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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).
On the eight day of the eight month of the eight year of the third
millennium the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit saw the light of day
(read our first article: Iggy).
Its initial function, goal or intention wasn't really clear from the
start as has been revealed in an intriguing interview the Reverend had
on the Syd Barrett blog: Solo
en las Nubes. The (Spanish) interview can be read at Autoentrevista
- Felix Atagong: "Un
hombre sincero" but for those ignorants who aren't fluent in the
language of Cervantes an English version can be found at The
Anchor: Felix Atagong: an
La Iglesia empezó como una especie de diablura. Discutiendo la (teórica)
posibilidad de una religión con Barrett como centro en el foro de Late
Night, mencioné la existencia de una congregación de Santa Iggy.
(Translation) The Church more or less started as a prank. Discussing the
(theoretical) possibility of a Barrett religion on the Late Night forum
I mentioned a Saint Iggy Congregation.
That was in May 2007, but it would take until August 2008 before the
Church published a first article, triggered by Argentinian Dolly
Rocker. In those past three wonderful years magical things happened
to the Church and its Reverend. JenS
and Margaretta Barclay
added some missing puzzle pieces to the mystery of the singer and his
Eskimo Girl (the Church was less lucky with Rusty B. and one of Syd's
1969 temporarily girlfriends Dominique H., but our first rule is to
respect their wish for privacy). The support from Pink Floyd biographer
Mark Blake and Mojo magazine made it possible to locate the mystery
woman who had posed on the rear cover of The Madcap Laughs and – en
passant – to debunk several myths about those days (although it is not
always that easy to revive situations that happened in 1969).
Dozens of contributors and fans of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit
have helped with our quest but aren't mentioned here, let it be known
that their names have been encrypted in solid gold in the Church's
Even more: real friendships emerged out of this, not least from Iggy
Rose, whose phone calls to the Reverend are a mixture of roaring
laughter, psychedelic tomfoolery and do sometimes contain, but luckily
not very often, an odd tear drop about long-lost persons and situations.
The future looks bright for the Church although this will not always
result in articles on this place. Our apologies for that. (In the
meantime, you can always check the Holy Church Facebook
page, that publishes unassorted bits and pieces now and then.)
It sparkles and shines
The sparkle that lit the Church's fuse was a 2007 Late Night forum post: Possibility
of new religion, asking if a religion could be based upon the
writings of Barrett. That thread was started by Stanislav (alias
~SVG75~) a Russian Barrett fan who has always flirted with the
boundaries of reality. As a computer graphics programming teacher he has
published several Syd Barrett parodies
in the fine (Belgian) tradition of surrealism and dadaism and this at
several places on the web.
Not unlike Marcel
Duchamp, who painted a moustache on the Gioconda
and gave the ready-made its bawdy title LHOOQ,
Stanislav took existing pictures of Barrett and electronically modified
them, thus creating alternative but non-existent realities in the life
of Syd Barrett.
Stanislav's work has not always been appreciated by the Syd Barrett
community. The average (read: non-anoraky) fan could easily be misguided
by the near-authenticity of some of his pictures and stories and
sometimes only those 'in the know' were able to distinguish the parody
from the original.
Syd Barrett dot CON
Stanislav's most spectacular guerilla art attack was when his subverted
graphical work infiltrated the official Syd Barrett website.
He fooled the Syd Barrett Estate and Pink Floyd Ltd. by
making them believe his creations were genuine Barrett related artworks
The official Syd Barrett website started on the 19th of February 2010
(not taking into account the test page that had been present several
months before) and in the next couple of days different Late
Night punters tracked down several mistakes ranking from the silly
to the stupid.
Dark Globe was the first to spot a non-existent biography that
had crept into the book section:
The books section of the new site lists a book called 'Crazy Diamond' by
Tony Bacon. The cover looks like a Stanislav design. I'm wondering
- is it for real? I can't find reference to it anywhere else. (Taken
Official site gets a makeover.)
It was indeed a Stanislav mash-up deconstructing two existing books: Crazy
Diamond by Mike Watkinson & Pete Anderson and London Live
by Tony Bacon (see pictures at the left for the real covers).
That last book is still on the biography list from the official Syd
Barrett website although it is an inventory of bands who played London
clubs from skiffle, rock'n roll and trad in the 1950s to progressive,
pub-rock and punk in the 1970s, passing by at the London venues during
the R&B, folk and psychedelia years (it does have Syd on the cover
though, but isn't a Barrett biography as such).
Another proof that the website's authors didn't (and still don't) have a
clue about what they are publishing. It is a damn disgrace that the best
Syd Barrett biography that has appeared in the last decade, Julian
Globe, isn't put there, but that is probably because the Barrett
Estate are actively sponsoring an 'approved' biography from someone else.
Prior to the website launch Mark Jones, the (unofficial) Syd
Barrett picture archivist, had been consulted by Pink Floyd Ltd. to
render his expertise on Barrett and early Pink Floyd photo material. So
he was quite surprised to find many dating errors and another
Stanislav-readymade that had mysteriously placed itself in the art
section of the official Syd Barrett website:
Mark Jones mailed the manager of the Syd Barrett Estate on Sunday, the
21st of February, and by Monday all the errors had disappeared. The
makers of the website never did comