and concentrate on experiment again
(proto-Floyd members Bob
Klose and Chris Dennis had left the band in the past just
because their profession stood in the way). Chapman doesn't even try to
hide his disgust for post-Syd Floyd, but more about that later.
What is less understandable is that Peter Jenner and Andrew King are
part of the conspiracy as well, because when Syd and Pink Floyd went
separate ways, they choose to manage Syd instead of following the goose
with the golden eggs. Jenner assisted Barrett during his first batch of
sessions for The Madcap Laughs (1968) but commented later that these
were 'chaos'. The sessions had been going on from May till July and
Jenner reported that they weren't getting anywhere.
Chapman disagrees, he states that during the 6 studio sessions in
1968 Barrett recorded half a dozen of rough tracks dispelling the myth
of a 'muse run dry'. I count 9 sessions, by the way, making
Barrett's tracks per sessions ratio one third less performing as Chapman
wants us to believe, but that is not the issue here. The main problem is
not that Barrett was out of songs. Six of them still doesn't make an
album, unless you would add the 18 minutes of the avant-garde
(read: tedious) Rhamadan. The main problem with Barrett was that
the songs never outgrew the rehearsal or demo stadium. Simply said:
Barrett wasted a lot of studio time. And these were still the days that
a record company expected an artist to cut an entire album in three or
four sessions, the only exception perhaps being The Beatles.
Update October 2010: after 40 years Rhamadan has been issued as a
free download with the An Introduction to Syd Barrett
compilation. The track isn't half as bad as everyone - especially those
who never heard it - claimed it to be, but it needs some serious weeding
to be presentable as a 'real' album track. More info: Gravy
Train To Cambridge.
Juggling the Octopus
I see in Rob Chapman a man with a passion and he is at his best when he
analyses Syd's songs. It takes him 7 pages to scrutinise Clowns &
Jugglers (re-titled later as Octopus),
making it clear to the outside world that Syd wasn't just a young
innocent bloke whose lyrics came to him in a psychedelic, LSD-induced,
dream. Chapman traces back references (and quotes) from: Huff
the Talbot and our Cat Tib (Mother Goose rhyme), Thomas Nashe's
Summer's Last Will and Testament (an Elizabethan masque play), Shakespeare's
King Henry VI Pt. 1, Kenneth Grahame's The Wind In The Willows and
poems from Anonymous (Mr
Nobody), John Clare (Fairy Things), Sir Henry Newbolt (Rilloby-Rill)
and William Howitt (The
Wind in a Frolic).
Unfortunately I have in my small collection of Barrett related works a
12-page essay, written in 2005 by Paul Belbin, published at the Madcapslaughing
and Vegetable Friends mailing groups, titled: Untangling the
Octopus. It describes in detail, almost verse per verse, where Syd
Barrett sampled the lines from Octopus from. Although Chapman nearly
literally copies the information for 7 pages long, he neglects to
mention the source of his findings.
Update October 2010: Paul Belbin has authorised the Holy Church
of Iggy the Inuit to host the 2006 version of his essay: Untangling
the Octopus v2 (PDF file).
In 2009 a revised and updated version of Untangling
The Octopus was published by Julian
Palacios, a Syd Barrett biographer who doesn't even appear in
Chapman's bibliography, but as Chapman spifflicates the biographies he
does mention that probably is a compliment.
Chapman can get downright cynical when he wants to take the myth out of
Barrett and this is where the biography as a biography goes astray.
Although a biographer may be unconditionally in love with his subject he
(she) must at the same time keep a certain distance, be unprejudiced and
should approach the subject with at least a glimpse of unbiased
Debunking the brylcreem and mandrax anecdote is not bad,
but it is not directly original either. Chapman isn't the first one to
have done this as shows this forum
post by Julian Palacios and also Mark Blake has put some question
marks concerning the event.
Apart from some anecdotes that happened at family parties or random
encounters on the street with old friends and (past) lovers, we don't
know a lot about Syd Barrett's life in Cambridge. So if a witness does
turns up it would perhaps be a chance to check him (or her) out. But in
that was published on the official Syd
Barrett website Chapman tells why he didn't contact the Barrett neighbour
who has not always been positive
about the rockstar next door:
My thoughts, clearly and unambiguously are that I didn’t want to give
this individual a scintilla of publicity. (…) I did check him out, quite
extensively as it happens, and my enquiries lead, among other places, to
a website where he gives his enlightened views on capital punishment and
who should receive it – most of us, by the look of it.
It is not because someone has a dubious opinion about capital punishment
that his memories about Barrett are - by definition - untrue or
unreliable. However Chapman is not that reluctant when a witness turns
up who has got some positive things to say about Barrett.
On pages 365 and following, Chapman recites the charming anecdote of a
young child who ran into Barrett's garden to ask him a pertinent
question about a make-believe horse. Not only did Barrett patiently
listen to her dilemma, he also took the time to explain her that in
fairy tales everything is possible, even flying horses.
It is in anecdotes such as this that Chapman shows his unconditional
love for Barrett, and I confess that it made my grumpy heart mellow as
well. Here is the man, who invariably smashed the door to any fan
approaching his house, earnestly discussing fairy tales figures with a
Update September 2013: some more information about this girl,
Radharani Krishna, can be found at the following article: Making
Wish You Were... but where exactly?
One of the greatest legends about Syd Barrett is how he showed up at the Wish
You Were Here recording settings on the fifth of June 1975. A Very
Irregular Head merely repeats the story as it has been told in other
biographies, articles and documentaries, including Rick Wright's
testimony that Barrett kept brushing his teeth with a brush that was
hidden in a plastic bag. Roger Waters however claims that Barrett only
took sweets out of the bag. As usual different witnesses tell different
The toothbrush myth is one Chapman doesn't know how to demystify but
Blake may have found a plausible explanation.
The 'toothbrush' and 'bag of candies' may have come out of the story I
heard from somebody else that was at Abbey Road that day. They claimed
Syd Barrett had a bag filled with packets of Amplex. For those that
don't know or remember, Amplex was a breath-freshener sweet that was
popular in the 70s. This eyewitness claims that Syd Barrett was
nervously stuffing Amplex sweets into his mouth... another story to add
to the pile... but you can see how the story of 'breath-freshener
sweets' could turn into a 'toothbrush' and/or 'a bag of candies'. (Taken
5, 2010 Roger Waters TV interview at Late
Update August 2011: according to Mark Blake in Mojo 215 the
Amplex story comes from journalist Nick Sedgwick, who was writing an
(unreleased) Pink Floyd related book at that time and author of the
novel Light Blue With Bulges, that describes his beatnik adventures in
Cambridge in the early sixties. More info: The
Case of the Painted Floorboards (v 2.012).
The Madcap Laughs
Another mystery Chapman can't solve is the exact time frame of the
shooting of The Madcap Laughs album cover. He still situates this
between August and November 1969 although there is a slightly obscure
website on this world that maintains that the pictures date from the beginning
of that year.
Chapman does a good, what do I say, a great job by describing
Syd's later years. He still can't say a lot about Syd's lost weekend
between the mid-Seventies and the early Eighties, although there must be
people around who knew or even visited him. Perhaps that insane Holy
Church of Iggy the Inuit should try to locate some of them.
In 1982, in the midst of Wall-mania,
Barrett left his Syd-character behind by walking the distance between
London and Cambridge. For the remainder of his life he would prefer to
be known as Rog or Roger.
Chapman managed to talk to Rosemary Breen, Syd's sister, and it
is through her that we know a great deal of Barrett's later life. It is
a sad story, but one with many laughs, as Rosemary remembers mainly her
brother's latter-day sense of humour. That and the story of Syd's life
as an adolescent, thanks to the many letters that Libby Gausden
has kept for all these years, are the strongholds of this, his,
Just when you thought this review was finally going to end it is time to
I started reading this biography and was genuinely intrigued by the
author's style, his wit, his knowledge, but also his unhealthy habit of
demeaning anyone who doesn't share his ideas. But I could live with it,
despite the odd tsk-tsk that would leave my mouth once in a while.
The passage that made me loose my marbles can be found halfway the book
on page 213. It describes how Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd legally split
up. Peter Jenner and Andrew King stayed with Barrett, the rest of the
band had to choose a new agency, a new manager and a new recording
contract. The rest of the band's history, so writes Rob Chapman, is accountancy.
The Early 70 Tours with the Embryo suite: accountancy? Meddle
(with Echoes): accountancy? Dark Side Of The Moon: accountancy? Wish
You Where Here: accountancy? Animals: accountancy? The
Update October 2010: When Barrett and Pink Floyd split up there
was the small matter of a 17,000 British Pounds debt that the band had.
The Abdab accountants didn't burden Syd Barrett, nor Peter Jenner
and Andrew King with that.
On page 317 Chapman infuriates me a little bit more by writing that
Waters, Mason, Wright and Gilmour sound like a firm of chartered
surveyors. I find this remark as insulting as deliberately mistaking
Rob Chapman for Mark
His opinion that, on Wish You Were here, Pink Floyd uses sixth-form
imagery to describe their former bandsman (and friend) didn't hurt me
anymore. By then Rob Chapman had already become something I usually pick
out of my nose.
In Chapman's opinion an entire generation of musicians (in the
Seventies) began to make music 'more appropriate to the rocking chair
than to the rocket ship'. The man has a way with words, that I have to
I had heard of these Pink Floyd haters before, people who really think
that the band died when Barrett left the gang. The problem is that most
of these people are aware of Syd Barrett thanks to the fame and glory of
a dinosaur called Pink Floyd.
Without Syd Barrett no Pink Floyd, I agree (although it was Roger Waters
who invited Barrett to join the band, not the other way round). But
without Pink Floyd most of us, myself included, would never have heard
of Syd Barrett either.
Thanks to the success of the classic Pink Floyd concepts EMI kept the
Barrett solo records in their catalogue. The 1974 vinyl compilation Syd
Barrett was a direct result of the interest for early Floyd, after A
Nice Pair (1973) had proven successful. Poor Barrett earned 'two and
a half million quid' in one year thanks to the Echoes compilation alone.
The backside is that due to Dark Side, Wish You Were Here and The Wall
fans from all over the globe started to look for Barrett, hoping he
would explain them the meaning of life. Probably Syd would have
preferred to be left alone even if it meant not to have all those
millions on the bank. But if there is one thing we can't do, it is to
change past history, although Chapman tries, more than once, to do so.
Until finally Julian Palacios comes up with a revised edition of Lost
in the Woods, Rob Chapman deserves my sincere felicitations for
writing one of the most readable Barrett biographies ever. But for
constantly exposing himself as an infallible Barrett-prophet,
pooh-poohing all those who don't think like him and deliberately
ignoring facts that don't fit in his gospel, he deserves nothing more
than a good kick on the nose.
Update: some of the anoraky points mentioned in the above article
(Octopus lyrics, 1968 sessions) have been further examined in Mad
Cat Love (2011).
This (quite controversial) review has been previously published at Felix
Projects. Some amendments and updates have been made.
Sources: (other than internet links mentioned above): Belbin,
Paul: Untangling the Octopus v2, 2006. PDF
version, hosted at the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit with Paul Belbin's
permission. Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press, London,
2007, p. 95, p. 231. Mason, Nick: Inside Out: A personal history
of Pink Floyd, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2004, p. 94-95. Miles,
Barry: Pink Floyd The Early Years, Omnibus Press, London, 2006,
p.111. Parker, David: Random Precision, Cherry Red Books,
London, 2001, p. 136, p. 138.
Mandrax & Brylcreem drawing taken from thepiperatthegatesofdawn.co.uk
(site no longer available).
A quite nice (promotional) interview with Rob Chapman can be found at Youtube.
There was a time when I would put in the latest Orb CD and murmur
blimey! Blimey because The
Orb pleasantly surprised you or blimey because Alex
'LX' Paterson and band utterly frustrated you. They had that effect
on me for years from their very first album Adventures
Beyond The Ultraworld (1991) until the quite underrated Cydonia
(2001) and often the wow! and shit! effect could be witnessed on the
same disk, most notably on Orbus
Terrarum that probably contains the freakiest ambient track ever
(the heavenly Oxbow Lakes) but also some of the worst.
The Millennium Orb
After 2001 Paterson continued to make albums under the Orb banner but
the wow! effect had largely disappeared and his most prolific output lay
on quite a few (from good to excellent) compilation and/or remix albums:
Dr. Alex Paterson's Voyage Into Paradise, Auntie Aubrey's Excursions
Beyond The Call Of Duty (containing an Orb remix
of Rick Wright's Runaway), Bless You (the best of the Badorb
label), Orbsessions I and II (outtakes), Back To Mine, The Art Of Chill
and last but not least The BBC Sessions.
For ages The Orb has been called the Pink Floyd of ambient dance but the
only fusion between both bands was the use of some Pink Floyd samples on
early Orb anthems (the four note Shine On You Crazy Diamond
signature tune on A
Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The
Ultraworld) and the presence of Pink Floyd bass player ad interim Guy
Pratt on a couple of Orb albums. Contrary to a stubborn belief the
so-called ambient (and illegal) Pink Floyd remix albums from the
Nineties were not the work from The Orb, nor from Alex Paterson. Neither
will we ever know Pink Floyd's retaliation: when the band worked on
their 1994 The Divison Bell album they ended up with so many left-over
material that - in the words of Nick Mason - "we considered releasing it
as a second album, including a set we dubbed The Big Spliff, the
kind of ambient mood music that we were bemused to find being adopted by
bands like The Orb".
Update 2015 01 15: Parts of The Big Spliff may have appeared on
the latest Pink Floyd album: The Endless River. See our review: While
my guitar gently weeps...
Exactly one year ago Alex Paterson, who has always been a bit of a
I’ve just started work on an album with David Gilmore (sic)
from Pink Floyd which I think every Orb and Pink Floyd fan will want to
But that news was hurriedly demoted by David Gilmour.
Recent comments by ambient exponents The Orb's Alex Paterson that they
have been collaborating with David Gilmour are true – up to a point.
David has done some recording with The Orb and producer Youth, inspired
initially by the plight of Gary McKinnon. However, nothing is finalised,
and nothing has been confirmed with regards to any structure for the
recordings or firm details re: any release plans.
On the 17th of August of this year, however, the David Gilmour blog
had the following to reveal:
David is not working with The Orb on a new album, contrary to some
reports, but you may remember that he had been in the studio jamming
with Martin “Youth” Glover in recent months. (…) Alex Paterson was not
involved in the sole jamming session and the only plan initially was for
David to play guitar on that one track.
However, as it turns out and as you can see, the result of that jam
session has now been spread across the next Orb album, Metallic Spheres,
which will be released as ‘The Orb featuring David Gilmour’. So there
you have it. He was working on an album with The Orb. Sort of.
If I may read a bit between the lines I feel some friction here between
Sir David and this Orb thingy. But the next day, David Gilmour's
had the next comment:
David's 2009 jam session with ambient collective The Orb has grown into
an album, Metallic Spheres, to be released via Columbia/Sony Records in
October. David's contribution to the charity song Chicago, in aid of
Gary McKinnon, sparked the interest of producer Youth (Martin Glover),
who remixed the track and invited David to his studio for a recording
With additional contributions from Orb co-founderAlex
Paterson, the album took shape from 2009 into 2010, eventually becoming
Metallic Spheres, to be released by The Orb featuring David Gilmour. (underlined
Calling LX Paterson an Orb co-founder is technically not untrue, but it
feels a little weird when you have just been presenting Martin Glover.
It is comparable to describing Syd Barrett as a Pink Floyd co-founder
while discussing Bob
Klose. Agreed, Youth (from Killing
Joke fame) was probably around when The Orb saw the light of day but
it is generally acknowledged that the band was formed in 1988 by Alex
Paterson and Jimmy
Cauty. Cauty's primary project however, the Kopyright
Liberation Front (with Bill Drummond) pretty soon outgrew The Orb
and when - at a certain point in time - some Orb remixes were released
in Germany as KLF remixes this provoked a rupture in the co-operation
between the duo as Alex and Jimmy started fighting over… copyrights.
After the split between KLF and The Orb Martin Glover helped LX out with
two tracks (on two separate albums): Little Fluffy Clouds and Majestic,
but he did not become a member of the band. Only in 2007 Youth will join
The Orb for a one album project: The
Together with the announcement on David Gilmour's website, and then
we're back on the 18th of August of this year, a promotional video for
the Metallic Spheres album is uploaded to YouTube. Depicting only Youth
and David Gilmour several Orb fans wonder where LX Paterson, and thus
The Orb, fits in this all. The first, original movie disappears after a
couple of days for so-called 'copyright' reasons but is rapidly replaced
with a second version (unfortunately taken down as well, now),
containing some hastily inserted images of LX Paterson strolling through
the grasslands and recording some outdoor musique concrète.
It feels, once again, as if the Floyd-Orb connection didn't go down well
at the Gilmour camp and Paterson's image was only included on the promo
video after some pressure had taken place. But the above is of course
all pure speculation and not based upon any fact, so tells you Felix
Atagong who has been closely following the band for over two decades.
Bit by bit we hear how the album came into place. It all started with
David Gilmour's charity project for Gary
McKinnon, an X-Files adhering half-wit who hacked into American
military and NASA computers in order to find out about extra-terrestrial
conspiracy theories. Because of this he faces extradition from England
to the USA where apparently they take these kind of idiots very
seriously, see also the 43rd president who governed the country from
2001 to 2009.
It is not quite clear if Gilmour asked Youth (David Glover) to make a
remix of the Chicago charity tune or if Youth got hold of the
project and proposed to help (I've come across both explanations). The
two may know each other through Guy Pratt who played in Glover's band Brilliant
in 1986 (LX Paterson was their roadie for a while). In 1990 Youth
Pearl with Durga
McBroom who had toured with Pink Floyd for the previous three years.
Amongst the session musicians on their Naked album are Guy Pratt,
David Gilmour and Rick Wright.
This isn't Glover's only connection with the Floyd however. In 1995 he
teamed up with Killing Joke colleague Jaz
Coleman to arrange and produce a symphonic tribute album: Us and
Them: Symphonic Pink Floyd, but only The Old Tree With Winding
Roots Behind The Lake Of Dreams remix from Time combines a
modern beat with romantic classical music.
To spice up the Chicago remix Youth invited David Gilmour in his home
studio and out of it came a twenty minutes guitar jam. Glover soon found
out that he could expand the session into an ambient suite and asked old
chum LX Paterson for his opinion and to flavour the pieces with typical
Orbian drones and samples, rather than to turn this into a sheepish Fireman-clone.
The Orb featuring David Gilmour can only be a win/win situation.
Orb fans have dreamed about this collaboration for the past two decades
and that will add to the sales figures for sure. And although artist
royalties go to the support of Gary McKinnon there will always be a
spillover effect for the artists involved, good news for The Orb whose
last album Baghdad Batteries sunk faster than the Kursk in the
Rest us to say that an Orb album is an Orb album when it has got the
name Orb on it, whether you like it or not (and in the case of Okie
Dokie, not a bit).
Spheres starts with Gilmour's pedal steel guitar over some keyboard
drones that makes me think of those good old days when the KLF shattered
the world with their ambient masterpiece Chill
Out (LX Paterson - as a matter of fact - contributed to that album,
although uncredited). But soon after that Gilmour's guitar wanders off
in his familiar guitar style with axiomatic nods to The Wall and The
Division Bell albums. A welcome intermezzo is Black Graham
with acoustic guitar, not from Gilmour but by ragtime busker Marcia
Mello. The 'metallic side' flows nicely throughout its 29
minutes and has fulfilled its promise of being 'the ambient event of the
year' quite accurately.
The CD is divided into two suites: a 'metallic side' and a 'spheres
side' (and each 'side' is subdivided in five - not always
discernable - parts). The second suite however, is more of the same,
clearly lacks inspiration and ends out of breath at the 20 minutes mark.
So no wow! effect here (but no shit! either)... Youth has done what was
expected from him and produced an all-in-all agreeable but quite
mainstream product leaving ardent anoraky Orb fans with their hunger,
but perhaps winning a few uninitiated souls.
As far as I am concerned this is about the best Orb CD I heard for the
past couple of years, but it is still far from Orblivion, U.F.Orb or
Ultraworld. But as this is 2010 already you won't hear me complaining.
(This article first appeared on Felix Atagong's Unfinished Projects:
A couple of months ago a new Syd Barrett compilation was announced and
EMI (Harvest) was proud to proclaim that Syd Barrett had joined the
league of Jimi
Hendrix or Marc
Bolan, meaning that the man has got more compilation albums written
on his name than genuine albums.
Let's make a quick sum, shall we? Barrett, who was the founder of the
mythical band Pink
Floyd, was overtly present on their first album The
Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. On the second album A
Saucerful Of Secrets he had already taken a sabbatical, and although
present on 3 tracks (out of 7) he only takes the vocal lead (and writing
credits) on the testamentary coda Jugband
There are at least 7 Pink Floyd compilations that have Barrett's
(sometimes unreleased) work on it and the last one Echoes
(2001) turned Syd Barrett into an overnight millionaire. The fortieth
anniversary edition of Piper (2007) has (in the deluxe edition)
an extra CD containing some alternative versions and the Pink Floyd's
early singles as well.
Barrett's solo output in the early seventies is limited to two albums, The
Madcap Laughs and Barrett,
and that is all there is, give or take 5 or 6 compilations. The count
depends whether one catalogues the Opel
(1988) record as a compilation of alternative takes and unreleased
material or as a real 'third' solo album.
The most recent compilation 'An
Introduction To Syd Barrett' boasts that this is the first time in
history that Barrett's Pink Floyd and solo tracks have been compiled on
one disk. This is true, but… so what?
On the other hand a quick glance at the list
of unreleased material shows that there are about a dozen Pink Floyd
studio tracks from their Syd Barrett era, but alas this compilation
still doesn't contain any of them.
So what could possibly be the added value of this album, one might ask?
Not its cover, that doesn't show Syd Barrett at all but that has been
created, as usual, by Storm
Thorgerson. Thorgerson, and more particularly his Hipgnosis
studio, made some landmark record sleeves in the Seventies and Eighties,
but he seems not able nowadays to sell his creations to influential
bands, unless you call the freaky weirdoes of The Mars Volta
influential of course. Thorgerson's contemporaneous work flirts a bit
too much with cheap kitsch and luckily there is still Pink Floyd Ltd
that keeps him away from the unemployment office. I'm quite fond of
Thorgerson's work and I do like the cover although most Syd Barrett fans
I frequent compare it with visual diarrhoea so I leave it to you to make
up your own mind.
As a Barrett anorak I am not interested in the regular songs on this
compilation - as a matter of fact I didn't even listen to those - but I
jumped immediately on top of the so-called enhanced tunes. The
compilation boasts that 4 tracks have been remixed and one track has
been 'upgraded' with additional bass from David Gilmour who also
supervised the mixes. (The following review has been largely influenced
comments on the NPF
forum and MOB's
comments on the A
Fleeting Glimpse forum.)
Dominoes: the new mix has been so subtly done that there is
hardly any difference. The vocals are more emphasized and the backwards
guitar sounds a trifle clearer. Some corrections may have been done,
because on the original versions several (drum) parts were out of
'synch'. These errors have miraculously disappeared on the 2010 mix.
Octopus: this track is 7 seconds longer, due to the fact that a
'false' start has been added at the beginning. The "isn't it
good to be lost in the woods" vocals have been clarified and brought
to the fore and it could even be that its first part has been taken from
an alternative take (also a few drumbeats have been added that weren't
there on the 1970 version). Overall the muddled sound of vocals and
guitars have been cleaned.
She Took a Long Cool Look: this track has always been
called She Took A Long Cold Look in the past, but the
title has now been changed. This is one of so called 'live' bits from
Barrett's first album. These included false starts, bad guitar playing,
unstable singing and Barrett generally loosing it… David Gilmour said he
included these demos in 1970 to reveal Barrett in all his fragility, but
later regretted his choice…
The 2010 version snips some of the unnecessary background sounds
(Barrett turning some papers) and the guitar breakdown in the middle of
the song is replaced by some strumming from another take. And - as with
all of these remixes - Barrett's voice sounds more crisp than before and
with less disturbing echo.
Matilda Mother (Pink Floyd): the 40 years anniversary edition of Piper
already had this alternative take but in a much shorter version. This
one takes 50 seconds longer and has benefited from a real mix. Probably
the 2010 version is a sound-collage of several outtakes.
Here I Go: this little dance hall tune has always been my
favourite Barrett track. For over 40 years I have wondered how this song
really ended and now the ditty lasts 5 seconds longer. Gilmour has done
a fine job by adding extra bass and after my second listen I already
felt that this was the way it should always have been. (There is also a
tiny rhythm correction - compared with the original version - at 01:46.)
Personally I find it a bad judgment from Gilmour & Co to keep the fade
out but the closing chord I had been waiting for can still be heard. And
I know it's starting to sound repetitive, but Barrett's vocals have been
upgraded as well and sound crispier than ever. You don't need to buy the
album to listen to this track as a promo video has been put on the web
as well: Here
I Go (official video).
The few remixes on this compilation are subtle, have been done with
great care and love for the original material so that my initial anoraky
opinion of 'don't touch the originals' has now been switched over to
'why didn't they simply enhance all tracks'?
But the real revelation of the album can't be found on plastic. The CD
contains a key to download the mythical Rhamadan track from the official
Syd Barrett website and this is what the next chapter is all about.
I won't get into the old story, legend or myth, of Rhamadan as it is all
old news by now. The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit wrote a bit about it
and Pontiacs and Rob Chapman in A
Very Irregular Head describes it as a 'conga-heavy jam session
lasting eighteen minutes and of little merit', although it is highly
doubtful that the biographer could get hold of the piece.
The only person, apart from some EMI alumni, who could listen to the
track in its full glory was David Parker, author of Random
Precision. In order to get EMI's permission he had to sign a 'scarily
draconian declaration', so scarily draconian that he even had to
delete a forum post wherein he had simply admitted it had been 'scarily
draconian'. The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit sometimes threatens with
the Holy Igquisition but apparently that secret service is
peanuts compared to the EMI 'unlimited supply, there is no reason why'
David was the only author who could write, in detail, how the piece
sounded and as it is so damn accurate I see no point of trying to give
my own description.
Peter Bown announces Rhamadan take 1 over some bass and organ
noises. He pronounces the title Rarmardarn like a 1950's BBC
newsreader. The piece itself begins with the conga drums (probably Steve
Took from Tyrannosaurus Rex).
The bass comes in and immediately takes the lead role (whoever the bass
player is they are extremely proficient) with some very fast Stanley
Clarke style runs and slides in places. The vibes then begin to come in,
along with some disjointed organ chording (mostly on one chord). This
then continues for a couple of minutes with the bass leading over the
conga beat, vibes and organ chords. A piano then enters playing a loose
boogie rhythm, and someone starts playing some very staccato mellotron
notes as well. Things settle into a groove, and a second drummer joins
in, mainly on cymbals. After about 5 minutes Syd's guitar starts to
appear, playing muted chords to fill out the sound. The bass falls back
slightly, and the piano takes the lead, Syd's guitar feeding back
momentarily as he begins to play solo notes. (…)
The piece eventually starts to fizzle out with some mad staccato
mellotron, the ever present organ chord and a lot of bass improvisation
with a sprinkling of piano notes. Syd plays some open chord plucking and
everything gets rather free form with Syd letting his guitar build-up
feedback and then fades it out. (…)
Syd starts another riff but it begins to fade until the bass player
picks up on it, and everyone begins following along. Another crescendo
of feedback builds up as Syd picks out what sounds like the Close
Encounters three note theme (!). (…)
Things build up yet again, with everyone in random improvisation, then
everyone stops except the organ chord. The bassist begins a strident
riff, giving the vibes a chance to solo (with staccato mellotron
accompaniment). The bass rockets off into a hyper-drive riff, then
everything finally falls to bits, ending with our old friend the organ
chord drone, the mad mellotronist and a few bass notes.
We don't really know who are the players on Rhamadan, but Steve
Peregrin Took is a name that appears in almost all biographies.
Biographer Julian Palacios, however, seems to disagree now:
Talking to my friend GH today, he wrote: 'I don't think that Steve Took
is the conga player on these sessions. I knew Steve and discussed Syd
with him on a few occasions, he said that Syd had jammed with him round
at his flat and that he had recorded it, but there was never any mention
of going into a recording studio with Syd. My understanding was that
Steve didn't get pally with Syd until after his split from Marc (Bolan).
Back in 68 Tyrannosaurus Rex where gigging like crazy and still very
much a going concern.' (Taken from Late
Night Discussion Forum.)
Rhamadan isn't half as bad as everyone, who had never heard it, claimed
it to be. Especially when one remembers that the same biographers and
journalists tend to praise AMM, The Soft Machine or The Third Ear band
for their revolutionary musical approach. Rhamadan is of course a highly freakadelic
experiment, almost free-jazz in its approach, a genre Syd Barrett was
not unfamiliar with.
If you have bought the CD, Rhamadan can be downloaded (legally) from the
official Syd Barrett website, but unfortunately only in the MP3 format
with a rather cheapish 152kbs bitrate. But its bitrate is not the only
amateurish characteristic. While millions of people all over the world
have discovered MP3 tags, EMI is of the opinion that this invention is
way over their heads. The tags are all empty and reveal that the track
is untitled (Track 1), comes from an unknown album,
is from an unknown artist and from an unknown year. Not
even the Publisher and Copyright data are filled in. My 8-years old
godchild can rip MP3 tunes better than EMI does, she at least knows how
to attach a (sleeve) picture to the file. (Although I worked this out by
myself, Jen D at madcapslaughing
beat me by a day by publishing the same findings before me. As I haven't
got an irregular head I'll give this bloke the credits.)
While EMI has been nagging us for years that copying is killing music
a closer look on the MP3 tags reveals us that the file has been
converted with FreeRIP.
Here is the biggest music company in the world and it uses a freeware
version of a (quite good, I agree) MP3 converter to spread around a
track belonging to the founder of their second most commercially
successful band, next to The Beatles.
I know of the bad financial situation of the music company but I wasn't
aware that EMI was that close to bankrupt that they can't even afford a
29,75 dollar software program anymore.
None really. The best thing is to decide for yourself if the 5 remixes
and the 1 download are sufficient to buy the album. As a Barrett anorak
myself, I simply had no choice.
Sources: (other than internet links mentioned above) Chapman,
Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 215. Parker,
David: Random Precision, Cherry Red Books, London, 2001, p.
A while ago it was announced
at the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit that Julian Palacios' long
awaited Syd Barrett biography Dark Globe (Full title: Syd Barrett
& Pink Floyd: Dark Globe) had finally appeared in web shops all over the
world. Palacios' previous work Lost In The Woods already dates
from 1998 but is (was) still a classic work about Barrett.
Dark Globe 2010 is not an amended or appended Lost In The Woods,
Palacios didn't use the easy trick Mike Watkinson & Pete Anderson fell
for when they re-issued their Crazy Diamond biography, leaving
the (many) errors uncorrected and just adding an extra chapter about Syd
Barrett's passing. But I wouldn't go as far as the one critic who
claimed that Crazy Diamond is full of 'unsubstantiated nonsense' and
that it should come 'with a government health warning on the dust
jacket'. Crazy Diamond still takes a soft spot in my heart as it was the
first attempt at a serious Barrett biography.
But back to Julian Palacios. For those who want to immediately know if
Dark Globe is worth the investment, rather than meandering through this
review, I will quote Kiloh Smith from Laughing
Just finished Dark Globe and... it's the best book about Syd Barrett
that was ever written. I'd say that Dark Globe is my favourite, followed
by Crazy Diamond, with A Very Irregular Head taking up a distant third.
(Full review at: sydbarrettpinkfloyd.com)
Probably this is the first time in history that Kiloh and I share the
same opinion, but he is not the only one praising Palacios. Fleeting
Glimpse gives the biography a perfect 10 and quite rightly so. And
Mark Paytress from Mojo also has some nice things to say (see left side
I once noted down that the art of writing biographies is not in adding
details, but in weeding out the superfluous. Palacios is not entirely of
the same opinion and that is why my review took so long to appear here.
Dark Globe is packed with details, quite an anorak's dream, and it does
need some concentration. In my case I found it better to savour the
different paragraphs, one at a time, sometimes even going back a bit,
than to read the book in one big afternoon chunk.
Palacios has unearthed details that no one has ever found or published
before and, this has to be said as well, not all of those are relevant
to the average Barrett fan.
Did you know that Syd Barrett had a job as a postman in his teenager
years, delivering Christmas cards during the holidays? I didn't. Not
only does Palacios reveal that but he also points out that the underwear
fetishist who was immortalised in Pink Floyd's first single Arnold Layne
could have been a Royal Mail post van driver.
Those familiar with the Pink Floyd's early history remember that the
band lived, 64-65-ish, in Mike
Leonard's house, an architect who introduced the amateurish R&B gang
to light-shows and avant-garde music. Leonard also played a mean piano
and replaced Rick Wright for a while, what made him think he was a
member of what was ironically called Leonard's
Every student who has been living in a community knows that, sooner or
later, food will start disappearing. Stanhope Gardens was no exception
to that and Rick Wright used to keep his morning cornflakes inside a
locked cupboard, fearing that Roger Waters would otherwise steal his
beloved morning cereals. The mystery has lingered on for over 4 decades
but Julian Palacios has finally discovered who really nicked Wright's
breakfast: not Roger Waters but a boarder named Peter
Kuttner. Utterly irrelevant but fun to read. The only fear I have
now is that Roger Waters will probably write a concept album about it
once he finds out.
Not all of this biography reads like a biography. At certain points
Palacios can't hide any-more he is a writer at heart, with poetical
streaks, obviously regretting that he wasn't around in those underground
days. What to say about this:
The face came out from under the murky swell of psychedelic oil lights,
like a frame around a picture. A pale, handsome face with thick silky
hair and a white satin shirt. Something bright and small seemed to
twinkle in his eyes, vanished, then winkled once more like a tiny star.
Palacios adds many song descriptions and can get quite lyrical about
chord progressions. Personally I can't be bothered as I don't hear the
difference between an A and an F anyway. These parts read like a Korean
DVD recording manual to me but I suppose that any amateur musician will
enjoy them. Julian has been doing more than his homework and for many
early Pink Floyd songs he traces back musical or textual references
(today we would call that sampling), but he isn't too snotty to
give due credits to where they belong.
Palacios has an encyclopaedic musical knowledge and halfway the book I
regretted I didn't note down all songtitles he cites. Songs Barrett
liked, songs Barrett played and rehearsed in his youth, songs that
influenced some of his later work. Adding these would make a nice
cd-box, not unlike the cover disks Mojo magazine sometimes issues.
Julian's observations can sometimes be a bit über-detailed. Arnold
Layne, the famous song about the cross-dressing knicker-thief,
contains a slight musical nod to the 1928 Ma Rainey song Prove
It On Me Blues, not coincidentally another song about
cross-dressing. As I am tone-deaf - a condition I share with Roger
Waters, so it mustn't be all bad as he made a fortune with it - I don't
hear any familiarity between both musical pieces but blues scholar John
Olivar says there is and Julian Palacios acknowledges it. I simply
Other links are easier to grasp for a simple man like me, like the fact
that Jennifer Gentle (the protagonist from the Lucifer
Sam song) can be traced back to a medieval ballad
where it goes:
There were three sisters fair and bright, Jennifer, Gentle
and Rosemary... And they three loved one valiant knight— As
the dow [dove] flies over the mulberry-tree.
There is one single remark in Palacios book that would create a small
storm if its subject happened to be Lennon or Hendrix. In August 1974
Barrett recorded some demos for a third album that never saw the light
of day. Barrett had no new songs and he just tried out some blues
variations like he used to do more than a decade before in his mother's
living room. Initially the 1974 demos were noted down as 'various
untitled oddments' and the individual titles these tracks have now
were given by producer Pete Jenner to distinguish the different parts.
#1 (there is also #2 and #3) traces of Bo
Thing can be found back. In January 2010 Palacios found
out that the track nicknamed John
Lee Hooker is in fact a rendition of Mojo
Hand from Lighting'
Hopkins. That particular titbit didn't even provoke a ripple in the
usual stormy Barrett pond.
Palacios adds layers on layers of information. If you happen to be
amongst the dozen or so readers who remember the 1989 Nick Sedgwick
novel Light Blue With Bulges you might have wondered who was the beatnik
behind the espresso machine (and with his hands in the till) of a famous
Cambridge coffee bar. Don't look any further, Palacios will tell you
exactly who operated the espresso machine, how the coffee bar was called
and even more... reveal the brand of the Italian espresso machine...
only... I would like to pass this information to you but I can't find it
back right now as... and here is my biggest dissatisfaction with this
book... Dark Globe contains no index.
In the past I have written some harsh words about biographies and
reference books that omit an index:
Unfortunately the book [Pink
Floyd FAQ] has got no index, what duly pisses me off, so if you want
to know something about, let's say: You Gotta Be Crazy, there is no
other way to find it than to start reading the bloody thing all over
again. So called biographies (…) and reference books without an index
(or an alphabetical or chronological filing system) are immediately put
aside by me and won't be touched again. Ever.
I know for sure that Prince
Stanisla(u)s Klossowski de Rola, better known as Stash, is
cited in Dark Globe. But if I urgently need this information for a post
at the Holy Church, to answer a question on the Late Night Syd Barrett
forum or just to ease my mind, I will only be able to consult Palacios'
(now defunct) 1998 biography Lost In the Woods (pages 186-93),
Mark Blakes' 2007 Pigs Might Fly (pages 81 & 99) or Rob Chapman's
2010 A Very Irregular Head (p. 278) although that last insists to
call the dandy prince de Rollo.
Dark Globe is by near and by far the best Syd Barrett biography ever,
but not having an index is (in my awkward opinion) unforgivable as it
diminishes its traceability near to factor zero. And that's a shame... I
do know that indexes are but a geeks' dream and that most people don't
bother with those, but my ultimate wet dream consists of reading
bibliographies that have half a dozen footnotes per page. Maybe I am the
No 4 Yes
With hindsight it is easy to call Syd Barrett a genius, but not
everybody was of that opinion in 1966. Here is what Peter
Banks, from Syn
(a precursor of progressive rock-band Yes)
had to say: “Whatever night they played was the worst night of the week.
(…) A bunch of guys making noise and wearing make-up.” Perhaps that is
why Nick Mason quipped, years later, that Johnny Rotten would have
looked quite ridicule in a 'I hate Yes' t-shirt.
Pink Floyd was probably not the best band of the psychedelic bunch, but
they surely were the loudest, even outdoing The Who in volume at the Psychedelicamania
happening on the last day of 1966. A reporter of the Daily Mail, armed
with a sound meter, reported on 'pop above the danger level' and warned
for permanent damage to the ears.
In just a couple of months Barrett had not only shifted from quiet blues
to avant-garde 120 decibel hard rock, he also traded his daily cup of
earl green tea for LSD, mandrax and generally everything that could be
easily swallowed or smoked.
The previous reads kind of funny but it is an infinite sad story that
has been underrated by witnesses, fans and biographers alike. All kind
of excuses have been used not to turn Barrett into a hopeless drug case:
his father's death, the pressure of his band-mates, managers and record
company, even the stroboscopic effect of the liquid light shows...
(although of course all these things may have weakened his
self-defence). In my opinion, Julian Palacios manages to get the tone
right and he consecrates some poignantly written paragraphs to the
darker side of the psychedelic summer.
In April of this year the Church of Iggy the Inuit published the We
are all made of stars post. The article tried to remember two people
of the early Floydian era: Ian Pip Carter, a long-time friend of Gilmour
and a Floyd-roadie who had to fight an heroine addiction for most of his
life and; John Paul Ponji Robinson who tried, in vain, to find inner
piece in eastern mysticism.
Palacios adds another Cantabrigian: Johnny Johnson, who in a paranoid,
probably drug-infected, streak jumped from a six-storey window, survived
the fall, but would eventually commit suicide a few years later.
Hendrix, Morrison, Jones and Joplin: 'each victim to the Dionysian
excess they embodied'. Alice
Ormsby-Gore: overdose (her friend Eric Clapton had more luck).
Julian Ormsby-Gore: suicide. Paul
Getty: heroine paralysed him for life. Talitha
Dina Pol, his wife: overdose. The list is long and those who
survived were not always the lucky ones...
Although there are still people who think that Syd Barrett turned
avant-garde during the Floyd's first tour in America, Nick Mason, in his
typical no-nonsense style, put it otherwise:
Syd went mad on that first American tour. He didn't know where he was
most of the time. He detuned his guitar on stage. He just stood there
rattling strings, a bit weird even for us. (Cited in Dark Globe, but
originally taken from a May 1994 Mojo interview.)
Barrett's situation reminds me of an Alice Flaherty quote I encountered
in a recent Douglas Coupland novel:
All the theories linking creativity to mental illness are really
implying mild disease. People may be reassured by the fact that almost
without exception no one is severely ill and still creative. Severe
mental illness tends to bring bizarre preoccupation and inflexible
As the poet Sylvia
Plath said, 'When you're insane , you're busy being insane – all the
time when I was crazy , that's all I was.
Trip to Sanity
There is the somewhat romantic viewpoint of Duggie Fields, but basically
it tells just the same:
He (Syd) could lie in bed thinking he could do anything in the
world he wanted. But when he made a decision that limited his
The problem, for those who follow the hypothesis Syd had a problem, was
that for Barrett there weren't any possibilities left, although record
company, colleagues and friends mildly tried to lure him into the studio
or invite him for an impromptu jam. But to paraphrase Sylvia Plath: Syd
was too busy being insane, and all the time he was crazy that was all he
was able doing.
While at different forums people are arguing, even today, that
hallucinogenic drugs are harmless
Palacios retaliates by simply listing musicians who had to fight
Wilson... It took these people literally decades to crawl back to normal
life after years of misery. Also Barrett hoped to overcome his
condition one day as was proven by a handwritten note in his copy of The
Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry. Syd bloody well understood what was wrong
with him and we – the fans – don't fucking know how hard it was for him.
A dark spot that even Palacios can't clarify is 'Syd's lost weekend'
that roughly went from 1975 to the early Eighties. The first 400 pages
describe Barrett's public life from the mid-Sixties until the pivotal
event in 1975 when Syd entered the Wish You Were Here recording
sessions. The 30 remaining years of his life are dealt with in a mere 40
pages. Even for Palacios there is nothing to dig. (Rob Chapman managed
to add some anecdotes from Barrett's Cambridge life – although some are
disputed while you read this - but he didn't unearth anything new about
Syd's Chelsea Cloister days either.)
Atagong Strikes Again
The following paragraph will probably not add any points to my Barrett
reputation scale, already at ground zero level, but who cares. Just
before publishing this text I checked the official Syd Barrett website
to see if Dark Globe, the biography, is mentioned there. It isn't.
It comes as no surprise as its main function apparently is to sell
t-shirts, even on the discography page you'll look in vain for the
latest Barrett compilation 'An Introduction to...' (review at: Gravy
Train To Cambridge). I am pretty sure its web master knows
everything about Flash ActionScript but is unable to recognise a
Barrett-tune even if whistled through his arse. When the site started in
December 2008 (a temporary page had already been present a few weeks before)
it managed to get the release dates wrong from all known Syd Barrett
solo albums. Yes, both of them. It is not that Barrett has been
as prolific as Frank Zappa who released records for breakfast.
Fan art was mistakenly published as genuine Syd Barrett art and the
bibliography contained a non existent book that had been designed as a
joke by former Late Night member Stanislav. Even today slightly
photoshopped pictures can be found on its pictures page. Apparently the
official Syd Barrett website moguls have got no problems that their main
source of income swallowed pills by the gallon and fornicated everything
female within a 3 miles radius but depicting Syd Barrett with a cigarette
in his mouth obviously is a bridge too far.
Clearly I am getting too old for this hobby of mine but I hope I got the
message through that Syd Barrett is a bit more than a cheap shirt. Dark
Globe by Julian Palacios more than proves this and contrary to my
threatening promise of above I'm immediately going to read it again.
A certain Felix Atagong calls himself laughingly the Reverend of the
Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. But now he realises: Julian Palacios is
our prophet. And Dark Globe is our holy book, but I wouldn't mind an
Palacios, Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus,
London, 2010. 443 pages, 24 photo pages. ISBN10:
85965 431 1 ISBN13: 978 0 85965 431 9. Amazon (UK) link.(The Church is not affiliated with or endorsed by this company.)
Sources (other than the above internet links): Blake, Mark: Pigs
Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2007, p. 143. Chapman,
Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 336. Coupland,
Douglas: Player One, William Heinemann, London, 2010, p. 223.
Coupland himself cites from a Alice Flaherty book called The
Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the
Creative Brain. Music score taken from: Riddles
Wisely Expounded(pdf document).
the definitive visual companion to the life of Syd Barrett, by Russell
Beecher & Will Shutes arrived at Atagong Mansion on the
second day of its release, Friday the 18th of March, but I have to
admit, I didn't really look at it, apart from some glancing through its
The reason is simple, the book is a visual biography collecting
many (unseen) photographs of Syd Barrett and his band The Pink Floyd,
facsimiles from letters to Libby Gausden and Jenny Spires and the very
first detailed catalogue of Syd's paintings, and I am more a man of
words, too many words some people say (and perhaps there is a a yet
undiscovered trail of prudence in me, as I am a bit reluctant to read
Syd's letters written to Libby and Jenny).
I care for Syd the musician but I don't get overexcited when a new
Barrett (or vintage Pink Floyd) picture appears on the web. First: this
has been happening on a regular basis since Barrett's death when people
suddenly remember that they have got an exclusive picture lying on their
attic. Second: these pictures will arrive, in due time, on the more than
excellent Have You Got It Yet? v2.0 Vol 11 Photo/Info DVD-Rom from Mark
Jones that can be freely downloaded at several places on the web, but I
as it is the 'official' home for Floydian audio & video collectors.
Although not entirely legal this picture DVD was asked for by the Pink
Floyd management who gave Mark Jones a copy of Oh
By The Way, the Pink Floyd 14 CD compilation, in return. I am quite
convinced that the pictures of the Barrett visual companion will, one
day, mysteriously appear on a new release.
Photographs (editor: Russell Beecher)
Barrett is roughly divided into three unequal parts. Part one #1 shows
many unseen and previously unpublished pictures of vintage Pink Floyd,
#2 has pictures from the Syd Barrett solo era, about 110 pages in total.
They are printed in big format (one photo per page or double page, many
pictures have been spliced), in high quality and 'digitally' restored.
Most of the pages have a description of the picture, the date it was
taken and an appropriate quote or anecdote from the Cambridge mafia
or the photographer in question.
A so-called signature or limited edition has got a third, separate,
photo series by Irene Winsby, but to acquire these additional 72
pages you have to cough up an extra 235 £ (282 €). Unfortunately for me
the signature issue is bound in leather and as a strict vegetarian it is
against my conscience to skin a cow to watch a Barrett picture. If you
find this silly just try to imagine what the master of Sant
Mat would have said to Syd Barrett about that.
(A short description of the picture section can be consulted at: Rockadolly.)
Letters (editor: Russell Beecher)
Part two, the shortest one with 25 pages, is destined to letters from
Syd to Libby Gausden, Jenny Spires and ends with the famous little
twig poem to Viv Brans. Tim Willis already described some of these
letters in his Madcap biography, but didn't actually put these in
print (with one exception and about 4 times smaller in size).
Anoraks know that Syd decorated his letters with funny doodles and this
section is obviously more interested in the drawings than in the actual
letters. Libby and Jenny give cute explanations in what probably was a
very weird menage-à-trois (our quatre or quarante,
if we may believe the rumours about Syd's omnivorous female appetite).
Art (editor: Will Shutes)
Section three (over 90 pages) is what everybody has been waiting for,
for all these years. At least that is why I have bought the book for.
For ages fans have been drooling over Syd, the painter, but I never
really bothered. I did not put Syd Barrett in the same category as Ron
Wood and Grace
Slick who also smear paint on canvas (and that's about all that can
be said about them), but I adhered the theory that was written down by Annie
Marie Roulin in The Case of Roger Keith 'Syd' Barrett (Fish
Out Of Water, 1996).
The symmetries among the geometrical shapes painted by Barrett show an
embarrassing absence of 'concept', of hidden flaming which makes
doubtful the real artistic value of these works. As to the technique
they can compete only with works by low talented students of low
In other words, paintings of Barrett may have been slightly therapeutic
(and this can be debated: art sessions can also have the uncanny feature
of sliding a mentally unstable person further into regression) but - if
one can fully grasp Anne Marie Roulin's Italo-English - they
could certainly not be considered as art with a capital A. A daring
theory and certainly not liked by many Barrett fans, nor by his family,
and that is why journalist Luca Ferrari invented a female alter ego to
publish this controversial thesis (Luca's confession in Italian,
and an English translation on Late
In the past, biographies have tried to convince the reader that Barrett
was an art-painterpur sang, but none of these could win
me over, basically because writing about paintings without seeing the
actual work (or only two or three foggy examples) is like talking about
music without listening to it. For the first time in history a book
publishes Syd's whole oeuvre or what is left of it, about 100 of
his paintings; and Will Shutes has written an impressive 25 pages long
essay about Barrett's canvas outings throughout the years. While reading
the excellent essay one is obliged to constantly switch from text to
illustration and luckily the book has two ribbon-markers to facilitate
Shutes admits that Barrett's work lacks 'consistency', a remark
originally made by Duggie Fields and cited in Rob Chapman's A Very
Irregular Head, but he immediately turns this into a plus factor.
"The variety this implies is at the core of his originality."
, but one could use exactly the same reasoning to deduce that Barrett's
artwork isn't original at all.
Just like Julian Palacios
in Dark Globe has tracked down musical influences in Syd
Barrett's discography, Shutes cites several examples for Barrett's
graphical work. If there is one work of Barrett that stands out (in my
opinion, FA) it is the 1964-ish Untitled 15 (Cat. 20) lino print
with its evaporating crosses, but Barry Miles (also in A Very Irregular
Head) explains it has been clearly influenced by Nicolas
Staël, although Shutes reveals that there must have been some
Klee ingredient at work as well.
Rosemary Breen told Luca Ferrari that Barrett could make ten paintings a
day, and even if this was exaggerated the one hundred in the Barrett
book only represent a small percentage of his output. Although nobody
actually witnessed Barrett destroying his work, it is assumed he burned
them or threw them in the rubbish bin. Some have said that Barrett
destroyed only those paintings that weren't perfect to him, but actually
he destroyed them all although some seem to have survived for a couple
of months before disappearing. The few exceptions are those he gave away
to family or visiting friends. Beecher & Shutes could trace 49 surviving
artworks by Syd Barrett and were lucky that Rosemary found some photo
albums of Syd's art. For most of his life Roger Barrett had the weird
habit of photographing his work before destroying it, as if he wanted
the destruction to be a bit less final. Opinions differ as well why
Barrett did this, and range from a mental disorder to an artistic
concept. Will Shutes:
of a drawing by de
Kooning in 1953, Barrett's act of destruction is not a negation – it
achieves something new. Barrett is doing something when he destroys what
he has done, not merely erasing it.
Even a Barrett scholar can have it wrong sometimes, the author describes
an Arnold Layne flyer, allegedly dating from March 1967, as designed by
Syd Barrett, unaware of the fact that it is fan-art, dating from the
late seventies, early eighties, and published in a Barrett fanzine. A
quick glance on Mark Jones' HYGIY picture DVD would have settled that
once and for all (remarked by Mark Jones at Late Night: Barrett
What intrigues me is that Roger Barrett continued to make abstract and
realistic paintings, as if he was afraid to make an irrevocable choice.
Personally I find his water-coloured landscapes or florals
uninteresting, although they do show some métier, especially
compared with the abstract works of the seventies or eighties that are
visually more compelling but technically mediocre. I'm quite fond of Untitled
67 (2005) that represents a pie chart of the summer and winter
solstices, although some
will of course recognise it as a pastiche of the Wish
You Were Herecover
art. That's the main deviation of the maniacal Pink Floyd and Syd
Barrett fan, seeing links that (perhaps) aren't really there.
This book contains the best descriptions and illustrations of Syd's
artwork, it is a collector's dream, but in the end Will Shutes can not
convince me that Barrett was a graphical artist in the true sense
of the word. It's a matter of personal opinion and I'm not sure if
Barrett knew it himself or if he even cared.
I hope the authors will not hold it against me if I tell that this book
is not destined for the average Floyd or Barrett fan. It contains no
juicy stories of feeding Syd biscuits through a closed locker door. Its
sole purpose is to ease the hunger of the Barrett community that is
easily recognised by its general daftness and its deep pockets.
Despite the blurb that states the opposite Barrett is not essential for
the music loving fan, but the book is no waste of time for those that
want to acquire it either. Barrett has been made with love, caring and
respect for its subject, is a work of art and quality and has been
authorised by the Estate of Roger Keith 'Syd' Barrett. But at 90 £
(108 €) for the classic edition (including delivery) it is also pretty
expensive, perhaps not overpriced, but still a lot of money.
In his witty introduction Russell Beecher writes that over the years
there was "a need for a well-researched, intelligent, and
well-thought-through account of Syd's life and work". I completely
agree. He then continues by stating that this was fulfilled with the
publication of "Rob Chapman's excellent An Irregular Head in 2010".
Thank you, Russell Beecher, but I prefer to make up my own mind. In my
humble opinion Chapman's biography fails against at least one of the
qualities you have mentioned above. Those in need for an independent
opinion can consult Christopher Hughes's Irregular Head review at Brain
Damage, by and large the best Pink Floyd fan-site in the world.
Russell Beecher proceeds:
An Irregular Head is the definitive textual work on Syd. What you now
hold is the definitive visual work on Syd's artistic life. The two
books compliment one another.
Did I just pay 90 £ for a vaguely concealed commercial, wished for by
the Barrett Estate? The Barrett book is quite exceptional and possibly
'the definitive visual work on Syd's artistic life' indeed, but linking
its destiny to An Irregular Head, way off definitive if I am
still allowed to express my opinion, undermines its own qualities. This
feels like reserving a table at Noma
in Copenhagen to hear René
Redzepi announce that the food will reach the level of the local
McDonald's. Can I have some ketchup on my white truffles, please?
Some will find me overreacting again, but I had to get this off my
chest. Although a bit superfluous, and destined for the capitalist über-Syd-geek
alone, Barrett is far too luxurious and well-researched to have its
image tramped down.
The Church wishes to thank: Dan5482, Mark Jones, PoC (Party of Clowns)
and the beautiful people at Late Night.
Sources (other than internet links mentioned above): Beecher,
Russell & Shutes, Will: Barrett, Essential Works Ltd, London,
2011, p. 10, 11, 145, 162, 163, 170, 175. Chapman, Rob: A Very
Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 49, 232. Ferrari,
Luca & Roulin, Annie Marie: A Fish Out Of Water, Stampa
Alternativai, Rome, 1996, p. 31, 95, 97.
Yesterday, on Friday the 11th of June 2011, the Reverend of the Holy
Church of Iggy the Inuit was waiting on a bench at the central bus
station when a man addressed him in French, but he soon switched over to
"I see you are reading a nice book about Pink Floyd. I used to be a Pink
Floyd fan myself. Syd Barrett, the madcap loves."
At least it sounded like 'the madcap loves' in my ears and not 'the
madcap laughs', but perhaps the man had just a small problem with
English pronunciation. Never have made that link myself, I can only
smilingly agree that the madcap loves is one of the better
Floydian slips ever.
The madcap loves, I love it.
But perhaps I just misheard the thing, my ears aren't any more what they
used to be, after having been mistreated by Iron Maiden on my iPod for
the last lustrum.
Mad cat's something you can't explain
A trademark rhyme in Barrett's Octopus
song is the line that named the album:
The madcaplaughed at the man on the border Heigh-ho,
Huff the Talbot.
But Rob Chapman, in an interesting YouTube interview
about his biography A
Very Irregular Head, is of the opinion that Barrett did not sing mad-cap
but mad cat. In that case the title of Barrett's first solo
album is based upon a misunderstanding from producer David
The mad cat laughed at the man on the border Heigh-ho,
Huff the Talbot.
Since Paul Belbin's excellent cyber-essay 'Untangling
the Octopus' (2005), hosted at the Church with the author's
permission, we know that the Octopus song (also titled Clowns
and Jugglers in an earlier stage) is packed with obscure literary
references, disclaiming the rumour that Barrett wrote his songs in a
drug influenced frenzy. One of the characters ripped by Syd Barrett
comes from an anonymous nursery rhyme called 'Huff
the Talbot and our cat Tib':
Huff the talbot and our cat Tib They took up sword and
shield, Tib for the red rose, Huff for the white, To fight upon
For the adherers of the mad cat theory it is perhaps of importance here
that the dog's adversary in the battle of Bosworth
just above is not a mad-cap but a cat called Tib.
Rob Chapman also mentions nonsense poet Edward
Lear as a further influence on Barrett but he didn't catch the
There was an old man on the Border, Who lived in the
utmost disorder; He danced with the cat, And made
tea in his hat, Which vexed all the folks on the Border.
You don't need to be a genius to reconstruct how the dancing cat from
Lear's man on the border and Tib, the warrior cat at Bosworth field,
amalgamated into the mad cat character in Octopus.
But, as with all things Syd, things aren't always that simple. The
madcap believers have a point as well as a madcap galloping chase does
appear in an early incarnation of Clowns and Jugglers:
Sit up, touching hips to a madcap galloping chase "Cheat"
he cried shouting “Kangaroo!”
The wind one morning sprang up from sleep, Saying, “Now for a frolic!
now for a leap! Now for a madcap, galloping chase! I’ll
make a commotion in every place!”
In that case David Gilmour mistook one line for the other and the
album's title may have been taken from a quote that didn't make it on
Salvation Came Lately
But the above has got absolutely nothing to do with today's article and
the Reverend duly apologises for the confusion.
Sitting on a bench at the bus station he was addressed by a man who had
found a common point of interest: Pink
Floyd. To prove that the traveller wasn't talking bollocks, the
sharp-dressed man suddenly sang the following lines from Jugband
I don't care if the sun don't shine and I don't care if nothing is
mine and I don't care if I'm nervous with you I'll do my loving in
Asked to sing a favourite line from a Floyd tune (luckily that never
happens) I would never quote an early song, so the choice of this man
was quite interesting, to say the least. Unfortunately, the strophe was
followed by the announcement that he didn't listen to the Floyd any
more, only to religious music.
To my shame I have to admit that the Reverend didn't see it coming that
another Reverend was trying to lure him into the tentacles of another
Church... Coincidentally we had to take the same bus and we talked like
close friends until it was time for the ambassador of god to leave the
ambassador of Iggy.
The 'book' I was reading wasn't a book but a special 82 pages issue from
the French rock magazine Vibrations,
entirely dedicated to Pink Floyd (7,90 €). Printed on luxurious glossy
paper it assembles articles (translated in French) from well known Q,
Mojo and NME journalists, such as Martin Aston, the Church's partner in
Blake, Pat Gilbert, Chris Salewicz and the French Aymeric Leroy, who
apparently has written an acclaimed biography on the band: 'Pink Floyd: Plongée
dans l'oeuvre d'un groupe paradoxal'.
The times are long gone when I bought everything that was from far or
nearby Pink Floyd related, I even resisted buying Pink Floyd coffee mugs
a couple of week ago, something that would have been impossible for me
in the past millennium, so here is a biography I wasn't aware of. Not
that I am planning to buy it. There isn't one single French Pink Floyd
or Syd Barrett biography that doesn't clash with my personal beliefs of
what a good biography should be.
Update 2011 06 20: Unfortunately the Internet isn't the safe
place any more where you can insult someone without being noticed.
Aymeric Leroy got hold of this post and wanted to set a few things
Thanks for mentioning my book on your blog. I'd just like to point out
that it isn't a "biography", more like a critical assessment of the
band's entire discography, which does include background info of a
biographical nature, but primarily an analysis of the music and lyrics.
The stuff I wrote for the special issue of "Vibrations" is expanded from
the more biographical passages of the book, but the book isn't an
"expanded" version of those. There are other people who did a great job
telling the band's history, and I relied on their work, but my reason
for adding yet another book to the impressive PF bibliography was to try
and do something different - write about the actual music for at least
75% of the book.
Duly noted, Aymeric, and perhaps the Church will have a go at your book
then, one of these days...
Uncut and uncombed
It promises to be a hot Pink Floyd year, this year, and the makers of Uncut
magazine have issued a 146 pages Pink Floyd special in their The
Ultimate Music Guide series. It isn't such a classy edition as the
French Vibrations, but of course the good news is that it
contains at least twice as much information. With at least one article
or interview per Pink Floyd record this obviously is the 'better buy' of
the two, although the initial set-up is more or less the same. The Uncut
special assembles old articles and a few new ones and promises to be an
That an enjoyable read isn't always the same as an accurate read proves
Allan Jones' The Madcap Laughs & Barrett article on pages 32 till 35. He
starts with mentioning that Syd Barrett entered Studio 3 on the 6th of
May 1968, for the first of six sessions that would follow. I don't know
what it is with this 6-sessions-myth but Rob Chapman claims exactly the
same in his biography. As I always seem to have recalled 9 sessions
instead of 6 (but according to the Holy Pope of Rome my brain has been
irrecoverably damaged by years of masturbation) it is time for yet
another anoraky investigation.
So not for the first time in my career as Reverend of the Holy Church of
Iggy the Inuit I have counted the 1968 Madcap recording dates, as
noted down in David Parker's excellent sessionagraphy Random
Precision. It all starts in the beginning of May.
1968 05 06 – In the morning EMI engineers had been transferring
two Pink Floyd tracks 'In the Beechwood' (aka 'Down in the
Beechwoods') and 'Vegetable Man' for Syd Barrett to work on, but when
Barrett finally arrived he decided to record two new songs instead:
'Silace Lang' (aka 'Silas Lang') and 'Late Night'. Session One.
According to the Allan Jones article Barrett recorded the rambling
'Rhamadan' the day after. Wrong. The next day would have been the
seventh of May, but Barrett only re-entered the studio one week later.
1968 05 13 – 'Silas Lang' (take 1) and 'Late Night' (take 6),
were worked on / transferred by Peter Jenner. It is not clear if Syd
Barrett was present in the studio or if this was merely a technical
session. Of course this could have been one of those 'chaotic' sessions
where Barrett simply didn't show up, with Peter Jenner trying to salvage
the furniture by using the spare time for some producer’s work. Session
1968 05 14 – 'Rhamadan', 'Lanky' (Pt. 1&2), 'Golden Hair'.
Obviously Barrett and three session musicians were in the studio,
although nobody seems to remember who the backing band members really
were. Session Three.
1968 05 21 – 'Late Night', 'Silace Lang'. This was the day when
Syd Barrett forgot to bring his guitar to the studio and Peter Jenner
had to rent one for £10.50. Always a kind of a joker, our Syd. Session
1968 05 28 – 'Golden Hair', 'Swan Lee' (aka 'Silace Lang'),
'Rhamadan'. This session also included (the same?) three session
musicians. Session Five.
1968 06 08 – Superimposition of titles recorded on 6th, 14th,
21st & 29th [wrong date, FA] of May, 1968, so read the red
form notes. Peter Jenner made a provisional tracklist for what could
have been Barrett's first album:
Silas Lang Late Nights (sic) Golden Hair Beechwoods (originally
recorded with Pink Floyd) Vegetable man (originally recorded with
Pink Floyd) Scream Your Last Scream (sic, originally recorded with
Pink Floyd) Lanky Pt 1 Lanky Pt 2
Looking like a Barrett's fan wet dream the above track listing debunks
the story - still popular at certain disturbed Barrett circles - that
the band Pink Floyd and its members deliberately boycotted their former
Barrett was apparently present at this session as some guitar overdubs
were recorded for 'Swan Lee' (the right title of that track still wasn't
decided). Session Six.
1968 06 14 – cancelled session
1968 06 20 – tape transfers and overdubs on 'Late Night' (noted
down as 'Light Nights'), 'Golden Hair', 'Swanlee' (again another way of
naming this track). Syd Barrett probably did some vocal overdubs. Session
1968 06 27 – 'Swanlee', 'Late Night', 'Golden Hair'. Tape
transfers and possible (vocal) overdubs. This is a bit of a mystery
session as the archives of EMI aren't clear what really happened. Session
1968 08 20 – 'Swan Lee', 'Late Nights', 'Golden Hair', 'Clowns &
Jugglers'. First appearance of the track that would later be named
Octopus. Session Nine.
Session nine is where Peter Jenner decided to pull the plug, and unless
you believe in the conspiracy theory that Jenner was a spy for the Pink
Floyd camp, there must have been a valid reason for it.
So there we have it, the nine chaotic Madcap sessions of the year 1968.
Of course it is clear where the six sessions explanation comes from, if
one omits the second session where Barrett probably never cared to show
up and some tape transfer and overdub sessions you have successfully
diminished nine sessions into six.
It all is a matter of interpretation: at one side you have those who
argue that Barrett recorded a nice collection of great dance songs in
only six sessions, at the other side you have those (including producer,
manager and personal friend Peter Jenner) who claim that nine sessions
weren't enough to produce three decent demos. As always the truth lies
somewhere in the middle.
So the six session myth, as noted down by Allan Jones in the Uncut Pink
Floyd 'Ultimate Music Guide' might not be so far off the truth.
Another misty myth hangs around the cover shoot of the album. Allan
Jones bluntly states, more out of ignorance, I presume, than of
knowledge, that Mick Rock was responsible for the cover. The official
version goes that the pictures, used for the cover, were taken by Storm
Thorgerson, who happened to be at the same place at the same time
(as the picture at the left side proves). The Holy Church of Iggy the
Inuit has already spilled lots of bits and bytes about The Madcap Laughs photo
sessions (in plural), so we won't go further into that.
Iggy 'Eskimo' Rose revealed to Mark Blake that other shots were taken as
I don't think Storm and Mick were very impressed by them. If you've ever
seen the cover of the Rod Stewart album, Blondes Have More Fun, they
were a bit like that... Of me and Syd. There were others of me and Syd,
as well, which remind me of the picture of John and Yoko [on Two
Virgins] which came out later. I'd love to see those pictures now.
(Taken from: The
Strange Tale Of Iggy The Eskimo Pt. 2)
Nowadays it is not that certain any more if these shots were taken by
Storm Thorgerson or by Mick Rock. There might even have been a third
photographer at play. It seems that the flat of Syd Barrett was crowded
with people that day and that they all brought a camera. Unfortunately
the naughty Syd & Iggy pictures seem to have disappeared...
Maybe it was because there was too much frontal. Poor Syd, I remember
getting carried away, pulling and pushing him about, getting astride
him. He was in fits of laughter....which of course is not what they [the
photographers] where after. (Iggy Rose, 30 May 2011.)
Riding the Octopus
Allan Jones is of course not a Barrett anorak like yours truly (and most
of the readers of this blog) and thus he has to confide upon other
anoraky people. So he probably doesn't see any harm in the following
Rob Chapman's close reading of the remarkable 'Octopus', for example,
revealed the craft of which Syd was still capable. The song's cleverly
accumulated lyrics drew on diverse literary sources, folklore, nursery
rhymes, and the hallucinatory vernacular of dream states to create a
wholly realised, enraptured universe, halcyon and unique. (p. 35)
This is all true and very beautifully written, but only – and this
brings us back to the starting point of this article – it was Paul
Belbin's essay (compiled with the help of a dozen of contributors) that
revealed the Octopus' hidden lyrics to begin with and that roughly five
years before Chapman's Irregular Head biography. No wonder that Julian
Palacios, a Syd Barrett biographer in his own right, calls it the
Rosetta stone for decoding the writing inspirations for one of Syd
Barrett's most beloved songs.
But all in all Uncut's 'The Ultimate Music Guide' to Pink Floyd seems to
be an essential (and rather cheap, only £5.99) overview of the band and
its records and I like all the articles that I've read so far. I think
it's a gem and a keeper.
The Church wishes to thank: Paul Belbin, Mark Blake, Julian Palacios and
the wandering anonymous Pink Floyd lover from the Embassy of God.
Top picture: variation on a theme from The
Kitten Covers. ♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥
Sources: (other than internet links mentioned above) Belbin,
Paul: Untangling the Octopus v2, 2006. PDF
version, hosted at the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. Belbin, Paul &
Palacios, Julian: Untangling the Octopus v3, 2009, hosted at the
Syd Barrett Research Society (forum no longer active). Update
April 2015: same article hosted at Late
Night. Parker, David: Random Precision, Cherry Red Books,
London, 2001, p. 126-138.
Let me start this review with a quote at the end of 'Anthropologie du
Rock Psychédelique Anglais', a title that is so universal that
I don't have to translate it into English, unless for some Americans, I
Pire quotes Simon
Frith who wrote in 1978:
The rock audience is not a passive mass, consuming records like
cornflakes, but an active community, making music into a symbol of
solidarity and an inspiration for action.
Obviously this quote should be branded on the bodies of record company
executives all over the world, especially those that gave us the music
of Britney Spears and other singing cattle, and who think that pop music
is something repetitive, uninspired and slick (but alas not Slick as Surrealistic
Pillow Grace once was). But this post seems to be turning
psychedelic before it has even started, so I'll wait a bit until that
sugar cube wears off a bit.
Anthropology of English Psychedelic Rock
Alain Pire is a Belgian musician whom I may have caught about 30 years
ago when he was a member of the Jo
Lemaire & Flouze band, although he won't probably remember that
gig in the Stella Artois Feestzaal in Louvain anymore. Neither do
I, by the way, I only have a slight recollection that I may have watched
that band through a beer enhanced haze.
It was Jenny
Spires who pointed me to him, noting that I would perhaps be
interested in his (French) study of English psychedelic rock. It is
weird that a member of the Sixties underground Cambridge mafia, a term
coined by David Gilmour if my memory is correct, had to point me to a
book written by a compatriot. The gap between the Belgian French and
Dutch community is so deep and our internal relations are so troubled
that we don't know any more what the other community is up to, even on a
In the Sixties we would have called this divine intervention but I thank
social networking services for bringing this study into my attention.
Anthropology of English Psychedelic Rock is based upon Alain
dissertation for the University of Liège in 2009, counts roughly 800
pages and is divided into 4 parts:
English psychedelic music Analysis of British psychedelic songs British
counter-culture Psychedelic drugs
English psychedelic music
Paradoxically the subject of the book is its biggest weakness. Defining
psychedelic music is like describing a butterfly's flight. We all know
instinctively how psychedelic music sounds, but it is nearly impossible
to write down its genetic formula on a piece of paper.
It is extremely complex to give a definition of a musical genre that is
so protean as psychedelic rock. (p. 92)
Basically Alain Pire, or Dr. Alain Pire for you, doesn't get any further
than stating that psychedelic music is music that simulates or evokes
psychedelic sensations. It's a bit like saying that the girl above is
nude because she has no clothes on.
As vague as the above definition is, psychedelic music does have some
common points. It uses technical novelties that had only recently been
introduced in the record studios and that in some cases were invented on
the spot by sound engineers at the demand of the musicians.
Another psychedelic brand mark is the reverse
tape effect or backmasking.
The legend goes that John Lennon, under the influence of cannabis,
'invented' the effect by listening to a tape that had not be rewound,
but sound modifications and (reverse) tape loops had already been used
music circles since the early fifties. Those same avant-garde
musicians had also experimented with musique
concrète, using acousmatic
sound as a compositional resource, and with tape speed effects but,
once again, these techniques were made popular by psychedelic rock bands
in the Sixties, notably The
Beatles who seemed to be one step ahead of all the others.
It is due to George Harrison that Indian instruments invaded psychedelia
as well, first used in Norwegian
Wood and later picked up and copied by The Rolling Stones, Traffic,
Pretty Things, Donovan and others. I won't give the other characteristic
instruments of psychedelic music here, otherwise there would be no
reason to buy the book, but I'll gladly make an exception for the
psychedelic instrumental gimmick par excellence: the mellotron.
The basics of this instrument was already around since the late forties,
but once again, and I'm starting to sound like a stuck vinyl record
here, it was re-discovered by English psychedelia. Graham
Bond may have been the first to record it on Baby
Can It Be True (1965), but its full potential was used by The
Beatles and The
Moody Blues who made it their signature instrument. For a while it
was even nicknamed a Pindertron,
after the keyboards player of that band.
It took me a couple of months to finish Anthropology of English
Psychedelic Rock and that is due to the second part where the author
analyses 109 psychedelic songs. I had the chance to listen to the songs
on my iPod while reading the book and that is of course the ideal way to
benefit of the detailed descriptions.
Starting with Shapes
of Things (Yardbirds,
1965) and ending with Cream's
I'm so glad (1969) it describes the four heyday years of
psychedelia. Influental bands and their albums get extra attention and a
short biography: The Beatles (obviously), but also The Rolling Stones,
Jimi Hendrix, The Pretty Things, The Soft Machine and Syd Barrett's Pink
It struck me, quite pleasantly, that Pire quotes Julian Palacios' Lost
In The Woods on page 251, intriguingly not in the Pink Floyd,
but in the Sergeant Pepper section, an album that – according to both
Pire and Palacios - started the end of the psychedelic era.
This strange psychedelic movement, blossoming quickly in an explosive
flash of colour, already seemed to be withering slightly. Its momentum
was to be felt everywhere in the world, but the original Big Bang, so to
speak, was nearing an end.
Of course Pire can't write detailed biographies about every band, that
isn't the purpose of his work, but the anoraky nitpicker in me came
across some mistakes that could have been weeded out by a better editor
or proofreader. Some examples:
The influence of science fiction stories will be found later in the
lyrics of 'Interstellar overdrive' or 'Astronomy Domine'. (p. 289)
I agree with Astronomy, but I have some difficulties believing that the
lyrics of Interstellar Overdrive find their origins in a science fiction
story as it is... an instrumental. Alain Pire knows bloody well that the
track contains no lyrics as he gets quite lyrical about the piece later
This track is more than a piece of music: it is the testimony of an era,
a musical spokesman for a generation. When the band was in a good shape
its open structure symbolised, on its own merits, the term Psychedelic
Music. (p. 369)
Another mistake that slipped through is this one:
Duggie Fields, painter and friend of Syd Barrett at that time, still
lives at 101 Cromwell Road (p. 293).
The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit has dedicated enough space to Syd's
(and Duggie's) apartment, located at Wetherby Mansions, Earls Court
Square. Of course Duggie lived at 101 Cromwell Road before and that is
probably were the error comes from.
During the year 1968, Barrett recorded his first solo album: The Madcap
Laughs, with the help from David Gilmour and Waters... (p. 340)
Also this is only part of the truth, Syd Barrett recorded some demos in
1968, but the sessions were abandoned after Peter Jenner agreed they
were 'chaos'. In April 1969, perhaps thanks to the the good influence of
Iggy, Syd found himself fit enough to start with the real recordings for
his first album.
But like I said, nitpicking is unfortunately enough the Holy Church of
Iggy the Inuit's core business and the few mistakes certainly don't take
away the merits of this study. (But I would have a stiff talk with
Gérard Nguyen 'secrétariat de rédaction et mise en page'
if I were you, Alain, there are still too many printing errors in this
Alain Pire doesn't only describe the psychedelic big shots but also
dedicates some space to bands like Tintern
Abbey, who only issued one single in their entire career or the
almost forgotten band Blossom
Toes. Butterfly flights indeed.
Throughout the book Alain Pire has the funny habit of first fully
explaining a quote that he has found in an extensive bibliography or
from interviews taken by himself, then followed by the quote itself and
thus merely repeating the previous.
I can understand that a doctoral thesis must be large and that some
professors at the University of Liège may be a bit slow to understand
but printed in a book this makes you feel like you are standing on top
of echo mountain. (Of course it could be that he uses this gimmick as
the written equivalent of the psychedelic tape loop trick.)
Even then, by deleting these double entries Alain Pire could at least
have saved 20 pages, handy for an index that is now missing.
It must be a second millennium thing that scholars don't put indexes any
more in their books. Alain Pire's study literally cites hundreds of
people, but the reader is unable to find these back once you have closed
the book. That's a pity. Especially as I like to borrow these things
myself for my various web doodles. Perhaps it is another way of saying,
look it up yourself, buddy.
(I suddenly realise that if I ever publish a Pink Floyd inspired book
the people that I have duly pissed of in my blog reviews will jump on my
back as a horde of hungry dogs.)
The third part of the study, a description of the London Counter
Culture, is a book in its own right.
Of course there isn't much new you can tell about the underground. Jonathon
Green wrote perhaps the ultimate counter culture bible with Days
In The Life: Voices from the English Underground 1961-71 and its
alter ego All Dressed Up: The Sixties and the Counterculture and
Miles has added a sequel to his In the Sixties book, London
Calling: A Countercultural History of London Since 1945.
But Alain Pire puts down some cleverly made points here and there, such
as the following remark about the decline of the traditional British
values in the Sixties:
Family, religion, marriage, faithfulness get beaten in the face and
other values like sexual liberation, hedonism and alternative
spiritualism emerge. These new values embrace individualism like the
growing importance of one's appearance, but also, and paradoxically, new
forms of group participation like the ritual passing of a joint, the
sharing of sexual partners and living in communes. (p. 538)
Of course the Sixties counter culture could only thrive under the
favourable economical and cultural circumstances of that period.
Counter culture can only live a parasitic life, meaning that it carries,
right from its start, the seeds of its own failure. (p. 563)
Basically the classless society of Swinging London was a (very small)
mixture of (rock) stars, young aristocrats and middle class youth who
had the financial means (or their parent's support) to live outside the
One of the many instruments that helped creating psychedelic music was a
wonder drug called LSD.
Alain Pire tries hard to give an unbiased, albeit slightly favourable,
opinion about the drug that was, almost from one day till the other,
reviled by the American and British governments.
LSD has been tested as a medicine or therapy by several scientific
investigators but these experiments had to be stopped, despite the fact
that most clinical test gave positive results, especially with proper
Of course LSD also had its negative sides, even more when people started
to use it as a leisure drug, Pire notes about Barrett:
If LSD helped Syd in the beginning to reveal his genius as a composer,
it became a real brake for his creativity and progressively sucked away
his writing potential. (p. 324)
Not that the dangers of LSD were not known. Michael Hollingshead, one of
the early LSD researchers, accidentally administered himself a massive
dose of the drug. After that event he got the constant impression of
living in a no man's land, partially in reality and partially in the
twilight world and at one point he asked Aldous Huxley and Timothy Leary
While LSD seems to be the ideal method to open certain doors of
perception it can turn into a living nightmare if these doors refuse to
shut again, leaving its victim behind like a character from an Arthur
Machen story. I may not think if this is what really happened to Syd
The psychedelic era and its music is still greatly remembered and loved.
It mainly arrived because several puzzle pieces, randomly thrown in the
air, landed in such a way that they formed a nice picture.
Alain Pire divides these puzzle pieces into two parts: the pedestal and
The pedestal of the psychedelic era was a thriving economic situation
and a socio-cultural context that was open for change. George Harrison
called the Sixties a period of 'mini renaissance'. Alain Pire rightfully
mentions the art schools that were a pool of inspiration and experiment.
The list of those who attended art school is long: Chris Dreja, Dick
Taylor, Eric Burdon, Eric Clapton, Iggy Rose, Jimmy Page, John Lennon,
John Whitney, Keith Relf, Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, Phil May, Ray
Davies, Robert Wyatt, Roger Chapman, Roy Wood and Syd Barrett.
Three extra components were the psychedelic icing on the cake: First:
extremely talented musicians suddenly came out in the open; Second:
psychedelic drugs opened doors of (musical) imagination and experiment; Third:
technical wizardry made it possible to find new ways to deal with sound.
But all this couldn't have happened without the support of a fifth
pillar: the public. Without a public open for change and experiment the
psychedelic movement would have stayed a small avant-garde movement
unknown to the outside world.
Let me end with a quote taken from the introduction by Barry Miles:
Anthropology of English Psychedelic Rock is the most complete history of
that period's music that I have ever read. The author has to be
complimented for his erudition and I heartily recommend his book to
anybody who wants a profound explication of what really happened during
the Swinging Sixties. (p. 9)
I couldn't say it better. Anthropologie du Rock Psychédelique Anglais
is a damn well read and urgently needs to be translated into English.
Pire Alain, Anthropologie du Rock Psychédelique Anglais, Camion
Blanc, Rosières en Haye, 2011. 815 pages, foreword by Barry Miles. 38
The Church wishes to thank: Alain Pire, Jenny Spires.
Obviously Felix Atagong returned the next afternoon to that safe heaven
that is The Anchor
for his alcoholic needs. "I am still pissed off at you, Alex
Fagoting", he snarled, "for throwing me out last night." "Here's
a Guinness on the house.", I lied, pretending I would not note it down
on his bill. "Simply get pissed instead." He laughed and as if nothing
had happened he just continued his story after his first gulp of the day.
Rule #1: a good barkeeper always listens to his customer, but in this
case I was humming along while Al
Stewart crooned on the background.
"There is this big ambiguity about the Floyd.", Felix started, "In the
early seventies they were aspiring leftist rock stars, playing the
French communist (and frankly Stalinist) party parties. But at the same
time there are these legendary stories about their royalties' catfights.
Waters always nagging and later getting 50 percent for his sixth grade
pubertal poetry alone and even then whining about his part for the
composition as well. In the theoretical (and highly improbable) case
that all four members would get even shares this benefited Waters with
62 and a half percent with the others only earning 12 and a half percent
each. Not bad for a rock star who bragged in the press about his social
"In reality poor Mason only got the crumpets and even these were later
regretted by the so-called socialist activist who Roger pretended he
was. One could paraphrase George
Orwell here: 'All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal
than others.' Waters would later beg, borrow or steal Orwell's socialist
allegory for the Animals album, not realising the ironic fact
that by then he had become the upper-pig of the band."
"We all know the story how Clare
Torry was only paid 30£ for her contribution on The
Great Gig In The Sky, something that would give her headaches
for years to come. And Alan
Parsons was only getting his EMI salary for his tremendous work on (The)
Dark Side Of The Moon, much to his dismay. Even after Pink Floyd
had become a financial dinosaur, with an annual turnover that would make
some African countries jealous, they were too greedy to give a free copy
of the album to the kids singing on Another
Brick In The Wall, until the press got hold of it."
"Excusez-moi, Felix.", I said, "But I see some pretty girls
who want my attention." On Wednesday afternoon the Barrett Ladies Club
meets at The Anchor. First they squabble about the pancakes they are
going to order and will argue over the fact that they (the pancakes, not
the women... yet) have not been sufficiently soaked in Grand
Marnier. After a while the grannies start discussing about the exact
type of colour Syd Barrett's floor boards were painted in, a somewhat
pointless discussion if you ask me, as in 42 years of time they still
haven't reached a consensus. You can only join the Barrett Ladies Club
if you know what special birthmark Syd Barrett had and on what buttock
it could be found, leaving out all the groovy chicks who had just been
passing by for some quick plating...
After the ladies had been supplied with the food and drink (coffee and a
thimbleful of eggnog) I returned to the bar where Felix had been
contemplating his miserable life in silence. With a little luck he would
have continued his inner monologue and not take off from where I had
"Since Nick Mason admitted he was officially in the recycling business I
have the utmost respect for him.", Atagong orated. "Even when he tries
to sell miniature cars with his signature on. I love his no-nonsense
style. While David 'the sound' and Roger 'the genius' are continually
trying to convince the public that they and they alone are Pink Floyd
Nick gets in 'with a wit drier than an AA clinic' (to quote novelist Kathy
Lette). But although Gilmour and Waters are like fire and water...
they sound unexpectedly in perfect unison when it comes to grab into the
fan's pockets. I suppose that Gilmour is a bit short of cash now that
his stepson has been sentenced to pick up the leftover soap in a British
prison. And Waters has just married again for the fourth time and Viagra
comes expensive nowadays."
I gave a wry smile but Felix couldn't be stopped.
"Even 37 years after the facts Waters and Gilmour try to be politically
correct and claim they gave the 1974 Gini-money
to charity, but Mason just adds: 'We shelved the cash, point.' Mason
also agrees that this is probably the last time in history that they
will be able to sell hardware to the fans (meaning CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray
disks) rather than downloadable bits and bytes. And by selling these
ridiculously expensive collector's boxes record companies and artists
have found a new way of income. Pink Floyd could've taken an example to
Elvis Costello who openly asks his fans not
to buy his latest record at such a ridiculous price..."
"What's the problem then with these Immersion boxes", I asked, "apart
from the price?"
"They are a fucking disgrace!", shouted Atagong, so loud that one of the
Barrett Gang Bang girls nearly choked on a profiterole.
"Let's start with Dark Side Of The Moon, shall we? How many CD-reissues
of that album have we already had? Who knows? Four, five? And all of
them have been remastered. Are we talking here about one of the best
rock albums of all times or does EMI considers Dark Side Of The Moon a
new brand of washing powder? An ameliorated version every few years to
keep on washing their dirty laundry whiter than white? Does it mean that
the earlier versions were all rubbish if the Floyd annex EMI feel the
need to keep on going remastering them? On top of that the 6 disks in
the Moon-box are highly repetitive...."
"That is quite obvious.", I retaliated, "It's all about the Dark Side,
isn't it?" Felix pointed his finger at a few millimetres from my nose. "Don't
try to be a smart-ass, lad.", he threatened. "That is not what I mean."
He looked for and unfortunately found a paper inside his jacket. "I have
it all written down for you.", he sycophantically whispered.
Pigs - three different ones
"The Dark Side Of The Moon Immersion set has a DVD and a Blu-ray with
multi-channel audio mixes of the album. The 1973 quad mix can be found
in 448 kbps, 640 kbps and a 96kHZ/24bit version. If you ask me that is
three times the same goody good bullshit. Also the 5.1 surround mix is
three times in the box. The Wish You Were Here Immersion set has one
disk less than the Dark Side box but EMI still found it necessary to
keep going on with their continuous repetition: also here the quad and
5.1 mixes have been inserted three times. But that is not all. For a set
that costs the fan an arm and a leg they have been scandalously
designed, packed and transported."
The Great Rock'N Roll Swindle
"Several buyers noticed that their disks contained fingerprints although
the boxes arrived sealed. I don't give a fuck if EMI uses Korean
child-slaves to pack these items but for 120 Euro a piece I would like
them to have fat-free fingers. My Immersion boxes arrived with the disks
at the bottom dislodged and with scratches that must have arrived
somewhere during transport."
"The novelty extras are quite tacky. A separate envelope with a
facsimile of a Pink Floyd gig entrance card is something you might pay
50 cents for, but not a lot more. And what to think of the marbles, the
scarf and the carton toasters in each box... it feels cheap but alas
your wallet reveals it isn't."
"I would like to know who is the EMI fuckwit who decided to package the
Dark Side Of The Moon marbles separately in bubble-wrap, but agreed to
have the disks attached in such a flimsy way that at the lightest shock
they start to travel on their own. Did you understand the music, EMI, or
was it all in vain? I know of one customer who had the guts to have 6
Immersion boxes opened in the store before he found one with undamaged
We're only in it for the money
"And it isn't finished yet. The encrypted Blu-ray disks refuse to play
on most PCs. There seems to be a valid technical reason for that, driver
issues and so on, but in my opinion EMI deliberately issued a disk that
can only be played on stand-alone players, attached to a TV-set. If
other companies can manufacture Blu-rays that play faultless on a PC,
why not EMI?"
"On top of that the Wish You Were Here Blu-ray, in most European boxes,
has several audible glitches in the 5.1 Surround Mix at the end of Shine
On You Crazy Diamond and on other tracks as well. At 120 Euro a box
these sets are clearly a rip-off, but even at that price EMI fails to
provide us with unscratched and undamaged disks. The only question that
one can ask is indeed: Why
Pink Floyd? Why EMI? For fuck sake, why?"
Lucky for me at that moment one of the Barrett ladies started strangling
another one so I had an excuse to leave Felix behind in his misanthropic
What a wonderful decade the sixties were. A small group of students at
both sides of the Atlantic changed the world forever, by making weird
music, weird posters and even weirder sex, and since then we live in
continuous paradise. Of course this is utterly bollocks but for the bulk
of I Remember the Sixties-books this is the general atmosphere
they exhale. For the business hippies, who have made successful careers
out of the sixties by rehashing pink coloured memories in their coffee
table books, the legend has become reality, but they are probably just a
minority. The sixties had a silent majority, in- and outside the
Underground, that will never be heard.
In 1988 Jonathon
Green compiled an oral history of the sixties titled: Days In
The Life: Voices from the English Underground 1961-71. In it a
constellation of Underground self-proclaimed heroes repeated the
clockwork adagio that the sixties were fantastic, but this book was the
first, for me at least, that contained some less triumphant testimonies
as well. Nicola Lane, who by her own account 'did little other than sit
in a corner, roll joints and nod when required' had a stab at the sexual
morals of the period in general. Susan Crane (better known as Sue
Miles) confirmed that the Beat movement was very sexist towards
women, invariably called chicks, and when her husband Barry
Miles had those very important International
Times meetings her job was 'to make the tea and the sandwiches' and
to leave the room 'whenever they were going to actually take decisions'.
Which she did.
Another International Times-founder Jim
Haynes, by definition a messiah of the Underground, was described by
Cheryll Park, then a 19-year old coming from the North of England, as a
sexual pervert who wanted her to end up in his bed with six other women.
“I'd love to meet Haynes again, now that he's a shrivelled-up old man,
and humiliate him in the way he humiliated me.”, she snapped. Be it Jim
Haynes, Julian Assange or Dominique Strauss-Kahn, some men will never
In The Sixties Unplugged, Gerard
De Groot repeats the above testimonies of Nicola Lane, Sue Miles and
Cheryll Park. The book already appeared in 2008, but I was unaware of it
until now. A few copies ended up in the sales bin of a local bookshop
and that is how I got hold of it. I hesitated first as the book, at
first glance, seemed to be a mere recollection of the counter-culture in
America, but browsing through the contents I saw that the author also
had things to add about Biafra, China, Congo, France, Germany,
Great-Britain, Holland, Indonesia, Vietnam and even our closest
extra-terrestrial neighbour, the Moon.
Ronnie takes a trip
The Sixties Unplugged is a decade's compendium in 67 short essays and
rather than repeating what good things came out of it, it attempts to
describe where we went wrong. The book is sceptical, ironical and
cynical but also utterly readable, vivid and funny at places. What could
have been lying on your stomach as a gloomy brick becomes the proverbial
box of chocolates, especially thanks to the many unexpected anecdotes
that lighten it up. De Groot constantly dips his pen in a vitriolic
inkpot (does anybody in the 21st century understand this?) and like a
pigeon flying over an open air statue exhibition he has plenty of choice
where to launch his droppings.
I do have the impression that De Groot has more fun in ridiculing the
liberal caste than the conservative one, but I could be wrong as we have
been taught that the sixties were generally progressive anyway. It is
true that lots of noise was coming out of progressive circles... in
Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris or London... but De Groot also notes that 20
miles outside the city or university centres life went on its usual
conservative way. As a matter of fact, while the progressive thinkers
were believing that they were going to change the world by smoking pot
and listening to Hendrix guitar solos the conservative movement was
silently preparing its coup with repercussions that are still visible
But some changes even the conservatives didn't see coming. A bit like Rick
Santorum now, a certain Ronald
Reagan was first laughed away by his fellow republicans and called
'a flagrant example of miscasting'. The man didn't know anything about
politics, they quipped and this was probably true, but that was
precisely Reagan's strength. He started his career by saying that he
wasn't a politician but a simple citizen who understood the needs of the
common Californian. While his opponents, republicans and democrats
alike, were sneering at him from their élite business
millionaire clubs, smoking expensive cigars and showing general disdain
for their voters, Reagan proved that the time was ripe for popular
conservatism, based on easy to digest one-liners (“One of the great
problems of economics is unemployment.”).
To get elected in 1966 Reagan needed to convince over a million of
democrat voters to cross over to his side and paradoxically enough one
of the issues that helped him to achieve that were... the hippies. Berkeley
had a history of tumultuous student uprisings (free
speech movement, Vietnam
war protest & People's
Park) that had infested other Californian universities as well.
Reagan only needed a one-liner to describe those radicals: “His hair was
cut like Tarzan, and he acted like Jane, and he smelled like Cheetah.”
Those beatniks at Berkeley University thought they were changing the
world, and they did indeed, but not as they intended. Ronald Reagan got
elected in California... This was the start of a brilliant political
career and may have been the pivotal point turning the world into an
arena of conservative capitalism...
There's a killer on the road
Did anybody notice dead bankers hanging on trees, lynched by an angry
mob lately? I don't think so. But we did see poor, unemployed and
homeless people, frozen to death this winter, because this crisis –
created out of greed – has hit them hard. Jean-Luc
Dehaene, ex-prime minister of Belgium and representative of the
Christian Labourers Union, will receive a tax-free bonus of 3.26 million
Euro (4.35 million dollars) this year. He is the man who led the Dexia
bank to its bankruptcy, well knowing that the Belgian government would
be obliged to intervene. The Belgian caution for the Dexia 'bad bank' is
15% of our BNP, so if the holding goes into liquidation, a scenario that
is not improbable, all Belgians will face a general tax increase and
cutbacks on all social programs...
Speaking about Belgium, my little country gets a mention in Gerard De
Groot's book as well. Congo,
once the sadistic playground of a Belgian king
who thought that cutting off hands was a pleasant pastime, got
independent in 1960. When its first democratically elected leader, Patrice
Lumumba, had the guts to insult the Belgian king on Congo's
independence day this was nothing less than an invitation to murder.
Not that the Belgians were playing solo, on a White House meeting in
August 1960 president Dwight
D. Eisenhower vaguely proposed to assassinate Lumumba and CIA
Dulles, who described Lumumba as a mad dog who needed to be put
down, immediately gave orders to his secret agents to come up with a
While the CIA was thinking of an all-american-superhero sophisticated
way to get a poisoned toothbrush over to Congo and hand it over to the
prime minister the Belgians had a much simpler idea. Under mild Belgian
pressure Lumumba was arrested, ceremonially and perpetually beaten and
tortured and finally shot through the head while four Belgian officials
were looking, mildly amused, from a few yards distance. Incidentally,
the prime minister of Belgium who was aware of this all, Gaston
Eyskens, belonged to the same Christian party as Jean-Luc Dehaene
now, but this is of course just a silly coincidence.
Although Gerard De Groot obviously agrees that this was an act of
'cynical criminality' he refuses to believe in the Lumumba myth, that is
as big in Africa now as the Che
Guevara-myth in the sixties. De Groot quips Lumumba would have been
assassinated anyway and if not, he dryly adds, the Prime Minister would
probably have grown into a typical African corrupt dictator just like
his spiritual heroes Nkrumah, Nyerere or Kenyatta.
Love, peace & happiness
And these are just two of the 67 essays in this book. The general rule
is that De Groot shows almost no respect for anybody (with some notable
exceptions here and there) although there is of course not always reason
for respect in his stories.
Biafra had an outburst of ethnic and political violence from 1966
to 1970 causing one to two million deaths, most of starvation. This
happened while the 'civilised' world was dutifully monitoring the
situation and organising UN congresses.
China had a few uprisings in the mid sixties. In 1968 communist
government troops killed 200 thousand rebels in the Guanxi province,
although the term rebel could mean women, children, babies or someone
wearing glasses or the wrong clothes. One of the weirder, perhaps tribe
related, rituals in Guanxi was to eat the enemy and over 3000
cannibalistic acts in the name of communism have been documented. Called
an orgy of violence by Gerard De Groot the Cultural Revolution would
make 2.8 million victims, although these numbers greatly vary from
source to source. The amount of people persecuted, imprisoned, beaten,
tortured or raped out of love for the Great
Helmsman is estimated to at least a tenfold of the previous number.
That not all political violence had a communist signature was proven in Indonesia.
In September 1965 and the months to follow between 500 thousand and one
million 'communist' sympathisers were killed in Indonesia, with just a
little help of the intelligence services of Great Britain and the USA. Joseph
Lazarsky, deputy station CIA chief in Jakarta, revealed that the CIA
had made a top 5000 hit-list to help the government troops. The list was
crossed off as enemies were liquidated and as an extra bonus president
Suharto received lucrative contracts with American Express, British
American Tobacco, British Leyland, General Motors, Goodyear, ICI,
Siemens and US Steel...
The shameful lesson of this book is that in 30 or 40 years time,
absolutely nothing has changed in this world, except perhaps for the
fact that in Syria people now have smartphones and can put music in
their ears to stop hearing the falling bombs.
of the book I found on the net says that Sixties Unplugged often follows
very familiar lines.
Although he claims that his work is 'more global than any book
previously produced', it is dominated by American characters and events,
most of which have been written about dozens of times before. His
selection policy is nothing if not orthodox, so his opening sections
cover such well-worn topics as the origins of the transistor, the
invention of the Pill and the poetry of the Beats. Later, we read about
the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the expansion of the Vietnam
War, the development of the hippy movement and the Civil Rights marches.
The supporting cast is the usual mixture of hairy protesters and senior
politicians, above all Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.
There is some truth in that, and when Gerard De Groot hits the ground I
am a bit familiar with, namely the British psychedelic scene, all he can
come up with are testimonies from a book that appeared twenty years ago.
Sometimes he even tries too hard to make a point. I don't think that
using British Underground quotes to add value to an American situation
is really deontological. And there is a certain shock-jock aspect
present as well, as the chapter 'Summer Of Rape', amongst others, shows:
Rape was popular in the Summer of love. Rape was easy because there were
so many naïve young girls separated from parental protection.
or, quoting some juicy sixties newspaper article...
A young long-haired girl stripped and danced in the warm rain... (…) Her
friends stood by while a dozen young men raped her in an animal frenzy.
But it needs to be said that the sensational stories and its many
anecdotes make this book a real page-turner. Gerard De Groot likes to
divulge that every important man has his smaller side. Martin
Luther King, for instance, not only had a dream but also a busload
of extramarital affairs and probably that is one of the few things he
had in common with JFK.
If sex oozes from the pages, it is because the sixties had a sexual
revolution and revolutions not only tend to liberate but often lead to
an aftermath of violence as well. One hippie leader literally said that
women needed breaking like a horse before entering his commune (I wonder
how he could get any female followers) and the average discours
érotique of the Black
Panthers Party then wasn't really different from gangsta-rap today.
The Hole in the Ozone Layer
There aren't a lot of women in the book, and when there are they don't
always like to be reminded of the sixties. Bernardine
Dohrn's 1969 eulogy to Charles
Manson, for instance, can't be found on her CV at the Northwestern
University School of Law and neither is the fact that she once was
one of the most wanted terrorists of the United States. But of course
that is nothing to be proud of, The
Weathermen only succeeded in blowing their own members to pieces
rather than turning America into a communist republic.
In September 1967 hundreds of New
York Radical Women assembled before the Miss America contest in
Atlantic City. They massively removed their bras, much to the enjoyment
of the watching crowd, threw those in a dustbin and set the contents on
fire. Unfortunately, this is one of the sixties feminist myths that is
just that, a myth.
The truth was slightly different. About twenty protesters threw some
symbolic girlie stuff in a trashcan: girdles, bras, makeup, curlers,
mascara, shoes... and apparently they also crowned a sheep as Miss
America, but that was all that happened.
A reporter however called it bra-burning and from then on the legend
mushroomed until the point was reached that feminists really started to
believe in burning bras or protesting topless, a tradition that happily
lingers on till today,
but now you will call me a male chauvinist pig probably.
According to The Sixties Unplugged the decade ended in 1971 with the
obscenity trial of Oz. One of the questions was if a bawdy cartoon of
Rupert Bear (made by a fifteen years old) was obscene or not. The judges
decided it was but nobody really cared any more. The world had changed,
only the judges didn't know it yet.
Despite some flaws this is a very interesting book indeed. Even with 67
chapters and almost as many topics it gives you something to chew on and
makes you start thinking. Lucky we have Wikipedia nowadays, to further
dig into those subjects one really digs... but what did the sixties
bring into our world then, other than perpetual paradise... Gerard De
The decade brought flowers, music, love and good times. It also brought
hatred, murder, greed, dangerous drugs, needless deaths, ethnic
cleansing, neocolonialist exploitation, soundbite politics,
sensationalism, a warped sense of equality, a bizarre notion of freedom,
the decline of liberalism, and the end of innocence.
Groovy man, really groovy...
Sources (other than the above internet links): De Groot,
Gerard: The Sixties Unplugged, Pan Macmillan, London, 2009. Green,
Jonathon: Days In The Life, Pimlico, London, 1998, p. 60, 119,
418-419, 448 (first edition: 1988).
Summer time has come and this means it is time to take the plastic
chairs and table into the garden and have an afternoon drink. The main
problem always is: where are the coasters to put the glasses on? Surely
you didn't pay 120 Euros for a Dark Side of the Moon Immersion
box set to ruin its cheap (but expensive) content by putting a glass of Mojito
on top of those exclusive carton collector's coasters, did you?
Thank god there is Mojo's Return
to the Dark Side of The Moon - Wish
You Were Here Again from a couple of months ago. I you have ever
listened to it then you certainly would wish you were over there,
praising that nobody can hear crap in a vacuum. My Wall Re-Built
albums are still shrink-wrapped and will probably stay like that until
eternity or till I finally have the nerve to make the final cut.
Laughs Again treatment from 2010 was slightly better, probably
because nobody tried to make too much of a fool out of the mad cat, but
nevertheless I only gave the album a 4 out of 10 score.
It does contain some interesting versions though, like Marc
Night that has grown on me like a wart on a witches nose.
But for most of those covermount disks the only slightly ecological way
to give them a purpose in life is to recycle them as beverage coasters.
By the way, Mojo
should realize that these CDs can be counter-productive as well. A while
ago I saw the issue with Pet Sounds Revisited and because I
didn't want to spoil my good mood I simply turned my back, deciding not
to buy it. No way I was going to listen to the massacre of one of the
finest albums in the world.
This just to say I am slightly grumpy when it comes to these tribute
albums. But sometimes there are exceptions, like...
Men On The Border
On The Border, so learns us the blurb, started as a project inspired
by the music and art of Roger Keith ”Syd” Barrett. The power duo
consists of Göran Nyström and Phil Etheridge and the result is Shine!,
a CD of interpretations of songs by Syd Barrett.
And what interpretations they are, rather than dumbfoundedly mimicking
Roger Keith they flavour their interpretations with power chords,
contemporary sounds, odd humour and slightly hidden musical references.
I have a soft spot for track number 5 that starts as a Joy Division,
Gary Numan or Blur inspired rendition of No Man's Land,
seamlessly sliding into Golden Hair and retreating to No Man's
Land again. The track is dark, a bit industrial with screaming guitars
and probably a signature track for what Men On The Border really stand
for. Göran Nyström:
(I'm) quite happy with it. As black as it should be. And yet with a
little golden shimmer deep inside.
The cool thing is that MOTB give an odd, unexpected, turn to the
classics we know so well. Wined And Dined makes you think that
the song will dive into Irish jig territory but the guitar that follows
(not that far from Gilmour’s Raise My Rent, if you ask me)
brings back happy memories from the music I liked in the seventies
(those heavenly oohs and aaahs), ending with a Beatlesque
streak. Göran Nyström:
I want to do this with great respect, yet not ending up imitating Syd
and his weaknesses at the time. I always felt uncomfortable with cover
artists trying to be the sick and poor Syd. I think his songs should
Listening to Gigolo Aunt, that I have always found a bit simple
as a song, it comes to me that some of the influences of MOTB lay in the
pub-rock from Graham Parker & The Rumour, Rockpile (with Nick Lowe &
Dave Edmunds) and the cruelly under-appreciated The Motors (their Airport
still is in my all times Top-20).
Opel, here renamed as Opal which is probably more correct,
has an intro reminding me of a hungry Jaws swimming towards some
EMI sales representatives who immediately devour the poor animal. First
its intro made me think of an Emerson, Lake and Palmer thing... but at
second thought some classic Deep Purple may be a bit closer to it.
Anyway it is classic stuff. The song has glimpses of an all female
string quartet, playing in the nude, but probably my imagination is
having a go at me now.
Long Gone starts – literally - with an interstellar joke before
jumping into Mark Bolan or David Bowie cockney territory , it's a
totally loony, but irresistible version (and it has a fine moog-a-like
outro as well).
What did I forget so far: Octopus, not as erratic as the
original and larded with slight psychedelic effects... Dark Globe,
loving the crack in Göran's voice at the 'wouldn't you miss me at all'
bit..., No Good Trying, a straight forward rocky rendition
with lots of reverb, oohs, aahs and nananananas... Feel, well
over seven minutes it starts with a slightly Floydian ambient intro and
it further meanders into a pastoral Grantchester Meadows classic
but at the four minutes mark a slightly brilliant Narrow Way
guitar solo takes over...
Late Night must be one of the most beautiful songs that Syd
Barrett ever wrote and Men On The Border also get this one right. Love,
peace and understanding are omnipresent (not only on this track, but on
the whole album) and, frankly, this is a quite moving version.
You may have deducted by now that the album is excellent and then we
haven't said a word about the art department yet, one of the extra
reasons you should buy this album for.
The cover art has been made by Kajsa-Tuva
Henriksson and the booklet illustrates every song with a painting
D'Andrea's (aka JenniFire) I.N.Spired series. Buying the CD will
also financially help the Cambridge based Squeaky
Men On The Border haven't set up a web-shop for their album yet, but you
would be more than obliged to mail them at email@example.com
and ask for a copy.
And if the above review didn't convince you, you can listen and watch
their songs on the Men On The Border Sound
pages (have a go at Feel
with more intriguing art work from JenniFire).
Those Swedish surely have something I can't explain.
Many thanks to: Göran Nyström, Phil Etheridge & JenniFire.
In 1967 Pink
Floyd suddenly had a hit with See
Emily Play and their name was all over the music press in England.
As such they were spotted across the ocean by the Canadian record
company Arc that specialised in so-called low-budget sound-alike
greatest hits albums.
Before we start making fun of the sound-alike phenomenon we would
like to point out that there was still a great musical rift between
America and Great Britain and that covers were often the only way for an
English audience to hear an American record, and vice versa. In 1965 the
proto-Pink Floyd combo Jokers
Wild, with David
Gilmour, tried to cash in on the Sam
& Dave classic You
Don’t Know Like I Know, but not fast enough as the original
hit the English market before Decca could issue the Jokers Wild version.
The rise and fall of David Gilmour's first band had been decided on by
bad timing and a stroke of bad luck.
Next to the 'cover' market, where local record companies tried to be the
first to issue their cover of an overseas hit, there was the
'sound-alike' market, with a slightly different sense of timing. Once a
hit record entered the charts, sound-alike singles were rapidly recorded
by session musicians and put in the stores to sell their rip-off
versions in the slipstream of the original hit.
While some of these sound-alike versions were deliberately made to
confuse the customer ('I Walk The Line' by 'Jonny Cass' comes to mind)
most of them ended on low-budget hit or party albums, EPs and singles.
Nobody would notice the difference anyway, especially on warm barbecue
days with lots of booze and a Dansette portable record player screeching
in the garden.
There is a thin line between sixties 'covers' and 'sound-alikes',
because the cover bands often did their best to sound as close to the
original as was humanly possible, while the sound-alike bands often did
their best to sound as close to the original as was humanly possible.
Sound-alike labels from different countries and continents traded tracks
and identical tracks would often appear under different band names.
Warning: if you are already confused by now, you will even get
more confused by what follows next, this will not be easy reading. Most
has been pinched from collector's blogs and newsgroups and we will do
our best to give credit to the original authors and websites.
One record collector describes Arc records as follows:
Arc Records was Canada's most notorious low-budget label, in the same
league as labels like Crown or Alshire in the States. They were famous
for taking famous pop songs by one artist and getting some schmo to
cover them and giving him a phoney name similar to that of the original
Klip at WMFU blog.)
A slightly more academic description of the label can be found on the
Canadian Encyclopedia (page no longer active):
Arc Records, subsidiary of Arc Sound Co Ltd, which was established in
Toronto in 1958 by Philip G. Anderson and William R. Gilliland. At first
a record distributor, Arc Sound began releasing recordings under its own
Arc label in 1959 and purchased the Precision Pressing Co in 1961. Arc
Records released a series of pop singles albums under the name "Hit
Parade" (1963-64). Arc Sound and its subsidiaries came under the control
of a Canadian-owned holding company, the Ahed Music Corp Ltd, Toronto,
in 1969 and ceased operations in 1986.
Arc Records in Canada were doing a lot of sound-alike records in the
sixties. They had the Hit Parade series and at least two of them
are carbon copies of Current Hits albums that appeared on the
Arc also apparently got tied in with Embassy
Records (Great Britain), the label of the English Woolworth
stores. It churned out top hits as well, usually with two different
artists on one 45. All of the Embassy recording was done by Oriole
Records, with mostly in-house musicians and groups. One of the cover
bands on Embassy were The Jaybirds who became famous after Alvin
Lee renamed the band to Ten
Embassy quit the sound-alike business in the late sixties and Oriole was
bought by Columbia about the same time. Some of the Embassy/Oriole stuff
showed up on American Top Hits albums from Columbia
Record Club as well.
Arc Records had at least five LP's of Mersey Beat out in the mid
sixties. Some of those list the individual Embassy performers, but most
credit the group sounds to The Mersey Beats Of England. Unfortunately
there is only a partial list
of Arc releases available on the web. (Above text almost literally
copied from KenB/Rockin'
Three To One
In 1967 the Vancouver band Three To One issued a mono single
considered to be the very first cover of a Pink Floyd song: See
Emily Play / Give
My Love (Arc 1186, most pictures and sound-bits on the web are from
a 2008 collector's edition replica of that single, except - perhaps -
the picture underneath that could be an original.)
Let's switch over to Kiloh
Smith who describes this little gem in his weird enthusiast style...
Check out this rare Canadian psych 45 by Three To One - See Emily Play
b/w Give Me Love on the Arc Label. This one’s got two monster tracks
from Three To One, including what must to be the very 1st Pink Floyd
cover in history. You might’ve heard their creepy cover of See Emily
Play on a comp or two before - it’s pretty faithful to the original, at
least up until the second chorus, when a little girl suddenly pops her
head into the studio to ask “Everyone know how to play?” while someone
in the sound effects library drops in a bunch of outer space phaser
effects from the albino gorilla episode of the original Star Trek series.
This would have been an interesting titbit for all the Sydiots among us,
but there is more going on. Arc was a rather dodgy label to say the
least and also with this release they lived up to their expectancies.
John Renton, Derek Norris (bass), Brian
Russell (guitar), Claudette Skrypnyk
After leaving The Classics,
Brian Russell formed Three To One in Vancouver in 1966. The band soon
relocated to Yorkville in Toronto to try and catch a break. They soon
got signed to Arc Records for one single - a cover of Pink Floyd's See
They also performed on CTV's 'After Four' TV show and
appeared on Yorkville's tie-in compilation album to the show. They would
later change their name to Raja before calling it quits.
Four (dead link) TV-show compilation album was issued in 1968 on Yorkville,
a sub-label of Arc. It has covers from well-known tracks such as You
Keep Me Hangin’ On (Teak Wood, dead link) or Winchester
Cathedral (The Chain Rattlers Orchestra). Several things are wrongly
stated on its cover: Four
In The Morning (dead link) from The Scarlet Ribbon is
actually a track in disguise from a Canadian band called The Quiet
Jungle (more about them later), Changin'
Time (dead link) from Patrician-Anne
is a cover from Janis Ian's I'll Give You a Stone If You'll Throw It
(Changing Tymes) and the second track on the B-side is not I'm
A Bad Boy by Bob Francis, but See
Emily Play by Three To One. Nobody knows why there is a
different track listed on the sleeve notes than there is pressed on
vinyl. (Listen to the complete album on Grooveshark.)
So far so good, but here is where things get a bit more complicated. We
did warn you.
At about the same time, 1967-1968-ish, another Arc compilation album
sees the light of day, featuring the Okey Pokey Band & Singers.
The album with number A-735 is called Flower Power and has
sound-alike versions of several 1967 hits, including See
Emily Play. Here is what the liner notes have to say:
On this recording the zany, irrepressible Okey Pokey band & Singers
focus on Flower Power. Resultant is a boss album highlighting the best
sounds to blitz your transistor over the past months.
See Emily Play from Okey Pokey uses the same bed
track (or background music, if you like) as the Three To One version
but has different vocals. Some of the wacky sci-fi sound effects are
missing, but the good thing is the track is in magnificent stereo
hi-fidelity. The 'everyone
know how to play' sample at 1:29 has mysteriously disappeared from
this version as well.
In short: we have two versions of the same track, slightly remixed and
with different vocalists, as if this had been recorded in a karaoke bar.
The Okey Pokey Band & Singers
The Okey Pokey Band & Singers released two full albums but were
obviously a studio project. According to the liner notes the band and
singers: 'have played San Francisco, capital of the hippy world', 'have
blown their minds at Fillmore' and 'loved-in at Ashbury Heights', but
the credits show that the tracks were originally 'recorded in England'
and not in Canada.
This could make sense as we have already stated that low-budget record
companies from different continents used to trade tracks, just to keep
the costs low.
The Okey Pokey version has a certain British feel and when Arc got a
copy of the master tape they may have removed the British vocals,
replacing them with the Canadian singer of One To Three. Of course there
is always the possibility that the English tape only contained an
instrumental track and that both singing parts were recorded in Canada.
A lot of sound-alike songs do exist that share the same bed track, but
have different vocalists.
The Quiet Jungle
In 2007 Garage
Hangover suspected that members of The Quiet Jungle could
have been part of the deal.
Toronto based The Quiet Jungle started originally as The Secrets. The
band was signed by Arc Records and, next to releases in their own name,
some of them hit records, they were used as (anonymous) session
musicians on a Monkees sound-alike album and on a children's album
called The Story of Snoopy's Christmas. Vocalist Doug Rankine,
however, denies any involvement on the Okey Pokey Flower Power album:
We had nothing to do with the "Flower Power" album. There were a couple
of TV shows at that time called After Four and High Time that were on
CTV. We were on those shows verily often. There was an album produced at
the time called "After Four". (…) At the time of the album we recorded a
song entitled "Four In the Morning". Without going into a lot of detail,
we recorded it under the name of the Scarlet Ribbon.
Anton from Freqazoidiac
adheres the theory that the Okey Pokey version, including its vocals, is
It has been rumoured that Manchester Cathedral by The Chain Rattlers
Orchestra (see the After Four album above) was in fact done by John
Smith. You Keep Me Hangin' On from Teak Wood on that same compilation is
definitely John Smith's work. He has acknowledged this himself on Garage
The only problem is that John Smith (that is his real name, by the way)
denies having ever recorded See Emily Play:
In answer to your first question "See Emily Play", I didn't record that
song. If my name and my band was used, this is new to me, but I don't
think there's much I can do about that is there!
The real John Smith left after the first album but the band
continued to record, with different lead-singers as John
Smith and the New Sound. None of their three official albums (and
singles) have See Emily Play. John Smith and the New Sound (and their
alter-ego band The Beat Kings) took a joyride on the wave of British and
Canadian pop, but they can't be linked to the Okey Pokey / Three To One
See Emily Play versions. This means we are back to square one.
Ben Cash & The Cash-Tons
Probably the John Smith rumour can be traced back to a typo on, where
else?, the Internet. In a comment on the Red
Telephone 66 (dead link) blog Jancy claims that John Smith and The
New Sound recorded See Emily Play for a German compilation (that
appeared in 1972).
And yes, might you wonder, this third 'German' cover version is exactly
the same as the Okey Pokey one. It could be interesting to compare the
Ben Cash & The Cash-Tons cover from My Generation with the Arc release
(if any) but this would bring us too far in this messy labyrinth.
There is an unconfirmed rumour that Ben Cash was none other than David
Byron (real name: David Garrick) from Uriah
Heep fame. The (more than excellent) David Byron fansite
claims that the singer could be present on at least 140 low-budget
covers on Avenue Records. They have - so far - identified (and
re-issued) 40 tracks sung by Byron, but they don't include See Emily
Play on this list.
Multiple versions were recorded of many of the Avenue tracks and
sometimes included as many as five different lead vocalists. These
tracks were released on various vinyl records under titles such as Top
Six, Top Six From England, 12 Top Hits, England’s Top 12 Hits,
Chartbusters, Studio 33; and compilations such as Groovin’, The Rock
Star Parade, Super Soul Sounds and multiple other titles. David
participated on multiple releases under these names but its apparent
some of the releases listed false artist names but not the actual
participants. David sang under listings such as Dave’s Soul Group, The
Beat Kings and the rehashed name John Smith and The New Sound. Multiple
other names are known and they overlap by other artists as well but
again this can't be listed with accurate results. (Taken from Travellers
Update 21 07 2012: Ron Mann from David
Byron Net confirmed us that: "David Byron wasn’t part of that [See
Emily Play] session", but he doesn't know who the singer is. He was so
kind to lead us to some people who do know a lot more about these low
budget sessions, so fingers crossed and keep on checking the Church.
(February 2012: it needs to be said that we didn't find new information
about this release, but we still keep on searching.)
Amongst the other lead singers that have participated on the hundreds of
Avenue sound-alike recordings are: Reginald Dwight who was a bit more
successful later in his career as Elton
Steven, Peter Lee Stirling (aka Daniel
Boone) and Danny
John Smith (reprise)
The David Byron website continues
with the following information.
At one point there was a real John Smith and a real New Sound backing
band. In the 60s he signed a solo deal with Parlophone
and released singles under the name of Bobby Dean. Being managed by Bill
Wellings he ended up at EMI's Top Six label doing discount records
These recordings were released in the UK and Germany and had some
success. The Vogue record label released these songs under the original
band name but also as The Four Kings. By late 1967 John Smith himself
had lost interest in the group and moved on.
This left Bill Wellings with a band but no lead-singer but nevertheless
he decided to continue the band, without the consent or knowledge of the
real John Smith. As Wellings was deep in the discount records business
and was interchanging vocalists with Avenue Records at PYE Studios in
London he had several people to choose from.
Several tracks were done by the lead vocalist of The
Excheckers, Phil Blackman, but also David Byron did vocals on some
tracks for the two John Smith and the New Sound albums that followed.
The Golden Ring
But the confusion isn't over yet, because the See
Emily Play cover will appear once again under another name. So far
we are aware of four releases of this cover: 1. Three To One
(1967, Canadian single) 2. Three To One (1968, Canadian album,
same as 1) 3. Okey Pokey Band & Singers (1968, Canadian album,
same backing track, but other vocalist) 4. Ben Cash & The
Cash-Tons (1972, German album, same as 3)
All these versions take about 2 minutes and 50 seconds, but Cicodelico
came across a version on an Arc EP that is about a minute shorter: See
Emily Play. The EP in question (TS 10) has All You Need Is Love, See
Emily Play and With A Little Help From My Friends and is recorded by The
Golden Ring. It is just a shortened version of the Okey Pokey
original and probably this was done to fit on the seven-inch record with
the other songs.
If the original See Emily Play sound-alike has been recorded in
England, with or without vocals, then the (Canadian) Three To One
version is not the first cover of a Pink Floyd song. Unfortunately, we
don't know where, when and by who this took place. Okey Pokey, The
Golden Ring and The Cash-Tons are all fictitious bands that never
existed as such. Three To One, however, did exist as a band and they
were probably glad to add their voices to an already existing bed track,
coming from the UK. It is pretty weird that nobody has located a British
release, but perhaps the Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett were already
considered too weird to fit in the low-budget marketing scheme.
Links & Stuff
We apologise for this post that is probably the most confusing ever at
the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. We have tried contacting a few people
and as such there may still be updates to be published. And if someone
of you happen to know who really recorded the (probably English)
low-budget-version of See Emily Play, let us know!
Updated version, July 2017, some rewriting, weeding of dead links,
updating of pictures. Many thanks to: Anton (Freqazoidiac), Cicodelico,
Greeneyedbetsy, Jancy, KenB / Rockin' Bee, Kiloh Smith, Listener Klip,
Ron Mann... ♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥
The BBC describes its program Songs
of Praise as 'inspiring hymns and songs, together with uplifting
stories of faith from around the UK and beyond' This is what we
immediately thought of when church-member Rich
Hall from Illinois send us a copy of his song The Reverend.
In our humble opinion there is no other day better than Easter to listen
to this gem that perfectly describes the Church, its Reverend and our
prime object of adoration, Iggy Rose.
Here it is in splendid hi-res, hi-fi and 25 frames per second. As it is
a Flash presentation, it might not be visible on your portable phones
and other overpriced Apple stuff like that. A fast internet line is
The Reverend (hi-res Flash version)
And as this is Easter and Songs of Praise we hereby give you the text,
so that you can all join in this magnificent hymn.
Oh, congregation Standing here before me I offer you this simple
You can trust in Iggy She's never led me wrong In Iggy we trust
Don't put your faith In medieval superstitions Believe in
something that matters
Release your inhibitions Sit back; let it envelope you Soon you'll
feel Iggy's love
Out in the snow The wind was starting to blow As the sun went down And
the fire began to glow
Have you ever looked for someone so long You have
to wonder if they even exist
Here in my igloo with Iggy the Eskimo Watching the
snow falling down
Devoted listeners Hanging on my every word I give you Iggy's love
No need to look we further We can stop the inquisitions Iggy's
message is love
Don't be afraid to let yourself go give in to Iggy's love
You'll feel it wrap around you It's all you'll need to keep you warm You're
no longer alone.
Have you ever looked for someone so long You have
to wonder if they even exist
Here in my igloo with Iggy the Eskimo Watching the
snow falling down
Have you ever looked for someone so long You start
to wonder if they even exist
Here in my igloo with Iggy the Eskimo Watching the
snow falling down
For those who haven't got a Flash-enabled webbrowser, let's try it
another way. Here is a, somewhat downgraded, version on Youtube. Even if
this was created using a 2.64 Gigabyte AVI file, it has some stuttering
and, unfortunately, the music came out not entirely synchronised with
the graphics. But don't let that spoil the fun.
Richard Michael John Hall is a self-publishing artist in the
'alternative' or 'indie rock' genre with about ten releases on his name.
It is rumoured that his next release will be a concept album about the
weird world of Barrett anoraks. Website: Richard
Michael John Hall BandCamp channel: RichMFHall SoundCloud
channel: RichMFHall YouTube
The Church wishes to thank: Amy Funstar, MAY, Brett Wilson for their
(un)willing cooperation in the making of the videoclip. Thanks to
Rich Hall and Joe Perry for making music. ♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥
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
Barrett phenomenon and its fans.
We will, however, never spit on the fans. We have embraced the term Sydiot
as our Geusenwort,
meaning that we have reappropriated this derogatory nickname as an
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:
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,
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
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
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
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
Madcap Laughter & Hammerings
Fuggitaboutit, build around a fifties teenage tragedy song, is
based upon the endless laments of certain self-proclaimed Barrett
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.
You don't need to be a Birdie
Hop member to enjoy this album as all songs stand by themselves, but
if you grab this and listen to it why don't you let the birdies
know what you think of it.
Birdie Hop and the Sydiots July 2013 Instruments &
vocals by Rich Hall. Mixed by Rich Hall and Ron Bay. Mastered
by Ron Bay.
Thanks: Anonymous • Freqazoidiac • Solo En Las Nubes • Psych62 • Anni •
Bill • Euryale • Brooke • Jeff • Prydwyn • Chris • Helen • Sean •
JenniFire • Sadia • Herman • JenS • Vince666 • Nipote • Gretta • Viv •
Adenairways • Giuliano • Dolly • John • Babylemonade • Duggie •
Synofsound • Mark • Xpkfloyd • Rich • Brett • Krackers • Peter • Phil •
Zag • Warren • Listener • Bob • MOB • Nina • Dark Globe • Emily •
Retro68special • Natashaa' • Vic • Jenny • Neonknight • Lord Drainlid •
Ebronte • Simon • Ian • Will • Motoriksymphonia • NPF • Greeneyedbetsy •
Anton • Hallucalation • PF Chopper • Lee • Felixstrange • Michael •
PhiPhi • Eva • Cicodelico • Julian (Gian) • Denis • Dallasman •
Emmapeelfan • Paro नियत • Ewgeni • Matt • Kiloh • Elizabeth • Alexander
• Kirsty • Paul • Mohammed (Twink) • Nigel • Rusty • Braindamage •
Pascal • Mark • Stanislav • Anthony • I Spy In Cambridge • Mick • Alain
• Wrestling Heritage • Bloco do Pink Floyd • Moonwall • Rod • Charley •
Amy • Joe • Griselda • Eternal • Dominae • Russell • Beate • KenB •
Dan5482 • Tim • Antonio • Party of Clowns • Anne • Late Night • Lori •
Colleen • Brian • Christopher • Jose • Göran • Jancy • Banjer and Sax •
Ron • Vicky • ...and all those we have forgotten to mention!
Men On The Border are a Swenglish
duo (Göran Nyström & Phil Etheridge) who surprised the world around June
2012 with the release of their album Shine!
(exclamation point included). The album consisted entirely of Syd
Barrett covers that were, for a change, not meticulously cloned, but
recreated following the weird musical rules from their Nordic universe.
The album was (still is) a smasher, although that may not have resulted
in a million selling mega success. Of course that is entirely their
responsibility as they neglected to follow the Reverend's advice to make
a video clip where bikini-clad ladies would have logistic problems with melting
It made me wonder if MOTB would suffer from Second Album Syndrome,
also know as Sophomore
Slump in more academic circles, especially as the band would have no
recourse to the effervescing work of Syd Barrett this time. How will
their own work be received by the Barrett community, now that there is
no more Syd to rely on... Well let's find out, shall we?
The album starts traditionally with the title track. An electric guitar
mimics a starting motor, I remember that trick from Todd
Rundgren's solo on Bad
Out of Hell, yes the Reverend is that old, and the song further
evolves into a pub rock tune that asks to be played very loud. As a
starter it hardly sounds original, but who needs originality when it
comes to having fun? The track digs into the rich history of rock'n
roll, with prominent drums and riffs that nod slightly towards Run
Like Hell. This is the kind of song that makes me think that I
urgently need a beer. A Danish beer, close enough.
Those who feared there would be no Syd at all on the album are
contradicted by track two. Baby Lemonade sounds as if the song
has been put in a washing machine with punk rock fabric softener.
Suddenly the song oozes sex and its pistols all over, and it makes me
wonder how it could have sounded sung in a wild cockney accent by Sid.
Yes, that Sid.
Men On The Border keep it tidy though and even use a harpsichord that
gently clashes with the loud guitars. They're such nice boys.
Pills immediately caught our attention with its keyboard line
that has a certain Floydian feel. I Don't Want To Be Your Man
starts lennonesque with harrisonesque undertones until it
changes after the mid-solo into signature MOTB with a couple of sweet
oohs and aahs before the track turns somewhat bitter. Quite a crispy
Have You Got It Yet, another pub rocker that could be from a Status
Quo record. Nice tune, nothing more, nothing less. A typical album
track, with all the tricks from a fun rock track that could turn into
one's live favourite...
The Public: one of Phil's tracks, bringing a change in tone and
atmosphere and a more introspective tune. Old Friends benefits
from an El
Condor Pasa treatment and is quite an earworm, actually. Garden
has a certain 60s beat feel in its 'no no no' refrain, but is one of the
Destiny Today is a grower until it sticks in your mind like
Velcro. It reminds me of those sweet pastoral hymns by the gentlemen
Waters and Gilmour, that either are perfectly swell (Fat
Old Sun) or complete duds (Smile).
Its mid-piece adventure into prog-territory and backward tapes gives the
track some extra panache. Of course I can't help to immediately
associate the words 'endless' and ‘river’ with High
Hopes, although the endless is linked to laughter here. That is the
toll of 4 decades of Floydian obsession. The song's atmosphere makes me
think of Where
We Start (Gilmour), that I first found terribly boring (like almost
everything from On
An Island) but that grew on me like a wart on a witches nose.
Warm From You starts a bit like a French pop tune and I more or
less suspected Jane
Birkin to join in. A very good song with some slight Bryan
Ferry & Mick
Ronson influences that gains some momentum near the end...
Terrapin, the second Barrett cover. A weird bend in my brain
immediately links this to early Bowie in his Quicksand
period and of course this tune immediately gets stuck in your mind like
mental flypaper. Cool guitar stuff and a vintage Men On The Border
Something For The Waiting: what a weird and nice oddity. At the
start it made me think of a toned down mashup of Mad
World (Tears For Fears) and As
Tears Go By (Rolling Stones), but after that the song wanders into
its own folkish psychedelic territory...
Let's Party (Yeah Yeah) starts like a failed Sparks
single and doesn't seem to go anywhere in the beginning (for over one
and a half minute). Luckily it evolves into a cool rocker when the drums
kick in. In a previous review we mentioned Graham
Parker & The Rumour and the classic setup of Rockpile
(with Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe) as possible influences on Men On The
Border and in this case it results in a fucking good song, probably the
best on the album.
The ambient end of the last track, a reprise of Jumpstart, has a
surprise in the form of a friendly nod to Pink Floyd lovers...
So have Men On The Border avoided the second album syndrome, I hear you
ask. Well actually, it is not a bad attempt, not bad at all. I would
have liked some of the tunes a bit messier, the singing a bit less
polished but that is probably my education, not having grown up in a
string quartet, you see...
Throughout this review I have been throwing song references and bands
around, MOTB surely know their history and use it to their own benefit,
turning the sounds of the sixties, seventies and eighties into something
Don't worry about this, lads, Jumpstart is more than OK, it is quite
excellent as a matter of fact, so you can start fearing the difficult
third album now, and that is gonna be a real drag!
Just as with Shine! the packaging of this album is a feast for
Interstellar Overdrive is the name of a January 2014 Shindig
guide and it's worth every penny you spend on it. In 35 articles on 170
pages, it tries to define and explore the space rock phenomenon. It has
in-dept articles on Acid Mothers Temple, Tim Blake, Neu!, Ozric
Tentacles, Yes and many others without forgetting The Tornados' Telstar
and the obligatory space rock top 30 countdown. A 6-pages article,
called 'The Reluctant Spacerockers', written by Austin Matthews,
investigates the frail relation between Pink Floyd and space rock.
Here it is (we have cropped the picture a bit to only show the band
members and we put some nifty numbers above each person).
Press. We honestly think we can publish this picture under the 'Fair
Use' rules, especially as it will be used for criticism, comment
reporting, news gathering and frankly, for taking the piss out of the
copyright holders. See also: legal
It is a nice picture, no problem about that, but unfortunately the band
isn't Pink Floyd. There are five musicians on the picture but the
five man Floyd barely existed for 8 days in the beginning of 1968.
Hi all. Only to say you that, according with Ian Russell, this picture,
posted in the page
57, shows a band called Dantalian's Chariot, a famous psychedelic
band in the end '60. This photo was also in the Cliff Jones 'Echoes'
book, but has nothing to do with the Floyd at all.
It seemed to be a 5-man Floyd pic, but NOT, we really should know
better, wrong instruments, wrong equipment etc.
That band's something we can't explain
The picture shows five musicians and that particular setup in Pink Floyd
was only known for five live gigs between 12 January 1968 and 20 January
1968. On the Yeeshkul
forum this picture has been further analysed by fans who know these
things much better than we do...
The five men on the picture should be, left to right, numbers one to
1: Roger Waters playing the bass. The picture isn't clear enough
to recognise the bass player, but the bass should've been a Rickenbacker
and the musician on the left is holding a Fender.
2: Nick Mason. First of all: this isn't Nick's drum set. The
silver toms look the same, but the bass drum is smaller and doesn't have
a front skin. Pink Floyd always had a front skin on the drums and
furthermore Nick always had two bass drums instead of one.
3: David Gilmour. It is weird that the third man doesn't play a
guitar. Especially for David Gilmour who normally is glued to his axe
and who was hired in to mimic Syd's solos.
4: Syd Barrett. The man on the picture is playing a black or
sunburst Strat, a guitar Syd didn't have, as far as we know. David
Gilmour only acquired one two years later. A white strat would have been
more appropriate for Syd.
5: Rick Wright. Although the keyboard player is nearly completely
hidden in the dark one can see something that resembles a huge perm.
Richard was never the man to have an afro. It is awfully dark but the
organ doesn't seem to be a Hammond, Rick Wright's favourite instrument.
And there is more. The equipment is not Pink Floyd's. There is a
Marshall stack and a Fender Bassman and these are not Floydian at all,
so tell us the people who know. What the equipment does have in common
with Pink Floyd is a Watkins (aka WEM) PA unit, but that is hardly
Then there is the projection of the nude woman left on the picture, she
also appears on the right side of the stage (on the uncropped version).
We have never seen something similar on the dozens of live pictures of
the Floyd of that era. Often avant-garde movies were shown on the walls
(or the ceiling) while bands where playing in the psychedelic clubs, but
it is again one of those things that don't add up.
And last: this picture is often described as taken at the UFO club but
the 5 man Floyd didn't play there in the 8 days they existed.
As for the assumption that the band is Dantalian's Chariot with Zoot
Money on keyboards and a young Andy Summers on guitar the cons are about
the same. That band consisted of four members, not five, and Zoot Money
didn't have a big hairdo either. But apparently Jeff Dexter confirmed it
is them allright. So this could have been taken during their UFO gig on
the 22nd of September, 1967.
The above picture is copyrighted by Pictorial
Press who have it in their Pink Floyd folder as number 1398.
Unfortunately they can't give us a date but they do mention it was taken
at the UFO club. To further demonstrate their competence they categorise
Pink Floyd under the category 'metal',
a class they share with KC and The Sunshine Band, Dionne Warwick and
Sandie Shaw. These people are professionals, we can tell you that! (We
are aware of the existence of The
Nile Song and Ibiza
But scallywags or not, Pictorial Press has several times managed to sell
this picture. We find it on page 20 of William Ruhlmann's Pink Floyd (1993),
but luckily the author caught the error in time and describes it as 'an
unidentified group at UFO'. This biography is one of those mass printed
'take your money and run' budget releases with scarce text and plenty of
pictures. It is also one of the few biographies that was published in
Dutch and in that edition the picture can be found on page 16.
In 1996 Cliff Jones published the picture on page 25 of his Echoes
biography, not to be confused with the Glenn Povey history book that has
the same title. Subtitled 'the stories behind every Pink Floyd song' the
book attempted to tell the band's history track per track and album per
album, but there it miserably failed. There are plenty of mistakes in
the text and also on the pictures: on page 29 Roger Waters can be seen
but the picture is described as 'a young Dave Gilmour'; page 25 has the
UFO picture this article is all about, captioned 'The Floyd light show,
UFO club'. Apparently David Gilmour was so angry about this book that he
threatened to sue the author:
"The book has a very large number of errors - over 120 - some careless,
some very serious", the star's solicitors, tell me. "We have also
identified four serious libels of David Gilmour. The band take a very
serious view of this and are furious." (Daily Express Dec. 9th 1996,
quoted on Brain
An agreement was reached and the book was shipped to the shops, but with
a sticker on page 107 that replaced 23 lines with new text. We will
never know how the passage reads that infuriated Gilmour so much.
Original copies were send back to the publisher and seem to have
vanished from this planet. For those interested in the many mistakes
there is this webpage
showing them all and for a review we can guide you to Brain
Damage. To add insult to injury this book was also issued under the
title Another Brick In The Wall (for the overseas market?) but it
comes with exactly the same mistakes.
London Live by Tony Bacon could be found for years on the
official Syd Barrett website
where they thought it was all about the person that makes them sell
these t-shirts. However, the book is not a Pink Floyd, nor a Syd Barrett
biography but an 'inside story of live bands in the capital's
trail-blazing music clubs' of London. Page 90 and 91 have the
(artificially coloured) picture where it is called 'a majestic lightshow
at UFO', not mentioning any band.
In October last year, a new biography, Behind the Wall, appeared,
written by Hugh Fielder. Floyd anoraks say that the book doesn't really
reveal new facts, apart from the obligatory updates about the Roger
Waters never ending Wall-world-tour. One thing that makes us hesitate
buying it is that the UFO club picture is in there and that it
apparently is attributed to the band we all love.
Shame on Shindig!
Of course Pictorial Press, in their role as entrepreneurial con men, are
not entirely to blame for selling their crap images. Authors and
graphical editors should not only check and double-check text material
but also the pictures they publish.
The guys from Shindig normally deliver excellent work, but before he
gave his fiat for this issue Jon 'Mojo' Mills must have inhaled a
wee bit too much sweet smoke from his water-pipe.
Shame on you, crazy Shindig!
P.S. Obviously The Anchor has warned Pictorial Press about their mistake
and as soon as we will receive an answer this article will be updated. (Update
2016: they never answered.) P.P.S. Shindig was so kind to give us the
following message: "We were duped! I should have spotted it. Many
(The above article is entirely based upon facts, some situations may have
been enlarged for satirical purposes.)
The Anchor wishes to thank: the Yeeshkul and A Fleeting Glimpse forums
and their members, b_squared, demamo, Rich Hall, hallucalation, Mr.
Pinky, Orgone Accumulator, saygeddylee, supervehicle, sydzappa...
Sources (other than the above internet links): Bacon, Tony: London
Live, Balafon Books, London, 1999, p. 90-91. Jones, Cliff: Another
Brick in the Wall, Broadway Books, New York, 1996, p. 25. In the UK
this book has been published under the title 'Echoes'. Ruhlmann,
William: Pink Floyd, Magna Books, Leicester, 1993, p. 20. Ruhlmann,
William: Pink Floyd, ADC, Eke (Belgium), 1994, p. 16. Dutch
edition of the above. Fielder, Hugh: Behind The Wall, Race
Point Publishing, New York, 2013.
The Anchor is the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit's satirical
division, intended for people with a good heart, but a rather bad
character. More info: The
Anchor. Read our legal stuff: Legal
Interstellar Overdrive is the name of a January 2014 Shindig
guide and it's worth every penny you spend on it. In 35 articles on 170
pages, it tries to define and explore the space rock phenomenon. It has
in-dept articles on Amon Düül II, Gong, Hawkwind, Pink Fairies, Spacemen
3, Sun Ra and many others without forgetting the sci-fi movie
soundtracks of the fifties (Forbidden Planet!) and the BBC Radiophonic
Workshop (Doctor Who!).
In a six pages article 'The Reluctant Spacerockers' the on-off
relationship between Pink Floyd and space rock is examined and
what an enjoyable essay that is.
While journalists, who are nothing but a bunch of lazy buggers anyway,
have labelled the band as space rockers, its members denied this, in
particular Roger Waters who reacted in his usual diplomatic style:
“Space – what the fuck are they talking about?” Probably the bass player
is so demented nowadays that he has forgotten that his lame Amused to
Death album features some alien anthropologists trying to find out
why all these skeletons are sitting before their TV sets.
Then Austin Matthews chimes in and quite intelligible shows where and
how the Pink Floyd used space rock tricks to appease the masses.
There is an error in the article although the author is only partially
to blame. (We are just being gentle here, that spaced out sod could of
course have done a search on the Internet first.) On page 29 David
Gilmour is cited:”To say that we are thrilled at the thought of being
the first rock band to be played in space is something of an
This refers to the Soyuz
TM-7 rocket launch from the 26th of November 1988 five days after
Pink Floyd had released their Delicate
Sound Of Thunder (live) album. The French president François
Mitterrand attended the launch because of cosmonaut Jean-Loup
Chrétien, who was the first western European man in space (this
was his second flight, by the way, his first was in 1982). David Gilmour
and Nick Mason attended because a cassette of their latest album was
sent to the MIR
space station, apparently on demand by one of the cosmonauts. We'll
never know if this is true or just a staged lie but surely there was a
mighty PR machine behind the band who made it clear to the world that
this was the first rock music recording played in outer space.
Which was not true. Simple as that.
In 2003, while researching for an Orb
biography that would never see the light of day, the Reverend stumbled
upon the electronic band spAce
who had a million-selling disco hit in 1977 with Magic
Fly. The band split in the early eighties but electronic composer Didier
Marouani had a particular successful solo career in Russia (and the
East-European communist countries), often using the spAce name and logo,
depending on the lawsuit of the month that ex-members were bringing on
Marouani's solo work is slightly reminiscent of Jean-Michel Jarre, Mike
Oldfield or Tangerine Dream and was (still is) inspired by Russian and
American space programs and sci-fi themes. In 1987 he released a CD
called Space Opera (got the slight promotional nudge towards his
old band?) and that CD was taken by cosmonauts Alexander
Viktorenko, Syrian Muhammed
Faris and Aleksandr
Aleksandrov to the MIR orbital station in July 1987, more than a
year before Pink Floyd made all that brouhaha.
In 2003, long before the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit was
founded, the Reverend interviewed Didier Marouani who had the following
I was composing my album Space Opera and I had the idea to bring
Americans and Russians together on my album which at that time was very
difficult (especially from the USSR). After negotiating with the Soviet
ministry of Culture for 6 months I got the authorization to have the Red
Army Choir together with the Harvard University Glee Club choir, who
were recorded separately.
Following my concept I thought it would be very nice to have this first
Space Opera shipped to MIR and then launched into outer space. They
asked me to wait while they would study my request and in the meantime I
wrote a letter to Mr. Mikhail
Gorbachev who answered very positive.
Two months later the Ministry of Space confirmed an appointment. On
July, the 2nd, 1987 I was received by the Russian cosmonauts and I gave
them a CD, together with a CD-player and 2 small speakers. This was
extensively reported in the Russian press.
The cosmonauts left Baikonur
on the 22nd of July 1987 and in October 1987 the CD, the player and the
2 speakers were launched into outer space. So my music really floats
into space which is for me a very big and happy achievement.
So for sure Pink Floyd did not have the first music in space. During a
concert tour in the USSR, I met cosmonaut Aleksandr Pavlovich
Aleksandrov, twice Hero of the Soviet Union, again who told me that he
worked in space for 7 months, listening to my music. [Note:
actually Aleksandrov stayed 160 days in Space in 1987.]
Lie for a Lie
But of course Mr. Gilmour may not entirely have been lying when he said
Pink Floyd was the first rock band to be played in space. Didier
Marouani's oeuvre is more electronic, new age (and recently: dance)
oriented and the Floyd, as we all know, have never flirted with these
musical styles before. (Yes, this is called irony.)
The last laugh may be for Didier
Marouani though. In 2011 he released an album called From Earth
to Mars and it was officially appointed by Roskosmos
as the album that will go with the first manned Russian flight to that
planet. But we earnestly doubt that listening to it for 6 months in a
row will have a positive effect on its crew.
Hop Facebook group has also a side project where people with a
certain arty je-ne-sais-quoi are trying to get something on the
rails. For the moment it is still vague and too preliminary to predict
what may come out of it, but there are some ideas floating around and
these tend to trigger other ideas, and perhaps one day it will surprise
In contradiction to the Reverend, Rich
Hall - one of Birdie's administrators and the creator of the amazing
tribute album Birdie
Hop and the Sydiots - didn't sit on his lazy ass while Alex was
frolicking with the girls around the British landscape (see part one of
this article: A
sunny afternoon with Iggy). He took Syd's Opel track and
added several guitar layers to the original version to make it sound a
bit more finished. Of course it still has the quirky singing, but Rich's
attempt is something of a definitive version and one that could be put
on any Syd Barrett compilation album to come.
Update 2016 06 17: Soundcloud deleted this version a while ago,
but it can be found on Facebook as well:
In Cambridge Alex had the opportunity to meet some people who already
had an advance copy of the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band
album that will come out any day now. Another reason to join Birdie Hop
is that you read and hear things first, straight from the horse's mouth,
so to speak. And, with Alex's blessing, we publish here what well could
be the very first review of this record in the entire world!
A big thanks to my friend and Punjabi brother Warren
Dosanjh who sent me the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band CD (I
had to look three times on the cover to write that correctly).
Of course, the sound and recording quality is not the best, but not as
bad as I feared. It is much better than the 1967 live recordings we have
of the early Pink Floyd. The main members Jack
Monck and Twink
do a great job in all songs, no doubt. The singer, Bruce Michael Paine,
makes some of the songs sound like a special performance of Uriah
Heep or Steamhammer
(obviously). The track listing is a collection of late fifties or early
sixties blues / rock 'n' roll / boogie tunes and a little bit of early
seventies hard rock as well.
I can only hear two guitars.
I hear the perfection of Fred
Frith in the first four songs and again in track 8 and 9, I´m not so
sure of #8 though. Frith is nearly a perfect guitarist and can almost
play nearly everything, nearly (lol)!
I definitively hear Syd Barrett in tracks 5 to 7. But he is not there
for just a little bit, he is almost dominating the songs. He is strong
and good and I´m sure he had practised a lot before, probably at home.
Syd doesn't has the perfection of Frith but he is full of ideas and he
is able to play parts that others can´t play or that others have not the
craziness to play these parts. But at other times he plays
conventionally and fits in perfectly with the song´s structures.
All in all this is much more than I had expected. I only listened to it
once, but I didn't want to withhold you of my opinion.
A last word. How we look at the quality of the performed songs has got a
lot to do with our viewpoints of today. Today we are spoiled by good
concerts and good audio productions, but I'm sure we would all have been
very happy to be there on the 27th of January 1972 in the Cambridge Corn
Perhaps my expectations were so low that I sound a little bit too
enthusiast now. But I am surprised by Syd´s guitar playing. I never
thought that he was in such a good shape as a guitar player. This lets
me believe that Twink is right and that the Stars concerts were far
better than what was written later by people who weren't there.
In a previous article, The
Last Minute Put Together Reel Story, you could read how the reel
came into place, how a first copy was found back in 1985 and immediately
seized, in about the most moronic way ever, by Pink Floyd Ltd (or EMI),
who put it into one of their secret locker rooms.
The second (and last) copy was found back 20 years later and when it was
put on sale, EMI nor Pink Floyd reacted, which could have been their
ultimate chance to bury this release forever and ever... They were so
full of themselves they thought they could delay this release even with
another copy floating around.
Easy Action purchased it and after an immense struggle, behind the
scenes, to get the copyrights (partially?) settled it was finally
released, in June 2014. Of course this isn't an audiophile release, it
is nothing more than an audience recording (but one of the slightly
better ones) and the band that plays is rough and sloppy at times, but
they seem to enjoy the gig. The Number Nine jam is, for Barrett fanoraks,
as essential as the Rhamadan
download, that – if our information is correct – has disappeared from
the official sydbarrett.com
servers, but can still be downloaded on iTunes.
The Syd Barrett website
is run by One
Fifteen that, like a good dog chained to Pink Floyd Ltd, has to lick
its master's orifices for a living. Is that why you won't find a trace
of LMPTBB on the official Syd Barrett news overview? And now that we are
on to it, stop that irritating jukebox, will you.
But perhaps we, members of the Sydiot league, are just a bit
over-sensitive and too unrealistic to acknowledge that Syd Barrett was
just a very small sardine in a fishbowl of sharks? Isn't the Reverend
getting too geriatric for this kind of goody good bullshit? Anyway, here
is our second article in our Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band series,
because nobody seems to care if we don't.
Update 2016: in January 2016 the official Syd Barrett website
changed hands. It is now maintained by the Barrett family. After a good
start with some out of the ordinary articles about Octopus
Dylan Blues, it has - unfortunately - retreated into internet limbo.
After Barrett's second solo album failed to impress the charts Syd
retreated to Cambridge where it became clear that not all was well (see
also: Hairy Mess).
Trying to find his way back in music, at his own pace, he met Jenny
Spires, who had returned to Cambridge as well and was now married to
bass player Jack Monck whom Syd jammed with at least once. On the
26th of January 1972 Jenny took Syd to an Eddie
‘Guitar’ Burns gig that had Jack Monck and John
'Twink' Alder as backing musicians. Of course Twink was not unknown
to Syd, they once had managed to gatecrash the launch party of King
Crimson's first album, high on a dangerous cocktail of Champagne
Peregrin Took) and mandrax (accidentally misplaced in Iggy Rose's
handbag who would otherwise never carry such a thing with her).
Somehow Jenny and Jack persuaded Syd to bring his guitar and when the
Burns gig ended Syd joined the backing band for an impromptu jam. In Terrapin
3 from February 1973 this gig was reviewed by Mervyn Hughes:
Eddie (Burns) does a solo spot, then announces his “Last Minute Put
Together Boogie Band” which consisted of Twink on Drums and Jack Monck
on Bass. This band was given a set on their own and Syd was roped in to
play too. (…) Although he stood at the back (just jamming as he
obviously didn't know the numbers) play he did.
Our previous article
in the LMPTBB series has a testimony of Jim Gillespie who noted that the
jam with Syd Barrett took place as a supporting act, before the Eddie
'Guitar' Burns gig. He claims the LMPTBB played two short sets, one
before (with Syd) and one after (with Bruce Paine). This is just
another example of how memories can differ between persons, especially
after a four decades interval.
In the extremely well written and definitive Stars (and LMPTBB) article: Twilight
of an Idol, Mark Sturdy quotes another witness, Steve Brink:
There was a real natural musical empathy between the three of them. In
any improvisational band, the musicians have to be interested in what
each other are doing, and Syd was genuinely interested. It was just a
free-form jam for about half an hour – more improvisatory than 12-bar
blues, and I’m sure it changed key on any number of occasions. But
there’s always that moment, that dynamic thing when three musicians make
something that works.
Steve Brink was the man who organised the Six Hour Technicolour Dream
festival the next day and perhaps he was secretly hoping for Barrett to
show up again. We can't be sure of what Syd Barrett thought of it all,
but Jenny Spires, Jack Monck and Twink convinced him to rehearse the
next afternoon. The band tried to have Syd sing at least one of his own
songs, but that plan was abandoned as Syd was still too fragile. Fred
Frith, from Henry
Cow fame, was quite disillusioned and would still be after the gig:
Syd played “Smokestack
Lightning” or variations thereof in every song, and didn’t really
sing at all.
Well let's find out if he spoke the truth, shall we?
Why don't you listen to the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band album
on Spotify while reading this interview? (A Spotify membership is
probably needed, but this is free. There is no need to download and
install the Spotify player, the music will (hopefully) play in your
It is clear that this is not a soundboard, but an on stage recording and
already after 41 seconds there seems to be a microphone falling out.
Actually this is good news because it accentuates Fred Frith's guitar
playing that surely is inventive and most of the time right to the
point. Don't worry, sound quality will get better after a while, or
perhaps it is just our ears getting used to the recording. The first
number undoubtedly is just a warming up for better things to come.
The band introduces itself after the first track. Tape completists like
to have the full recording of a concert, including guitar tunings and
chatter in between numbers, and these seem to be left in. Of course
every commercial release might be edited and snipped here and there, but
if it is done it is pretty well done. However there are some places
where we think some cuts have been made.
L.A. To London Boogie
Singer Bruce Paine announces the second number as one he wrote himself.
Bruce Michael Paine, who sadly passed away in 2009, started as a folk
singer in Greenwich Village (NYC) in the 60's. Like Dylan, his music
became “electrified" by the middle of the decade, and he signed with
Atlantic Records. He joined the Apple
Pie Motherhood Band after their eponymous first album (1968) and
sang on their second and last (Apple Pie, 1969). Both records can be
found on the web and don't really impress, call it contemporary
psychedelic oddities of the average kind.
After Apple Pie (without the crust, as Nick Mason would say) Bruce Paine
stars in the San Francisco production of the musical Hair,
then he moves to London where he meets drummer Twink and bass player
John 'Honk' Lodge, from Junior's
Eyes and later Quiver.
They form a power blues trio, the 'Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band'
(luckily they didn't pick Honk, Twink & Paine for a band's name). After
some demo sessions at Polydor the band is denied a recording contract
and a disillusioned Honk leaves the band. With Jack Monk as replacement
the band mysteriously ends up in Cambridge, but after about ten gigs the
claim for fame is over.
In May 1972 Bruce Paine briefly joins Steamhammer
for their European and UK tour, but then he calls his European adventure
quits and returns to the States to star in another musical, this time Jesus
Later on he will do session and acting work, with (small) roles in
Married with Children and Quantum Leap. According to his self-penned bio
he appeared in numerous films and television series and kept on gigging
with his own band.
L.A. to London Boogie is a straightforward seventies rock song and the
good thing is that about one minute into the tune Paine's micro switches
back on. Remarkable is that Fred Frith keeps throwing arpeggios around
as if they come thirteen in a dozen. All in all the band plays pretty
tight, but the song itself is nothing more than a good average and
leaves no lasting impression.
The third song is called Ice. It is a cover from the first Apple Pie
Motherhood Band album, the one Bruce Paine didn't sing on, and written
by Apple Pie member Ted Demos and session singer Marilyn Lundquist. On
the album Ice is a trippy psychedelic blues that seems to go nowhere in
the end but how does the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band deals with
One thing you can say that it is longer, almost the triple longer than
the original. Frith adds guitar lines that don't always seem to be
coherent in the beginning but that get better later on. At the three
minutes mark Twink and Frith start an experimental cacophony and this
makes us wonder if this is what Spaceward Studios archivist Mark
'FraKcman' Graham described as dreadful, stoned, out-of-key noodlings
Last Minute Put Together Reel Story). It sure is a weird fusion
between blues, hard rock and the avant-garde prog sound of Henry Cow,
the band Frith started in 1968. The prog-rock stoners in the public
must have loved it. Of course this is a cheap reflection afterwards
but in this track Paine really shows he is the right person to star in
those hideous Andrew
Lloyd Webber rock operas, that man has a throat and he knows how
to use it.
A heckler in the audience shouts for some some rock'n roll and we get
the classic Nadine. Also known as "Nadine (Is It You?)" it is a song
written by Chuck
Berry who released it as a single in February 1964. A
straightforward and simple rendition this is, nothing less, nothing
more, these guys know their business.
We haven't said a lot about Twink and Jack Monck yet, but the band
certainly is inspired and well-trained. In the liner notes Twink
reveals that they recorded several demos for Polydor, including L.A.
To London Boogie and one that isn't on this live set, called Smoke.
The band did about 10 gigs in total and as this could well have been
their last gig they were a well oiled machine by now and it shows.
From now on the gig can only get better and better.
Drinkin' That Wine
Time to announce a special guest:
We'd like to bring Syd Barrett up to the bandstand. Will you come on
and (???) how about a hand for Syd Barrett?
We hear some polite applause and a guitar that is plugged in. Bruce
Paine tells the public that the last group he toured with in the
States was Gideon
Daniels' gospel band and that he picked the next song from their
set. There isn't much about him on the net, but one comment on a YouTube
video tells this:
I saw Gideon & Power numerous times, and to this day (…) they were the
best live act I've ever seen -- and that includes Jimi Hendrix. I
remember when Mickey [Thomas] joined. Prior to that, there was Bobby
Castro, Bruce Payne [sic], and Charlie Hickox on piano and vocal.
According to Bruce on the Six Hour Technicolour Dream record the song
is about a funky dude who gets drunk by stealing the mass wine but in
fact this is a traditional communion song that has been described in
several anthologies and studies, like The
Negro And His Songs from 1925 (page 136) and Slave
Songs of the Georgia Sea Islands from 1942 (page 249-251):
The swinging rhythm of the communion song, “Drinkin' of the Wine”,
made it a favorite with the chain-gang for cutting weeds along the
American minstrel Bascom
Lamar Lunsford learned the song around 1900 in Wilkes County,
North Carolina and you can hear him singing it at the beginning of
The history of the Drinkin' That Wine traditional is fascinating (the
Reverend lost nearly three hours reading about it) but it would bring
us too far. What matters for us, Syd fans, is that Syd Barrett plays
on it and that it is a mighty earworm and the catchiest song on the
album. Once you've got in into your head it is difficult to get it out
The track turns into a power blues that pushes Syd's guitar to the
background at points, but his playing can be well distinguished if you
take attention. His playing is in a different style from Frith's,
muddier, sloppier perhaps... He does not spit out the notes at 120
beats per minute but this is about having a good time and not about a
finger speed race.
This is good, this is really good.
As if a gospel wasn't weird enough, in a Floydian context, the gig
turns even weirder. Number Nine is a bluesy jam that starts pretty
traditional and then develops further into space. This could well be
the highlight of the album for vintage Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett
freaks. It catapults this reviewer back to the Abdab days when the
proto-Floyd struggled with psychedelic versions of Louie Louie and
other R&B standards. This may well sound like early Pink Floyd may
have sounded in their experimental days. In the Barrett biographies to
come this track will be described as being as essential as the
Whitehead Interstellar Overdrive and the recently (and reluctantly)
released Rhamadan. We took the liberty of grabbing some comments on Yeeshkul:
Demamo: “The guitar playing and sound is very "Lanky" and "Gigo Aunt"
Orgone Accumulator: “For all his psychedelic leanings, Syd tapped into
that earlier Bo Diddley and Buddy Holly groove, with an emphasis on
Beechwoods: “I must admit that musically I like it and there is an
interesting progression between Interstellar and his '74 guitar pieces
('Chugga Chugga Chug Chug' etc) that is worth hearing.”
Like Rhamadan this isn't easy listening, but just like Rhamadan it
isn't the disaster everyone feared for either. Listen to it,
concentrate, feel the groove. It will grow on you.
Just before the eight minutes mark a micro falls out again for a
couple of seconds, resulting in - weird enough – a better sound
quality because the sound isn't distorted any more.
Gotta Be A Reason
At ten minutes the track segues into Gotta Be A Reason, probably the
second LMPTBB original on this record. This track is only mentioned as
a separate number for copyright (read: financial) reasons because
after the strophe and refrain it further develops into Number Nine
territory. As a matter of fact, early track listings just mentioned it
as Number Nine (Gotta Be A Reason) and not as two separate numbers.
The jam ends somewhat sloppy with Twink, who has been in excellent
shape throughout the record, in an obvious death struggle on drums.
Perhaps it is just a clumsy way to have Syd unplug his guitar and
leave the stage.
What a weird trip it has been.
The eighth track is named Let's Roll on the CD, and this can be open
to some controversy.
Actually this fun piece is a close cover of Elvin
Bishop's Party Till the Cows Come Home that is equally
irresistible (watch this 2013
version and try not to tap your feet), co-written with S. Colby
Miller and recorded on the Elvin Bishop Group's second album Feel
While the lyrics of the verses are different in both versions:
Everybody out for a have a good time I say wiggle baby and I'll be
mine You gotta shake your legs and wiggle with your hip
Kick out the windows bust down the doors We`re drinkin` half
gallons and shoutin` for more Take off your shoes and let yourself
The refrain, melody and chord progression are almost identical:
We're gonna boogie till the rooster crows We're gonna party till
the cows come home Let's roll. Let's roll. (Let it roll in
the Elvin Bishop original).
Bruce Paine toured with Gideon Daniel's gospel band in the USA, before
he went to the UK, and that musician worked, on different occasions,
with Elvin Bishop, so perhaps a link can be found there. Perhaps both
tracks are based on a communal forefather or traditional, who knows?
When the Reverend remarked on Birdie
Hop that he found it weird that none of the Boogie Band song
credits mentions copyright owners, nor lyricists and composers,
although the two owners had nine years to sort this out, the answer -
from a music insider - was laconic as ever:
It is gray area and not as uncommon as you think, especially in the
world of music. (…) The usual reason is that it's a sorted affair,
meaning multi copywriters on the same tune. The composers also have to
agree with how it is going to be submitted to ASCAP or BMI. So rather
than hold it up, the material gets released.
In other words, by not sorting out the copyrights beforehand, the hot
potato is pushed forward until the record has been released. If the
copyright holders eventually find out they can ask for a slice of the
pie (or in this case: potato) and if they don't: tough luck. And just
yesterday morning the Church was informed that the reason why this
release still isn't widely available in the shops is there still is 'a
small issue with agreements...'
Let's Roll aka Party Till the Cows Come Home gets a great round of
applause, but alas it is time to say goodbye with a last tune,
originally from B.B King.
Sweet Little Angel
Shivers down the spine, although the song is given a somewhat shady
treatment, but that adds to its integrity.
Not only a great band was lost with the Last Minute Out Together
Boogie Band, but lead singer Bruce Paine surely deserved a better
musical career than he actually had. If you don't want to buy this
record for Barrett's involvement, do it to remember Bruce Paine. We
certainly hope he is drinkin' that wine with Syd, up there in nirvana.
Guitars (3 different ones)
The Reverend is so tone-deaf that if you play him a trumpet and tell
him it is a guitar, he will believe you. So all we hear, thanks to
god's unequal distribution of the aural senses, is a mud-pool of
guitar noise. Luckily some people can distinct instruments, like Syd
Wonder does on Late
There are three guitarists on this set... Two of them play on tracks
without Syd. Barrett's announced when he joins the group in mid-show,
while Frith isn't. I think Frith plays the entire show, with Bruce
Paine on guitar as well.
This could be correct as Bruce Paine joined LMPTBB the day before, on
the Eddie Burns gig, with his guitar to have a jam.
About the tracks with Syd he adds:
"Drinkin' That Wine" - vocals were recorded very loud; I hear three
guitars. Instrumental sections are from 1:50-3:03 (Syd heavily
distorted, playing rhythm, searching, finding a groove - when he
starts to solo, Paine starts to sing again), and 3:41-4:49 (Syd plays
some solid leads).
"Number Nine" - highlight of the set, it begins with a repeated riff
from Barrett. The band doesn't react, so he stops and they all start
again. Some worthy improvisations emerge, as it continues. Frith's
guitar work is more trebly and rather busy, Barrett's comparatively
relaxed and textural. At times I hear three guitars. I really like
what Syd plays in the last couple of minutes.
"Gotta Be A Reason" - it segues out of Number Nine, in a continuous
performance. Syd solos for about 30 seconds near the beginning. Paine
sings a bit, ceases at 2:05. Three guitars again... Frith becomes very
busy... Barrett responds with strong counter-melodies, seems to vanish
sometime after the 5-minute mark.
Sound quality: slightly above bootleg quality, with tape damage
here and there and mikes that fall out (and are plugged in again).
Towards the middle of the gig the sound gets rather distorted due to
the higher volume levels and there is a lot of resonance. At Yeeshkul,
where sound fanatics reside, questions have already been raised that
the cleaning and denoising was clumsily done, but this can't be
verified without a raw tape leaking out.
Performance: sloppy and muddy at times, but great fun that
still can be felt 4 decades later. The band is a typical seventies
power blues construction, think : Led Zep, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple.
Syd is not in super form, but he isn't that bad either.
Packaging: it looks great, with a 12 page booklet and an
exclusive Twink interview, but lacking song copyright information.
Accuracy: grumpy as we are, we need to get the following of our
chest. The back cover correctly places three asterisks next to the
three tracks that feature Syd Barrett. However, both Fred Frith (who
is on all tracks) and Syd Barrett (who is only on three) get an
asterisk next to their name. Blimey, Easy Action record cover people,
you have had 5 fucking years to get that cover right. As mentioned
above, there are 3 guitar players present, something that is
overlooked as well on the sleeve.
Trivia: the poster, used for the front cover, was meticulously
scanned in by Warren
Dosanjh of I
Spy in Cambridge fame and a honorary member of the Birdie Hop
Facebook group. Eternal thanks to Mohammed Abdullah John Alder, not
only for a magnificent performance but also for rolling, pushing and
squeezing the ball.
Many thanks to: Mohammed Abdullah John 'Twink' Alder, Rick Barnes,
Beechwoods, Birdie Hop, Mick Brown, Cyberspace, Demamo, Chris Farmer,
Late Night, Orgone Accumulator, Syd Wonder, Yeeshkul. ♥ Iggy ♥
Sources (other than the above internet links): Blake, Mark: Pigs
Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2013, p. 171-173. Chapman,
Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p.
283-285. Palacios, Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe,
Plexus, London, 2010, p. 392-400. Six Hour Technicolour Dream
poster scanned in by Mick Brown.
Finally the fourth copy of Spanishgrass has been found. It is
somewhere in that immense country that is Russia, in the hands of the
slightly dadaist artist Stanislav, whom we happen to have met
this summer in Brussels, the territory of Manneken
If this was an episode of Crime
Scene Investigation, where the actors have the uncanny habit of
talking way too fast, we would say that the net closes around the Syd
Barrett Facebook group Birdie
Hop as all people who have received a copy are linked, one way or
another, to that gang. On the other hand, as Birdie Hop undoubtedly is
the best Syd Barrett group around on Facebook this is not really
earth-shattering news either.
The great grey edifice of the Osera monastery stretches out almost alone
within a trough of the Galician hills. A small shop and a bar at the
very entrance of the monastery grounds make up the whole village of
Osera. The carved exterior which dates from the sixteenth century hides
the twelfth-century interior – an imposing stairway, perhaps twenty
metres wide, up which a platoon could march shoulder to shoulder, leads
to long passages lined with guest rooms above the central courtyard and
the cloisters. Almost the only sound during the day is the ring of
hammers where half a dozen workmen are struggling to repair the ravages
of seven centuries. (Graham Greene, Monsignor Quixote)
Let's cut the crap, once and for all. Of course the 2014 Spanishgrass
(Twenty Songs About Space And Siesta) 'immersion' set, that has only
been issued in four copies, isn't Syd Barrett's lost Oseira
record. Syd has never visited that monastery. The Spanish blog Sole
En Las Nubes has dedicated some valuable webspace to investigate the
Spanishgrass hoax and managed to trace it back to a Spanish journalist
and photographer who decided to have some fun in a satirical underground
magazine of the mid-eighties. (Thanks to Antonio Jesús for allowing us
to publish his articles in English: Spanishgrass.)
If you call yourself a decent Barrett-fan you should know that by now,
so don't feel insulted.
But this doesn't mean that there isn't a 'Spanishgrass' record by a
'Spanishgrass' band. The numbered and limited deluxe sets have been sent
to four extremely lucky people on 3 different continents. There also
seems to be a regular CD release, but it is pretty limited as well, and
probably you will have to ask for one if you want to receive it, but of
course you need to puzzle out who is behind the record first. Luckily
the set has been released
this week on Bandcamp where you can listen to it, track per track, or download
the album in its entirety on a 'name your own price' basis (0.00$ is an
option as well).
Why don't you listen to the Spanishgrass album on Bandcamp while
reading this review?
Spanishgrass (Twenty Songs About Space And Siesta)
Spanishgrass 2014 is a re-imagination of a record that never was in the
first place. Its maker had to explore the unexplored, like those
medieval cartographers who wrote hic sunt dracones (here are
dragons) on uncharted regions of their maps and who drew mythological
creatures, dragons and sea serpents on the empty spaces.
The record, 57 minutes in total, has 23 tracks (3 more than on the
'original' Spanisgrass), divided into 4 blocks and closely following the
track-listing and the lyrics that have been published by the Solo
En Las Nubes and Holy Church blogs (Spanishgrass,
the hoax revealed). Supplemental lyrics have been taken from The
White Goddess (Robert Graves, 1948) and Imaginary Lives (Marcel
Like in Eduardo
Galeano's Book of Embraces where every anecdote stands on its
own but interactively forms a complete chapter, each track has its own
merits but unites with the others. The record has been made to listen to
in its entirety, or at least part by part, 4 in total, each separated by
a 'division' Bells track (#1, 2 and 3). An interesting experiment would
be to play the record on shuffle and see what new auditive interactions
The music consists of evocative instrumentals and up-tempo tunes, with a
spacey, early Floydian, guitar sorrowing in the background, psychedelic
keyboards, fragile percussion and spoken word, whispered mostly in
English and sometimes Galician (Na Outra Banda). Soundscapes and musique
concrète are omnipresent: babbling brooks, chirping birds,
whistling teapots (Breakwater and Tea), a lawnmower (Waste Deep) and
some excited monks.
Do not expect an easy parcours, the music can be annoying,
harrowing, exhausting, cathartic, transcendental, repetitive. It is
impossible to fit the tracks into a single category other than that
melting pot that is avant-garde
There are traces of early and vintage Floyd (from Ummagumma to Obscured
By Clouds), haunting rhythms that stay remnant in your mind like those
Seer), seventies porn flick lounge tunes, Tarantinesque
Nyman's repetitiveness and even (cough, cough)... Spanish bluegrass
rockabilly (Grey Trees).
Either you find this record utterly irritating or utterly brilliant and
the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit seems to fall in the second category.
A masterpiece for non easy listeners, but we have never been easy,
Part One: Manantial (Spring) / Reverential Mourners / Black Maid /
Plastic Gunpowder / Bells 1 (approx. 14 minutes)
Part Two: Mouse after a fête / Breakwater and tea / Grey trees / Two
bangers + mash / Whining at the moon / Bells 2 (approx. 15 minutes)
Part Three: Greenland / Eu son Dhaga (I am Dhaga) / Na outra banda (On
the other hand) / Un poeta esquece os días de chuvia (A poet forgets the
rainy days) / Saturnalia / Bells 3 (approx. 16 minutes)
Part Four: William Phips / Stede Bonnet / Gabriel Spenser / Gospel at
Noon / Waste Deep / Frog (approx. 13 minutes).
(This is part three of the the Spanishgrass,
the myth continues... series. Hi-def scans and pictures will be
revealed, on an irregular basis, at our Spanishgrass
Many thanks to Mr. Anonymous for sending us this package. Spanishgrass
can be downloaded at Bandcamp. ♥
Iggy ♥ Libby ♥ Babylemonade Aleph ♥
One of the Reverend's great advantages of his Pink
Floyd adoration, somewhere in the mid-seventies, was the start of a music
Miles' excellent Visual Documentary (first edition: 1980) had
a separate discography with Floydian collaborations and once the
Reverend had a job, in the early eighties, he also had the dough to buy
Floyd - and later: Hipgnosis
- related records at the local second-hand record shops thus creating a
musical spiderweb with Pink Floyd at its centre.
After the Reverend had joined an illegal local university radio station
his weekly excursions to the record shop resulted in an even bigger
appetite for vinyl. At Saturday afternoon he would arrive home with the
catch of the day, open his Who's Who in Rock Music, look for the
records he had just bought and underline all personnel (band members and
session players) he found in the alphabetical listing. The book came in
very handy for making the playlist for a weekly rock, blues, jazz and
folk show he co-produced, trying to find connections from one record to
the other. The world-wide web, dear children, didn't exist yet in those
days and links weren't just one click away as they are now.
This last remark is one Norman
Hurricane Smith could have made (actually, does make) in his
autobiography John Lennon Called Me Normal. The book was first
issued as a limited edition at a 2007 Beatles Fan Fest but, as we found
out this year to our amazement, it can also be found at Lulu
where it is sold for a healthy 25$ a piece. If you don't know for sure
who Norman Smith is you can read this excellent obituary, written by Syd
Barrett biographer Gian Palacios, hosted at the Church: John
Lennon called him 'Normal'....
Invasion Force Venice
Smith was a pilot during world war II but he never saw any real war
action, making the chance of being killed nearly zero. He was part of a
secret missions squadron, so secret that military bureaucracy didn't
give them any. When the European side of the war was over, and most
soldiers were sent home, Smith and his colleagues were stationed in Venice
of all places to await further secret invasion plans, but apparently
they were forgotten after Japan's surrender as there were no more enemy
countries to secretly invade.
While England was on ration books, Norman sunbathed on Venice beach,
dining on espresso, grappa, Parma ham and stuffed mushrooms, longing for
the woman he had married in May 1945. In the evening he would go to the
Excelsior hotel for a Cinzano soda where he sat in with the twelve-piece
jazz band. It took British headquarters two full years to locate (and
dismiss) the secret squadron, probably by following the trail of
limoncello and sambucca bills, and back home - in 1947! - Smith decided
for a weird career change and became a refrigerator repair man.
The Beat is on
But his heart had always been with music and Norman's second lucky
strike came when he managed to bluff himself in at EMI where he became
an apprentice sound engineer in 1959. No two without three and Smith's
third chance of a lifetime came when some Liverpudlian lads auditioned
for a record deal, supervised by his boss George
And here is where Smith's autobiography, that was in fact ghost-written
by Neil Jefferies who is called 'Research' throughout the book, becomes
foggy. The audition, so remembers Smith, did not take place as George
Martin professes, repeated in every Beatles biography since. Norman
hints that something smelly was going on from the beginning and that
shady deals were taking place in the dark corners of the studio,
something to do with song-rights. Each individual Beatle earned only one
thousand of a pound per single while others had their greasy hands in
the till. He repeats this several times in the book, but he never
actually directs his accusations at someone, although George Martin,
coincidentally, always seems to blend in the background.
You can read between the lines that Norman Smith and George Martin
weren't best pals, especially since the one didn't find it necessary to
mention the other in his memoirs despite the fact that Smith had
engineered and produced about a hundred Beatles songs. When George, who
has acquired something of an infallible status, got hold of the news
that Norman was writing his side of the story, Smith was summoned to an
informal meeting in the EMI gardens that is a bit described like Galileo
Galilei having to explain heliocentrism
Paul V and the Roman
Pink: the Colour of Money
But this blog is not about the true story of The
Beatles but about (early) Pink Floyd. George Martin may have done a Don
Corleone on Norman Smith, but when it comes to his own financial
matters the Hurricane is overtly discreet as well. So you will find only
one flimsy reference in the 501 pages book that Smith once had a solid
financial share in Pink Floyd (12,5% as was leaked out by Neil Jefferies
in a Record Collector article). About his financial share in the Beatles
catalogue (and all the other bands he recorded and produced): not a word.
It was destroyed by the production. It is a fucking good song.
his reaction is likewise:
There might be no L's in Waters, but there are two in 'Bollocks'.
Smith is too much of a realist and doesn't adhere the romantic or
conspiracy viewpoints many fans have of the downfall of Barrett:
Syd wasn't anybody else's fault. Syd was Syd's bloody fault.
At one point Norman Smith, Parlophone head suit after George Martin had
left EMI with doors smashing, got a phone call from Bryan Morrison
bragging about a new fantastic band he wanted to promote. They met at
I found myself having a pint with him in the filthiest,
foulest-smelling, shittiest dive that I'd ever been to in my life so
far. (…) I thought: Maybe I should just go home?
deep in the bowels of the Tottenham Court Road, in the overpowering pong
of Patchouli oil, dope, and incense and sour ale that would have a tramp
gagging but maybe not your average music-biz exec, I suddenly found
myself listening to some great sounds and also being propositioned by
some starry-eyed chicks.
Of course Norman also met the Pink Floyd managers:
Andrew King and his friend Peter Jenner were not hippies and certainly
not mohair-suited wide-boys out on the make. (…) They were about as
middle-class as you could get. They both attended Westminster School (…)
and both their fathers were clergymen! - Yes! (…) Two vicar's sons
managed Pink Floyd!!!
Unfortunately that's about all there is to find in the 500 pages book
and while every fan was eager to read some revealing stories about
Smith's involvement with The Beatles and Pink Floyd the biography never
goes further than occasional cocktail party small talk. Some anecdotes
are literally repeated five time throughout the book and it would have
benefited to be two-thirds shorter. To add insult to injury most
anecdotes seem to be about... Elvis
Presley, a man Norman Smith never met, nor recorded, but thoroughly
Fish Report with a Beat
The DVD Pink Floyd: Meddle - A Classic Album Under Review is one
of those rather redundant, take the money and run, documentaries where
people – who have nothing to do with Pink Floyd whatsoever – claim to
make an in-depth analysis of the band or one of its albums, but it has
an interesting ten minutes Syd Barrett featurette with Peter
Banks (Syn, Yes) and Norman Smith. (Direct link: Syd
Barrett - The Early Days Of Pink Floyd.)
In the interview Norman Smith tells Syd didn't come over as the 'musical
director' of the Floyd:
He spoke through his songs.
The featurette tells more about how Jugband
Blues came into place (and we will not try to find out what this has
got to do with Meddle).
It was actually Norman Smith's idea to add 'some kind of a brass band'
at the end of the song and Barrett suggested to ask the Salvation
Army for that.
Through his many contacts Norman managed to hire several International
Staff Band musicians, 12 to 14, he recalls, but it was probably
closer to 8. Random Precision author David Parker assumes these
musicians were 'moonlighting' as the International Staff Band itself has
no trace of this session in its archives, besides that the complete
troupe had over 30 members.
Syd Barrett showed up in the studio an hour too late, that 19th of
October 1967, and Norman asked him what he had in mind. As legend goes
Barrett didn't have any ideas and suggested that they could play
anything they liked. Then he left the studio. Smith adds somewhat wryly:
He not only left the studio, he left the building.
We can imagine this was not the kind of behaviour Norman Smith liked,
for several reasons.
First he was perhaps too much of a musician and so he did fully
understand that classical trained performers need a score in front of
their noses before they blow their horns. Pink Floyd would have about
the same problem, a couple of years later, with Atom
Heart Mother, when the orchestra refused to play the score the way Ron
Geesin had written it. The composer had to be removed from the
studio seconds before he wanted to punch one of the musicians in the
Second, Norman Smith also had a financial responsibility towards EMI,
and the bookkeepers wouldn't have liked the idea to pay an eight man
brass band to sit on their chairs for tea and biscuits.
So he played the tape in front of the session players and when they
couldn't come up with an improvisation, these guys were not rock
musicians who can fabricate a lick in seconds, Norman wrote a score he
was rather embarrassed with, but it ended up on the record anyway.
You have those hardcore Sydiots, with the emphasis on the last part, who
find the idea to have a brass band play anything they like one of those
genial flashes half-god Barrett had. Hagiographer Rob
Chapman is one of them:
Once again Syd’s wilfully anarchic approach was in direct conflict with
the regimented working methods of an unsympathetic producer.
Actually Smith's testimonial shows it was exactly the contrary. Syd was
the one who acted unprofessional by first arriving too late and then by
leaving the studio when he was asked to direct the session. Smith was
obliged, back against the wall, to deal with the problem, which he did
splendidly in the short time that was left to him. One thing is for
sure, Normal really earned his 12,5% on this one...
It is generally believed that Jugband Blues is one of the songs Barrett
wrote in the second half of 1967, together with Vegetable
Man and Scream
Thy Last Scream. This trilogy is regarded by some as being highly
introspective songs where Syd, in an exceptional state of clarity,
describes his own vulnerable and frail psyche.
However, in a recent autobiography from Chris
Joe Beard, Taking The Purple, a remarkable (and until now
untold) story has been put forward.
Chris Joe Beard is lyricist / songwriter from the band The Purple Gang
who had an underground novelty hit in 1967. They started as a
band and changed their name from The Young Contemporaries to The
Purple Gang, forced by their manager, a roaring 1920’s aficionado, who
thought a clean-cut Chicago gangster style would be cool. Looking for a
scene to make some promo pictures they stumbled upon a shop in Kings
Road, where they accidentally met Paul
The shop's name Granny
Takes A Trip inspired Joe Beard to write an innocent and funny song
about a rich old lady wanting to meet movie-star Rudy
Vallée in Hollywood, adding it to a catchy melody that had been
composed by piano player Geoff Bowyer. The song was a cross-over between
traditional jug and pop and as such producer Joe
Boyd preferred it to their more traditional repertoire à la Bootleg
Whiskey (that has John
'Hoppy' Hopkins on piano, by the way).
Incidentally The Purple Gang wasn't the only band Joe Boyd was producing
that week in January 1967. On Sunday, the 29th, a band called Pink
Floyd, then still without a contract, had recorded Arnold
Layne at Sound Techniques studios. Syd Barrett had listened to
Granny Takes A Trip and had humorously remarked it would become #2 after
the Floyd's soon to be number one. But Joe Boyd had other important news
There’s a tape of some of his [Syd Barrett, note from FA]
songs and we think a good, quick follow-up to Granny is on there. Syd
thinks Boon Tune is the one for you. There are several. There’s
one called Jugband Blues but he’s still working on that.
Joseph from Transatlantic Records objected, saying that they
didn't want to pay out any royalties to someone from outside the band.
Boon Tune was shelved, although it would surface as Here
I Go on a Barrett solo album. Joe Beard took the reel-to-reel demo
home where it was promptly forgotten and it has never been found back
While the UFO
crowd accepted The Purple Gang in their midst, the BBC did
otherwise, and for exactly the same reasons.
Granny's Satanic Trip
The title of The Purple Gang's first single Granny Takes A Trip was
tongue in cheek and ambiguous enough to please the psychedelic crowd. By
then the band did not like the gangster outfits they had to wear from
their manager and opted for a more alternative look. Singer Pete Walker,
nicknamed Lucifer, was a member of a coven, an actual warlock, and used
to wear a red robe with a big upside down cross while gigging. During
the Wizard song he would do the odd pagan routine on stage, much
appreciated by the psychedelic crowd (see also: Arthur
Brown). However, for the BBC, the word 'trip' in the lyrics
and the satanic outing of the singer was enough reason to ban the song.
The BBC boycott dwindled the chances for The Purple Gang to get into the
charts, to get their (only) record sold, to find gigs and they
eventually disbanded. If this proves one thing, dear sistren and brethren,
it is that selling your soul to the devil will not automatically
guarantee you chart successes.
The first half of the biography, from the start to the psychedelic years
of the band, is interesting, funny, packed with anecdotes and deserves a
5 star rating. The fact that the BBC banned Joe Beard's only chance to
have a million-seller has left its marks though and unfortunately the
author feels the need to repeat that every few pages. The later years,
with Chris Beard as a solo-artist and struggling to get The Purple Gang
back on the road are a bit tedious. But the Kindle
edition is only 5$, cheaper than the latest Pink Floyd interview in Q,
Mojo or Uncut, so it is money well spent. For the first half, the book
is a real treat to read.
Two Of A Kind
Eventually, in 2006, Joe Beard and a reincarnated Purple Gang covered Boon
Tune in a jug band way.
At a book signing / reading in 2007, Joe Boyd talked about the lost demo
tape Syd Barrett gave him in early 1967... He said Syd described the
tape's contents as 'songs the band didn't want to do' (Source: timeline
of songs). According to Julian Palacios that tape had 6 tracks and
Boyd and Jenner even discussed the possibility of Syd Barrett doing a
solo record, next to the Pink Floyd's first, with skiffle or music-hall
style songs. (By the way, did you know we have a Peter Jenner interview
on this blog? An
innerview with Peter Jenner)
It is not sure if there have been one or two Barrett demo tapes floating
around as both men claim they took a tape home and lost it. Joe Boyd
received his from Syd Barrett and remembers it had six whimsical tunes.
Joe Beard, who got his from Boyd, only remembers two songs: Boon Tune
and Jugband Blues.
Jugband Blues turned up, heavily re-arranged, on [A] Saucerful of
Secrets – still with the kazoos.
Jugband Blues was recorded by Pink Floyd in October 1967 and as also
Vegetable Man was made during the same session it has always been
assumed these songs are somewhat related. In Nick Kent's 1974 article The
Cracked Ballad of Syd Barrett Peter Jenner is quoted:
Y'see, even at that point, Syd actually knew what was happening to him.
(...) I mean 'Jug Band Blues' is the ultimate self-diagnosis on a state
of schizophrenia. (Source: The
Cracked Ballad of Syd Barrett)
But if the song had already been written earlier than January that year,
this comment doesn't make much sense, does it? What if Jugband Blues is
just one of those songs where Barrett copies and juxtaposes 'sampled'
messages from other sources, like he did in Octopus
(See also: Mad Cat
Still got the Blues for You
Martin began her career in 1915 as a vaudeville singer and in the
twenties she became one of the popular female blues singers, next to Bessie
Smith and Ma
Rainey. In September 1924 she recorded some tracks with jug player Earl
McDonald and fiddler Clifford Hayes and one of those was
At first sight that song has nothing in common with Barrett's version.
Sara Martin's song is a variation on the popular blues theme of the
person who wakes up in the morning and sees that her daddy
(lover) is gone. In the first decade of the twentieth century a 'daddy'
in African American slang was still a pimp, but later on the term was
generalised to a male lover.
Did you ever wake up, find your daddy gone? Turn over on your side,
sing this lonesome song I woke up this morning between midnight and
day You oughta see me grab the pillow where my daddy used to lay (Source:
Band Blues Sept. 16, 1924.)
One riddle is how Barrett came up with the title 'Jugband Blues'. The
chance is small he could find it (mentioned) on a compilation album like
he did with Pink
Anderson and Floyd
Council. (The origins of the Pink Floyd name is extensively
discussed at Step
It Up And Go.) Sara Martin's Jug Band Blues was only issued as a
B-side on two different 78-RPM records from 1924, perhaps in two
different versions: Don't You Quit Me Daddy (Okeh 8166) and Blue
Devil Blues (Okeh 8188, not to be confounded with the Walter
Page track from a few years later). Her 'complete recorded works'
do not include the 'Jug Band' track and probably there weren't any
compilations around in the sixties including that track.
Jug Band Blues can (now) be found on a 1994 Clifford Hayes compilation.
He had several bands in the twenties, with Earl McDonald on jug, and
issued several songs under different names for copyright reasons. Earl
McDonalds also had several bands in the twenties, with Clifford Hayes on
fiddle, which doesn't make it simpler to find any accurate information.
The jug band / skiffle revival resulted in at least three compilations,
between 1962 and 1967, but none of these have Sara Martin's Jug Band
Blues. We checked.
had been very popular in the UK and was not unknown by the Pink Floyd
members. Rick Wright had a brief flirtation with skiffle, before
converting himself to to trad jazz and Syd Barrett's brother Alan played
sax in a skiffle group in Cambridge.
Cambridge had its own deal of skiffle bands, or groups that had started
as skiffle units but moved to R&B or rock'n roll later on. The
Scramblers, who turned into The Phantoms, The (Swinging) Hi-Fi's, The
Black Diamonds, who evolved into The Redcaps, with Tony Sainty on
bass (see: RIP
Clive Welham: a biscuit tin with knives). Tony Sainty was also in
The Chequers, as was Ricky Wills who would later appear on David
Gilmour's first solo album. Willie Wilson, who played with Quiver
and on the first Gilmour album as well, had been a (replacement) drummer
for The Zodiacs, whose roots had also been in skiffle. You can read all
about them in the excellent, awarded (and free) I
Spy In Cambridge book The
music scene of 1960s Cambridge.
Blue Devil Blues by Sara Martin and her Jug Band (with its flip side:
Jug Band Blues) has been nominated to be the very first recorded jug
band number in human history and that fact may well have been known in
Cambridge jug band and skiffle circles. Syd Barrett may have been well
aware of this as well.
A Dream within a Dream
Deconstructing Syd's Jugband Blues.
It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here and I'm most
obliged to you for making it clear that I'm not here
Rob Chapman is right when he describes the opening lines from Jugband
Blues as 'cultivated sarcasm' and refuses to see this as a declaration
of schizophrenia like Peter Jenner does or did. David Gilmour, and
others with him, see Jugband Blues as a transitional song, between his
earlier work with Pink Floyd and his later solo songs, that are more
mature and experimental in their lyrics.
Actually this opening is just an (awkward) introduction like in so many
skiffle songs, including Here I Go.
This is a story about a girl that I knew She didn't like my songs and
that made me feel blue.
Of course Here I Go is pretty conservative and lends its intro from
trademark skiffle à la Lonnie
Well, this here's the story about the Battle of New Orleans. (Battle
of New Orleans) Now here's a little story. To tell it is a must. (My
Old Man's A Dustman) Now, this here's the story about the Rock Island
line. (Rock Island Line)
Syd Barrett transforms the traditional skiffle opening line into a dark
and mysterious setting.
After the introduction the anecdote is usually explained or elaborated
on, although the enigma in Jugband Blues only gets bigger.
and I never knew the moon could be so big and I never knew the moon
could be so blue
A big moon, or super-moon
(a popular term dating from 1979), happens when the full moon and the
earth are at its closest distance, sometimes resulting in a so-called perigean
spring tide. We had one at the 9th of September 2014 and they happen
about every 412 days. So it is an event that only happens once in a
An astronomical blue
moon, or the second full moon in the same month, happens about once
every two or three years. Blue
Moon is also a standard, from 1934, that has been performed by
countless bands and singers, and that has a romantic connotation.
Blue moon You saw me standing alone Without a dream in my heart Without
a love of my own
The title of that song (and Syd's lyric) is taken from the saying 'once
in a blue moon', meaning a rather rare occasion and Wikipedia
learns us that the term 'blues' may have come from 'blue devils',
meaning melancholy and sadness.
and I'm grateful that you threw away my old shoes and brought me here
instead dressed in red
Just like the 'head / down / ground' symbolism is used several times in
Syd songs (see: Tattoo
You) so does 'shoes / blues'. Apples and Oranges has a dedicated
follower of fashion who alliteratively goes
shopping in sharp shoes
, while Vegetable Man walks the street
in yellow shoes I get the blues.
Earlier in his songwriting career, Barrett was much influenced by an
got the Bob Dylan blues, and the Bob Dylan shoes.
Of course shoes and blues has always been something of a nice pair as
was already proved by Robert Johnson in Walking
Woke up this morning I looked 'round for my shoes You know I had
those mean old walking blues
an old pair of shoes your favorite blues gonna tap out the rhythm
In the ballad 'Blue Moon' (see point 2) the protagonist who was lost /
alone has been helped / cared for by someone. In Jugband Blues we seem
to have the same situation. At this part of the song a second actor is
introduced who tries to assist the first one.
and I'm wondering who could be writing this song
Barrett almost describes an out-of-body experience in the first part of
the song. Pete Townshend claimed he had one once using STP, a drug that
also Barrett was familiar with. This is another variation on a theme of
absence as the narrator is present and absent at the same time. Make
your name like a ghost, suddenly seems more autobiographical than ever.
I don't care if the sun don't shine and I don't care if nothing is
mine and I don't care if I'm nervous with you I'll do my loving in
So I don't care if the sun don't shine I'll get my lovin' in the
evening time When I'm with my baby
Syd's 'I'll do my loving in the winter' makes the refrain fairly darker
than in the original though. It is as if Barrett is indefinitely
postponing the happiness that could be waiting for him.
During the refrain some kazoos make the point that this is a jug band
song after all, and then a psychedelic Salvation Army band (perhaps Syd
did see the contradiction before everybody else) jumps in. Then it is
the time for one of the weirdest codas ever:
And the sea isn't green and I love the queen
At first sight this is just a nonsense verse. There was a song called The
Sea Is Green, written by The
Easy Riders, an American calypso and folk-song trio and used in the
travelogue documentary, but this is a long shot. In the song a sailor
expresses his hope to find his family back when he returns home. By
implying that the sea isn't green, Barrett loses all hope to see
his loved ones back.
6.1 A possible Beatles connection (Update: 1st of November
At the Late
Night forum, Wolfpack came with another explanation, that
seems far more plausible than ours, he remembered that The Beatles' Yellow
Submarine has 'a sea of green' in its lyrics. Actually the term is
used twice in that song. It comes up at the first strophe where the
story is told about a man who travels in a yellow submarine:
So we sailed up to the sun Till we found a sea of green
The term shows up again in the third strophe where it is told that the
sailors live a life of ease:
Sky of blue and sea of green.
The song is not originally from the 1968 animated movie,
but from the 1966 Revolver
album, where it was the obligatory Ringo Starr track. Paul
McCartney wrote it with Ringo in mind, hence the simplicity of the
melody and the nonsensical subject. McCartney had a little help from his
friends John Lennon and Donovan,
who actually came up with the green sea lines.
Barrett, in a much darker mood than McCartney, who had a children's song
in mind, declares there is no such thing as a sea of green. The sailors'
unburdened life has been based on a dream.
There is a second similarity between Yellow Submarine and Jugband Blues.
Although Norman Smith was not involved in the recording it has a (short)
interruption by a brass band, just after the line 'and the band begins
to play'. Engineer Geoff
Emerick, who is on backing vocals with George Martin, Neil
Jones and Brian
Epstein, used a 1906 record of a military march, altering it a bit
to avoid copyrights. Several sound effects were used for the song,
including the cash register sound that would later be used by Pink Floyd
on Money. There is another Floydian connection, although bit stretched,
Echoes (1970) has the Roger Waters line 'and everything is green and
submarine', but that last is used as an adjective, not as a noun.
Unfortunately we will never know if Norman Smith thought of Yellow
Submarine when he proposed Syd Barrett to add a brass band in between
and what exactly is a dream and what exactly is a joke
The 'Carrollesque quality of the closing couplet', to quote Rob Chapman
again, is omnipresent. In Lewis
The Looking Glass', on a cold winter evening, Alice climbs through a
mirror where chess pieces are alive. Alice meets the White and Red Queen
and the 'joke' subject is briefly spoken about:
Even a joke should have some meaning—and a child's more important than a
joke, I hope.
Dreams are discussed more often in the book, even the surreal
possibility that Alice is nothing but a 'thing' in the Red King's - so
somebody else's - dream:
If that there King was to wake,' added Tweedledum, 'you'd go out — bang!
— just like a candle!' (…) When you're only one of the
things in his dream. You know very well you're not real.
At the end, with Alice back in her house, she still isn't sure what
really happened and in whose dream she had landed.
Let's consider who it was that dreamed it all. (…) You see,
(…), it MUST have been either me or the Red King. He was part of my
dream, of course — but then I was part of his dream, too!
As we now know that Jugband Blues might have been written before Barrett
had his apparent breakdown, all speculation about this being an intense
self-description could be wrong, unless of course Syd altered the lyrics
between January and October 1967.
We'll never know for sure.
Ever drifting down the stream— Lingering in the golden gleam— Life,
what is it but a dream?
Many thanks to: Baby Lemonade, Syd Wonder, Wolfpack and all participants
from the Jugband
Blues thread (started in 2008) at the Late Night Forum. ♥ Iggy ♥
Sources (other than the above internet links): Beard, Chris
Joe: Taking The Purple. The extraordinary story of The Purple Gang –
Granny Takes a Trip . . . and all that!, Granville Sellars (Kindle
edition), 2014, location 858, 1372, 1392. Blake, Mark: Pigs Might
Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2013 reissue, p. 18. Carroll,
the Looking Glass, Project Gutenberg. Chapman, Rob: A Very
Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 191. Dosanjh,
music scene of 1960s Cambridge, I
Spy In Cambridge, Cambridge, 2013, p. 32, 40, 44, 50. Jefferies,
Neil, Dartford's Finest Band, Record Collector 417, August 2013,
p. 54-55. Mason, Nick: Inside Out: A personal history of Pink Floyd,
Orion Books, London, 2011 reissue, p. 21. Manning, Toby: The Rough
Guide To Pink Floyd, Rough Guides, London, 2006, p. 34. Palacios,
Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London,
2010, p. 25, 298, 314. Parker, David: Random Precision, Cherry
Red Books, London, 2001, p. 99. Smith, Norman 'Hurricane', John
Lennon Called Me Normal, Lulu (self-published), 2008, p. 218, 373,
397. Unnumbered section: #8.
So here it is. The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit's The
Endless River review of what undoubtedly is the most anticipated
record of the year.
The album has four, mostly instrumental, suites, that Pink
Floyd prefers to call sides. Each suite has several tracks, but
these are best listened to in one piece as they form one ensemble. The
'luxe' edition has a 39 minutes extra DVD or Blu-ray with 6 videos of
1993 studio rehearsals and 3 audio tracks. The Blu-ray version is the
most complete (and expensive) as it also has a stereo PCM, a 5.1 DTS and
a 5.1 PCM version of the album, whatever these acronyms mean.
The front cover concept was designed by Ahmed
Emad Eldin, in what could be called ersatzHipgnosis
style, probably chosen because it evokes the boatman who was present in The
Division Bell artwork (and, in lesser extent, on A
Momentary Lapse Of Reason). The other artwork is credited to the
usual gang of graphic designers: Aubrey
and, weirdly, Hipgnosis, although that company stopped in 1983. The
24-pages booklet has a maritime feel: compasses, maps, logbooks... The
lettering misses a piece in most letters, to accentuate the missing
keyboard player, who has been credited on 11 of the 18 tracks. Storm
Thorgerson is remembered as well in the credits.
The album was created out of rejected 1993 jams and demos, with Richard
Wright, Nick Mason and David Gilmour, that were probably revisited to be
added to a Division Bell anniversary
set of one kind or another. Rejected is too strong a word because
way back, twenty years ago, it had been the idea to turn the The
Division Bell into a double CD-set, what was abandoned for lack of time.
That second album turned into the apocryphal The Big Spliff that
still sits in Gilmour's studio in an unfinished form and that was
assembled by Andy
Manzanera was asked, in 2012, to work on it, but refused.
I don't wanna hear. I wanna hear every single piece or scrap that was
recorded, everything. Outtakes from Division Bell. Everything.
In December 2012 Manzanera puzzled dozens of unfinished pieces into a
skeleton, divided into four 12 minute suites, out of 20 hours of
material. According to Manzanera, Pink Floyd thanked him and immediately
put the work in a box where they forgot it. Martin
'Youth' Glover however says that he was invited in June 2013 and
that David Gilmour had already worked on the two different versions of
Within about 40 seconds, it sounded like Floyd. It was absolutely
magical. (…) Listening to unreleased Pink Floyd recordings with David,
the hair was going up on the back of my arms.
Youth then created a third version and in November 2013 a meeting was
held between the two remaining Pink Floyd members and the three
producers: Andy Jackson, Phil Manzanera and Youth. Gilmour and Mason
picked the best ideas from each version and started working on something
that could have been an atrocious Frankenmix but that turned out
quite coherent in the end.
Side One: ambient spaces
"Things Left Unsaid...", Gilmour, Wright "It's What We Do",
Gilmour, Wright "Ebb and Flow", Gilmour, Wright
Things Left Unsaid (4:27): a very ambient, Cluster
One atmospheric, introduction, with some voice samples of the Floyd
members. Tradition wants that it only starts morphing into something of
a melody after the two minutes mark. It gradually slides into It's
What We Do (6:17) that thrives on a Shine
On You Crazy Diamond moog synth and traces of Marooned
later on. This is a typical Floydian spacey slow blues, ideal for those
fans who want to chill out with a big spliff. It's lazy and slow and
probably a bit boring for some, a typical trademark of the Floyd sound,
and just because it is so intriguingly and deliberately slow, the first
thrill of the album. It continues into Ebb and Flow (1:55),
mainly an epilogue to the previous track.
Actually the first suite is pretty daring to start with in the hectic
days we are living in today, this is so contradictory with contemporary
music it nearly feels alienated. It's the kind of suite that will be
used in nuru massage parlours around the world.
Sum (4:48), there's that Cluster One intro again with ambient
effects switching towards an Astronomy
Domine space trip. Then it nods to an early seventies style Floydian
Of These Days, although bigger and louder, including that good old
Skins (2:37) further elaborates on the A
Saucerful Of Secrets tribal rhythms and this is the first time in
years we hear grand vizier Nick Mason take the lead on a track, finally!
We could never think we would be so happy with a fucking drum solo.
Gilmour makes his guitar scream à la Barrett in Interstellar
Overdrive in something that can be described as a beat bolero. The
track ends with some minor guitar effects, just for the sake of the
effect and glides over to Unsung (1:07), an intermezzo that is a
bridge to the ending of this suite, the magical Anisina (3:17).
Those who think this is Wright in a jazz lounge must be contradicted.
This is 100% Gilmour and it brings shivers down the spine, even if this
a known track that has been bootlegged before as a Division Bell outtake.
The second suite is the experimental one, although the experiment is
limited not to scare the casual listener away. We've heard people say
that this Pink Floyd record is more of the same. And it's true. But who
complains when The Rolling Stones or U2 bring out their umpteenth album
sounding exactly like the previous one?
Side Three: all that jazz
"The Lost Art of Conversation", Wright "On Noodle Street",
Gilmour, Wright "Night Light", Gilmour, Wright "Allons-Y
(1)", Gilmour "Autumn '68", Wright "Allons-Y (2)",
Gilmour "Talkin' Hawkin'", Gilmour, Wright
The lost art of conversation (1:43) is an introductory piano
piece by Wright, obviously with some guitar effects from Gilmour. It
segues into On Noodle Street (1:42), that is, as the title gives
away, nothing but a light jazzy noodling, featuring Guy
Pratt, Wright's son-in-law. It is easy listening for Floydheads,
just like the next track Night Light (1:42). The first three
tracks are merely the introduction for the highlight of this side, and
perhaps the album.
Allons-Y (1) (1:57), is a two-piecer and a Run
Like Hell copycat, only much better (actually, we find Run Like Hell
one of the worst tracks by the Floyd). It is irresistible and the moment
we really started tapping our feet. The mid-piece of Allons-Y is Autumn
'68 (1:35), the much discussed archival bit taken from a Wright
improvisation from the Royal Albert Hall in 1968, reminding us vaguely
of a movement of Mike
Bells, only this dates from about five years before. Allons-Y (2)
(1:32) is a reprise of the first part to close the circle.
Talkin Hawkin' (3:29) starts rather like one of those slow
evolving (and a bit tedious) pieces from On
An Island, but is – yet again – irresistible in its meandering
movements. Nobody is so immaculate in creating these lazy and slightly
boring moods than Pink Floyd. With its Stephen
Hawking samples this track is the obvious link to The Division Bell,
but the track itself is the counterpart of Keep
The third suite is the most light-hearted one, perhaps the most
commercial and catchy, and it surely is saved by, here we go, Allons-Y.
Side Four: turn off the lights
"Calling", Gilmour, Moore "Eyes to Pearls", Gilmour "Surfacing",
Gilmour "Louder than Words", Gilmour, Samson
Moore, who made the Broken
China album with Richard Wright is responsible for Calling
(3:38) and it certainly has the mood of that pretty depressed, and
unfortunately underestimated, album. The atmosphere is somewhat
reminiscent of David
it is an ambient and dark and haunting piece. It is a nice thing from
Gilmour to have added this obvious nod to Rick's solo album and one of
the more interesting pieces of the album.
Eyes To Pearls (1:51) breathes the air of Angelo
Peaks and has hidden hints of Money
and One Of These Days, but one can find traces of earlier work in about
all tracks on this album. Didn't Nick Mason quip once he was in the
recycling business? Surfacing (2:46) acts as the intro to the
final song, it seems a lesser track at first, but it has a weeping
guitar that hit us right in the heart / stomach / balls. Actually most
of the numbers may not be seen as individual pieces but as movements of
each suite and as such they perfectly serve their roles.
Louder Than Words (6:37) was gravely discussed when it came out,
it has been called Floyd by numbers and Polly
Samson's lyrics are of syrupy soap series quality but in this
context and as the coda of the album it just works great. Just listen to
that piano intro by Wright, the last we'll probably hear, that
irresistible refrain, the perfect ending solo, also the last we'll
probably hear... This is Gilmour at his best and for once he doesn't
stretches it too long, what was his problem on the previous Diet Floyd
records where he had the habit of putting six minute guitar solos in
three minute songs. Gilmour's playing on this album is to the point and
you never get the feeling he is showing off like on, for instance, On An
Island, although it is clear he bought a new set of pedals.
This is a great album, a classic in the making, although perhaps only
for the die-hard fans, and is far much better than we had ever hoped for.
(A third article, with a more critical approach to the album can be
found at: Chin
More reviews at A
Fleeting Glimpse and Brain
Damage. Illustrations (except the Rick Wright picture) taken from
The Endless River and The Division Bell.. ♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥
Sources (other than the above internet links): Bonner, Michael: Coming
back to life, Uncut, November 2014, p. 35 – 41.
The new Diet Pink
Floyd album The Endless River is conquering the world,
perhaps to the absence of any real competition. We don't think Susan
Boyle's cover version of Wish
You Were Here will pose a real threat, does it? In Holland the
album, currently at number one, sells five
times as much as the number two.
The Endless River is a slow evolving, ambient piece of work with obvious
nods to the Floyd's glorious past... one hears traces of A Saucerful Of
Secrets (Syncopated Pandemonium), Astronomy Domine, Careful With That
Axe Eugene, Cluster One, Interstellar Overdrive, Keep Talking, Marooned,
Money, One Of These Days (I'm Going To Cut You Into Little Pieces), Run
Like Hell, Shine On You Crazy Diamond and probably half a dozen more
we've already forgotten.
The familiarity of it all has created raving enthusiasm for some and
'mainly yesterday's reheated lunch' for others and this also seems to be
the opinion of the press. Mark Blake (in Mojo)
politely describes the album as 'big on atmosphere, light on songs',
Mikael Wood (in the Los
Angeles Times) states that Pink Floyd drifts towards nothingness
with aimless and excruciatingly dull fragments.
While the 1987 A Momentary Lapse Of Reason album was a David
Gilmour solo effort, recorded with 18 session musicians and with the
Pink Floyd name on the cover to sell a few million copies more, The
Endless River originally grew out of jams between Gilmour, Mason &
Actually these were rejected jams, not good enough to include on The
Division Bell, but over the years they seem to have ripened like
good old wine. Well that's the PR story but in reality Andy Jackson,
Phil Manzanera and Martin 'Youth' Glover had to copy bits and pieces
from twenty hours of tape and toy around with every single good sounding
second in Pro
Tools to obtain something relatively close to Floydian eargasm. Phil
Manzanera in Uncut:
I would take a guitar solo from another track, change the key of it,
stick it on an outtake from another track. 'Oh that bit there, it
reminds me of Live At Pompeii, but let's put a beat underneath it.' So
then I take a bit of Nick warming up in the studio at Olympia, say, take
a bit of a fill here and a bit of fill there. Join it together, make a
loop out of it.
This doesn't really sound like an organic created piece of music, does
it? The result is a genetically modified fat-free sounding record
and while this is the most ambient experiment of Pink Floyd it will
never get extreme, despite Martin Glover's presence whose only ambient
house additions seem to be the On The Run VCS3 effect that comes
whooshing in several times. Youth isn't that young and reckless any more
so don't expect anything close to the KLF's Madrugada
Eterna, Jimmy 'Space' Cauty's Mars
or the Orb's A
Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the
Update April 2017: One and a half year after the record has been
released the involvement of Nick Mason can be finally discussed as well.
Pink Floyd know-all Ron Toon at Steve
Nick had nothing to do with this project except to play a few new drum
tracks basically being brought in as a session drummer. Of course he was
/ is a member of Pink Floyd but his involvement in this project was
minimal at best. The vision was David's and the other producers and Andy
[Jackson] did most of the work. Source: Pink
Floyd - The Early Years 1965-1972 Box Set.
But the music isn't the only thing that seems to be embellished. Last
week long-time Echoes
mailing list member Christopher, also known as 10past10, went on
holidays, taking with him the new Pink Floyd CD and, as reading
material, Nick Mason's Inside Out book. Then something happened
which unleashed the power of his imagination (read Christopher's
The mid-book picture of The Endless River shows the Astoria studio with
Rick Wright, David Gilmour and Nick Mason jamming in 1993, taken by Jill
Furmanovsky. This picture has been stitched out of several shots,
the borders don't match (deliberately) and Nick Mason (or at least his
arms) can be seen twice.
But Christopher was in for another surprise when he looked at the fourth
picture gallery in Nick Mason's Inside Out soft-cover (or on page 313 if
you have the coffee-table edition). It shows another picture of the same
session, with Rick Wright, David Gilmour and Bob Ezrin.
Now look at the man in the middle, the one who doesn't like to be called
If you look closely at every piece of David's clothing, his hair, the
way he is holding his guitar, the chords, the lot. It all matches
exactly ... too much not be a match.
Not only does The Endless River centrefold superimposes Nick Mason
twice, but they have glued in David Gilmour from another shot (and
removed Bob Ezrin).
And still, that is not all.
closely to Gilmour's face in the 1993 picture (left) and to his
face on the 2014 release (right). Christopher explains:
The difference is in the original shot. David has a double chin. In
The Endless River shot it has been dealt with.
There will be no fat on The Endless River, not on the music and
certainly not on Air-Brush Dave.
(The above article is entirely based upon facts, some situations may
have been enlarged for satirical purposes.)
Many thanks to Christopher (10past10), Ron Toon. Pictures courtesy of
Jill Furmanovsky. ♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥
Sources (other than the above internet links): 10past10
(Christopher), Alcog Dave no more, mail, 2014 11 14. Bonner,
Michael: Coming back to life, Uncut, November 2014, p. 39. Echoes
mailing list: to join just click on the appropriate link on their sexy echoes
subscription and format information webpage.
The Anchor is the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit's satirical
division, intended for people with a good heart, but a rather bad
character. More info: The
Anchor. Read our legal stuff: Legal
Christopher's original posting to Echoes: (Back to article)
Date: Fri, 14 Nov 2014 18:00:32 +1000 From: 10past10 Subject:
Alcog Dave no more ... To: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi Ho All,
I do believe there is photographic trickery afoot!
Exhibit A: The centrefold picture in The Endless River depicting
Richard, David and Nick in the studio.
Exhibit B: Inside Out; the fourth lot of pics in the paperback or p313
in hardback (1st ed), depicting Richard, David and Bob Ezrin.
Obviously it is a different pic of Richard and Bob/Nick. But I reckon
the picture of David is the same one; except for one difference.
So, I reckon, to get the wider shot for the TER CD centrefold (I don't
know how it may or may not appear in the other versions as I haven't
seen them yet), they have made a composite photo using the shot of David
rom the one Nick originally published and shots of Richard and Nick from
one or two different pictures.
If you look closely at every piece of David's clothing, his hair, the
way he is holding his guitar, the chords, the lot. It all matches
exactly ... too much not be a match.
Does this matter? Of course not. Why not do that to get what you need.
Obviously Nick himself is double exposed when you look at his arms.
Is it worth pointing out? Yes (but just because you can, not because it
will change the world). Why? Because of the one difference.
The difference is in the original shot David has a double chin. In The
Endless River shot it has been dealt with.
Some time ago I was castigated for calling David, Fat Dave. So I changed
that to Alcog Dave. He is that no more. In my more whimsical moods I
shall hence forth refer to him as "Air-Brush Dave".
This is a review of the Dutch edition of Hugh Fielder's Pink Floyd
biography Behind The Wall. There is nothing wrong with your browser
as the review is in Dutch as well.
Er zijn niet zoveel Nederlandstalige Pink Floyd biografieën bij mijn
weten. Eigenlijk ken ik er slechts een: William
Ruhlmanns low budget Pink Floyd, een boek dat waarschijnlijk
rechtstreeks in de ramsj terechtkwam en dateert uit 1994. Nu, met een
nieuw Floyd album in de rekken en kerstmis voor de deur is er een
Nederlandse vertaling van Hugh Fielders Behind The Wall dat in
oktober 2013 uitkwam en ook al niet te veel potten brak. Ik dien ook
even Charles Beterams Pink
Floyd In De Polder (2007) te vermelden dat een overzicht bevat van
de Pink Floyd optredens in België en Nederland en dat ik, tot mijn grote
schande, nog steeds niet gelezen heb. Spijtig want ik zou graag willen
weten wat hij te zeggen heeft over de doortocht van de jongens in mijn
geboortestad Leuven in februari 1968, tijdens de taalrellen die hadden
geresulteerd in het ontslag van de toenmalige regering. Blijkbaar brak
er een vechtpartij los in de zaal tussen Vlamingen en Walen die
enigszins geamuseerd werd bekeken door de bandleden en die er verder
niets van begrepen op een 'Fuck Belgium' commentaar na (Nick Mason
bericht hier overigens foutief over in zijn autobiografie Inside Out).
Een Franstalig artikel over dit incident vind je hier: Pink
Floyd en Belgique.
Maar over naar de orde van de dag. Hugh Fielder is een rockjournalist en
-criticus, die een aantal boeken op zijn actief heeft staan en blijkbaar
ook heeft meegewerkt aan meerdere 'Inside' DVD-documentaires (Pink
Floyd, Genesis, Led Zeppelin,...), documentaires waarvan je enkel kan
zeggen dat ze van een zeer twijfelachtig allooi zijn. Een pluspunt is
dan weer wel dat zijn vader, Denis Fielder, een bevlogen
muziekleraar was die onder meer Syd Barrett en Roger Waters de
beginselen van het vak bijbracht. Hugh is van Cambridge, een aantal
jaren jonger dan de Pink Floyd leden en in 1965 was hij zanger bij The
Ramblin' Blues die op een dag zonder gitarist kwamen te staan, net
voor een optreden. Ze huurden David Gilmour in die een vlekkeloos
parcours reed en er was enkel het probleem dat Gilmours gage even hoog
was dan wat de band gekregen had voor het hele optreden. Pink Floyd
'Behind The Wall' is dus zijn kans op een revanche, hoewel we er
ongeveer zeker van zijn dat Gilmour nog steeds de meestverdienende is
van de twee.
Het boek heeft als ondertitel 'de complete geïllustreerde geschiedenis'
en dat is het ook, het is rijkelijk voorzien van bekende en onbekende
foto's en bevat ook illustraties van posters, tickets, backstage passen,
singlehoezen en dergelijke. Tekst en beeld vullen elkaar mooi aan en het
is niet zo dat de tekst enkel een lapmiddel is om een fotoboek te
verkopen, zoals in een aantal andere biografieën het geval is. Grafisch
is het boek af, vaak is ook de achtergrond van het tekstveld gekleurd,
wat zeer mooi oogt, maar in een paar gevallen de tekst moeilijk leesbaar
maakt, een detailkritiek misschien.
De tekst is eenvoudig, accuraat, to-the-point, verstaanbaar voor de Pink
Floyd leek, en dat is klaar duidelijk het publiek waarvoor dit werd
geschreven. Hugh Fielder is een belezen man en vermeldt eerlijk waar hij
de mosterd heeft gehaald, wat niet altijd gebeurt in biografieën,
nietwaar Rob Chapman? Anderzijds is Hugh Fielder enkel een raconteur,
hij heeft feiten en anekdotes geplukt uit andere boeken en artikels en
herhaalt die, netjes geordend, op zijn eigen manier. Enkel in de
Cambridge-sectie, aan het begin van het boek en het begin van de Pink
Floyd geschiedenis, voegt hij wat toe. Dit is dus geen Pink Floyd studie
zoals Mark Blake er een schreef, maar dat was ook niet de bedoeling. Dit
is hapklare brok.
Zijn er dan geen punten van kritiek? Jazeker die zijn er, maar enkel
wanneer een Sydioot en Floyd-fanaticus de tekst uitvlooit, op zoek naar
een bron van ergernis. Hier gaan we dan.
Op bladzijde elf staat te lezen:
Barrett speelde gitaar [bij Geoff Mott and the Mottoes] en zong covers
van Buddy Holly en Eddie Cochran. Ook leverde hij instrumentale
bijdragen aan de aankomende Britse gitaarband The Shadows.
Syd Barrett die als broekvent songs leurde aan The Shadows, dat kan toch
niet waar zijn?
Het is ook niet waar want in de Engelse, originele tekst staat:
Barrett played guitar and sang covers of Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran
while also performing instrumentals by seminal British guitar band the
Dit is dus blijkbaar een vertaalfout van Ireen Niessen van Vitataal
die dit boek een Nederlandse zwier gaven.
Als lezer heb ik me hier en daar geërgerd aan de vertaling die me, om
het enigszins pejoratief uit te drukken, wat te Noord-Nederlands getint
is voor deze Zuid-Nederlander van het Vlaamse type. Ik kan aannemen dat
'Pink Floyd played like bums that night' niet zo makkelijk te vertalen
valt en dat 'Pink Floyd speelde als een stel lapzwansen' (p. 31)
eigenlijk een geniale inval is. Waar ik wel moeilijkheden mee heb is dat
het David Gilmour citaat
Hé joh... als zus en zo zou gebeuren, en dit en dat, zou je dan
belangstelling hebben? (p. 38)
Hé joh, geen Vlaming die dit over de lippen krijgt en het zwakt het
tongue-in-cheek 'nudge nudge' enigszins af.
Het boek is gelardeerd met vlotte taal ('het leek alsof Rick Wright zijn
snor drukte', p. 133) wat deze plechtstatige dinosauriër, die Abraham
heeft gezien, raar in de oren klinkt, maar dit boek is dan ook
geschreven om een jong publiek wat bij te brengen over deze prachtband,
dus wat schwung is waarschijnlijk niet misplaatst. Over taal en
taalgevoeligheden kan je net zolang redetwisten als Gilmour en Waters
deden over de klankkleur van Dark Side Of The Moon, uiteindelijk heeft
iedereen en niemand gelijk en dient er een compromis gesloten te worden.
Hugh Fielder heeft zelf ook een aantal fouten gemaakt in het boek. Zoals
eerder aangehaald citeert Fielder verscheidene bronnen, meestal met
kennis van zake, maar als de inhoud inmiddels achterhaald werd, gaat het
natuurlijk om foutieve informatie. Zo weten we intussen dat Davy 'O List
slechts eenmaal Barrett verving tijdens de Jimi Hendrix package tour en
niet meerdere malen, blijkbaar heeft Fielder nou net niet Pigs Might Fly
van Mark Blake gelezen (dat blijkt overigens uit de bibliografie
'In the past I’ve exaggerated and told people I played more shows,’ he
[Davy 'O List] admits now. ‘But that’s only because I wished it had been
Dat Barrett zijn tanden poetste tijdens het bezoek aan de Wish You Were
Here sessies is iets dat Rick Wright ooit heeft gezegd maar Mark Blake
heeft dit verhaal later grotendeels ontkracht op het Late
Night forum en in het rocktijdschrift Mojo 211 (2011). Hierover
heeft de Heilige Kerk van Iggy de Inuit (sic) ooit bericht: The
Big Barrett Conspiracy Theory.
Fielder is net iets te enthousiast wanneer hij zegt dat Nick Mason 'een
paar vintage auto's' diende te verkopen om de A Momentary Lapse Of
Reason te financieren. Mason gaf enkel een auto in onderpand, zoals hij
zelf schrijft in Inside Out:
In my particular case I was a bit short of ready cash for the millions
required, so I eventually went down to the upmarket equivalent of the
pawn shop and hocked my 1962 GTO Ferrari.
Het bovenstaande is natuurlijk kommaneukerij van een Floyd fanaat met
teveel tijd. Fielders tekst is een consequent, coherent geheel zonder
naar de een of andere stroming over te hellen (het zogenaamde Waters
versus Gilmour kamp om niet van de Barrett fanatici te spreken). Het
boek is bijgewerkt tot en met Waters' The Wall tournee (zomer 2013) en
de auteur kan er ook niet aan doen dat zijn statement dat The Division
Bell 'vrijwel zeker het laatste studioalbum van Pink Floyd is'
ondertussen aan diggelen werd geslagen.
Dikwijls worden woord en beeld onafhankelijk van mekaar samengesteld in
dit soort boeken, vaak met een desastreus resultaat, maar ook hier valt
het best wel mee.
We starten met een flater van jewelste, waarschijnlijk te wijten aan het
te oppervlakkig lezen van bronmateriaal. Profiles, Nick Masons tweede
soloalbum, was geen samenwerkingsproject met Mike Oldfield, zoals en in
de tekst en onder de foto op pagina 162 staat. Wel zingt Maggie Reilly
op Lie For A Lie, samen met David Gilmour. Maggie is natuurlijk te
vinden op vijf verschillende Mike Oldfield albums en is
medeverantwoordelijk voor enkele van zijn allergrootste hits.
Op bladzijde 155 staat een afbeelding van de single When The Tigers
Broke Free, maar de tekst zegt dat het gaat om de 'albumcover van The
Wall: Music From The Film'. Er was wel ooit sprake van een The Wall
soundtrack en/of een Spare Bricks album, maar die werden nooit
uitgebracht. De enige officiële soundtrack van The Wall was een single
en geen album. Hebben we reeds gezegd dat we kommaneukers zijn?
De grootste fout staat op pagina 21 waar een foto wordt omschreven als
Pink Floyd in de UFO club. Zoals uitvoerig, om niet te zeggen:
langdradig, beschreven in een eerder artikel (Pictorial
Press selling fake Pink Floyd pictures!) gaat het hier niet om de
(zeer tijdelijke) vijfmansformatie Pink Floyd met Syd Barrett, David
Gilmour, Nick Mason, Roger Waters en Richard Wright, maar om een geheel
andere band, misschien (maar ook niet zeker) Dantalian's Chariot. Het is
een spijtige zaak dat Pictorial
Press, die de rechten op deze foto bezit, nog steeds niet aarzelt om
de foto onder valse voorwendsels aan de man te brengen.
Het is ons opgevallen dat heel wat foto's in het boek van Nederland
komen, we vermoeden dan ook dat een en ander duchtig werd
vernederlandst, wat enkel toe te juichen valt. Zo zijn er foto's van
1968, genomen in Den Haag (en een enkele in Brussel), Holland Pop
Festival 1970, Ahoy 1971, Olympisch Stadion 1972, Ahoy 1977, Utrecht
1977, Rotterdam 1984 (Roger Waters), Feyenoord 1988... Er is ook de
cover van The Pink Floyd songbook, een (illegale) Nederlandse
gestencilde songteksten compilatie uit 1977 die je kon kopen in elke
zichzelf respecterende platenzaak.
De discografie, aan het einde van het boek, vermeldt een aantal
compilaties niet, hoewel ze wel staan afgebeeld: Master Of Rock, Works.
Een echte schande wordt het pas wanneer in de individuele album
besprekingen More en Obscured By Clouds niet eens worden vermeld,
waarschijnlijk omdat het maar om soundtracks gaat, wat in het geval van
Obscured zeer kort door de bocht is.
Maar als je een nichtje of neefje hebt dat wil weten waarom je zo
gebiologeerd bent door de groep van Dark Side of the Moon of The Wall,
kopen die boel. Zelf houden wij het liever bij Pigs Might Fly en Dark
Globe, natuurlijk, maar als aperitief kan dit tellen. Het kan alleen
maar leiden tot meer.
Update Juli 2017: dit boek is sinds kort ook in een bijgewerkte
versie beschikbaar in de ramsj.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥
Bronnen (anders dan de bovenvermelde internet links): Blake, Mark: Pigs
Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2013, p. 35-36, 99. Fielder,
Hugh: Behind The Wall, Librero, Kerkdriel, 2014. Nederlandse
editie. Mason, Nick: Inside Out: A personal history of Pink Floyd,
Orion Books, London, 2011 reissue, p. 291.
When the Reverend spotted an expensive collectors limited edition
4 DVD & book set in his favourite bookshop last week there was a little
voice going in his head whispering: “Don't buy it, don't buy it...”
Unfortunately the Reverend has this problem with authority, so this good
advice was completely ignored. The moment he had paid 60 Euro (44.65£,
68.00$) he immediately regretted the purchase, but by then it was
already too late. “Told you so!”, said the voice in his head. Little
The Reverend, Felix for the rapidly diminishing herd he calls his
friends, should have been warned by the fact that there was no author on
the cover and that the editor goes by the name of Blitz Books,
but the promise on the back that read: four DVD films packed with
in-depth rare archive interviews with the band, made him forget several
of the seven deadly sins.
So he returned to Atagong mansion with Pink Floyd: 50 Years On The
Dark Side tucked inside his overcoat and he only opened it in the
privacy of his study room.
At first sight the 110 pages coffee table book looks impressive. It
starts with an essay titled Pink Floyd In The Beginning that
covers their early history from The Pink Floyd Blues Band, although that
name may have been some kind of an urban legend, until Ummagumma, so
roughly from 1965 till 1969. It's not particularly innovative, nor
original as Barry
Miles has his 2006 The Early Years book that roughly covers
the same old ground and that is well worth the read. But, it has to be
said, the article is not bad and does quote a lot from early interviews
with the band.
The text, however, is not original, it was first published in a book
called Pink Floyd: Reflections and Echoes from Bob
Carruthers, that also had – coincidence ? - 4 DVDs packed with
in-depth rare archive interviews with the band.
We're starting to see a pattern here.
Part one ends at page 58 but, mind you, two-thirds of the pages are
filled with pictures from our friends at Pictorial
Press who, by the way, still haven't answered if they have any Iggy
Rose pictures in their archive, which we know with certainty they do.
After the quite enjoyable read about vintage Floyd and the somewhat
quirky attempts from the remaining members, plus one newbie: David
Gilmour, to find a new direction it is time for the rest of the Floydian
history. That second part start with The Wall.
Does this mean the book skips a whole decade, not coincidentally the one
that had the Floyd's classic albums Meddle, Dark Side of the Moon, Wish
You Were Here and the somewhat underrated Animals and Obscured By Clouds?
Apparently it does.
Blitz Books' business plan is to have some text on paper, any text, so
that they can put (coloured) photographs around. On top of that The
Wall-part mainly tells what happens on the album, song per song, so it
is not even a review. We're still trying to recover from the disastrous
catastrophe that was Roger Waters' The Wall show in summer 2013 and we
solemnly confess we didn't read this chapter because reading about The
Wall is even more tedious than listening to the album. We once tried
getting through Phil Rose's Which One's Pink that analyses the
concepts of the different Roger Waters albums, as a solo artist and with
Pink Floyd, but it only made our psycho-therapist wealthier.
The third and final part of the 50 Years On The Dark Side book is a
discography of the studio albums from The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
till The Division Bell, with a (small) description of every song. The
Floyd's debut, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn is described as 'deeply
disappointing' where 'two completely different, and totally
irreconcilable, musical personalities battle for supremacy'. As long as
we know where these fans really stand it is fine for us.
Not only is the page order for the A Saucerful Of Secrets review wrong,
but the (anonymous) author also seems to have found a new Floyd track
called 'Heavenly Voices', probably the ending piece of the title track
is meant, better known as 'Celestial Voices'.
The other album reviews are generally acceptable and from page 100 to
103 The Wall comes around for a second time and again all individual
tracks are mentioned with some titbits her and there.
It would have been an excellent idea to have added the track-listing of
The Endless River, but that was too much asked from the Blitz boys. To
add insult to injury the Division Bell review omits the last three
songs... because there are no more pages left in the book. Really, it
is, we're not trying to tell you a joke or something...
This book is an even greater insult than the history book that could be
found in the Pink Floyd 1992 Shine On box set that mysteriously
ended in mid sentence on page 107. All in all 50 Years On The Dark Side
is not a book, it is merely text on paper.
After the obvious debacle that is the piece of printed paper pretending
to be a book, it was time for the Reverend to sit in front of the
monitor and have a four hours DVD watching marathon.
Theoretically the four DVDs should be well attached to plastic 'teeth'
(probably there is a more scientific term) at the inside-back-cover, but
these things are from such a poor quality that when you grab the book,
at least one DVD will lose its grip and fall with a kling klang
on the floor. Yes, Kraftwerk has build an empire on these things.
This is not really unique for Blitz Books. David Gilmour's solo album On
An Island is packed in a digibook that has a rubber round soft cap to
hold the compact disc. The only problem is that once you take the CD out
it often is impossible to slide it again over the rubber plug. It's
about the same problem as getting a cork back inside a bottle. In the
Reverend's case this lead to the situation that for years he knew where
the digibook was, but that he had lost the whereabouts of the CD.
The same situation happened with the over-expensive Pink Floyd Immersion
sets of Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here. While the marbles
("Marbles? Yes, marbles.") were individually packed in bubble-wrap bags
the unprotected CDs and DVDs would freely roam all over the box,
collecting scratches during the transport on plains, trains and
auto-mobiles. (Read more at: Fuck
all that, Pink Floyd Ltd.)
The Syd Barrett Years
DVD 1 (The Syd Barrett Years) seems to be a compilation of at least 2 to
4 other documentaries as one recognises people from the awful 'Inside
Pink Floyd' set, the 'Critical Rock Review' series, the aforementioned
'Reflections and Echoes', plus 'Musical Milestones - Reflections on the
Wall', although these documentaries may already share the same pieces.
It is a common trick from these low-budget companies to repackage the
same garbage. The documentary 'Pink Floyd behind the wall' is basically
the same, perhaps with some cuts here and there, as 'Pink Floyd in their
own words' to give just one example.
But actually the first DVD isn't that bad as it has interviews with
Duggie Fields, Joe Boyd, Norman Smith, Ron Geesin and the recently
deceased John 'Hoppy' Hopkins...
Pink Floyd in Development
DVD 2 (Pink Floyd in Development) highlights the Floyd's career from A
Saucerful Of Secrets to Atom Heart Mother. Here is where shit really
starts to hit the fan. Basically these are interviews with people who
have absolutely nothing to do with the band whatsoever, sharing their
opinions. One could say that the presence of some journalists eases the
pain a bit: John Cavanagh (read an interview with him here: so
much to do, so little time), author of the 33 1/3 book The Piper
At The Gates Of Dawn has the most intelligent things to say,
followed by Syd Barrett & the Dawn of Pink Floyd biographer
Mike Watkinson. Chris Welch who wrote the stinker Learning To Fly
in 1994 comes in as third.
The notable exception on the second DVD is Ron
Geesin, who gives his side of the Atom Heart Mother story, but stays
gentle in regard to the boys who didn't want to put his name on the
sleeve. Ron's name can only be found in small print, on the credits for
the suite, and that duly pissed him off at the time. Geesin wrote the
sublime The Flaming Cow in 2013 and as Nick Mason provided the
introduction it seems that the problems have been solved 44 years later.
Even with Ron Geesin's testimony the second disk lingers on and on,
dragging for minutes that turn into quarters, a bit like Atom Heart
Mother itself, one might say. If you might have a 2005 DVD called The
Ultimate Critical Review: Atom Heart Mother don't bother to watch
this as it is the same material.
Getting back to the sleeve one more time. We are probably all aware
about Lullubelle the third, the iconic cow on the Atom Heart Mother
album cover. It is funny..., no we're looking for another term here, it
is pathetic that the people on the 50 Years On The Dark Side DVDs
keep on discussing the merits of Storm Thorgerson and his Hipgnosis team
without actually showing the covers. What they show are replicas of the
covers, a generic cow for Atom Heart Mother, a three-dimensional prism
for Dark Side of the Moon, a psychedelic picture of Battersea Power
Station for Animals. This is the Aldi approach, replacing the
real deal with a cheap lookalike.
Let's be brief about the third and fourth DVDs that are called
'Momentary Lapses 1971-1977' and 'Momentary Lapses 1979-1994'. Again
these DVDs are filled with people who have absolutely nothing to do with
the band saying lots of things about the band. One wonders if these
'specialists' could talk for 52 minutes about a loaf of bread instead,
and probably they could: “This is a remarkable loaf of bread, considered
when it was made in 1975 without the technology of today. That loaf of
bread has set the standard for all other loafs of bread to come.” Ad
The only exception on these DVDs are some interviews, but not as
elaborated as the Ron Geesin one before, with Clare Torry, who
did the vocals on The Great Gig In The Sky, Snowy White who sheds
some light on his (live) work on Animals and The Wall, Andy Roberts
who replaced Snowy White as a Surrogate Band member on the 1981 Wall
shows and Tim Renwick who sessioned for the diet Pink Floyd that
emerged after Roger Waters had left the band. Don't get too overexcited
either, what they tell is something that has been rehashed in a million
magazine articles and books before.
Several of the Pink Floyd specialists are chosen a bit too incestuously.
Amongst these are people who are (or were) associated to Classic Rock
magazine and members of the prog-rock band Mostly Autumn, who –
what a coincidence! - were under contract at Classic Rock when the
Inside Pink Floyd DVDs came out. As a matter of fact the second Inside
Pink Floyd DVD tried so hard to be a Mostly Autumn promotional film that
the Reverend took a solemn oath never ever to allow any of their
mediocre albums to enter Atagong mansion.
As stated before, 'Pink Floyd: 50 Years On The Dark Side' is a
combination of four or more of these pseudo-documentaries and – on paper
– it was a good idea to weed out the crap and only to keep the
interesting stuff. Both 'Pink Floyd: Reflections and Echoes' and 'Inside
Pink Floyd' have interviews with members of the band, although coming
from other sources like the BBC Omnibus documentary, radio shows,
snippets from TV clips, parts of the KQED performance and others.
Unfortunately, all copyrighted material showing the Pink Floyd lads and
music has now been removed and only the talking heads remain. '50 years
on the dark side' is even crappier than the original DVDs it has
compiled. This is not a documentary, this is a bloody insult.
And oh, by the way... that line on the back cover saying 'four DVD films
packed with in-depth rare archive interviews with the band', nothing of
that is true, but you had figured that out by now, we think.
The only reason why we should advise you to buy this DVD set is to
ritually burn it, cast a spell over its makers, so that they will land
in the fourth circle of hell, where they will be tortured until eternity
by the rancid muzak of Mostly Autumn.
This image says it all, we think...
(The above article is entirely based upon facts, some situations may
have been enlarged for satirical purposes.)
The Anchor is the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit's satirical
division, intended for people with a good heart, but a rather bad
character. More info: The
Anchor. Read our legal stuff: Legal
Do a combined Syd
Obermaier search on Google
and you get approximate 4600 results tying both celebrities together,
the first results being 'who's
dating who' (now called Famousfix) related finds. On the fifth
place, although this result will change from computer to computer is an
entry from the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, but not the regular
Iggy's church can be found on various places on the interweb,
most of the time just to gather some dust. One branch office though, is
alive and kicking, and operates more or less independently from its
headquarters. It is on the microblogging
Tumblr platform, is aptly called The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit and
can be found at the following address: http://iggyinuit.tumblr.com.
The first image that is presented, also on the Famousfix
platform, is the one of Syd Barrett on a Formentera
beach, standing behind a woman who hides her nudity behind a red veil.
That picture is actually copyrighted and belongs to John
Davies who took the picture when he went to the island in summer 1969.
Update 2015 02 25: John Davies contacted us to get some facts
The photo of the naked girl behind the red scarf was taken by Imo (Ian
Moore) and not by me although I used it in an article I wrote about
Cambridge, and credited Imo. Secondly, I went to Formentera first in
1963, with some friends from Cambridge, including Richard Eyre. We raved
about the island so much that other friends started going there in the
mid-sixties, including dear Syd. I still spend a lot of time there and
one or two of those Cambridge "hipsters" still live there.
The article from John Davies can be found at A Fleeting Glimpse: The
John Davies Collection. In another Church post (from 2012, time
flies!) we have highlighted the yearly trek from the Cambridge hipsters
to the island of Formentera: Formentera
John Davies was one of those Cambridge hipsters who, between 1963 and
...made the transformation from schoolboys to aspiring beatniks’,
swapping school uniforms for black polo necks and leather jackets,
listening to Miles Davis, riding Vespas and smoking dope purchased from
American GIs on the neighbouring airforce bases at Lakenheath and
He was, with Nigel
Lesmoir-Gordon, one of the people who mastered the Gaggia
espresso machine in the coffee-house El Patio and who (probably)
had his hand in the till when the boss wasn't around, as noted down by
Nick Sedgwick in his roman
à clefLight Blue with Bulges:
Lunch times, just keep the till open, ring up only half of the orders,
keep a check on the rest, then pocket the difference.
Nick Sedgwick, who sadly passed away in 2011, wrote a Pink Floyd 'on
tour' biography in the mid-seventies, but this was never published
because none of the characters came out very well, with the exception of
Roger Waters, who had commissioned the book. In August 2011 Waters
promised to respect his friend's dying wish and release the manuscript
as 'a simple PDF, a hardback version, and a super de-luxe illustrated
limited edition' (see: Immersion).
Transferring a typoscript to PDF literally takes a few minutes, but
nothing has moved three and a half years later and the Church fears that
this is just another case of the ongoing Waters vs Gilmour feud still
lurking behind their smiling faces and fat wallets.
The Church has dedicated some space to the above picture before on the
Lady throwing the hypothesis around that the woman was one of Syd
Barrett's girlfriends nicknamed Sarah Sky. This explanation was
given to the Church by a Barrett fan who quoted her grandmother, but
communication was interrupted before we could get more into details.
According to Emo (Iain Moore) however, the girl was an American tourist
who was visiting Formentera for a day and had arrived at the house they
all rented, close to a nude beach.
In December 2013 The
Groupie Blog claimed the woman on the picture is German photo-model Uschi
Obermaier. This was followed by another post
in January 2014 where the author pretends Syd Barrett used to hit
Obermaier when he had hysteria attacks.
Obviously the Church wanted to get further into this as none of the
biographies mention any kind of romantic (nor aggressive) involvement
between the two of them. As the (anonymous) author of the groupies blog
was not contactable Uschi's autobiography High Times / Mein
Wildes Leben was bought and searched for any Syd Barrett entries.
First things first: Obermaier's autobiography is a fine read, a three to
three and a half star rating out of five.
Born in 1946 Uschi escapes the German conservative square society in the
mid-sixties by clubbing at the Big Apple and PN in Munich
where she is rapidly adopted by the in-crowd because of: a) her good
looks, b) her dancing abilities and c) her free spirit attitude.
She meets with Reinhard
'Dicky' Tarrach from The
Rattles, who will have an international hit with The
Witch, and soon promotes to international bands like The
Kinks, whose Dave
Davies is such an arrogant male chauvinist pig he deserves a
separate entry. She is discovered by a photographer and a career as
photo-model is launched.
Around 1967 Neil
Landon from the hastily assembled The
Flower Pot Men has a more than casual interest and he invites her to
swinging London but she leaves as soon as she finds out about his
jealous streaks. Back in Germany she doesn't fit in everyday society any
more. She joins the alternative Amon
Düül commune, following drummer Peter Leopold, and she
makes it on a few of their jam-session albums as a maracas player.
Through Amon Düül she falls in love with Rainer
Langhans from Kommune
1 (K1). The Berlin communards live by a strict Marxism-Leninism
doctrine where everything belongs to the group and everyday family life
is forbidden. Individualism
is totally annihilated at a point that even the toilet has its doors
removed and telephone conversations need to be done with the speaker on.
Good-looking Rainer and cover-girl Uschi become a media-hyped
alternative couple, the German John and Yoko avant la lettre. She
is by then Germany's most wanted, and some say: best paid, photo-model
and as such not accepted by the community hardliners. Drinking cola or
smoking menthol cigarettes is considered counter-revolutionary.
In January 1969 Uschi hears that Jimi Hendrix is in town and they
meet for some quality time (short
clip on YouTube). He visits the commune which gives it another
popularity boost. Despite its utopian rules the communards have their
intrigues, jealousies and hidden agendas, it becomes a heroin den and
when one of the more extremist inhabitants hides a bomb in the house the
place is raided by the police. Later that year the commune disbands. (It
was also found out that the bomb was planted by an infiltrator, spying
for the police.)
The couple moves for a while into the Munich Frauenkommune
(women's commune), where their bourgeois manners and star allures aren't
appreciated either, but you won't read that in Obermaier's memories.
Movie director Katrin
Do you remember when Uschi Meier and Rainer Langhans stayed with us?
They really moved in at our place, like residents. And while the person
who happened to have money normally bought twenty yoghurts for all of
us, they bought the double for themselves and hid it in their room. They
were a narrow-minded philistine couple within our community. They were
not a bit generous. (Katrin Seybold and Mona Winter in Frauenkommune:
Angstlust der Männer. Translation by FA.)
Leaving the all-women group in 1970 the couple starts the High-Fish
(a pun on German Haifisch, or shark) commune, this time not a communist
but a hedonistic group where sex, drugs and rock'n roll are combined
into art happenings and/or sold as porn movies. The mansion may well
have been the German equivalent of London's 101 Cromwell Road, which was
some kind of LSD temple and the place where Syd Barrett used to live
with some 'heavy, loony, messianic acid freaks', to quote Pete
Jenner. (See also: An
innerview with Peter Jenner )
The Munich Incident
In March 1970 the High-Fish commune was the centre of a rock'n roll
tragedy if we may believe some accounts. In vintage Fleetwood
Mac circles the event is better known as the Munich Incident.
Ultimate Classic Rock:
“It was a hippie commune sort of thing,” said Fleetwood Mac guitarist
Jeremy Spencer. “We arrived there, and [road manager] Dennis Keane comes
up to me shaking and says, “It’s so weird, don’t go down there. Pete
[Green] is weirding out big time and the vibes are just horrible.” Green
was already set to leave the band, but this was, as [Mick] Fleetwood put
it, “the final nail in the coffin.” Friends say Green was never the same
after the Munich incident. (Taken from: 38
Years Ago: Fleetwood Mac Founder Peter Green Arrested for Pulling
Shotgun on His Accountant.)
It's true that we, or more accurately, Pete [Green] was met at Munich
airport by a very beautiful girl [Uschi Obermaier] and a strange guy in
a black cape [Rainer Langhans]. Their focus was definitely Pete for some
reason. The rest of us didn't get it, but we discussed the weird vibes.
We were invited to their mansion in the Munich forest that night. Pete
was already jamming down in the basement (…) when I arrived with Mick
[Fleetwood]. Dennis Keane [road manager] met us in the driveway, ashen
faced and freaking out over the bad vibes and how weird Pete was going.
I don't think Dennis was stoned, he just wanted to get out. (…) Anyway
the house (more like a mansion) was a rich hippy crash pad. And it was
spooky. There was some weird stuff going on in the different rooms.
(Taken from: The
Road manager Dennis Keane maintains they were spiked:
When we went inside there was a party of about 20 people sat around, we
were offered a glass of wine, and the next thing I knew all hell broke
loose in my head - we'd been drugged. Nobody had offered us any tablets;
they just went and spiked us. (Taken from: Celmins, Martin: Peter
Green: The Authorised Biography, Sanctuary, 2003)
Over the years the Munich Incident may have been exaggerated and Rainer
Langhans, in his (free) autobiography, tries to bring the incident back
to its true proportions:
After the performance of Fleetwood Mac in Munich, at the Deutsche
Museum, the band went to the hotel. Peter Green came along with us, with
the High-Fish people. (...) I quickly befriended him but he did not talk
much. We were both, in a way, soul mates. A soft, vulnerable and loving
man. Uschi had no special connection with him. She did not find him
physically attractive. He was too hairy, she said, and also the music of
Fleetwood Mac was too soft and not 'rocky' enough, while I found it very
beautiful. We spent the night together with him, tripping, jamming and
floating through the rooms on LSD. (...)
We met him
twice in London in the next couple of weeks. It was him who brought us
in contact with the Stones and Uschi was able to fulfill her dream of
finally starting an affair with Jagger. With Fleetwood Mac everything
seemed to be fine, but then Peter Green suddenly dropped out of the
band. We heard he was so disgusted with the music business that he no
longer wanted to be there. Much later the band put the responsibility on
the night he was with us in Munich and claimed his trip with us had
completely changed him. (Translated from German to English by FA.)
Green's decline and retreat from the music industry is often
compared to Syd Barrett's 1967 breakdown and although his descend into
madness can't be linked to one single event, just as in the Barrett
case, the gargantuan trip at the High-Fish community may have pushed him
closer to the edge.
Conveniently Uschi Obermaier's excellent memory suddenly fails her when
it comes to the Munich Incident. There is not a single word about it in
her autobiography, but the Frauenkommune testimony from above already
shows she can be rather discrete if she wants to.
With their days of Marxist collectivism gone, she and Langhans are
thinking of organising a German Woodstock festival. Peter Green does
what is asked of him and a few days later the couple is standing in a
London studio where Mick Jagger is working on Sticky Fingers. It is
satisfaction at first sight and a treat for the paparazzi.
But German Woodstock never happens, the relation with Rainer Langhans
comes to an end and Uschi, now an international photo-model, jumps back
into the Munich nightlife, replacing the diet of Champagne and Quaaludes
with the trendier heroin. In Hamburg she meets Dieter
Bockhorn, who is officially an eccentric Reeperbahn strip-club
owner and they start a turbulent relationship. When the Rolling Stones
are in Germany for some recordings she gradually replaces Mick Jagger
for Keith Richards, following them on a European tour and joining them
in the USA. Bockhorn is not amused.
From then on she will have a bizarre love triangle: everyday life with
Dieter and meeting Keith whenever his touring schedule allows him. She
will always have a soft spot for Richards: “The most honourable bad boy
I knew – and I knew some.”
In the mid-seventies Obermaier and Bockhorn, who has made the move to
heroin as well, follow the hippie trail to Asia in a converted bus. It
will be a trip through Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal and India that takes
622 days, 55141 kilometres with many weird, unbelievable adventures and
a few narrow escapes. German press, as always, is interested in the
adventures of Germany's baddest Kultpaar (cult couple) and they
are regularly interviewed and photographed 'on the road'.
Back in Hamburg Uschi obviously returns to modelling but the couple
fails to adapt to the western world and their relationship suffers
gravely. She remarks that the hippie days are over and that punks have
taken over the street. Bockhorn's business has suffered from the 20
months they were abroad and he struggles with monetary, legal and not
quite so legal problems. They make plans to leave for America as soon as
they can afford to leave.
In November 1980 they arrive in the USA where they will do a Kerouac,
heroine free after an obliged detox boat journey. In summer they roam
the continent and for three consecutive winters they stay in an
alternative hippies and bikers camp in Baja
California (Mexico). It is in Cabo
San Lucas that Keith Richards arrives one day, carrying a guitar
under the arm and giving a one man campfire gig on the beach, much to
the amazement of the stoned onlookers. In the third year money has run
out and the dharma bum life, with loads of alcohol, 'grass' and
promiscuity, weighs heavily on both of them. On the last day of 1983 a
drunk Dieter Bockhorn crashes his motorcycle on a truck ending his wild
For a while a depressed Uschi Obermaier feels that she has achieved
nothing in her life and that she only got there through her pretty face.
One of her pastimes is scrimshaw and she starts designing jewellery that
she sells through the exclusive Maxfield
store in Los Angeles, where Madonna and Jack Nicholson buy their
trinkets. While she is certainly not an airhead and may have talent as
an artist it can't be denied that her career is a case of, what the
Germans amusingly describe as, Hurenglück.
On top of that the Krauts simply can't have enough of her. The story of
her life as a groupie, a junkie, a starlet, her relations with a
communist rebel, some Rolling Stones and a Reeperbahn crook who thought
he was the Hamburg equivalent of Ronnie
Kray make her autobiography Mein Wildes Leben (literally: my
wild life) a page-turning bestseller.
It is followed by a biopic Das
Wilde Leben, a home-country hit, but not abroad where it is
Miles High. Reviews vary, but in our opinion it is a pretty average
movie, with uneven and often caricatural scenes (check the Mick vs Keith scene
for a ROTFL)
and frankly Natalia
Avelon's gorgeous cleavage has more depth than the script.
Back To Barrett
But to finally get back to the initial subject of this post, because in
fine Church tradition we seem to have gone astray for a while.
Did Uschi Obermaier have a love-interest in Syd Barrett? Did they
meet at Formentera? Did he hit her when he had hysteria attacks?
No. No. No.
We're afraid the answer is a triple no.
Doesn't Mein Wildes Lebens mention Syd Barrett at all?
Yes, his name is dropped once. He is mentioned in a comparison between
Swinging London and 'its psychedelic music scene from early Pink Floyd
with Syd Barrett' and the grey, conservative atmosphere in Germany where
girls in miniskirts were insulted on the street.
Could Uschi have met Syd Barrett in Germany?
No. Vintage Pink Floyd, with Barrett in the band, never played Germany.
A gig for the TV show Music For Young People in Hamburg, on the first
and second of August 1967 was cancelled.
How about Syd hitting her?
The Barrett - Obermaier hysteria attack rumour is probably a mix-up from
Syd's alleged violence towards his girlfriends and the tumultuous
relationship between Obermaier and Bockhorn, who once pointed a gun at
her and pulled the trigger (luckily the weapon jammed).
So how about Uschi Obermaier hiding her precious body behind a red
veil on Formentera in the summer of 1969?
She writes that she visited Ibiza (the island next to Formentera) on the
day Mick Jagger married Bianca, so that places the event in May 1971,
nearly two years after Syd's Formentera picture. When Barrett was
strolling on the beach Uschi was either at K1 in Berlin or at the
Frauenkommune in Munich.
Well, I'm still not convinced until Uschi Obermaier herself tells us
it never happened.
Why didn't you ask before, because we did. We managed to pass Uschi
Obermaier the question through a mutual contact and we even got an
answer back. Uschi Obermaier on the first of February 2015:
They are right, this is NOT me, they researched right. I was at this
time either in Berlin or back in Munich.
Case closed then. Unless Sarah Sky wants to come forward, obviously.
Many thanks to: Bianca Corrodi, John Davies, Little Queenies, Nina,
Uschi Obermaier, Jenny Spires. This is, more or less, an update of a
previous article that can be found here: Formentera
Sources (other than the above internet links): Blake, Mark: Pigs
Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2013, p. 28, 83. Langhans,
Rainer: Ich Bin's, pdf
version, 2008, p 39. Palacios, Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink
Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London, 2010, p. 38. Povey, Glenn: Echoes,
the complete history of Pink Floyd, 3C Publishing, 2008, p. 67. Sedgwick,
Nick: Light Blue With Bulges, Fourth estate, London, 1989, p. 37.
The following is a 'longread' about the blues musicians who gave Pink
Floyd its name.
TL;DR: Syd Barrett did not have Pink Anderson and/or Floyd
Council records, as they were extremely rare. Those two blues
musicians were named on the liner notes of a popular Blind Boy Fuller
compilation though. It wasn't Syd who distilled the name 'Pink Floyd'
from that record, but Stephen Pyle, one of his friends.
Floyd and Syd
Barrett fans have a pretty rough idea how the band acquired its
name, although the exact story is probably less known and only interests
Roger Keith Barrett anoraks anyway. In their enthusiasm, some fans even
share pictures of the Pink Floyd name-givers on the dozens of, mostly
obsolete and highly repetitive, Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Facebook fan
groups, in their continuous race to be bigger than the others.
Here they are: Georgia blues singers Pink Anderson and Floyd Council,
whose records were in the proud possession of a certain Cambridge boy.
Only, the person at the right is not Floyd Council, but Blind
Boy Fuller (and they are not from Georgia either). We'll explain
later how Blind Boy Fuller gets into the picture.
Knowing how a blues singer from the beginning of the past century looked
like is one thing, knowing how he sounded often seems even more of a
gargantuan task. And even the world's best music magazine wasn't so sure
The above YouTube movie allegedly has the Pink Anderson song C.C. and
O Blues, followed by the Floyd Council track If You Don't Give Me
What I Want. Only what you hear is not always what you get.
C.C. and O Blues
The vocals on C.C. And O Blues are from Simmie
Dooley, not Pink
Anderson. Dooley was a country blues street singer who lived in Spartanburg,
South Carolina and who is mostly remembered as Anderson's musical mentor.
In the beginning of the past century Spartanburg's black district was
named the politically incorrect Niggertown, by Negroes and whites alike.
The black district was a spirited place, in all possible interpretations
of the word, and not always safe to roam. Ira
Tucker, lead singer of The
Dixie Hummingbirds, remembers:
Anywhere you would go could be risky. Those guys in Spartanburg, they
didn't take any tea for the fever. They would fight to the end!
As a black person, living in Spartanburg, one had to face thousands of
indignities. The racist police was generally showing disrespect:
Nigger, you have to say 'mister' to me.
The black population of Spartanburg reacted, unsurprisingly, as expected.
The white cops, when they would get ready to arrest a black man, it
would take three or four of them. If they came into a neighbourhood to
arrest somebody for nothing, black people would fight back.
Not that a lot has changed a century later, with the exception that the
n-word is now considered inopportune. USA police still can insult, kick
and shoot unarmed black people, but as long as they don't call them
niggers it's all passing by without consequences.
Niggertown also offered good times and music was always around. Ira
Tucker's grandfather 'Uncle Ed' was a musician who played a mean
accordion and who sang in the local church choir.
Another character was Trotting
Sally, real name: George Mullins. Born a slave in 1856, he was freed
at the age of 9 and became a familiar street musician with his fiddle
'Rosalie'. He was known for his wild antics and crazy animal imitations.
His behaviour was so eccentric that people doubted his mental stability.
He was – literally - the stuff legends are made of. It was rumoured that
Millins had superhuman strength, that he could outrun a train, hence the
nickname Trotting Sally, and these heroic deeds were the subject
of several late 19th-century folk-tales. When he died, in 1931, he was
remembered in several newspaper articles. Although he was captured on
film, no sound recordings of him exist. Ira Tucker:
He was an excellent violinist. Nothing but strings and his fingers. He
had that violin almost sounding like it was talking. If you said “Good
Morning”, he would make that violin say, “G-o-o-o-d M-o-o-o-rning”.
Another street musician who not only impressed Ira Tucker, but Blind
Gary Davis as well, was an old man who sang and played the guitar:
Simmie Dooley (1881-1961) may have played his favourite spot in
Spartanburg's 'Short Wolford' when he met young lad Pink Anderson, an
entertainer in a travelling medicine show who wanted to learn the
guitar. They would go off in the woods to practice, usually with a
bottle of corn whiskey 'to help the throats'. Simmie's educational
system consisted of hitting Pink's hands with a switch until he got the
In search of Simmie
Anderson was not only Dooley's sideman, but also his eyes. It was
practically impossible for a blind man to travel but with Pink he could
go to the small towns around Spartanburg, like Woodroff and Roebuck, to
play on country picnics and parties. They often performed together and
in April 1928 they recorded four
tracks for Columbia Records in Atlanta. These two 10 inch 78RPM
records were issued under the name Pink Anderson and Simmie Dooley and
have the duo at their finest. The musical bond between both was so
strong that Pink Anderson refused to record without his teacher, which
could have made his life much easier. (Apparently the record company
didn't like Simmie's distinctive voice.)
C.C. & O Blues, referring to the Carolina,
Clinchfield and Ohio Railway that ran through Spartanburg, is a bit
carelessly attributed to Pink Anderson on a Mojo cover disk of October
2007 (issue 167): In
Search Of Syd. Simmie Dooley, who is the main performer, is only
mentioned in the liner notes, but not on the front nor backside
track-listing. It is one of those mysteries why exactly this track was
chosen for the compilation. From that same 1928 session Mojo could have,
for instance, picked Papa's
Bout To Get Mad where Pink Anderson is the lead instead of Simmie
Dooley. All in all there are about 3 dozen Pink Anderson songs but Mojo
resolutely went for about the only track in his entire career where he
can't be heard at all.
If You Don't Give Me What I Want
The second song on the YouTube movie from above is If You Don't Give Me
What I Want. It can be found on the same Mojo compilation and there it
is somewhat lavishly attributed to Blind
Boy Fuller and Floyd
Council. It certainly is a Blind Boy Fuller song, taken from a
session in February 1937 with accompanying musicians Floyd Council (on
guitar) and George Washington (on washboard), using the pseudonyms
Dipper Boy Council and Bull City Red.
Mojo stretched the line by adding Floyd Council's name, making us wonder
why they forgot the third musician. The YouTube uploader even went a
step further by omitting Blind Boy Fuller from his own record, thus
giving the title a self-explanatory extra dimension.
Although Floyd Council solo tracks are harder to find than those of Pink
Anderson, they do exist and 6 of those have survived into the
If you are already confused by now, we can only promise it will get
worse from now on. Who are these Pink and Floyd character everyone is
Syd Barrett at first tried to explain that the name Pink Floyd had come
to him in a vision or by a passing flying saucer while he was meditating
on a leyline, but the truth is somewhat less exotic. In a Swedish
interview from September 1967, Barrett explained:
The name Pink Floyd comes from two blues singers from Georgia, USA –
Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.
Basically this story kept repeating itself from article (for instance: Nick
Kent, 1974) to article, from year to year, from biography to
biography, without much checking of the journalists involved, although
some did have the guts to add the odd detail here and there. But all in
all it would take more than three decades to get to the truth.
In the Visual Documentary (aka the Pink Floyd bible) by Barry
Miles (1980) Anderson and Council are still described as Georgia
blues-men who were in Syd's record collection. It may come as blasphemy
for vintage Floyd fans but demi-god Syd Barrett actually made an error
as these two musicians stayed in the Carolinas for most of their lives. Nicholas
Schaffner (1991) managed to add the years of birth and death of
these obscure blues musicians, but also Mike Watkinson and Pete Anderson
in their Crazy Diamond biography state that Syd 'had a couple of records
by two grizzled Georgia blues-men'. Same for the lavishly illustrated,
but for the rest forgettable, Learning To Fly biography by Chris
Welch (1994) and a few other publications...
In 1988 though, in the first release of Days in the Life, Jonathon
Green quotes Peter Jenner:
The name came from a sleeve note which one of them had read, which
referred to Pink somebody or other, and Floyd somebody or other, two old
blues guys, and they just thought that 'The Pink Floyd' was a nice
combination, and they called it the Pink Floyd Sound.
Information doesn't always gets transferred through the appropriate
channels and the booklet of the Crazy
Diamond CD-box, that appeared 8 years later, still alleged that:
Barrett, Waters, Wright, and Mason reconvened as The Pink Floyd Sound, a
name Syd had coined from an album by Georgia blues musicians Pink
Anderson and Floyd Council.
(Barrett's record company and/or management have a history of making
silly mistakes, see Dark
Blog or Cut
All it needed to straight things out was to go to a local library (this
was pre-WWW-days, remember) and look up these names in a blues
encyclopedia, like yours truly did, a very long time ago. Kiloh Smith's
adagio that 'Syd Barrett fans are, basically, really, really lazy people
unless it comes to fighting amongst themselves on some message board'
can also be expanded to rock journalists.
Although never of the grandeur of B.B. King or Muddy Waters Pink
Anderson isn’t really that obscure and the perfect example for someone
who likes to brag about his (or her) Piedmont
Pink Anderson was born in Lawrence,
South Carolina, in February 1900, and was raised in Spartanburg where he
would stay his entire life. He first went on the road at age fourteen,
employed by Dr. Kerr of the Indian Remedy Company, singing and dancing
medicine show tunes. When the show was not travelling between Virginia
and southern Georgia, with occasional trips into Alabama and Tennessee,
Pink was working as a handyman in the Spartanburg storehouse where W.R.
Kerr kept his trucks and stage equipment. He would stay with the troupe
until Dr. Kerr retired in 1945 and never considered himself a blues
singer, but a medicine show entertainer.
In 1916 Pink met Simmie Dooley, a blind blues street-singer, living in
the same town. When Pink wasn’t out selling magic potions, he and Simmie
played at picnics and parties in small towns around Spartanburg. They
cut a few singles together in April 1928, but Anderson refused to record
without Dooley (until Simmie was too old to perform). In February 1950
he was recorded by singer, folklorist and music-archivist Paul
Clayton, but the tapes wouldn't be released for another decade.
There was a kind of Pink Anderson revival in the early sixties, when he
was tracked down by blues historian Samuel
Charters who recorded him and brought out three albums spanning
Pink's career as a Carolina blues man (volume 1), a medicine show
entertainer (volume 2) and a ballad & folksinger (volume 3), otherwise
Pink Anderson would've stayed a mere footnote in blues history, just
like his tutor Simmie Dooley. These three albums still sell today,
obviously aided by the Floydian connection, and they are of an excellent
'vintage folk & blues' quality. (Samuel Charters passed away in March
2015, aged 85: obituary.)
It is not unimaginable that some people in the Cambridge blues & beatnik
circles were aware of these compilations, although they must have been
rare. Floyd Council's name, however, can't be found on any of these
records. Anderson's repertoire contained several Blind Boy Fuller songs,
but they never met. Anderson died in Spartanburg in 1974, perhaps
unaware of the fact that one of the greatest shows on earth was named
Floyd Council is a slightly different matter. Blues scholars and
historians know him as a side-man on about a dozen of Blind Boy Fuller
records and he only became a kind of celebrity because of the Floyd
segment. His solo songs have been included on several blues
compilations, because of the Pink Floyd link alone, for instance on the
Century of the Blues 4-CD set (see picture above) where he comes up,
right after... Pink Anderson.
Floyd Council was born in Chapel
Hill, North Carolina in September 1911 and began working with
legendary blues artist Blind Boy Fuller in the 1930’s. Though he is
mainly known for backing Fuller, he also worked with Sonny
Terry and cut some solo tracks as well. A few sources tell he may
have recorded enough tracks for three albums, but only six of those have
survived. The well-informed Wirz
blues discography only found one lost 1937 two-tracks session.
In a (fruitless) effort to become famous he gigged and recorded as
'Dipper Boy Council', bearing the epitheton ornans 'Blind Boy
Fuller's Buddy' (1937). According to the New Dictionary of American
Slang, edited by Robert L. Chapman (1986), dipper refers to dippermouth,
a person with a large mouth. The term showed up in Dippermouth
Blues, recorded by King
Oliver's Creole Jazz Band in 1923 with a 21-years old Louis
Armstrong in the band, whose nickname happened to be just that, for
Devil in disguise
Another stage name for Council was the 'Devil's Daddy-in-Law' (1938),
probably to cash in on the popularity of Peetie
Wheatstraw who was known as the 'Devil’s Son-in-Law' and whose songs
often referred to the hoodoo tradition, root doctor and crossroads
legends in blues.
"If black music is the father of rock, voodoo is its grandfather" write Baigent
in their overview
of the occult through the ages. It is not known if Council was a
follower of Vodu, but like most Negroes he must have been aware of the
pagan undercurrent in his society, that was politically, culturally and
socially segregated from the white highbrow class.
Probably his nicknames had been chosen by his white and highbrow class
Long, a Maecenas for some and a thief for others, who also had Blind
Boy Fuller in his stable and who employed Floyd Council on a farm he
Floyd passed away in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on May 9, 1976. He is
buried in an unmarked
grave somewhere at White Oak A.M.E. Zion Cemetery of Sanford.
The first widely available Floyd Council compilation Carolina Blues
(1936-1950) was released in 1987, a tad too late to influence Syd
Barrett in his search for a name for his band. Let it be clear that in
the early sixties it was close to impossible, for a Cambridge youngster,
to find a Floyd Council record in the UK, unless you happened to be a
very lucky and rich 78-RPM gramophone collector. We seriously doubt that
anyone would lend any of these singles to a bunch of teenagers who would
scratch the surfaces on their Dansette portable record players.
So that is why it was impossible for Syd Barrett to have a Floyd
Council record in his collection, as some biographers have written.
Little by little the Pink Floyd biographies had to alter the story, but
it lasted until 2005 before Bryan Sinclair asked the following question
to a Yahoo
group of pre-war blues collectors:
Date: Mon, 14 Mar 2005 08:58:47 -0500 To:
email@example.com From: Bryan Sinclair Subject: Pink
Anderson / Floyd Council
I am interested in some background info on the origin of the band name
"Pink Floyd." It is my understanding that Syd Barrett came up with this
hybrid by combining the first names of Carolina bluesmen Pink
Anderson and Floyd Council. Bastin provides ample info with
respect to dates and locales for both, but how did the two names become
associated with one another, at least in the mind of Barrett?
Bryan Sinclair Asheville, NC
It took less than a day before Bryan Sinclair has an answer. David Moore
from Bristol remembered the names from a record he had in his collection:
To: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Mon, 14 Mar 2005
15:47:51 -0000 From: "Dave Moore" Subject: Re:
[pre-war-blues] Pink Anderson / Floyd Council
From an LP apparently in the possession of Syd Barrett: Blind Boy
Fuller, Country Blues 1935-1940, issued on Philips BBL-7512, c. 1962.
The sleeve notes were by Paul Oliver, and include the following: "Curley
Weaver and Fred McMullen, Georgia-born but more frequently to be found
in Kentucky or Tennessee, Pink Anderson or Floyd Council-- these were a few amongst the many blues singers that were to be
heard in the rolling hills of the Piedmont, or meandering with the
streams through the wooded valleys."
Dave Moore Bristol, UK
So there we have it. All it took to find the answer was, oddly enough,
to ask someone who knew, a thing nobody had ever thought of doing for 35
years. All we needed to do, was to keep on talking.
The rest is history and has been repeated in decent Pink Floyd
biographies ever since. So it is a crying shame that Floyd über-geek
Glenn Povey, in his encyclopedic study Echoes from 2007 still writes:
It [Pink Floyd] is the amalgamation of the first names of two old
Carolina bluesmen whose work was very familiar to him [Syd Barrett].
Not... a... fucking... chance.
Update July 2017:...and yet, official Pink Floyd sources still
don't grasp this. The 2017 catalogue for the Pink Floyd Their Mortal
remains exhibition states at page 82 that the band was - and we quote -
'named after two of Syd Barrett's favourite blues artists'.
Blind Boy Fuller
Fulton Allen was born in July 1907 in Wadesboro,
North-Carolina and learned to play the blues from the people around him.
In his mid-teens he started to lose his eyesight from a maltreated
disease at birth and not from washing his face with poisoned water,
given to him by a jealous woman, as has been put forward by Paul
What was a hobby at first, now became his trade, because blind Negroes
didn't have many job opportunities in the thirties. Allen started
busking in the streets of Durham
and playing gigs with Floyd Council (aka Dipper Boy Council), Saunders
Terrell (aka Sonny Terry) , George Washington (aka Bull
City Red) and Reverend Gary Davis.
In 1935 he was discovered by record store owner and music promoter James
Baxter Long who became manager of the lot. Re-baptised as Blind Boy
Fuller he was paid about 200$ per 12 song session, not a bad deal in
those days, unless you would suddenly start selling hundreds of
thousands of records. And that was exactly what happened.
In five years time Blind Boy cut 139 sides, in 11 sessions taking
approximately 24 days, but there would be no royalties going Fuller's
way. Long would later explain that, as a rookie, he didn't understand
the concept of copyrights. It is true that before 1938 Fuller's records
were not credited to any author, thus (theoretically) flushing a lot of
money down the drain. After April 1938 Long started putting his own name
on the copyright papers when he noted down Fuller's lyrics, claiming he
did this innocently and with no intent to rip Fuller.
Opinions about J.B. Long differ. As a patron of the arts he provided
housing and jobs for his artists, but of course that was also a way to
have them chained for life to his agency. Gary Davis and Blind Boy
Fuller called him a thief, although Sonny Terry was slightly more
In the beginning he took all the money, but we didn't care because it
started our careers.
McGhee, however, never had a bad thing to say about his manager.
The Decca Tapes
Blind Boy Fuller once tried to moonlight at Decca, but these records
were rapidly pulled from the market after a complaint from his manager,
who wasn't apparently such an innocent rookie after all when somebody
tried to grab his artists.
James Baxter maintained he constantly provided Fuller with money,
clothes, food, fuel 'and other necessities' but the singer and his wife
applied several times for welfare, neglecting to mention that they
already had an income from recording sessions.
The blind aid bureaucracy didn't realise that Fulton Allen and Blind Boy
Fuller were the same person and they gave him a monthly allowance.
Unfortunately Fuller gave his secret away when he complained to social
services that his manager was not giving him the royalties he was
entitled to, but the only advice they could give him was to wait until
the contract ended and not to sign another one.
By 1939, suffering from alcohol related stomach ulcers, kidney troubles
and probably a touch of syphilis, Fuller impatiently waited to be
released from his contract and from jail, as he had shot his wife in the
leg, quite an accomplishment for a blind man and a sign that he had more
than money problems alone.
The Last Session
J.B. Long had the last laugh when he told Blind Boy Fuller he was still
under contract with the American Recording Company. Ironically it was
James Baxter who drove Blind Boy, Sonny Terry, Bull City Red and the
Reverend Gary Davis to Memphis for another recording session. This time
Fuller only received part of his session money, because he was already
greatly in debt with his ex-manager. On top of that the Blind Assistance
administration had finally found out that Fulton Allen was the same man
as Blind Boy Fuller. From his ex-manager they learned that he earned
about three times as much as the average household, which was still
ridiculously low given the records he sold. They (logically) terminated
the welfare checks.
The problem was that Fulton didn't spread his session money over several
months but that it would be invariably gone by the next. James Baxter
Long proposed to give Fuller a monthly salary instead of a session
lump-sum, and even a house rent-free, but a stubborn Blind Boy refused,
perhaps because it would have meant giving his freedom away and signing
a new contract with the music promoter.
For reasons that have never been properly disclosed, but it might have
been a rough life of sex and drugs and rural blues, Fulton Allen's
health rapidly declined and he died in February 1941, at only 33 years
Classic Jazz Masters
In his book 'How Britain Got The Blues', R.F. Schwartz notes that:
...most critics agreed that the great blues of the past would never be
reissued [in the fifties, FA], but some collectors were committed to
making this repertoire accessible.
For the smart understander: illegally. History repeats itself, ad
At first many jazz and blues reissues were bootlegs, made by collectors
for collectors and taken from the original 78-RPM records. As the
musicians had been paid flat fees anyway, and seldom received royalties,
no harm was done, although the record labels obviously had different
With a growing demand for vintage blues the major labels finally
understood that there was a market and that the costs for producing
these albums was minimal. Philips began its Classic Jazz Masters
Series in 1962 with: Blind Boy Fuller 1935-1940 Country Blues
Smith 1923-1924 Bessie's Blues (BBL-7513), followed by: Robert
Johnson 1936-37 (BBL-7539).
That last one was almost immediately deleted for legal reasons
(apparently even record companies have difficulties sorting copyrights
out) but so many copies had already been sold to blues-hungry teenagers
that a whole generation was inspired to start their own bands. British
blues boom was a fact.
On his first trip to England, in November 1962, Bob Dylan bought two
albums he brought back to the States. The first one was Blues Fell This
Morning, a Southern Blues compilation, that accompanied Paul Oliver's
book with the same name. The second was the Philips Blind Boy Fuller
Country Blues album. (A picture of that album, with Bob Dylan's
signature, can be found on Recordmecca: Bob
Dylan's Muse: Suze Rotolo, 1943-2011.)
Blues was a tidal wave that couldn't be stopped. 1965 saw a British tour
of Reverend Gary Davis and his old mates Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry
headlined the Cambridge Folk Festival on the 31st of July.
Blues In Cambridge
That the blues was also popular in Cambridge was proved by bands as The
Hollerin' Blues, named after the 1929 Charley
Patton song, Screamin'
and Hollerin' the Blues. Incidentally, Blind Boy Fuller's Piccolo
Rag, that is present on the 1962 Country Blues compilation, has the
Said, when I'm on the corner hollerin'. "Whoa! Haw! Gee!" My
gal's uptown hollerin'. "Who wants me?"
As their only way of communication, slaves or black farm workers would
holler to each other across the fields. Sometimes these hollers would be
wordless, sometimes they would form sentences and grow into songs that
were sung in call and response. Spirituals, work songs and hollers
influenced and structured early blues.
The line-up of this 1962/63 rhythm & blues band was Barney Barnes
(piano, harmonica and vocals), Alan Sizer (guitar), Pete Glass
(harmonica) and Stephen Pyle (drums). Rado 'Bob' Klose and Syd Barrett
joined them at least once at the Dolphin Club in Coronation Street, but
he was never a band member. According to Gian Palacios Barrett also sat
in on several jam sessions, mainly because he showed a certain interest
in Juliet Mitchell who lived in the house where the band rehearsed.
Women were the reason why the band cut itself loose from their old
management and they reincarnated as Those Without with Warren
Dosanjh as their new manager. (See also Antonio Jesús interview: Warren
Dosanjh, Syd Barrett's first manager.) Stephen Pyle remembers in The
Music Scene Of 1960s Cambridge that he actually suggested Pink
Floyd as the band's new name, but this was rejected.
Which one's Pink?
It means that the Philips Blind Boy Fuller Country Blues album was well
known by the Hollerin' Blues mob, including Syd Barrett, who joined
Those Without for about a dozen of of gigs. It could also mean that the
Pink Floyd name, contrary to general belief, was not thought up by Syd
and that it might have been an incidental joke. Not that it really
matters, but we asked Stephen Pyle anyway:
I am afraid time has taken is toll on my memory. But Syd and I used
to invent band names when Those Without were already in existence, as to
who's album it was I think it was mine. It was Dave Gilmour who
claimed that I was the source, and he must have got that from Syd.
Country Blues: a review
The 1962 Philips album Country Blues, Blind Boy Fuller 1935-1940 is a
wayward compilation, containing 16 tracks, ranging from the obvious to
the less than obvious. It contains tracks from 10 different sessions,
recorded over 12 days, starting with the first session that made Fuller
a star and ending with the last one he would ever do. Intriguingly - for
Pink Floyd anoraks - is that none of the tracks have Floyd Council on
them, but George Washington (aka Bull City Red) and Sonny Terry can be
found on several songs. So the record that gave the Pink Floyd name away
actually doesn't have Pink Anderson, nor Floyd Council on it.
Why don't you listen to the Country Blues album while reading this
A Spotify playlist (login needed) for the same album can be found here: Country
Blues. Throughout the review many YouTube and Wikipedia links will
be given, checking them out will take many hours of your life. A Blind
Boy Fuller gallery with hi-res images of the record, its cover and the
liner notes has been uploaded: Blind
Blind Boy Fuller is generally cited as the originator of the terms 'keep
on truckin' (in Truckin'
My Blues Away, not on this compilation) and 'get
your yas yas out' (not included either). Several of his songs belong
to the hokum genre - humoristic blues with double entendres and sexual
innuendos – or bawdy blues. His What’s
That Smell Like Fish, Mama (not included) as being one of the most
There's a bit of playful innuendo in Truckin' Little Baby with the line:
she got good jelly but she's stingy with me.
Jelly is a culinary metaphor for female attractiveness and/or sexuality.
Imagine this tune with an electric guitar, add some bass and a drum and
there you have it: rock'n roll.
A big legged woman is just another way of saying that she is sexually
attractive and with 'gets my pay' Fuller is implying he wants to give
her more than his monthly salary alone, but you probably already had
figured that out.
Want Some Of Your Pie obviously is an example of a risqué blues,
without really being too smutty, unless we semantically dig deeper.
Officially the song goes like this:
Says, I'm not jokin' an' I'm gonna tell you no lie, I want to eat
your custard pie.
But most hear something else:
Says, I'm not jokin' an' I'm gonna tell you no lie, I want to eat
your custy pie.
In a mighty interesting online essay that has unfortunately disappeared
from the web at the end of 2014 'The use of food as a sexual metaphor in
the blues' (Elise Israd) it is suggested that the use of code words for
romantic and sexual activity may have come out of fear and oppression.
Plantation owners were not amused that their (male) slaves would discuss
sex in public and thus they used innocent synonyms for the yummy things
they wanted to describe.
When it came to producing and selling blues records there was as well
the matter of censorship. As often in these cases the record companies
had a double standard, calling the naughty bits by their proper name was
considered obscene and legally forbidden, but they didn't see any harm
in selling songs about sugar plums, fish and custy, custard, crusty or
It might not come to you as a surprise that Led Zeppelin's 1975 album Physical
Graffiti starts with a track called Custard
Pie, what made one fan seriously wonder if Sonny Terry covered it
retroactively from the dark angel that is Robert Plant.
Recorded: July 12, 1939, with Sonny Terry (harmonica) & Bull City Red
and Lyrics Source(s):
Cat Man Blues
The next three songs all have an animal theme and in these cases animals
are used as an allegory for a situation man is not really happy with.
Man Blues is the story of a man who returns home, hears a noise in
another room and is told by his wife it is nothing but the cat.
Went home last night, heard a noise, I asked my wife what was that? Said
man don't be so suspicious, that ain't nothin' but a cat. Lord I
travelled this world all over mama, takin' all kinds of chance. But
I never come home before, seein' a cat wearin' a pair of pants!
While the words are funny, the situation isn't and the protagonist
surely doesn't appreciate that the cat man is stealing his cream away.
Recorded: April 29, 1936, (recorded twice that day, actually). Sound
(take 2) and Lyrics
Been Your Dog
Your Dog has a man complaining how badly treated he is by his wife.
Blues, not on this record, Fuller describes it as follows:
Now you doggin' me mama, ain't did a thing to you. And you keep on
doggin' no telling what I'll do. Now you dog me every morning, give
me the devil late at night. Just the way you doggin' me, I ain't
goin' treat you right.
Been Your Dog plays with the same subject:
I've been your dog mama ever since I've been your man...
Fuller complains how he has to work hard all day, only to come and find
a drunk wife in bed and ponders if he should leave her and make room for
Recorded: February 10, 1937. Sound,
but no Lyrics found.
Hungry Calf Blues
Calf Blues is much more funny and risqué, although it has again the
undertone of a man who is cheated on and who does his best to win his
woman back. The song, so tell the experts, is a variation of Milk
Cow Blues by Sleepy
John Estes (1930) although the lyrics haven't got much in common. In
1934 Kokomo Arnold covered the song,
still much the same as the original one.
Fuller's version is closer to Milkcow's
Calf Blues, recorded by Robert
Johnson on his last session in June 1937 and with a new set of
lyrics. Copyright wasn't really an issue in those days, as Lawrence
W. Levine explains in his study 'Black Culture and Black
Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom'.
Black singers felt absolutely free to take blues sung by others -
friends, professional performers, singers on records - and alter them in
any way they liked.
Fuller certainly was no exception to that rule and re-utilises a couple
of Johnson's lyrics:
Your calf is hungry mama, I believe he needs a suck.
Your milk is turnin' blue, I believe he's out of luck.
, but then he is off into his own miserable territory:
I found out now mama, the reason why I can't satisfy you... (…) You've
got a new cat, he's sixteen years old.
There's that trousered cat again! From then on the song turns
pseudo-autobiographical and the protagonist promises he will be faithful
to his wife from now on and to treat her well:
I'm gonna save my jelly, mama, gonna bring it right home to you. (...) You
can't find no young cat, roll jelly like this old one do.
For those thinking that Fuller is keen on sweet desserts, we would like
to add that jelly is not what you think it is, except when you have a
perverted mind and then it is exactly what you think it is.
A stanza later we learn that the I-person in the song is none other than
Fuller himself. He apologises that the flesh is weak and the blues
Says I got a new way of rollin' mama, I think it must be best. Said
these here North Carolina women just won't let Blind Boy Fuller rest.
But just when you think it would be wise to show some discretion male
chauvinist ego takes over again and Fuller brags that he is the best
Said I got the kind of lovin', yes Lord, I think it must be best. Said
I roll jelly in the mornin' and I also roll at night. I said hey
hey, I also roll at night. And I don't stop rollin', till I know I
rolled that jelly just right.
We doubt the lyrics need further explanation, unless perhaps you are
confused by the terms jelly and jelly-roll, another example of pastry
being used as a sexual metaphor. Harry's Blues gives a neat definition
and lists 15 songs that use the same terminology.
The last song on side A of the album is Mojo
Hidin' Woman, and compared to the previous lot a rather solemn and
respectful one, although it still blames the wife who brings misery over
the man. Blind Boy Fuller refers (literally) to black magic and the
woman's habit of concealing a mojo,
a magical charm bag, on her body.
Fuller probably means a 'nation
sack', a term originating from the Memphis area, which is a red
flannel bag containing roots, magical stones and personal objects, worn
by a woman, meant to keep her man faithful and make him generous in
Other sources say it should be 'nature
Middleton Hyatt, a white Anglican minister who studied folklore in
the thirties and who documented over 13000 (!) magic spells and beliefs,
may have misunderstood the Negro term 'naycha' and wrote it down as
'nation' instead of 'nature'. In hoodoo it was seriously believed that
the magical bag controls a man's 'naycha' or virility. No wonder that
Blind Boy Fuller didn't laugh at this one.
To make the spell powerful some objects of the love interest were put in
the bag, a photograph, his name or signature on a piece of paper, cloth,
fingernail clippings, (pubic) hair and other intimate by-products... The
bag was worn under the clothes, at the lower waist for obvious magical
reasons, and it was strictly forbidden to be touched, or even seen, by a
man. Married women would hide it before going to bed:
Yo' know, a man bettah not try tuh put dere han' on dat bag; yo' know,
he betta not touch. He goin' have some trouble serious wit dat ole lady
if he try tuh touch dat bag, 'cause when she pulls it off at night -- if
she sleeps by herself, she sleeps wit it on; but if she got a husban',
yo'll see her evah night go an' lock it up in dat trunk. [Taken from Nation
Sack @ Lucky Mojo.]
Not that a pious man would ever try to do that, as touching the bag
would make him lose, as Austin
Powers erroneously put it, 'his
mojo'. As the naycha sack was strict taboo for a man it was a safe
place for the woman to put her belongings in, money and tobacco, and if
the money had been given to her by her husband, that could only act as
an extra charm.
Mojo Hidin' Woman is the same song as Stingy
Mama, recorded a month earlier, but with a new title. Fuller knows
exactly what he sings about:
My girl's got a mojo. She won't let me see.
In true hokum tradition the song is full of double entendres, starting
with the first line:
Stingy mama, don't be so stingy with me.
As the (secret) mojo was often used or hidden inside a purse a 'stingy'
woman is one who doesn't like to spend money, but in this context mojo
is of course used as an euphemism for sex. Being the sexy motherfucker
he is, Fuller knows she will finally give in:
I say, hey-hey, mama, can't keep that mojo hid... 'Cause I got
something, mama, just to find that mojo with.
The song perfectly ends with a play of words, ingeniously hinting at the
'stingy' remark of the beginning:
Mama left me something called that stingaree. Says, I done stung my
little woman and she can't stay away from me.
Sex has never been described better, even if you don't immediately grasp
the concept of a stingaree, but once again Harry's Blues comes to the rescue.
This is, if you ask the Reverend, as poetical as:
'Cause we're the fishes and all we do the move about is all we do well,
oh baby, my hairs on end about you..
Recorded: September 7, 1937 (Stingy Mama: July 12, 1937) Sound
Country Blues Side Two
Side two starts with the Blind Boy Fuller classic Piccolo
Rag that can be found on about every compilation of him. It's a
joyous and irresistible ragtime guitar dancing tune that is typical of
the Piedmont Blues style. It is a fun track with a direct message that
doesn't need to be further explained:
Every night I come home you got your lips painted red. Said, "Come
on Daddy and let's go to bed."
In the first decade of the twentieth century a 'daddy'
in African American slang was a pimp, but later the term was generalised
to any male lover.
Lover Blues is the sad story of a man who takes a freight train to
'a far distant land', probably to look for work, and who gets a telegram
to immediately return home. On his return he finds that his lover has
died while he was on his journey. The message is clear and direct with
no double entendres, but this is normal as the subject is one of
melancholy and sadness.
Then I went back home, I looked on the bed And that best old
friend I had was dead Lord, and I ain't got no lovin' baby now
Recorded, June 19, 1940 with Bull City Red (washboard). Sound
Night Rambling Woman
Fuller's last solo song recorded on the 19th of June 1940, in a
'superstar' session that also had Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Eli
Jordan Webb (originally from Nashville) and Bull City Red (credited on
some tracks as Oh Red). Thirteen solo tracks were recorded, 8 by Fuller
and one by Sonny Terry.
The remaining four tracks are credited to a band called Brother
George & His Sanctified Singers, actually an alias for all
involved, singing religious inspired gospel and blues, with titles as:
'Must have been my Jesus', 'Jesus is a holy man' or 'Precious Lord'.
Fuller did not sing on this gospel session and it may have been George
'Oh Red' Washington who was the main vocalist.
Night Rambling Woman was posthumously issued by Brownie McGhee in 1941,
partly as a tribute to his friend, but probably as a cunning plan from
manager J.B. Long to cash in on Fuller's reputation by covering a
previous unreleased track. J.B. Long also put the epithet 'Blind Boy
Fuller #2' on early McGhee singles, for instance on the song Death
Of Blind Boy Fuller.
Night Rambling Woman is another take on the infidelity of women with one
line taken from Victoria
Spivey's 1926 song Black
Snake Blues, generally regarded as a stab at Fuller's own mortality:
My left side jumps and my flesh begin to crawl.
It has been said that Fuller was a master of eclecticism rather than the
originator of a style and there are many recorded examples in which the
influence of other popular blues artists can be heard.
Blues biographer Bruce Bastin found out that just before the Fuller
session Charlie Burse had cut a new version of his own song, now titled:
'Oil It Up And Go', in the same studio. That is probably where J.B. Long
heard and copied it from.
Many artists recorded this song after that, and all versions are
different. It seems as if every artist who performed the song, made up
his own lyrics or added a verse or two. Some of the people who recorded
the song are: B.B. King, Big Jeff and the Radio Playboys, Bob Dylan,
Brownie McGhee, Carl Story, Harmonica Frank Floyd, John Lee Hooker, Mac
Wiseman, Maddox Brothers & Rose, Mungo Jerry, Sonny Terry and The Everly
The song is in the hokum style with casual observations about (again)
the terrible treatment men suffer from their women.
Away From My Woman, this song actually exists in two different
takes, from the same session, with about 20 seconds difference, but the
vinyl record doesn't specify what version it is (same for Cat Man Blues,
by the way). The title already gives away what the tune is about.
Recorded: April 29, 1936. Sound
(take 1, 2:54), Sound
(take 2, 3:14), but no Lyrics found.
“The effects of the phonograph upon black folk-song are not easily
summed up.”, writes Lawrence Levine in 'Black Culture and Black
Smith's second single Crazy
Blues (1920), the first vocal blues recording in history, had sold
over one million copies despite being exorbitantly priced at one dollar.
In the mid twenties five to six million blues records were sold per
year, almost exclusively to the black public, who were with about 15
million in the USA. After the blast-off with mostly female singers
talent scouts roamed the states to audition regional bluesmen who
brought their version of traditional blues to the rest of the land.
It can't be denied that the booming record sales had a disruptive effect
on many local folk styles and traditions, but on the other hand, the
thousands of 78-RPM records archived songs that would otherwise have
been lost for ever. Even if the records had to fit inside the three
minutes format, blues had no beginning and no end, as the one performer
took up where the other left off and singers were constantly referring
to each other. A blues song didn't belong to the singer, it belonged to
Other trivia: Blues band Shakey
Vick named their first album,
in 1969, after this song.
Plum are terms that regularly appear in blues songs, although the
combination of both might be unique to this one.
It has been a while since we mentioned Led Zeppelin but their Travelling
Riverside Blues, itself named after a Robert Johnson tune (Traveling
Riverside Blues), ends by mentioning this Fuller song. Another fine
example of hokum blues, the lyrics are just damn' horny:
Oh just tell me mama Where do you get your sugar from Aw just tell
me sugar where you get your sugar from I believe I bit down On
your daddy's sugar plum
The last song Evil
Hearted Woman is one where the female race is again described at its
worst. It isn't the only time Fuller sings about an evil hearted woman
as the term is also used in his Untrue
Blues (not on this compilation).
Recorded: July 25, 1935. Sound,
but no Lyrics found.
In Evil Hearted Woman, My brownskin sugarplum, and Keep away from my
woman there is love, there is desire, there is menace, there is
jealousy, there is disappointment and there is humour.
We couldn't have said it better. If this record was good enough for Syd
Barrett to listen to, it surely is good enough for us as well. Listening
to Country Blues may be a challenge if your ears have been used to the
electric and electronic sounds of the third millennium, but this is R&B
in its embryonical stage. Dig it.
The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit started in 2008, more as a prank than
anything else (see: Felix
Atagong: an honest man), and has worn out its welcome more than
once. Feeling that our expiration date was reached at least a year ago,
it is time to say goodbye. And what better opportunity than to do it
with the album that named the best band in the word.
Let's give our final words to one of our esteemed colleagues, the
Reverend Gary Davis:
Many thanks to: Bennymix, Cagey, Caitrin, Deanna, Jim Dixon, Dorothea,
Brian Hoskin, Elise Israd, Mudcat.org,
Parla, Stephen Pyle, Tony Russell, Sorcha, Stagg'O'Lee, Dave T,
Iggy ♥ Libby ♥ friends, lovers and fans...
Sources (other than the above mentioned links): Baigent,
Michael & Leigh, Richard: The Elixir and the Stone, Penguin,
London, 1998, p. 399. Bastin, Bruce: Blind Boy Fuller,
biography in: Stefan Grossman's early masters of American blues guitar:
Blind Boy Fuller, Alfred Music Publishing, 2007. Bastin, Bruce: Red
River Blues: The Blues Tradition in the Southeast, University of
Illinois Press, 1995, p. 223-234. Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly,
Aurum Press Limited, London, 2007, p. 43. Charters, Samuel: Carolina
Blues Man, Pink Anderson vol. 1 record liner notes, 1961. Charters,
Samuel: Medicine Show Man, Pink Anderson vol. 2 record liner
notes, 1961. Charters, Samuel: Ballad & Folksinger, Pink
Anderson vol. 3 record liner notes, 1961. Dosanjh, Warren: The
music scene of 1960s Cambridge, I Spy In Cambridge, Cambridge, 2013,
p. 54. Goodall, Howard: Painters, Pipers, Prisoners. The musical
legacy of Pink Floyd., in: Pink Floyd. Their Mortal Remains, London,
2017, p.82. Green, Jonathon: Days In The Life, Pimlico,
London, 1998, p. 104. Hogg, Brian: What Colour is Sound?,
Crazy Diamond CD box booklet, 1993. Israd, Elise: The use of food
as a sexual metaphor in the blues, 2008?, (original page
deleted, partially archived
page) Levine, Lawrence W. : Black Culture and Black Consciousness:
Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom, Oxford
University Press, 2007 reprint, p. 225-232. McInnis, Mike : This
one's Pink, Unraveling the mysteries behind the Pink Floyd name,
2006. Miles, Barry: London Calling: a countercultural history of
London since 1945, Atlantic Books, London, 2010, p. 181. Miles,
Barry: Pink Floyd The Early Years, Omnibus Press, London, 2006,
p. 46. Miles, Barry & Mabbett, Andy: Pink Floyd The Visual
Documentary, Omnibus Press, London, 1994 edition, unnumbered pages,
1965 section. Obrecht, Jas: Blind
Boy Fuller: His Life, Recording Sessions, and Welfare Records, 2011. Oliver,
Paul: Country Blues 1935-'40, Blind Boy Fuller liner notes, 1962. Palacios,
Julian: Lost In The Woods, Boxtree, London, 1998, p. 40. Povey,
Glenn: Echoes, the complete history of Pink Floyd, 3C Publishing,
2008, p. 18. Pyle, Stephen: Pink & Floyd, message on
21/03/2015 16:38. Schaffner, Nicholas: Saucerful of Secrets,
Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1991, p. 30. Schwartz, Roberta Freund
: How Britain Got the Blues: The Transmission and Reception of
American Blues Style in the United Kingdom, Ashgate Popular and Folk
Music Series, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2008, p. 91-95. Stagg'O'Lee: Blind
Boy Fuller, Sa Vie, Gazette Greenwood, 2003. Watkinson, Mike &
Anderson, Pete: Crazy Diamond, Omnibus Press, London, 1993, p. 31. Weck,
Lars: Pink Floyd på visit, Dagens Nyheter, 1967-09-11. Welch,
Chris: Learning to Fly, Castle Communications, Chessington, 1994,
p. 26. Zolten, Jerry: Great God A'Mighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds :
Celebrating the Rise of Soul, Oxford University Press, 2002, p.
Let's cut the crap. Most Sydiots, a perfect term coined by a Syd
Barrett fan-site webmaster who turned out to be an internet charlatan,
A Facebook search gives about twenty Barrett-related groups (not
counting the hidden ones obviously), ranging from 7 to well over 7000
members, but at the moment you read this this may well have varied as
new groups sprout regularly, mostly when ex-members create new groups
out of frustration with another one.
In 2006, due to a sudden emotional storm that swept through my
household, I dived deep into those muddy waters that define Barrettism.
Joining the madcap cult is not unlike the rise into a masonic lodge and
by studying hard and absorbing facts and figures one constantly
progresses onto the Barrett road and closer to the 'secret', the
'mystery', the 'enigma', whatever that may be. It is a slow path, but
one that is rewarding, at least that is what we are fooling ourselves
Floyd carefully cultivated the Barrett myth throughout the years,
gaining millions of pounds in the madcap's slipstream, although they
have never been eager to share a slice of the pie. Rumours go the band
took advantage of Syd's frail mental state in the early seventies
peer-pressuring him into selling his financial share in the Pink Floyd
company. Roger Waters may have written Wish
You Were Here out of remorse, but that was not to be taken too
literally and it certainly didn't apply when Syd kept asking for his
paycheck. This doesn't mean that Barrett was a poor boy though. Dark
Side, Wish You Were Here, The Wall and The Division Bell all made new
fans who would check out The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn or a Floyd
compilation with some of his early tracks.
Selling Barrett by the pound is not a Pink Floyd prerogative.
Thorgerson and Mick
Rock turned it into an industry, publishing virtually the same
books, with different titles to fool the public, every couple of years.
Another grab in the rumour-mill goes that they sued, or threaten to sue,
each-other to decide, once and for all, who got the rights of precisely
what Barrett pictures. It all is the messy consequence of both of them
turning up, on the same day in 1969, for the photo-shoot of Barrett's
now legendary and considered cult album, The
Madcap Laughs, and mixing up the negatives. Apparently they came to
an arrangement that suited both, what cannot be said of the model on the
backside of the album who still has to receive the first penny for her
performance of 45 years ago.
Much lower at the Sydiverse are those people who once knew him,
or those silly tossers (m/f) pretending to have known him, often in the
biblical sense of that phrase, and who are frantically trying to keep
the memory alive and their reputation high, which can be something of a
My eternal admiration goes to the person who remarked rather dispirited:
If it weren't for the fact Syd Barrett stuck his cock in me... who
would really give a fuck about me?
Two: Life is just...
Years ago, I remarked to one of those infallible Syd Barrett-insiders
that there could be a good book in the adventures of the
Cambridge-mafia, beatniks and hipsters who went to London to seek for
fame and fortune, circling (and sometimes dying) like moths around the
Floyd's psychedelic flame.
To my knowledge that book was never written, but some bits and pieces
can be found in various (early) Pink Floyd biographies and other
Swingin' London debris. And there is of course the more than excellent 'The
Music Scene of 1960s Cambridge', now in its 6th edition, researched
and compiled by Warren
Dosanjh, although it tends to look at Pink Floyd as something funny
Cambridge beatnik and après-beatnik life can also be found in a few
Pryor's The Survival Of The Coolest and Matthew
Scurfield's I Could Be Anyone each have Floydian encounters,
mainly because it was impossible to frequent hip places and not meet Syd
Barrett. Nick Sedgwick's
novel Light Blue With Bulges tried to turn the adventures of a
would-be beat poet into a novel, but as far as I can remember it pretty
much sucked, despite the presence of a certain Mr. Roger Waters as an
arrogant bass player.
Lesmoir-Gordon (NLG) was typecasted as 'Andy' in that novel. In the
early sixties he operated the coffee-machine in the trendy coffee-bar El
Patio and organised poetry readings and art events, that put him in the
centre of the avant-garde cultural elite. Although he moved on into
TV/film business he sometimes still performs on art happenings,
accurately described by satirist Mick Brown as 'a load of old toffs
stuck in a lava lamp'.
In his latest novel 'Life Is Just...' NLG describes a typical
British dysfunctional family in the year 1962. Well, typical... The
authoritarian father, a respected and feared dean at the Cambridge
university, is a living example of the rigorous conservatism of the
post-war years, while the children, two sons and a daughter, are
experimenting with the newfound freedom that is modern jazz, beat
literature, pot and premarital sex. Mother Mary, trapped between loyalty
towards her husband and love for her children, tries to hold the house
together, despite the cracks in the cement, speaking words of wisdom, as
the song goes.
When NLG informed the Barrett community that a Syd-like painter and
musician, Richard Bannerman, turns up as one of the main
characters there was no unanimous cheer and this time this was not due
to the fact that the madcap community mainly consists of a lethargic
bunch of wankers. In 2000 NLG directed the docu-fiction Remember
A Day about an imaginary sixties musician, Roger Bannerman.
The film was made with amateurs, some sixties underground celebrities
thinking they could act, had a non-existing script and it resulted into
a vehicle that makes the Jan
& Dean biopic Deadman's
Curve (1978) look like Oscar material.
But of course I would never have read 'Life Is Just...' without the
Barrett connotation. NLG knows how to trigger some buzz with us anoraks,
that is for sure. But after the initial nerdy questions, such as, is
Richard Bannerman a realistic portrait of Roger Barrett and did he
really was a gigolo on a bike, the character takes over as a character
and not as a clone of a once famous musician stroke womaniser. That's
the strength of the author and its story, I guess.
Not that the story is that particular. At a certain point La
vie est un long fleuve tranquille popped into my mind, there is an
old family mystery, some unavoidable traumatic things occur and life
simply goes on after as if nothing has happened...
One of the brothers, Dominic, is probably an alter-ego of the author. He
travels to India, in search for a guru, where he meets Meher
Baba and Swami Satchit Ananda, who takes his preference.
While the trip to and through India is a fine read, there are also
portions where the character tries to explain the reasons to follow the
mystical path, sometimes with excerpts from other books. It comes over a
bit like preaching and ostentatiously is one of the author's darlings.
Several Cantibrigians did go to India, although not as early as here.
Paul Charrier made the trip in 1966 and came back a changed man (see
are all made of stars and Formentera
Lady). He was so enthusiast that he converted others (including NLG)
to follow the path as well, cutting the Cambridge underground scene (and
its London satellites) literally in half. Others did not agree, like
Storm Thorgerson and Matthew Scurfield who called the Indian invasion a
'wave of saccharine mysticism hitting our shores'. Syd Barrett, as we
fans know, was also tempted to follow the path, but was rejected by the
master. He continued his hedonist life, living it fully, what may have
lead to his decline. Isn't it ironic?
At the end not only Dominic's life has dramatically changed, but also
that of his brother, sister and mother. The dark family mystery is known
to the reader but not to them, yet... so I'm pretty curious what the
second instalment of this trilogy will bring, and of course if Richard
Bannerman's band Green Onions will hit the charts or not.
While not earth-shattering Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon has written a pretty
fine book and the Kindle version costs less than a Guinness at The
Anchor, so what you are waiting for, you lazy Barrett faggots?
"Bored socialist millionaires making solo records."
This header from a review of the About
Face album duly infuriated me, about three decades ago. In this
review the critic satirised the fact that David
Gilmour had asked colleague Pete
Townshend, from an equally legendary band, to help him out on a
couple of tracks.
In retrospect the About Face album tried a bit too hard to launch
Gilmour on a successful solo career, it was a bit too AOR,
to be good. The general audience wasn't interested in Pink
Floyd members going solo anyway and - in Belgium - Gilmour only
played a small university hall in Brussels, that was only partially
filled, if my memory is correct. Not that I was there, I didn’t go as
well, but that was thanks to my legendary social anxiety disorder.
Things are different now, the music industry may be complaining music
isn’t selling, but at least there is an appetite for the musicians
formerly known as Pink Floyd.
The buzz has been going on for quite a while now and you might except
that a new David Gilmour album is something like the second coming of
Christ. I’m a bit sceptic when things are getting overhyped, since Star
Trek V was promoted with the slogan ‘why are they putting seatbelts
in theatres this summer’? As the movie-goers found out, it was to
prevent them from leaving after fifteen minutes.
Although the preliminary signs weren't all too positive, who composes a
(rather mediocre) song around an annoying French railway jingle anyway
and links it to a text from John
Milton?, I tried to remain neutral when the CD appeared in the
5 AM starts a bit like the absolutely beautiful Let’s
Get Metaphysical (About Face) and makes me think remotely of At
The End Of The Day from Mason + Fenn's Profiles
album. It’s a nice introduction, but just when it could go somewhere it
simply fades out, what happens with several tracks on this album
unfortunately. It’s a nice, somewhat colourless intro, but that is
default Pink Floyd territory, so to speak.
Rattle That Lock sits in your brain like a cockroach and jumps up
when you least expect it. It’s Gilmour’s most catchy number in years,
sounding a bit like one of these irresistible Chris
Rea tunes: I
can hear your heart beat / Rattle that lock. The problem is, who has
heard of Chris Rea for the last 3 decades? The song has a standard
eighties feel with irritant percussion, irritant singing and irritant
lyrics and is a serious contestant to replace The
Dogs Of War as Gilmour’s worst song ever. On top of that the track
uses a sample from the Momentary
Lapse Of Reason days (Learning
To Fly) and that is how it sounds actually, fucking dated. While
David Gilmour gladly acknowledges that About Face suffers from the
eighties (over-)production, he does it all over again on this track.
Actually I am glad I don’t live in France so I don’t have to hear the SNCF
jingle on a daily basis and be reminded every time of this turd.
Faces of Stone. For a moment I feared Gilmour was going klezmer
but this is a little waltz that regularly puts you on the wrong foot.
Perhaps the best track on the album, although not among Gilmour’s bests,
if you know what I mean. It says something of the quality of the other
tracks, I fear. I guess I’m just happy there is a cool solo at the end.
Gilmour’s eulogy to Rick
WrightA Boat Lies Waiting starts with a long and slow intro
that could have been on The
Endless River. Although there is the tendency from fans to find it a
fitting remembrance it is a bit monotonous, despite some nice singing
and Nash. The song ends rather abrupt as if these old tossers were
suddenly out of breath, but others think that it is a symbolical way to
visualise how Rick was taken out of this world. Beautiful, but not
really earth-shattering and the fact that it is about Wright probably
makes me judge it milder than the others.
I don’t honestly know what to think of Dancing In Front Of Me,
I would like to like it, but then there is that feeling that it could’ve
been much better and that it is just a filler. Gilmour obviously is a
happy man and happy men, so goes the first rule of rock'n'roll, don’t
make great records. What if The
Wall had tracks like ‘My father and me went fishing’, ‘My mother was
always positive towards me’ and ‘Pink has a successful garden shop in
Cambridge’? Nobody would’ve bought it.
In Any Tongue first has some whistling for god’s sake, but then
it takes off like all the others in that lazy tone that specifies this
record. For a moment the refrain brings a solace, a glimpse of Floydian
grandeur, but – fearing I’m getting repetitive – the song never seems to
blossom, except perhaps for that ending 'Comfortably
Numb'-ish solo. With some help from Roger
Waters and Rick Wright this could’ve been an epic track. Wait a
minute. Did I just ask for Roger Waters? Something must be really wrong
with this record.
Beauty starts like it could’ve been a part of the last Floyd and
perhaps it was. Still sounds like a bit of filler, with a slight touch
of These Days. Too many bread and not enough cheese on this album
The Girl In The Yellow Dress or Gilmour and Samson go jazz.
Unfortunately it is the kind of jazz you hear as a soundtrack on French
romantic movies. This would be a cute track on a Jools
Holland album and actually that guy manipulates the piano here, as
Wyatt and Bob
(Rado) Klose. But as it is definitely something else it kind of
stands out against the rest. Different, not better.
Today starts like a church hymn, never a good sign, but then a
funky guitar takes over with a Fame
signature, unfortunately one of the David
Bowie tracks I loathe the most. Today is a mixed bag, has some awful
singing, and seems to be getting nowhere, like most of the disco dance
floor fillers. Chris Rea once sang 'I'm in a European disco', but this
is no Saturday
Night Fever, I'm afraid.
And then… there is a relieved sigh that this record is
finally over. The last instrumental will be used by radio makers all
over the world to end their show with and thank the audience for their
kind attention. If it had a sax solo it could also have been used to
musically accompany an episode of Red
Shoe Diaries, but just like that soft erotic drama series it never
really gets off the ground.
No sex please, we're British
As a matter of fact that is not such a bad comparison. David Gilmour has
given us a soft-core record, that will obviously be loved by millions,
but personally I was expecting something more 'in the flesh'. Of course
this isn't a bad record, David Gilmour is smart enough not to make 'bad'
records, but it is just so... dull, flat, uninspired. Like that American
cheese with no holes, no smell and also no taste.
As a final note I would like to add that the album comes in a regular
and a deluxe version. At almost the triple in price you get an
incredible amount of, what the Dutch describe so beautiful as, 'prullaria'
(kitsch, rubbish). One of those is a piece of plastic that is called a
plectrum, although 'plectrum-ish' would be far more closer to the
truth. It could be a plectrum for an ukulele, but apparently that is an
instrument you can't use a plectrum on, so tells me a musician who is
the master of all things strings. Whatever. (At the Holy Church Tumblr
page there is a gallery with the contents of the deluxe box: Unpacking
Rattle That Lock #1 and Unpacking
Rattle That Lock #2.)
The deluxe edition also contains a Blu-ray (or DVD) with a few
meticulous surround mixes, a couple of barn jams between Gilmour and
Wright and some horrifically bad remixes of Rattle That Lock. The barn
jams used to be online but they have already been deleted by the Pink
This is a fucking disappointing record and one that certainly won't help
me through my midlife crisis. On the other hand, Jason
Lytle has just announced a new Grandaddy
album. So there is still a reason to keep on going on with this
miserable life. But first, I think I'm going to have a listen to About
Face, compared to Rattle That Lock, it is a masterpiece.
This is a review of the Dutch Pink Floyd biography: De Som Der Delen
(The sum of the parts). There is nothing wrong with your browser as
the review is in Dutch as well.
Het wordt weer cadeautjesseizoen en dan is er tijd en plaats voor... een
nieuw Pink Floyd boek!
Muziekjournalist Wouter Bessels schreef 'Pink
Floyd: De Som Der Delen' voor de Rockklassiekers-reeks
dat ook Nederlandstalige biografieën over Deep Purple, Elvis Presley,
The Beach Boys, Focus en Kayak in huis heeft. De auteur zegt dat het 'de
eerste allesomvattende biografie in de Nederlandse taal over de carrière
van Pink Floyd en haar vijf groepsleden is geworden' maar dat is maar
hoe je het bekijkt. De Heilige Kerk van Iggy de Inuit besprak eerder de
Nederlandse uitgave van Hugh Fielders Behind
The Wall (2014) en ooit, in een zeer ver verleden, was er een boek
met de geïnspireerde titel 'Pink Floyd' (1994) van William Ruhlmann,
beiden vertalingen uit het Engels overigens. Maar als Bessels bedoelt
dat dit de eerste in het Nederlands geschreven biografie is heeft hij
natuurlijk overschot van gelijk, meer nog: dit is momenteel het meest
complete Pink Floyd boek ter wereld omdat het ook The
Endless River bespreekt en zelfs Rattle
That Lock aanhaalt. Bessels zelf is een jonge snaak die The
Wall ontdekte in 1987, wat ook al rijkelijk overtijd was, maar dat
album liet een onvergetelijke indruk na op hem (terwijl ik dat maar een
zwak broertje vond na The
Dark Side of the Moon, Wish
You Were Here en Animals).
Even checken hoe hij er vanaf brengt.
Tijd voor de Ster
Vooraleer het boek van start gaat is er een mini-bio over de heren Anderson
Van Floyd Council wordt er gezegd dat hij 27 nummers opnam waarvan zeven
als achtergrondzanger voor Blind Boy Fuller. Dit is kopieer-plakwerk uit
de Nederlandstalige Wikipedia, niets op tegen natuurlijk maar Council
was toch wat meer dan een zanger in het achtergrond-koortje. Maar deze
opmerking hoort hier enkel thuis om wat reclame te maken over onze
eigen, massieve, bijdrage over de roots van Pink Floyd: Step
It Up And Go.
Het boek begint met het verschijnen van The Endless River wat het einde
betekent van Pink Floyd als groep. Bessels schrijft dat het deels
gebaseerd is op The Big Spliff, in 1993 samengesteld door Martin
'Youth' Glover. Dat is niet zo. The Big Spliff werd gemaakt door Andy
Jackson tijdens de opnames van The
Division Bell. Youth kwam pas twintig jaar later in actie als één
van de co-producers van het laatste Floyd album. Het is een euvel waar
dit boek meer aan lijdt. Bessels weet wel steeds de som te maken maar
slaat een aantal keren de bal mis inzake detailkennis maar laat ons nu
net dat soort van kommaneukers zijn dat zich daaraan ergert.
Dan neemt het boek de chronologische volgorde aan, startend met de
ontstaansgeschiedenis van de band. Er wordt niet zo lang stilgestaan bij
de underground-fase van de groep als in andere biografieën, waar de
periode 1965-1967 soms een derde inneemt van het geheel. Eind 1967, als
Barrett het laat afweten, worden David
O’List en Jeff
Beck gebeld om de groep te vervoegen. Werkelijk? Alle andere
biografieën houden er een andere mening op na. David O’List zou
misschien wel hebben toegehapt als we dit interview uit 2015 mogen
O’List – Second Thoughts.
Zo gaat het boek verder in een mix van algemeenheden en wat meer
gedetailleerde wist-je-datjes. Niet onaardig om lezen maar het komt mij
toch wat luchtig over. Wat dan wel weer leuk is is het overvloedig
citeren van songteksten. Soms vind ik dat Bessels schrijfstijl wat
houterig overkomt en een loopje neemt met de Nederlandse taal
('allerdaagse' spanningen?) en hier en daar is de spellingscontrole wat
te overijverig geweest. Zo wordt het Engelse 'wall', niet onbekend voor
Pink Floyd-adepten, naar ik meen, een paar keer vervangen door het
Delen door vijf
De geschiedenis van Pink Floyd neemt zo'n 160 bladzijden in beslag en
eindigt met het hoofdstuk 'Erfenis' met informatie over de verschillende
compilaties, remasters, bootlegs, coverversies en coverbands. Het tweede
deel van het boek, 58 bladzijden, behandelt de solocarrières van de
aparte bandleden en doet dat heel wat gedetailleerder dan de meeste
andere biografieën. Wij vlooien even de tekst over Syd
Barrett na, wat had je anders gedacht?
Dat hoofdstuk begint met Barretts opmerkelijke verschijning in de Abbey
Road studio's tijdens de opnames van Shine
On You Crazy Diamond waar hij nu en dan een tandenborstel boven
haalt. Dat verhaal komt van Richard Wright en werd verder verteld door
John Leckie en Peter Jenner, hoewel die laatste niet eens in de studio
was op die dag. De andere getuigen, en er zijn er genoeg om een
voetbalploeg mee samen te stellen, hebben geen weet van een
tandenborstel. Overigens twijfelen Gilmour en Mason of ze wel met de
track 'Shine On' bezig waren. Om biograaf Mark
Blake te citeren in Mojo: “Geen twee mensen vertellen een
eensluidend verhaal.” In latere jaren werd het tandenborstel-verhaal
grotendeels ontkracht door diezelfde Mark Blake die erover postte op het Late
Night forum, maar echt zekerheid brengt dit ook weer niet.
Als het gaat over het outtakes album Opel
wordt de songtekst van Word Song (of Untitled Words) afgedrukt om
de bizarre genialiteit van Barrett toe te lichten. In de versie van
Wouter Bessels eindigt Word Song met de zin 'Rooftop in a thunderstorm
missing the point'. Die laatste zin behoort natuurlijk niet tot Word
Song, maar is de titel van een gedicht dat in de Hipgnosis archieven
werd teruggevonden en gepubliceerd werd in het fanblad Terrapin (als A
Rooftop Song In A Thunderstorm Row Missing The Point). Blijkbaar is er
iemand wat overijverig geweest met het knip- en plakwerk. (Zie ook: Bonhams
Sells Fake Barrett Poem)
Tot slot, ik weet wel dat Pink Floyd Barrett een poot heeft uitgedraaid
door hem uit de band te gooien maar ik wist niet dat men in 2006 een
been bij hem amputeerde, alvast volgens Bessels die dit smeuïge detail
voor waar aanneemt.
Voor de leek is dit best wel een interessant boek en dat is precies de
doelgroep voor wie het is bedoeld, niet voor de een of andere mopperende
dinosauriër die midden de jaren zeventig een 'oorgasme' kreeg na het
beluisteren van On
The Run. Net zoals Hugh Fielder is Wouter Bessels de auteur die de
verhalen bij anderen is gaan halen en die dan in zijn eigen versie giet.
De meerwaarde is dat dit boek werd geschreven in het Nederlands en dus
de eerst 'echte' Nederlandstalige Pink Floyd biografie is. Ook zijn de
meeste foto's originelen uit het archief van Peter Koks en de auteur
maar omdat het meestal gaat om live- of podium-shots lijken ze
natuurlijk op alle andere live- of podiumshots in andere boeken.
Toch kan ik me niet van de indruk ontdoen dat Hugh Fielders Behind The
Wall net dat tikkeltje beter is, met accuratere informatie, sterkere
foto's en, over het algemeen, een heel wat luxueuzere uitgave is en dat
voor nagenoeg dezelfde prijs.
June had the second (and if rumours are correct: last) Birdie Hop
meeting in Cambridge with Syd Barrett fans having an informal drink with
some of the early-sixties Cambridge beatniks we know and love so dearly:
Jenny Spires, Libby Gausden, Mick Brown, Peter Gilmour, Sandra Blickem,
Vic Singh, Warren Dosanjh and others...
Special guest star was none other than Iggy Rose who left, if we may
believe the natives, an everlasting impression. You can read all about
it at: Iggy
Rose in Cambridge.
Men On The Border came especially over from the northern parts of
Europe, leaving their igloo, so to speak, to gig at the Rathmore
Club where they not only jammed with other Syd-aficionados, but also
with Redcaps frontman Dave Parker. (For the history of those sixties
Cambridge bands check the excellent: The
Music Scene of 1960s Cambridge.)
The night before however, on Friday June 12th, Men On The Border played
the legendary Prince
Albert (that name always make us chuckle) music pub in Brighton.
This gig was recorded and is now the third album of Men On The Border,
(2012) that consisted of Barrett covers and Jumpstart
(2013) that mainly had original songs but with a slightly concealed
This live release shows that Men On The Border is a tight band and that
they can play their material without having to revert to digitally
wizardry. In a previous review we already remarked that:
...some of the influences of MOTB lay in the pub-rock from Graham Parker
& The Rumour, Rockpile (with Nick Lowe & Dave Edmunds) and the cruelly
under-appreciated The Motors...
This live album certainly proves that. The versions are pretty close to
the recorded versions and singer Göran Nystrom manages once again to
give us goosebumps on Late Night and their own Warm From You
that is a pretty ingenious song if you ask us (with a sly nod to Jimi
So give them a warm hand of applause and make them feel welcome in this
mad cat world of random precision.
01 Terrapin (Jumpstart) 02 No Good Trying (ShinE!)
03 Scream Thy Last Scream (2015 single) 04 Long Gone (ShinE!)
05 Gigolo Aunt (ShinE!) 06 Late Night (ShinE!)
07 Octopus (ShinE!)
08 Warm From You (Jumpstart) 09 Baby Lemonade (ShinE!)
Digital release only, people don't buy plastic any more, unfortunately.
Pink Floyd, dear sistren and brethren of the Holy Church
of Iggy the Inuit, will never stop to amaze us, for better and for worse.
Riff-raff in the room
Two weeks ago saw the umpteenth incarnation of The Wall concept.
Let's try to count how many times this important work of musical art
more or less exists. We'll only take count of official and 'complete'
versions as individual songs from the Wall can be found on compilations,
live albums and concert movies from the band and its members going solo.
First there was The
Wall album by Pink Floyd (1979), followed by the 1982 movie
with the same name. In 1990 Roger Waters staged his rock opera in
Berlin, with guest performances by other artists, and this was
immortalised with an album
and a concert movie.
The twenty year anniversary of the album was celebrated at the turn of
the millennium by Is
There Anybody Out There, a live album taken from the eighties tour
by the classic Floyd, although Rick Wright technically was no longer a
member of the band.
2011 saw the Why
Pink Floyd? re-release campaign and three epic albums were issued in
an Experience and Immersion series, each with added content. The Wall Immersion
has 7 discs and four of these are the regular album and its live clone.
A third double-CD-set has the so-called Wall demos and WIP-tapes that
had already been largely around for a decade in collector's circles. A
bonus DVD contains some clips and documentaries, but not the concert
movie that is known to exist. For collectors The Wall Immersion was the
most disappointing of the series and the presence of a scarf, some
marbles and a few coasters only helped to augment that feeling.
Am I too old, is it too late?
In 2010 Roger Waters started a three years spanning tour
with a live Wall that promised to be bigger and better. It was certainly
more theatrical and if we may believe the Reverend, who watched the show
as interested as Mr.
Bean on a rollercoaster, boring as fuck. But with 4,129,863 sold
tickets it set a new record for being the highest grossing tour for a
solo musician, surpassing Madonna and Bruce Springsteen.
So it is no wonder that the show would be turned into a movie. It needs
to be said that Roger Waters should be thanked for stepping outside the
concert movie concept, adding a deep personal touch to the product.
Those people who already saw the Blu-ray praise its sound quality that
is conform to what we expect from a Floydian release, despite Waters'
obvious lip-synching on about half of the tracks.
And that is why the CD-version of The Wall live is such a disaster.
There are serious indications that some sound studio jerk took the
superior Blu-ray surround mix and simply downgraded it to stereo without
reworking the parts that make no sense when you only have got the audio
to rely on. Apparently making 459 million $ with The Wall tour didn’t
give Roger Waters enough pocket money to make a proper CD mix for this
Riding the gravy train, or as the Sex Pistols named it: doing a rock 'n'
roll swindle, is something we are already familiar with in Pink Floyd
(and former EMI) circles. The
Anchor wrote in the past about scratched and faulty discs that were
put in those expensive deluxe sets (Fuck
all that, Pink Floyd Ltd. – 2011 12 02) and how the band and its
record company pretended to sell remastered albums while the music on
the CD was just goody good bullshit taken from an old tape (What
the fuck is your problem, Pink Floyd? – 2014 11 08). It makes us a
bit sad for all those fans who have bought the super
deluxe set of The Wall at 500 dollars a piece. The show must go on,
But anyone familiar with the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit knows lengthy
introductions are our trademark and it will not come as a surprise that
this article isn't about The Wall at all.
Buzz all night long
Friday, the 27th of November 2015, sightings were published on the
social media of an unannounced Pink Floyd 7-inch-vinyl-double-set that
had hit records shops in the UK. It was named 1965:
Their First Recordings and claimed to have the following tracks.
Record 1A: Lucy Leave
Record 1B: Double O Bo Remember Me
Record 2A: Walk with me Sydney
Record 2B: Butterfly I’m a King Bee
Composers: 1, 2, 3, 5: Syd Barrett 4: Roger Waters 6: Slim
Personnel: Syd Barrett: Vocals, Guitar. Bob ‘Rado’ Klose: Guitar. Nick
Mason: Drums. Roger Waters: Bass, Vocals. Richard Wright:
Keyboards. Juliette Gale: vocals on Walk with me Sydney. (Some
pictures of the 'first' five man Floyd can be seen here: Pink
It was soon confirmed that the records were official, contrary to the
many bootlegs that already exist of the first and last track of the set,
and that it was a so-called 'copyright extension release'. According to
European law, sound recordings have a seventy years copyright, provided
that they are released within five decades. If the recording fails to be
published within 50 years it automatically becomes public domain, the
'use it or loose it'-clause, and that is something that The Floyd didn't
want to happen, especially not as there seems to be an Early Years
Immersion set on its way, predicted for the end of 2016.
That six tracks were released from the Floyd's first session(s) was
something of a surprise. Up till now, every biography only spoke of four
tracks put on tape. Let's see what Nick Mason had to say about it:
Around Christmas 1964, we went into a studio for the first time. We
wangled this through a friend of Rick’s who worked at the studio in West
Hampstead, and who let us use some down time for free. The session
included one version of an old R&B classic ‘I’m A King Bee’, and three
songs written by Syd: ‘Double O Bo’ (Bo Diddley meets the 007 theme),
‘Butterfly’ and ‘Lucy Leave’.
This was repeated in an August 2013 interview for Record Collector.
In Latin in a frame
However, in a letter to Jenny
Spires, presumably from late January, early February 1965, Syd
Barrett speaks about five tracks:
[We] recorded five numbers more or less straight off; but only the
guitars and drums. We're going to add all the singing and piano etc.
next Wednesday. The tracks sound terrific so far, especially King Bee.
At the bottom of this letter
Barrett also drew the studio setup with Nick Mason, Roger Waters, Robert
'Rado' Klose and himself ("Me. I can't draw me.").
The early sessions also appear in an (unpublished) letter to Libby
Tomorrow I get my new amp- Hooray! - and soon it's Christmas. (…) We're
going to record 'Walk With Me Sydney' and one I've just written '
Remember Me?', but don't think I'm one of those people who say they'll
be rich and famous one day, Lib.
In another letter he writes:
We just had a practice at Highgate which was OK. We're doing three of my
numbers – 'Butterfly', 'Remember Me?' and 'Let's roll another one', and
Roger's 'Walk with me Sydney', so it could be good but Emo says why
don't I give up cos it sounds horrible and he's right and I would, but I
can't get Fred [David Gilmour, note from FA] to join because he's
got his group (p'raps you knew!). So I still have to sing.
Tim Willis concludes in his Madcap biography that:
Sydologists will be astounded to learn that by '64, Barrett had already
written 'Let's Roll Another One', as well as two songs 'Butterfly' and
This is slagged by Rob Chapman in A Very Irregular Head. According to
Chapman the letters date from December 1965, and not 1964, for reasons
that are actually pretty plausible.
Bob Klose told Random Precision author David Parker that he only
remembers doing one recording session with the Floyd late Spring 1965
and that he left the band in the summer of that year.
In other words, dating these tracks is still something of a mess. At the
Steve Hoffman forum the tracks were analysed by Rnranimal and he
concluded that the 6 tracks do not origin from the same source either,
so they could originate from different recording sessions. According to
him; tracks 1, 2 and 6 sound like tape and 3, 4 & 5 like acetate.
Legally all songs need to be from 1965, and not from December 1964, as
Mason claims in his biography, because... that would make these 1964
songs public domain and free to share for all of us. Perhaps the band
started recording in December 1964 but added vocals and keyboards a
couple of weeks later, in 1965. Surely an army of lawyers must have
examined all possibilities to keep the copyrights sound and safe.
Good as gold to you
1965: Their First Recordings is exactly what the title says. Never mind
the cover with its psychedelic theme as it is obviously misleading. In
1965 The Pink Floyd were still a British
Rhythm & Blues outfit and not in the least interested in
psychedelic light shows. Barrett tries hard to impersonate Jagger and
even uses an American accent on the songs. And not all songs are that
original either. We skip Lucy Leave and I'm a King Bee for the following
short review as they have been around for the past few decades.
Double O Bo is a pastiche of Bo Diddley's signature song,
but has a weird chord change that is inimitably Syd Barrett. Baby Driver:
It's a straight forward enough tip of the hat to Bo Diddley musically,
but then he throws in those two chords: F, G# which is something Bo
Diddley NEVER would have done. Syd was a genius. what would otherwise be
throwaway songs from a band in its infancy, make for compelling
listening due to his voice and his unique lyrics.
In Remember Me, the weakest song of the set, Syd strains his
voice so hard that it nearly sounds that someone else is singing (some
people claim it is Bob Klose and not Barrett). As Marigoldilemma remarks:
To me this one sounds like Syd trying to sound like Eric Burdon of the
Walk with me Sydney, from Roger Waters and with Juliette Gale on
vocals, is a spoof of Roll
with me, Henry aka The Wallflower, written in 1955 by Johnny Otis,
Hank Ballard and Etta James. As it is not sure yet when Walk With Me
Sydney was exactly recorded this could – perhaps – even be a track
without Bob Klose. It is also the first time that we have a Roger Waters
lyrical list, a trick that he will repeat for the fifty years to come:
Flat feet, fallen arches, baggy knees and a broken frame, meningitis, peritonitis, DT's
and a washed out brain.
Medical Product Safety Information: Don't listen to this song if
you don't want it continually on repeat in your brain.
Butterfly is the surprise song of the set. This track shows the
potential Barrett had in him and could have been included, in a slightly
more mature version, on The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. The lyrics are
pretty dark as well and typical Syd:
I won't squeeze you dead. Pin things through your head. I just
want your love.
Catch you soon
Not only was Parlophone
pretty vague about the recording dates, the record was also released
without any publicity and in very limited quantities, only 1050 copies
for worldwide distribution, including 350 for the UK. Not one of the
serious Pink Floyd fansites knew about the release and they were pretty
late diffusing the news, further proof these websites only publish what
Pink Floyd Ltd allows them to publish.
Pretty remarkable is that the Floydian fan-forums didn't really go into
overdrive about this set either and that the best comments and
information could be found on Steve Hoffman's Music
Corner. Yeeshkul had a pretty interesting thread as well, but this
was removed when people started discussing alternative ways of requiring
these tracks. It just makes one wonder how tight the grip is of the Pink
Floyd Gestapo Legal Council around Yeeshkuls' neck.
When it became clear that this edition was a) genuine and b) rare, prices
sky-rocketed. Hundreds of dollars were offered for a set and there have
been cases of record shop owners raising the prices for the copies they
still had in their racks. It needs to be said that a thousand copies for
a new Pink Floyd product is ridiculously low, even if it only interests
a small part of the Floydian fanbase.
Luckily for all those who didn't get a copy this is the age of the
internet and needle-drops can be found in harbours in silent waters
around us. Mind you, this is not psychedelic, nor classic dreamy Floyd,
but an R'n'B band in full progress, still looking for its own sound.
Vinyl collector Rick Barnes:
What I heard earlier was amazing ! Like the stones but sharper and more
original. They were a lot more together than I ever gave them credit.
I'm surprised they were not discovered in '65. Had they met Giorgio
Gomelsky or someone similar things might have been very different...
We end this post with an opinion from Mastaflatch at Neptune Pink Floyd:
With many bands such as Pink Floyd, who had been there for very long,
some people tend to forget the real crucial points when the band was
struck by genius and only find comfort in the familiar songs or familiar
patterns or familiar guitar solos. Between 1965 and 1967, something
major happened to PF and it's plain as day here. If not for Syd, it's
pretty likely that NOTHING of what we know and love from this band would
have reached our ears.
But, if you listen closely, the weirdness was already there in Syd's
chord changes and lyrics. (...) To get a band going though, especially
in the 60s when you had The Beatles leading the pack, you couldn't only
rely on blobs and gimmicks and Syd had what it took in spades: great
songs, fierce originality and a tendency to NOT rest on his laurels and
I think that Pink Floyd, somewhere in the 70s ended up lacking at least
one of those attributes - mostly the latter and it only got worse as
time went on. I'm not saying that their later stuff wasn't good but at
some point, Pink Floyd ceased to invent its sound and became content to
play within its previously defined boundaries. Good music but far less
In 1965 these boys were hungry, literally sometimes, and that is what
you hear. Their main preoccupation wasn't how to earn some 459 million $
turnover on a pre-recorded jukebox show from some 30 years before and it
Many thanks to: A Fleeting Glimpse Forum, Baby Driver, Rick Barnes,
Goldenband, Steve Hoffman Music Corner, Late Night Forum,
Marigoldilemma, Mastaflash, Göran Nyström, Neptune Pink Floyd Forum,
Rnranimal. ♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥
Sources (other than the above mentioned links): Beecher, Russell &
Shutes, Will: Barrett, Essential Works Ltd, London, 2011, p.
152-153. Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber,
London, 2010, p. 56-57. Gausden Libby: Syd Barrett Letters.
Photographed by Mark Jones and published at Laughing Madcaps (Facebook). Geesin,
Joe: Acid Tates, Record Collector 417, August 2013, p 79-80. Mason,
Nick: Inside Out: A personal history of Pink Floyd, Orion Books,
London, 2011 reissue, p. 29. Parker, David: Random Precision,
Cherry Red Books, London, 2001, p. 1. Willis, Tim, Madcap,
Short Books, London, 2002, p. 43-44.
(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? Syd-busters! 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
& 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. ♥
Iggy ♥ Libby ♥
Yesterday I had the privilege of watching David
Gilmour perform at the historical marketplace of the small city of Tienen.
I'm very glad my LA-girl pushed me to get tickets as I was so
disappointed in his solo album I didn't even wanted to go. You can read
my review of the Rattle
That Lock (RTL) album at: Attack
The concert started with three RTL-tunes and although they certainly
have more balls in a live rendition, it didn't really help me to get in
the mood. Actually I found the ambient-soundscape before the concert way
better. Rattle That Lock had lost the annoying sample it was
build around but that still doesn't make it a good song. What Do You
Want From Me gave the concert a necessary kick-start, but as it was
followed by The Blue the flow sank down like a soufflé that has
just been taken out of the oven. So far the concert had just been hot
There was a second highlight with The Great Gig In The Sky with
excellent vocal work by the backing singers, two ladies and a man. David
Gilmour used the opportunity to say that the song had been written by
Rick Wright, forgetting the little fact this the concert was actually
taking place on Rick's birthday, but perhaps he had a valid reason as he
also had his wedding anniversary to remember the next day.
Understandably Great Gig was followed by A Boat Lies Waiting,
Gilmour's musical eulogy to his old friend, but although I appreciate
his honest effort to commemorate his friend it still is pretty average.
The set kept yoyoing between classics and RTL. Wish You Were Here,
followed by Money, then In Any Tongue, the only song on
his latest album that shows a momentarily glimpse of Floydian grandeur. High
Hopes finished the first set.
As far as I was concerned, I couldn't call this a good concert by now.
The general flow of the music was spoiled by the lesser RTL tracks,
dragging the Floydian classics down. I gave it a 65% rating and was
getting a bit depressed.
But I also remembered my previous David Gilmour concert, in Amsterdam,
in 2006, where the public politely applauded after the obligatory bunch
An Island, but not with much gusto. The second set, however was an eargastic
spectacle with Echoes. Of course, in those days, Rick was still moving
the Moog, getting a standing ovation from the crowd.
The second set could only be better, I braindamaged myself.
Luckily, it was.
Astronomy Domine hit my body like a cocaine snort. Fuck, fuck and
triple fuck. This was an entry with a big E. Shine On You Crazy
Diamond. Fat Old Sun. Then a drop down with Dancing Right
In Front Of Me, one of the unnecessary fillers on RTL. But the
upward momentum couldn't be stopped. Coming Back To Life was a
treat and On An Island couldn't spoil the good mood I was in
(that album is quite an intimate and exquisite jewel compared to Rattle,
if you ask me).
The Girl In The Yellow Dress is just a San Tropez throw-it-away
kind of song, so I just put my attention on things I could pick in my
It was finally time to work towards an apotheosis. First with the
obnoxious floor-filling disco of Today, that I loathed on the
record, but that seemed more or less to do its work here. If you have to
pick one memorable tune from A
Momentary Lapse Of Reason, it is without a doubt Sorrow.
Feeling the bass tones tremble in your stomach is a goosebumps
experience. Run Like Hell is one of the worst Pink
Floyd tracks if you ask me, but as a concert highlight it is.. well,
a highlight. This was not a Pink Floyd tribute band, this was the real
deal, helped by Mr. Brickman's
fabulous light and laser show and an ear-splitting volume that you
normally only have at Iron Maiden shows.
The second set also had its deal of yoyoing, but the last quarter made
my rating rise to 80%
The encores started with some ticking clocks, enough for the public to
go berserk. A drizzle had started at exactly the moment when Gilmour
sang 'outside the rain, fell dark and slow', but now it was pouring. (A
proof that this man has some connections at Valhalla.)
Lucky for me because so nobody could see the tears running from my face. Time
was given the full treatment with Breathe (Reprise) and
that seeded without a break into the song everyone was waiting for: Comfortably
What can one say about Comfy? Let's say nothing about it as mortal
beings have not the words for it. Tongue-tied and twisted this
earth-bound misfit rated the encores at a whopping 110%.
Oops, you did it again, Gilmour. See you again in a decade.
First set: 5am, Rattle That Lock, Faces Of Stone, What Do You
Want From Me, The Blue, The Great Gig In The Sky, A Boat Lies Waiting,
Wish You Were Here, Money, In Any Tongue, High Hopes.
Second set: Astronomy Domine, Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Fat Old
Sun, Dancing Right In Front Of Me, Coming Back To Life, On An Island,
The Girl In The Yellow Dress, Today, Sorrow, Run Like Hell.
Nine years ago the Reverend made the remark that any new Pink Floyd
release will create some 'controversy between the fans, the (ex-)band
members and/or record company' (Fasten
Almost a decade later, with the release of Pink Floyd The Early Years
1965-1972, nothing has changed. Actually it only got worse.
Pink Floyd have always been a pretty hypocritical band when it comes to
making money. There is nothing bad about trying to make a good living,
obviously, but when you start selling inferior material for overabundant
prices it's like spitting the fans in their face. Not that anyone of
them would do that.
Of course nobody is obliged to buy The Early Years box (approx. 500 Euro
and limited to 28000 copies) but I duly admit: I am an absolute sucker
for anything with the Floyd name on it. And perhaps it's a nice pick-up
line: “Wanna see my Early Years box?”
The Early Years is a somewhat directionless, but nevertheless
interesting, 28 CD, DVD and Blu-ray box containing demos, live tapes
(some of bootleg quality), unreleased tracks, rarities, vinyl singles,
movies and a 2016 remix of Obscured By Clouds. Someone must have said at
a direction committee: 'you know what, we haven't got enough material on
our Obfusc/Ation disk, let's throw in an Obscured By Clouds-remix'.
Not that you hear me complain, Obscured By Clouds is in my personal top
three, before Dark Side Of The Moon and The Wall, but it does feel a bit
For this box, Pink Floyd didn't make the silly mistake of adding
marbles, scarves or toasters, like in the Immersion sets. There are
plenty of mini-posters, postcards, ticket replicas and other printed
items though, for those who like that. (Personally, I tend to ignore
that rubble.) An image of some of those, thanks to RobNl, can be found
Another shot can be found at the Church's Tumblr: (Un)Packing
The Early Years #12.
The box has a simplistic, black and white theme, but is... too big. The
outside box is about 41 x 22 x 31 cm, but the actual set tucked inside
only takes 19 x 20 x 14.5 cm. It doesn't take an Einstein to calculate
that 80% of the box is made of... empty spaces. (Sorry, I really
couldn't resist that pun.) I have put the outside box on top of a
wardrobe, where it will probably stay for the rest of my miserable life.
The Early Years #6.
The 'inner box' contains 7 book-boxes, with ridiculously bombastic
cut/up names. 6 of those will be sold separately over the next few
months, the seventh is a bonus set, exclusive to this release alone.
That's why I was waving so enthusiastically with my wallet. Picture: (Un)Packing
The Early Years #14.
The one gadget everyone I have spoken to really wants, me included, is
the Pink Floyd 'matchbox' miniature van. Alas, these have been made for
promotional use only and will probably fetch high prices on eBay.
Update November 2016: meanwhile a Pink Floyd miniature van has
been sold on eBay for the whopping price of 310£ (385$, 364 €), Tumblr
The quality of the book-boxes is not optimal. On the web are already
circulating pictures of pages that are falling out of the sets.
Apparently they have been glued rather flimsily to the spine. Taking out
a disk is always a matter of trial and error, and the first CD I picked
broke one of the plastic 'teeth' holding it.
The inside pages contain pictures of the band, unfortunately the
printing is rather average, although the 'later' sets in my box seem to
be slightly better. Each set also contains a booklet with 'copyrights',
thank you notes, a brief introduction by Mark Blake and seven times the
same text by film archivist Lana Topham, for whatever reason, although I
suppose sloppiness from the editor. These texts are printed in grey on
brownish paper, making it nearly impossible to read them anyway.
If it breathes something, it breathes cheap instead of zen.
When the box was announced, a couple of months ago, in the same
amateurish way The
Endless River was made public, the track-listing had some important
differences, as it listed 5.1 mixes for Meddle and Obscured By
Clouds. These can't be found on the released set (well, kind of) for
reasons that seem to be taken out of a Neighbours
It all starts with the fact that Pink Floyd has had several re-mixing
specialists over the years, notably James
Guthrie and Andy
Jackson, who, in true soap-series tradition, hate each-other's guts
as they belong to rivalling factions.
Andy Jackson, from the David Gilmour camp, was asked to create
the 5.1 mixes for Meddle and Obscured By Clouds and handed these over to Mark
Fenwick, who is Roger Waters' manager. Mark was a good dog
and passed these to Roger, for approval.
Roger Waters remembered that these remixes had originally been promised
to his protégé James Guthrie and when he found out that the 'other side'
had done these, without consulting him, he threw a tantrum like a kicked
So this is, in a nutshell, why the genius of Pink Floyd vetoed against
the inclusion of the Andy Jackson 5.1 mixes, although liner notes and
promotion material had already been printed. All that had to be redone
and the 5.1 disks that had already been pressed were for the dustbin.
Before somebody could say 'several species of small furry animals' the
rift between the David Gilmour and Roger Waters camp was back in place
and it seems that it won't be solved in the near future.
So the Obscured By Clouds and Meddle 5.1 mixes are not in the box,
right? Wrong. Well, partially wrong.
It was found out that the 1971 Blu-ray contains a hidden segment with
the complete Meddle 5.1 mix. However, you can't play it on a regular
Blu-ray player as one needs to extract the files to a computer first (or
burn them on another Blu-ray with the hidden files set to visible).
Apparently this is not an Easter egg but a simple mistake. Or an act of
Insubordin/Ation. Take your pick. Instead of deleting the Meddle 5.1 mix
from the disk the Floyd's technical leprechaun only deleted the shortcut
from the menu.
Keep on smiling, people.
The week before the box got released there was an impromptu announcement
of the record company.
Pink Floyd fans ordering 'The Early Years 1965-1972’ will get an extra
piece of the band’s history.
The box-set will now also include a supplementary disc featuring the
band’s seminal Live At Pompeii concert as a 2016 audio mix.
The 6 tracks totalling over 67 minutes include live versions of 'Careful
With That Axe, Eugene', 'Set the Controls For The Heart Of The Sun',
'One of These Days', 'A Saucerful Of Secrets', ‘Echoes' and an
alternative take of 'Careful With That Axe, Eugene’.
The truth is slightly different. When the sets were already made and put
in the boxes for shipping a bright brain decided it was about time to
check if the disks really contained what was printed on the booklets.
Only then it was found out that the Obfusc/Ation set did not have
Obscured By Clouds, but the Pompeii soundtrack. By then it was too late
to open 28000 shrink wrapped boxes and replace the disks, so the
Obscured remix was put in a carton sleeve and thrown on top of The Early
Years box set, before closing the brown shipping parcel. Picture: (Un)Packing
The Early Years #2.
At least the carton sleeve has the guts to say the truth:
REPLACEMENT CD DISC FOR OBFUSC/ATION PFREY6 – CD (STEREO
2016 MIX OF PINK FLOYD 'LIVE AT POMPEII' CD SUPPLIED IN ERROR)
Some quality control, huh? By the way, the 5.1 Obscured By Clouds mix is
not in the box, but you probably already figured that out.
Update: some boxes seem to come without the Obscured replacement
disk, as was expected...
(For those interested, the Pompeii CD contains an extra take of Careful
With That Axe, Eugene, but no Mademoiselle Nobs. The box also has the
Pompeii movie, without the interviews, without the singing dog, but in
the director's cut version, so I have read. Another Indic/Ation that the
Floyd team doesn't seem to know what lives in the fan community as that
version of the movie is mostly regarded as inferior to the original.)
Update: the new 'mix' of Obscured By Clouds is (to quote
Cenobyte) 'too top endy'. The mix generally repairs the muddiness of the
original mix and brings everything out in a brilliant way, but adds this
layer on top and that kind of ruins it. Some posters even think that
something went wrong during the mastering process. (The same applies to
the new Pompeii mix as well.)
Several Floydian movies can be found in the box, but some come without
English subtitles. This may not be a very big problem for More
but La Vallée is basically spoken in Frenglish. And of
course these boxes are shipped all over the world, to places were people
are not familiar with the English language and could use subtitles.
It only feeds the rumour that the Floyd randomly added things onto the
disks, just to fill them up, regardless of quality.
(Note: in my box, The Committee, that is on another Blu-ray than More
and La Vallée, does have subtitles, even in Dutch.)
The Committee's soundtrack does not contain music from Pink Floyd alone.
One, pretty famous scene has underground colleague Arthur
Brown singing Nightmare,
but his name is not mentioned at all in the booklet. It is weird that a
band that scrutinises YouTube looking for copyright infringements
neglects Mr. Brown's rights.
As a matter of fact Pink Floyd even censored Nightmare from Arthur
Brown's personal YouTube place, a few months ago, because they claimed his
song hurt their copyrights. Unfortunately Arthur Brown doesn't
have a legion of lawyers to fight this.
Don't ask a slice of my pie, how utterly convenient.
Some of the tracks on this Compil/Ation are from inferior or bootleg
quality. We know that and can live with that.
But what if we say that the Pink Floyd mastering team deliberately
ignored some good takes and put inferior ones in the box?
Seems unthinkable for a band that used to flirt with high-end
The 1967 BBC radio sessions, for instance, are in a bad quality,
examples are 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun', 'Reaction in
G' and 'Pow R Toc H' that is even incomplete.
It needs to be said that Pink Floyd consulted the official BBC archives
but these are in a bad state. The BBC had a habit of erasing their own
masters and only has copies of the Pink Floyd 1967 gig 'taken' from the
Top collectors, those that have the 'holy grails', informed the Floyd
that (a copy of?) the masters of the 1967 recording are in a private
collection but the Floyd didn't find it necessary to check this out.
Andy Jackson received high quality stereo copies of the BBC recordings
from at least two sources but the powers that be decided to use the
inferior mono tapes instead.
Isn't is ironic that the 'bootleg' community has better versions of
these Pink Floyd live tapes and early acetates than the band itself and
that they are giving them away for free? The Floyd has thanked them by
shutting down Harvested and threatening to shutdown Yeeshkul in the
past. (More of these vicious rumours at: The
loathful Mr. Loasby and other stories... )
Just as with the Immersion sets some Blu-rays come with errors, in this
case (as far as we know): the 1972 'Obfusc/ation' Blu-ray and bonus
package 'Continu/ation' Blu-ray 1. According to several testimonies the
menu screen loads, but halts there. You better check out your version
before it is too late.
Fans were happy to find out that Seabirds was finally going to
find a place on this collection. Seabirds
is a song written by Roger Waters for the More movie, where it can be
heard during a party scene, but it does not appear on the soundtrack
The song in the box though with the same title is not the one fans were
looking for but an alternate take of the instrumental Quicksilver.
God knows why this was erroneously labelled, but once again it seems
that the Floyd historians didn't do their homework right and just threw
songs on a CD without checking them out first.
Pink Floyd itself issued a statement, trying not to make it sound as an
apology. It appears that the master tape of the 'real' Seabirds was
given to the movie producers who used it for their final cut and who
destroyed the only copy afterwards.
While Pink Floyd is not to blame for that mishap we can at least say
they have been badly communicating to their fans about this track, but
Communic/Ation has never been the Floyd's strongest point.
(Another possible mistake can be found on the Stockholm disk where the
first instrumental number is titled Reaction In G while most
scholars think it is another 'untitled' instrumental, loosely based upon Take
Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk. This was already published by the
Church in 2011 so the Floyd had plenty of time to correct this. See
blackmails Pink Floyd fans!)
At 500 Euro a box this is a pretty hefty Christmas present, especially
when you realise that at least 85% of the box has been circulating
before, on bootlegs. Of course it is true that some visual material has
been beautifully restored and some audio tracks sound crispier than
ever. Other tracks have just been added for the sake of adding them, so
it seems. Anything in the bin we can still use?
There are still plenty of tracks not in the box that the fans were
hoping for. It has already been confirmed that one of these will be
issued as a Vinyl Record Store Day exclusive.
Somehow I have the feeling that during the Cre/Ation of this set, that
took twenty years, the energy went lost, or the interest. Perhaps there
was a lack of time when the deadline came closer. Perhaps a greedy
manager decided that they had already spend too much money on it.
Perhaps Waters and Gilmour, and their servants Guthrie and Jackson, have
been busy rolling over the floor fighting, rather than working together,
in a cooperative way.
This could have been such an exquisite rarities box, an example for
other bands to follow, if only the Floyd had put some extra effort in
it, if only the Floyd had consulted their fanbase that gathers at
specialised music forums.
Nick Mason, the gentleman drummer, probably takes better care of his
cars than he takes care of his musical legacy.
"Those ungrateful fans, it took us 20 years to make this box and Felix
Atagong, the Reverend of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, just needed
20 minutes to trash it."
Update: this post was only published for about an hour when a new
'error' was published on one of the forums.
Belgian TV footage (1968): while the image transfer is great,
Pink Floyd made a stupid mistake by overdubbing the video with the
regular stereo versions instead of the original 'mono' sound. This leads
to the following errors: 1. The stereo Paintbox is about 15 seconds
shorter than the mono version, the last seconds of the clip are almost
silent while there was still music during the original TV broadcast. 2.
An unique early version of Corporal Clegg with an alternate ending has
been replaced with the common stereo version. 3. Set The Controls For
The Heart Of The Sun has lost the early mono mix that was used instead
of the album version.
Video transfers. Frame rates differ between 'vintage' movies and
digital technologies like DVD and Blu-ray. When old movies are
transferred to digital they have to be 'stretched' which is a pretty
straightforward process. However, one may not stretch the soundtrack the
same way because it will result in a sound distortion. Guess what, at
least one movie in the box runs with half a tone difference than
So here is another case where bootlegs have it right and the official
version has it wrong. Bunch of amateurs!
There are really too many people to thank for this article, but much
kudos go to Ron Toon and the dozens of others who gave valuable
information on the Steve
Hoffman Music Forum (304 pages!), another thread on the Steve
Hoffman Forum (72 pages!), Yeeshkul
(161 pages!) and A
Fleeting Glimpse (106 pages!). Sleeve illustrations by a forum
member whose post I can't find back any more, anyway thanks!
20 pictures of the (un)packing of the box can be found at the Church's
This article started as a review of Psychedelic
Celluloid by Simon Matthews but ended up as a long-read about Pink
Floyd at the movies. Sorry, I can't help it. (This article does not
pretend to describe all Pink Floyd related movies.)
I got a mail, a couple of months ago, from Simon Matthews, saying that
he was working on a book that would explore the interaction between
(psychedelic) pop music and British movies, in the golden era that was
Swinging London. Not really coming as a surprise he added that Pink
Floyd would figure in it a couple of times. I made a mental note to
check it out, but like so many things it got lost in the dark corners of
my soul. Call it divine intervention, or just a case of serendipity, but
Damage did a short write-up of the publication it all came back to
me and ten minutes later my Kindle was purring with joy.
Matthews starts his book by mentioning George
Melly’s Revolt Into Style, a collection of sixties
essays that has been borrowed from in all self-respecting Swinging
London books in the past forty years. His introduction ends with the
ad-hoc announcement that the most prominent ‘movie’ music performers
between 1965 and '74 were not The Beatles, nor The Rolling Stones, but,
yes, you’ve already guessed it: (The) Pink Floyd.
During my four decades long love/hate relationship with the band I have
trodden many paths, some narrower than others, and so it may not come as
a surprise to you that I have also tried to acquire some information on
the lads in movieland. We all know that several members of the Cambridge
mafia, revolving around the band, were dabbling into film: Nigel
Thorgerson to name just a few.
It happily surprised me that, in the chapter ‘Set the Controls for the
Heart of W1!’, Matthews is casually mentioning that the Floyd’s music
can also be found on two kung
fu flicks: ‘Fist of Fury’ and ‘Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan’.
I am familiar with those as well as my quest into Floyd in filmland has
brought me to the weirdest places. Did you know there is a Syd Barrett
presence in a Freddy
Mandingo movie? Well, let me tell you, you really don't want to know.
唐山大兄 Tang Shan Da Xiong (The
Big Boss) is a (fairly stupid) 1971 Hong Kong movie that put a
fairly unknown martial artist into the spotlight. Bruce
Lee plays a somewhat dorky fellow, revenging the murders on his
relatives, who found out the local ice factory is being used for drugs
When the movie arrived in an American version it was retitled as Fists
Of Fury, creating a mess for generations to come as there would be
another Bruce Lee movie the next year called Fist Of Fury (without the
s). Perhaps it was the other way round, as even Wikipedia isn't really
sure which is which (and neither does Simon Matthews). Most of the world
calls the movie The Big Boss, except for Germany, who like to give the
plot away and baptised it Die Todesfaust des Cheng Li (The deadly
fist of Cheng Li).
Not only the title gives food for confusion. The movie has been issued
in half a dozen of different versions with entirely different
A first music score was composed by Wang Fu-ling for the (original)
Mandarin release. It is believed Cheng Yung-yo assisted with that
soundtrack, although uncredited. This movie was horribly dubbed into
English for a limited run in the Anglo-Saxon world.
A second soundtrack was made by German composer Peter
Thomas when the movie was re-cut and re-dubbed for the international
market. This 1973 westernised version had several erotic and gory scenes
deleted, including the legendary scene where Bruce Lee cuts an
adversary's head in two halves with a saw.
A third soundtrack, using the international cut, was arranged by Joseph
Koo, for a Japanese release, probably around 1974.
A fourth soundtrack for a Cantonese release in 1983 combines the Joseph
Koo score (#3) with the one of Peter Thomas (#2) and adds incidental
'stock' music. This one includes snippets from Pink Floyd and King
Crimson (Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Part Two).
Obscured by Clouds (1972, Obscured by Clouds) Cheng Chao-an
(Bruce Lee) and his cousin Hsiu are being followed by casino bouncers (13:05). Repeated
when Hsiao Mi (the big boss), his son Chiun and some henchmen are
Time (1973, The Dark Side of the Moon) Hsiu and his brother
visit the big boss at his mansion, trying to find out why two of their
family members have disappeared (29:05). Chen
Chao-an (Bruce Lee) is invited for a meeting with the ice factory's
manager (47:50). Chen
Chao-an visits the big boss to find out why four of his relatives have
Time / The Grand Vizier's Garden Party (Entertainment)
(1969, Ummagumma) Mixed together this can be heard when Hsiu and his
brother try to escape from Mi's killer squad (31:58).
As far as we know, the Floydian soundtrack was only available on a
Cantonese 1983 re-release, explaining that a 1973 song anachronistically
appears on a 1971 movie. It isn't certain if the Pink Floyd tracks were
properly licensed as they are not mentioned on the end credits. To add
insult to injury other cuts of the movie - with alternative 'hybrid'
soundtracks and extra or longer scenes - have circulated, so it is all
rather messy. For a (partial) comparison of the different versions: Big
Boss @ Movie Censorship.
Bruce Lee died unexpectedly in 1973 and the posthumous documentary The
Man and the Legend (original title: Li Xiao Long di Sheng yu si)
contains next to the King Crimson piece that was already mentioned
above, Pink Floyd's One of These Days (1971, Meddle) and On The Run
(1973, The Dark Side of the Moon).
After 1973, several Bruceploitation movies were made, often with a
conspiracy theme. Tian Huang Ju Xing (Exit
the Dragon, Enter the Tiger) from 1976 is not different and has
Li (real name: Ho Chung Tao) fighting his way through some shady
drug deals in something that will not be remembered as a great martial
arts movie. Even the soundtrack borrows completely from others and has
next to Isaac Hayes and John Barry, Shine On You Crazy Diamond (1975).
A decade before The Big Boss (1983 cut) another kung fu movie had found
out about the martial strength of Pink Floyd.
愛奴 Ai Nu, awkwardly renamed for the western market as Intimate
Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan, is a 1972 Hong Kong movie about
the 18-year old Ai Nu who is kidnapped from her family and brought to
the governor's brothel.
After the default set of humiliations and punishments she apparently
accepts her fate and learns the noble art of self-defence from 'madam'
Chun Yi. Once a kung fu champ she uses her seductive powers to eliminate
her wrongdoers, one by one.
Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan is a mixture of blood
vengeance, lesbian sensualism (in covert seventies style) and it has
been named as one of the inspirational landmarks for Quentin
Bill. Every scene looks so artificially crisp it nearly hurts the
eyes and if Walt
Disney ever makes a movie set in a brothel this is certainly how it
will look like. Undoubtedly a seventies classic, director Yuen
Chor (Zhang Baojian) can, without doubt, be placed next to Borowczyk,
Another one bites the dust
Unfortunately the original soundtrack can't really decide between
traditional Chinese and Tex-Mex western style tunes. Two Pink Floyd
tracks of the 1970 Zabriskie Point soundtrack are prominent in
three decisive scenes. (The links given here point to a very bad copy,
dubbed in English, with terrible sound.)
Come In Nr. 51 (Your Time is Up) Ai Nu has just been tortured
by Chun Yi, who promptly falls in love with her (link). After
the final duel, when Ai Nu kisses her dying lover goodbye (link).
Heart Beat, Pig Meat A few seconds of Heart Beat, Pig Meat at
43 minutes when Ai Nu and her lesbian lover openly discuss the first
murder (not present on the YouTube version). (The DVD has a
documentary about the movie that uses the Zabriskie soundtrack even
more, by the way.)
In Psychedelic Celluloid, Simon Matthews writes that Pink Floyd can be
heard in two kung fu movies, but there is more, much more...
The Kung Fu Magazine forum
has a 27-pages thread with, at the time of writing, 386 verified tracks
(of different composers, bands and artists) that have been used, legally
or illegally, in dozens of films. Sometimes the songs are used in its
entirety, but often snippets of a second or less have been 'sampled'
into the soundscape. Venomous Centipede at shaolinchamber36.com
came up with the following impressive Pink Floyd list. All Hong Kong or
Taiwan movies with a Pink Floyd soundtrack:
Come in Number 51, Your Time is Up - Zabriskie Point
Echoes - Meddle
The Grand Vizier's Garden Party – Ummagumma When You're In
- Obscured By Clouds
The Grand Vizier's Garden Party – Ummagumma Astronomy
Domine - Ummagumma
Fist of Unicorn *
One of These Days - Meddle (* Added by: OldPangYau.)
Gambling For Gold
The Grand Vizier's Garden Party - Ummagumma Astronomy Domine -
Ummagumma Atom Heart Mother - Atom Heart Mother
Echoes - Meddle Absolutely Curtains - Obscured By Clouds
One of These Days - Meddle
Kung Fu Inferno
Echoes - Meddle
Legends of Lust
Heart Beat, Pig Meat - Zabriskie Point
Operation White Shirt
Time - Dark Side of the Moon On the Run - Dark Side of the Moon
Time - Dark Side of the Moon
Roaring Lion, The
One of These Days - Meddle
Tales of Larceny
Careful With That Axe, Eugene
Time - Dark Side of the Moon
Atom Heart Mother - Atom Heart Mother
Young Rebel, The
Time - Dark Side of the Moon On the Run - Dark Side of the Moon
Operation White Shirt
Time - Dark Side of the Moon On the Run - Dark Side of the Moon
So prepare a big bag of popcorn if you want to check these out.
Let’s get back to Simon Matthews’ Psychedelic Celluloid. After the
introduction and a chapter dedicated to Pink Floyd the main bulk of the
book consists of a chronological listing of about 120 movies, starting
with Richard Lester’s The
Knack (1965) and ending with Stuart Cooper’s Little
Malcolm and his struggle against the Eunuchs (1974), described by
some as the most expensive home movie ever made as it could only be seen
at George Harrison’s place.
There is nearly a movie on every page, with a picture, a short
description, some info on the director, the actors and its soundtrack,
but that is exactly where the cookie crumbles, as this information is
almost identical to what you can already find on IMDB
The author could've added more anecdotes or juicy rumours if you ask me.
for instance, not a word about the orgies and the drugs in front and
behind the camera, as Iggy Rose once testified on this holy place (see: Iggy
& the Stones). But of course, books have already been written
about that movie alone.
Several times when I was at the point of saying 'this is starting to get
interesting' the article ends and makes place for another one, leaving
my hunger unsatisfied. The intriguing story of the (disappeared) movie Popdown
is a perfect example. Starring Zoot
Money, with music of Brian Auger, Blossom Toes, Dantalion's Chariot,
Julie Driscoll, Gary Farr and a couple of others, its history is so
fascinating that it could easily have taken six pages, but it stops at
two. After reading that entry I spend a good hour browsing the Internet
for more information, reading about a maniacal fan, Peter
Prentice, who nearly spend a fortune trying to locate a surviving
copy. Unfortunately I never found out if he succeeded in his mission, or
failed. Perhaps that is what Simon Matthews really wants as I'm pretty
sure he knows more about these movies than he was allowed to write. And
the beauty of this guide is that it assembles a list of 120 'flower
power' films in the first place.
The Pink Jungle
Pink Floyd are the uncrowned champions of the 'pop' movies during the
psychedelic heyday, roughly from the mid-sixties till the mid-seventies,
and that despite the fact that they even rejected a soundtrack for
Kubrick. (Even more of a surprise is that Amon
Düül ends second.) I count 26 Pink Floyd entries in the
book and 5 for Syd Barrett. Let's have a nerdy look through our pink
tinted glasses, shall we?
This movie is only mentioned in one of the appendixes of the book.
Bardot it is the story of a model, with a photo shoot assignment in
London, who has to choose between her husband and a much younger
passionate toy boy. This was Bardot's first attempt to excel in a
serious movie, away from the sex kitten romantic comedies she had done
before. Probably that could be the reason why the public didn't want to
see it, but critics say the movie tried to look sophisticated but ended
up pretty dull. Next to BB two English popstars play a small role: Murray
Head and Mike
Sarne, who had a number one hit in 1962 with Come
In a 2015 BBC documentary 'Wider Horizons' it was revealed that David
Gilmour sang two tracks for the movie, composed by Michel
You Want To Marry Me? and I
Must Tell You Why. This was before he joined Pink Floyd and that is
perhaps why Psychedelic Celluloid isn't aware of this.
The Holy Church Tumblr blog has several links to the songs and the movie
Simon Matthews throws an ace with the news that The
Touchables has Interstellar Overdrive during one of its scenes,
something that – as far as I know – has never been put in a Floydian
biography before. It is one of those thirteen in a dozen, throwaway, sex
comedies with a plot 'thinner than a paper towel'.
Four good-looking beauties, who like to walk around in their underwear
and who are literally living in a bubble, kidnap a wax sculpture of Michael
Caine and then repeat the act with a popular pop singer, whom they
abuse as a sex slave, not that he resists a lot. After having a go at
the four of them he finally tries to escape but they shoot him down. The
situation looks grim for a minute, but even that can't spoil the fun. It
all looks like one of the less interesting Monkees shows.
Add a subplot with a few gangsters and, for an incomprehensible reason,
some professional wrestlers and you have a product that creates
immediate amnesia after watching it.
The story was written by Donald
Cammell who would later enlarge some of its situations for
Committee entry has one of Mick Rock's pictures with Syd Barrett
standing in front of his Pontiac
Parisienne - more of that car later (obviously) - which I found a
bit weird, even for a Barrett buff like me.
Then it occurred to me that Barrett had first been asked to compose its
soundtrack, without the Floyd. The reason is not entirely clear, maybe
Barrett was thought to be cheaper than the entire band, maybe Peter
Jenner wanted to give Syd's solo career a boost (although he was
officially still in the band), maybe it was believed that Syd would
better understand the movie's philosophy, inspired by the theories of R.D.
On the 30th of January 1968, a couple of days after the Floyd – now with
David Gilmour - 'forgot' to pick Syd up for a gig, he arrived one and a
half hour late at Sound Techniques without a guitar and without a band.
A guitar was found, Nice-drummer Brian
'Blinky' Davidson and Barrett-buddy Steve
Peregrin Took were presumably called in and five and a half hours
later a twenty minutes music piece was in the can. Unfortunately Barrett
thought it sounded better backwards so at midnight they called it a day
and all went home.
The collaboration with Barrett was stopped because his studio time was
too expensive and their budget was practically zero. Syd didn't show any
further interest for the project either and when a studio employee tried
to phone him there was 'nobody home'. Roger Waters heard about the
fiasco and agreed to do the soundtrack with the rest of the band, minus
Syd, in an improvised studio for practically nothing. Max Steuer in Sparebricks:
The address was 3, Belsize Square, London NW3, the basement flat of the
Kidner and his wife Marion. (…) It was amazingly professional.
Steuer remembers that Syd's piece was 'jazzy, with a groove' and that
Peter Jenner took the tape with him. In 2014 we asked Jenner about the
whereabouts of this 'holy grail'. Peter Jenner in The Holy Church of
Iggy the Inuit innerview:
As far as I know I am not in possession of these tapes, I might have
been given a copy, but surely not the masters. (…) Many things
disappeared with the sudden collapse of Blackhill. My recollection is
that they were less than amazing. However if I come across anything I
will let you know.
The Committee is now part of Pink Floyd's Early Years box set, without –
of course – the Syd Barrett tape. Unfortunately Psychedelic Celluloid
was already in the can when that set was released and several times the
author states that a Pink Floyd soundtrack has not been officially
released, while some of it can now be found on the luxury box set (The
Committee, Amougies 1969 with Frank Zappa, Kralingen 1971, Pompeii 1972).
There is no immediate link with Pink Floyd in The
Magic Christian, but Gretta
Barclay and her boyfriend Rusty Burnhill worked on it. Gretta
Barclay in the interview she gave at the church:
We did some film extra work for The Magic Christian. I have a feeling
Iggy came with us? But I cannot confirm this.
As the movie was shot in March 1969, Iggy could indeed have been around.
It wouldn't be the first time that Iggy was on a film set, nor the last.
Another Syd Barrett friend made it even in front of the camera. One of
Raquel Welsh's topless slave girls in the galleon scene was none other
than Jenny Spires, but she didn't make it to the final cut, so don't
ruin your eyes looking for her.
How could we forget More?
This Barbet Schroeder movie follows the hippie trail to Ibiza, but
instead of sea, sun and illicit sex it adds the deadly ingredient of
heroin. Pink Floyd wrote the soundtrack.
There are some differences between the music on the album and the songs
in the movie. 'Main Theme' lacks some guitar and 'Cymbaline' has
alternate lyrics and is sung with a 'head voice'. The movie also
contains a short instrumental 'Hollywood' that is not on the album. The
Early Years compilation includes an early version of this track, titled
The song that has made fans go crazy for almost five decades is
'Seabirds'. It is a pastoral hymn à la Grantchester Meadows, but
unfortunately it can only be heard during a party scene in the film.
When Pink Floyd announced that 'Seabirds' was included in The Early
Years box this was considered as one of those great revelations everyone
was hoping for. Unfortunately the song in the box was not 'Seabirds',
but an alternate take of the instrumental Quicksilver. Apparently the
master tape of the 'real' Seabirds was given to the movie producers who
used it for their final cut and who destroyed the only copy afterwards.
Simon Matthews overzealously implies that Pink Floyd did the soundtrack
Body, although it was a co-operation between Ron
Geesin and Roger Waters (who can be found on 8 tracks of 22). One of
Birth To A Smile, was recorded with the entire band, but it was
credited as a Roger Waters solo effort. (Give Birth To A Smile was
considered for inclusion on The Early Years box, but at the end it
Psychedelic Celluloid also states that:
The majority of the music was assembled from sounds made by the human
body – burps, farts, coughs, sneezes, heartbeats, human voices, general
stomach noises, etc. (p. 132)
Described by the author as a considerable tour de force of bad taste he
rightfully notes that Georgie Fame wrote the soundtrack, but he fails to
say that the most important actor of the film, a Pontiac
Parisienne with numberplate VYP 74, first belonged to Mickey
Finn and later to Syd Barrett. It would have been a fun anecdote.
During the making of the soundtrack of La
Vallée, so tells us Nick Mason, there was a (financial)
misunderstanding between Pink Floyd and the film company. The band
removed the title from the album and called it Obscured By Clouds
instead. But for once Pink Floyd didn't have the last laugh as the movie
was immediately sub-titled Obscured By Clouds for the English market.
Perhaps the weirdest thing is that Matthews finds La Vallée (Obscured by
Clouds) a well made film with excellent photography. That last one is
certainly true but most of the world is still trying to find out what
the hell the story was all about. La Vallée regularly makes it into
'worst movies of all times' lists.
Throughout Psychedelic Celluloid the author duly notes when a rock or
pop star occupies a (minor) role in a film. However, for La Vallée he
overlooked the fact that Miquette
Giraudy, wife of Steve Hillage, member of Gong and System 7, is
playing the part of Monique.
The last part of the book has several entries that didn't make it to the
central part, for one reason or another. Appendix 1 (fiction)
mentions Zabriskie Point, not a London based movie, and the French À
Coeur Joie (see above). Appendix 2 (documentaries
and concert films) has Pink Floyd in Dope (1968) and Sound Of The City
(1973). Appendix 3 (shorts) lists Peter Whitehead's London '66-'67
with Pink Floyd playing the 14 Hour Technicolour Dream. Appendix 4
(TV specials, documentaries & concerts) mentions the Belgian 'Pink
Floid' special that has been unfortunately released on the Early Years
with the wrong soundtrack.
One category that can't be found in this pretty coherent and detailed
work are the many (perhaps too many) underground and avant-garde movies,
for instance from the London film-makers' co-operative LFMC,
started in 1966 by Stephen
Cobbing and others in the legendary Better
Books shop. Carolee
Flakes (1965) that puts happy pop songs over Vietnam images isn't
there, nor is Malcolm
Le Grice's Berlin
Horse (1970) with a Brian Eno soundtrack and – oblesse oblige -
neither is Iggy, Eskimo Girl from Anthony
Stern that has See Emily Play. But avant-garde art movies probably
belong more in specialised studies for a specialised clientele (and at
special rates, Oxford University wanted me to pay £119 to consult an
On three different occasions Simon Matthews mentions a Spanish movie
that claims to include on its soundtrack a rearrangement by Jorge Pi of
a Pink Floyd arrangement of Richard Strauss' Salome. Somewhat
exasperated he adds 'if anyone ever finds a copy and manages to
Well it is not that the Church didn't try.
In 1970 Rafael
Gassent, the 'father' of indepent Valencian cinema, made a 51
minutes adaptation of the Oscar Wilde play and Richard Strauss opera Salomé.
According to the IMDb movie database the soundtrack is composed by
Richard Strauss, arranged by Pink Floyd and re-arranged by Jorge Pi.
Rafa Gasent, also known as Rafael Gassent and all combinations in
between, is an experimental Spanish movie maker whose 23 and some movies
are even more difficult to track down than those of Anthony Stern.
Salome was allegedly shot in the Sagunto
castle, inspired by the Andy Warhol school of filming and is
apparently a blend of the hippie era and Spanish avant-garde 'grunge'
from the early seventies. No wonder that these experimental directors
weren't liked by general Franco and his Opus Dei cohorts and that these
movies were only shown in underground clubs. Rafael Gasent would later
work for Spanish television and his cinematographic work is now and then
shown on movie festivals.
Obviously the Holy Church tried to find out what this 'arranged by Pink
Floyd' means at the end credits of the Salome movie, but we couldn't
find a copy to check if it is really there or not. The Church also asked
Rafael Gasent Garcia for information, in English and in Spanish, but
unfortunately posting holiday pictures is a more interesting activity
for him than sparing a minute for some quick comment.
So until somebody clears this up, there is a kind of enigma here.
This doesn't mean that the Church doesn't have a theory. Personally I
think it was nothing but a youthful joke, like the Spanishgrass
hoax, and that Gasent didn't use Pink Floyd as a bandname but 'pinfloy'
as a noun.
Just like the Dutch language had the term 'beatle' in the sixties, for a
long-haired no-good (my mother used it all the time to shout at me), the
term 'pinfloy' was introduced in Andalusia in the seventies as an
equally pejorative term. A 'pinfloy', to paraphrase Antonio Jesús, is
somebody who acts silly, crazy, or who is quite gullible, naive and/or a
In underground and artistic circles however, 'pinfloy' may have been
re-appropriated and stripped from its derogatory meaning although it was
still used for alternative people from the wackier side of the spectrum.
If Jorge Pi (or Jordi Pi) is indeed the musician of the Desde
Santurce a Bilbao Blues Band, as Simon Matthews writes, this all
starts to make sense. The DsaBBB were a satirical band, who weren't from
Bilbao to start with and who didn't play the blues either. The band
mixed rock, charleston, folk, tango and forms of classical music,
combined with humorous lyrics. This was not always appreciated by the
Franco regime and in one case they were even arrested.
So, to get this over with once and for all, the Salome soundtrack may
not contain a Pink Floyd arrangement but a Jorge Pi 'pinfloy' treatment
of Richard Strauss, meaning that the Richard Strauss melody was given a
Case closed then, unless somebody else comes up with a more coherent
Psychedelic Celluloid is an excellent vade mecum, a quick reference
book, for those that are interested in the interplay of British bands
and movies of the psychedelic years. The description of the individual
titles could have been more detailed at points, but somewhere I have the
feeling that the author wants us, the reader, to move our lazy ass and
go look for it ourselves. As a whole, bringing these 120 titles together
in one volume is already a gargantuan task. Mission accomplished then.
La Marge (1976)aka The Streetwalker, aka Emmanuelle '77,
aka Emanuela '77.
Here is a movie that isn't mentioned in Psychedelic Celluloid, for
obvious reasons. First: the setting takes place in Paris, not in London.
Second: it was made outside the 'swinging London' decade, covered in the
book. Still it is a must-see for people who want to know more about
Floyd in film.
There is a French comedy about a film director who sells his dramatic
script to a movie studio and finds out that he is expected to make a
porn flick instead. This
is exactly what happened to Walerian
Borowczyk whose filmography evolved from art-house avant-garde to
European soft-core, including the almost parodical Emmanuelle
V in 1986.
Borowczyk started with ingenious stop motion and animations and shocked
the public (and the censors) with the live action Immoral
Tales (1974), The
Story of Sin (1975) and The
Beast (1975), movies that acquired a cult status and that placed him
next to contemporary directors as Stanley Kubrick and Roman Polanski.
These directors didn't avoid experiment either but were popular while
Borowczyk was only known to a small circle of critics and movie buffs.
For his next production he wanted to go for something less shocking and
All the necessary ingredients for a successful product were there: •
Andy Warhol superstar and beautiful boy Joe
Dallesandro, hot in France after appearing in Serge Gainsbourg's
t'aime moi non plus, was hired for the male lead role. • Sylvia
Kristel was the female lead. Although remembered as a sex-goddess,
she was actually an excellent much-wanted actress and Europe's
box-office queen (thanks to the Emmanuelle franchise). • A top-score
soundtrack was assembled with French songs, old and new, and
international hits by 10CC (I'm Not In Love), Elton John (Saturday
Night's Alright (For Fighting)), Sailor (Glass of Champagne) and Pink
Floyd (Shine On You Crazy Diamond). • Bernard
Daillencourt was the cinematographer and his work for Borowczyk was
so appreciated that David Hamilton hired him for his flimsy but utterly
lucrative erotic trilogy: Bilitis, Laura and Tendres Cousines. Actress
Camille Lariviere would also figure in Bilitis. • The original novel,
from writer André
Pieyre de Mandiargues, had won the Prix
Goncourt for the best novel of 1967. He had also written The
Girl on a Motorcycle, put to film with Alain Delon and a young
Warning: spoilers ahead.
Marge is a dramatic mixture of love, death, adultery, suicide and
full frontal Euro-chic. A rich and handsome vine-grower, madly in love
with his family, visits a brothel on a business trip to Paris. After the
obligatory nookie he receives a letter that his son has drowned in the
swimming pool and that his wife has taken her own life. Instead of
returning home for the double funeral the widower tries to cope with the
tragedy by visiting the prostitute who feels that something basically
has changed in his, and her, attitude.
About everything was present to make this movie the autumn box-office
hit of 1976 but La Marge sank without a trace. The blowjob scene, with
Shine On You Crazy Diamond on the background, should have been tattooed
in our brains, like Marlon Brando's butter extravaganza in Last Tango In
Paris. To cash in on Kristel's fame the movie was renamed (and
re-dubbed) as Emmanuelle '77 (or Emanuela 77) but that only added to the
confusion. It has been rumoured that new scenes, filmed by another
director without the knowledge of Borowczyk, were added for an American
cut, known as The Streetwalker, but nobody has ever managed to compare
The soundtrack, with 10CC, Elton John and Pink Floyd, may have been the
reason why the movie has never became a cult classic in later years.
Pink Floyd's legal stubbornness, so is whispered, has prevented a
general release on DVD. A Japanese version does exist, with several
blurs at strategic places, and there also floats a French Canal+ copy
around, omitting a few (voyeuristic) scenes.
The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit Tumblr has some pictures: La
While I would give the book Psychedelic Celluloid a seven rating (out of
ten) for its contents, I am somewhat disappointed in the Kindle edition.
The book, as a traditional book, is beautifully printed, with a lot of
white-space next to the text to include pictures in a separate column or
to interact with the text as in the 'Magic Christian' example at the
However, the Kindle version does not allow in-text searching, nor adding
notes, nor changing the font size. On my medium sized tablet screen
(10.81 by 6.77 inches / 27.46 × 17.20 cm) the letters are the size of
miniature ants due to the fact that every page can only be shown in its
entirety. The picture legends have golden letters on a white background
and are completely unreadable (you can't change the background colour
either, as in other Kindle books).
Reading the Kindle version of Psychedelic Celluloid is like reading a
badly xeroxed book but with the one difference that on good old
photocopies you could still scribble some notes.
I would like to say to Oldcastle Books and/or Amazon this is a fucking
disgrace and that you only bring the author's reputation down with this
kind of crap.
Still a good book though.
Simon Matthews Psychedelic Celluloid Oldcastle Books, 2016. 224
The Church wishes to thank: Gretta Barclay, Vanessa Flores, Stanislav
Grigorev, Rich Hall, Peter Jenner, JenS, Antonio Jesús, Göran Nyström,
OldPangYau, Dylan Roberts, Venomous Centipede. ♥ Libby ♥ Iggy ♥
Sources (other than the above mentioned links): Jesús,
- Pinfloy, un vocablo del sur, Solo En Las Nubes, 16.09.2011. Mason,
Nick: Inside Out: A personal history of Pink Floyd, Orion Books,
London, 2011 reissue, p. 169. Muños, Abelard: Rafa
Gassent, director de cinema, La Veu, 07.01.2014. Palacios,
Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London,
2010, p. 320. Parker, David: Random Precision, Cherry Red
Books, London, 2001, p. 119.
Our Tumblr page contains a description of another movie with Pink Floyd
music, that we deliberately didn't include here: Alex De Renzy‘s Little
I'll start this Roger
Waters solo history in 1983 and pretend The
Body soundtrack (1970) never happened (it's definitively worth
checking out and not only for the Waters compositions, if you don't mind
the seventies tomfoolery).
Final Cut (1983) was issued as a Pink
Floyd album but is considered a virtual Roger Waters solo work with
some guitar solos by David
Gilmour and occasional percussion by that playboy drummer.
Originally intended as a Wall spin-off it grew into a political
manifesto against the Falklands crisis. And if that wasn't already
mind-boggling enough Waters also recycled some early-Wall melodies that
never made it on the double album because they weren't considered good
enough by Bob Ezrin and co.
The Final Cut set the standard for his future solo projects that
invariably contain a few good to excellent tracks, but unfortunately
also a lot of monotonous rubble. Most of them are also packaged in
Pros And Cons of Hitchhiking (1984) is the third part in the Wall
series, it even borrows some musical themes from that one. But just like
in the original Planet
Of The Apes franchise quality gradually degrades from sequel to
sequel, from solo project to solo project.
Blowing in the Wind
Waters' contribution to the When
The Wind Blows soundtrack (1986) takes a complete vinyl side. It
contains roughly 12 minutes of experimental synth drones, sound effects
and movie samples, sandwiched between one excellent and one just OK
of Faith has Waters at his best with vitriolic and sarcastic nags at
the Pope and his former bandmates: "this band is MY band…" It’s a pity
the track was put on a rather obscure soundtrack of a rather obscure
movie, not the last time this would happen with his songs. (For the
completists who will otherwise correct me: it can also be found on the Flickering
KAOS (1987) is an even weirder one. It is built around a radio show
and features poppy songs with a typical eighties rock radio sound.
Although it sounds dated nowadays it is not half as bad as everyone
pretends. One of the good things is that it is a single album. Roger
Waters wanted to make it a double but this was vetoed against by the
powers that be. Some of these rejected demos were put on B-sides,
remember singles?, and I can only agree with those record executives.
The only thing that suffered from the weeding is the concept, Radio KAOS
is as odd and incomprehensible as one of those eerie second series Twin
When you can’t sell new records, sell old ones, Waters must have thought
Wall Live in Berlin (1990) was born. It’s The Wall all over again,
this time with guests, Bier und Bratwurst.
Not Amused at all
All this was just a general repetition for what Waters considers his
magnum opus. When a colleague at work told me, 25 years ago, that the
latest Waters record had a lot of explosions, I was not impressed at
all. A record is not judged by the amount of sound effects, especially
not when they interfere with the music. Amused
To Death sounds as if a piano player is playing in the far corner of
a crowded restaurant and all you hear is the rhubarby mumbling of the
people, the clashing of cutlery, falling plates, waiters taking
orders... Many will disagree but Amused to Death (1992) is Waters
equivalent of Battle
for the Planet of the Apes, it even has got a monkey on its
fart-smelly cover. That record has all the tricks Waters is famous for:
over the top shouting, tracks that are repeated over several parts,
lists instead of lyrics and the drowning of the melody under a layer of
sound effects… If Waters sings about a nuclear attack, you can bet your
ass there will be missiles wooshing through your surround system for the
next three minutes.
People might think I hate Waters, but this is not really the case. He
genuinely surprised me with his In
The Flesh tour and the highlights of The Final Cut, Pros And Cons
and Amused to Death he brought there proves that Waters has some good
songs in him.
This introduction has been going on too long, it fucking starts to sound
like one of his albums, so we’ll skip his opera
(everyone did) and the few excellent (Hello,
I love you) and bad singles (Leaving
Beirut) he made over the years.
Did I tell you that Waters is a man of continuous repetition…
When you can’t sell new records, sell old ones, so Waters had another go
Wall, basically a lip-synch show with a video screen the size of a
football field. For me this was the lowest point in his career despite
the fact that he sold over four million tickets to the masses. (Read
more at: Skeletons
from the Kloset.)
But now, after some 25 years, there is a new Roger Waters record, and
Is This The Life We Really Want?
When We Were Young: a garbled introduction, taken from a Waters
interview or monologue that gradually becomes clearer to understand.
Personally it makes me think remotely of the Wish You Were Here radio
introduction. Pink Floyd has of course a tradition of ambient opening
tracks. Their last album had Things
Left Unsaid that started with (equally garbled) Rick Wright and
David Gilmour quotes, but borrowing is allowed among friends.
The intro segues into Déjà Vu that has been known since
25 September 2014 under the title Lay
Down Jerusalem (If I Had Been God) when he performed it at the
Russell Tribunal at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, in
support of the Palestinian people.
Luckily it is a far better opening song than What
God Wants was (on his previous rock album), although it is pretty
snotty to compare yourself with a deity. Waters would have been a pretty
solid Roman emperor, he seems to think of himself. Rogergula.
The song itself is wonderful and reminds me of the best of The Final Cut
with its piano and violin arrangement and some scarce sound effects that
for once don't ruin the song. Probably producer Nigel
Godrich is to thank for that. An anonymous source gave us the
following snippet of a dialogue between the artist and his producer.
Roger Waters: "How many explosions can I have?" Nigel
Godrich: "One." RW: "One per song, cool." NG:
"No, one in total." RW: "Only one? Can I have some fucks
then?" NG: "You can have as many fucks as you like."
(Despite the critique at several reviews and fora that there are too
many swearwords on the album, I could only count seven fucks.)
The Last Refugee starts as an uncomplicated love song and has
incredible beautiful and yet simple lines:
Show me the shy slow smile you keep hidden by warm brown eyes.
Waters proves that he is an excellent lyricist and singer, alternating
softly sung parts with pieces where he vainly tries to suppress his
anger. The atmosphere of the song and the way Waters sings it makes me
think of Johnny
Man, that was an opus of withheld emotionalism (not only on this
song, by the way). Up till now we haven't heard a single guitar solo yet
and that can only be regarded as a good point. It seems that Waters has
finally got rid of Gilmour's shadow, whom he tried to replace in vain
Clapton or Jeff
Beck. This is a hidden gem that grows on you with every session and
if you don't get a tear in your eyes, nothing will.
Picture That has a Welcome
To The Machine rhythm just before Waters starts with a set of
'shopping list' lyrics, a trick he has used in his entire career and
that he will repeat here as well on several songs. Do not expect that
Roger pictures himself on a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and
marmalade skies, quite the contrary, in his imagination kids run around
with their hands on the trigger of a gun carefully avoiding wooden
legged Afghans. There are quite some Floydian references for the
perceptive fan, musically to Sheep
(and Welcome To The Machine) and lyrically to Wish
You Were Here that is sardonically linked to Guantánamo
Bay. Roger's voice sounds coarse and rough throughout the track but
the synthesizer sounds thin and the guitar doesn't snap to the beat. Not
a bad tune, but it has something lacking to make it really great. It may
be contradictory to what I wrote before but this track would have
benefited from the over-the-top grandeur that only a full Pink Floyd
treatment can give. Let's have some of Rick's Turkish
Delight, please. Unless it was Roger's or Nigel's wish to make it
sound as Thin Floyd. Still a fucking great skeleton of a song though,
with obvious nods to his musical past.
Broken Bones starts like one of those more intimate Final Cut
Eyes) and has the default Waters screams whenever the refrain hits.
Great little folkie tune, with a certain Bob
Dylan feel, nothing more, nothing less, with a foul-mouthed Waters
who isn't afraid to express his opinion:
We cannot turn back the clock Cannot go back in time But we can
say: Fuck you, we will not listen to Your bullshit and lies
Is This The Life We Really Want? Surely the message is of more
importance than the melody here, Waters acts almost as a beat poet. It
has Waters reciting a shopping list again, like the following strophe:
toothless hags, supermodels, actors, fags, bleeding hearts, football
stars, men in bars, washer women, tailors, tarts, grannies,
grandpas, uncles, aunts, friends, relations, homeless tramps, clerics, truckers, cleaning
But believe it or not, it really works in the context of the song. Great
poetic track, with a sudden splash of surreal humour.
Bird In A Gale. When this track lifts off after the default TV
and radio samples, it turns into a Floydian Sheep-pastiche with Waters'
shouting his lines. There is a dog in the lyrics, hopefully not one of
those Gilmourian dogs
of war, and is that a cash register at the end or just some weird
machinery clicking away the moments that make up a dull day? Up till now
the flow of the record has just been perfect, although this track is, in
my opinion, of lesser quality. It simply tries to hard to mimic Floyd,
including the repeating echoes at each line, line, line, line, line...
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World, the six minutes track takes
longer as its subject as she is already finished off in the third line
of the song 'like a pearl crushed by a bulldozer'. A typical album
track, not really one we'll remember as being the highlight of this
album, but not bad either. A bit like Gilmour did on Rattle
That Lock with the throwaway song The
Girl In The Yellow Dress, but at least she managed to survive till
This one needs some extra attention to really get into and should
probably be listened to on its own. The lyrics are also quite hermetic
and if someone can explains me what it is really about, then thanks. The
last strophe is particularly moving with the I'm coming home, bit.
Perhaps if I give it some time, it could grow into a favourite. (But who
has time, nowadays, for that?)
Smell The Roses is the least original song of the album. It takes
its melody from Have
A Cigar, has a mad dog on a chain barking, an obscured
by clouds guitar at the interlude and a Floydian girlie choir. But
just because it sounds so familiar and is full of clichés it rapidly
grows into an earworm.
Wait For Her / Oceans Apart / Part Of Me Died. The
last song is a three-parter that has been given separate titles.
The first part undoubtedly is a poetic song about love (and for
perverted minds: lovemaking), but in the last strophe there suddenly is
a 'last fusillade' whatever that means. The lyrics are inspired by a
poem (with the same title) from Palestinian poet Mahmoud
Darwish and some lines have been taken literally from the original (Wait
For Her by Mahmoud Darwish).
Oceans Apart is a short, one strophe, musical bridge between part one
and three, making it clear that the woman he sings about is the love of
Part Of Me Died has Waters listing again, this time it's a collection of
his bad characteristics (or so it seems) that the woman he loves has
made disappear. It is a very introspective Waters who ends the record
Bring me my final cigarette It would be better by far to die in her
arms Than to linger In a lifetime of regret
Roger Waters writing a dark love-song, who would ever guess that? It's
simple, it's dumb, but Roger Waters has finally proven again he still is
the pilot of the Pink Floyd airship.
I never thought I would come to this conclusion, but Is This The Life We
Really Want? is a fucking good Roger Waters record, the best since The
Final Cut if you ask me. Luckily it has a spit-ugly cover and almost
undecipherable lettering so I can still end this review on a grumpy note.
If the rumours arriving at Atagong Mansion are true - and why shouldn't
they? - the relationship between Mr. Gilmour and Mr. Waters is again at
a very low level, so low that they can't be bothered visiting the Their
Mortal Remains exhibition together, or just making a mutual
statement about it.
The Early Years
The last time they really had to cooperate, or that their lawyers and
agents had to work together, was with the making of The Early Years
box-set (and its satellite releases). For the average fan this seems a
nice compilation, with many previously unreleased gems, although the
average fan will not be immediately tempted, just try to listen to John
Latham (parts 1 to 9) in its entirety or get through ten (10!)
different versions of Atom
Heart Mother. Unfortunately the editors lost interest in the project
and the closer you get to the final tome, the less rare material there
is to find. In the end they had to throw in a few movies that every
collector already has and yet another remaster of Obscured
By Clouds to get something, uh..., mildly significant.
The Early Years compilation is meant for those über-fans, those
completists, who eat, breathe and defecate Pink Floyd on a daily basis.
And these hard-to-please crusty old dinosaurs were hugely disappointed
with the amateurish treatment. An unique mono soundtrack – never
(officially) released - was replaced with the common stereo one, by a
project manager who was on the job for two decades but who didn't give a
fuck to glue the right sound to the right video. Things went wrong with
the analogue to digital conversion and video soundtracks play at the
wrong speed. The 'exclusive' (remixed and remastered) BBC live
recordings are in a worse condition than the free footwear you can find
on Yeeshkul... Basically, for Floydian super-geeks, it is a mess. (Read
our review at: Supererog/Ation:
skimming The Early Years).
Their Mortal Remains
About the same can be said about the London-based Their Mortal Remains
exhibition. Now this is clearly a mass-event made to please the big
public. Visiting a rock-band exhibition is a bit like fucking for peace,
it's pleasant, no doubt about that, but in the end: what's the point,
other than saying: 'look at all these guitars'.
Critical fans describe the exhibition as 'lots of show, with little
substance' with posters and video clips and accessories that everyone
has seen before. One room has been created especially for Sennheiser
so they can promote their 379£ - 500$ - 425€ Pink Floyd headset. The
main goal of the exhibition is to get as many people as possible into
the shop that sells a lot of expensive goodies. Let's go to (a
At The Gates Of Dawn (A Fleeting Glimpse forum) for a precise
It gets worse and worse. What's wrong with the old gits? This V&A thing
has been appallingly organised with dodgy overpriced die cast vans you
can't buy, plush pigs with 'Pink Floyd Animals' printed on their arse in
case you're not a Floyd fan and thought it might be just a plush pig and
the Atom Heart Mother fridge magnet with Atom Heart Mother written on it
so the current 'management' knows where it belongs and don't
accidentally includes it as a Kate Bush item. (…) Now a book
die hards have been waiting 40+ years for, released in a manner which
can only be an insult to its author. Definitely an insult to the fans
but hopefully to Dave Gilmour too. Sneaked out exclusively so none of us
can read it.
In The Pink
That last paragraph is about a curiosity that suddenly showed up in the
V&A shop: Nick Sedgwick's long-promised 'In The Pink
(Not A Hunting Memoir)'. It was already rumoured in April 2016 that the
exhibition would eventually sell copies of that book, but it only showed
up there (and at the webshop) on the 20th of July 2017, some say in a
very limited quantity of 20 copies.
The story of that book is a pretty odd one, not an exception if you
realise we are currently roaming in Floyd-land.
Nick Sedgwick was a close friend of Roger Waters in their Cambridge days
and as such it was no surprise that he became part of the Cambridge
mafia, circling in and around the band. In 1974 Waters ask his golf
buddy to follow the band on tour and write a journal about it. That
diary turned into a personal testimony of life on the road and its
intrinsic problems. It (apparently) shows Roger Waters playing the alpha
male of the band, bossing the others around and trying to cope with a
When the book was finished none of the other members were keen on it and
it was shelved. Nick Sedgwick died in 2011 and Waters promised to
finally release it, but for the next 6 years nothing happened with the
manuscript (see: Immersion).
It was believed that David Gilmour was behind the boycott because Nick
Mason, after all these decades, couldn't be bothered any more.
Eventually Roger Waters promised in 2016 and once again this year that
the project was still on, but we all know how long it can take before he
fulfils his promises.
But this week it was confirmed by fans that they had purchased the book
at Their Mortal Remains. What is weird is that the book doesn't have an ISBN
number, which is needed to sell it on webshops like Amazon and in
regular bookshops. It does have the following mention though:
Design and layout copyright (c) Roger Waters Music Overseas Ltd 2017 Published
by Roger Waters Music Overseas Ltd 2017
Meanwhile it seems that the book can also be bought at Roger Waters'
concerts in the USA and V&A has allegedly received a new batch as well.
Many things can still be said about this important work, that was once
described by Pink Floyd biographer Mark
Blake as 'dynamite', but as long as the Church doesn't have a copy
we'll leave it like that. The problem is that it appears to be pretty
limited and that the only place to get it is at a Waters gig or at the
London exhibition (hint!).
Give us a sign if you have one too many! (another hint!)
Many thanks to: An@log, Azerty, Chris from Paris, Mob, Peter at the
Gates of Dawn, Pink Floyd 1977, TW113079. Pictures: Peter at the Gates
of Dawn. ♥ Libby ♥ Iggy ♥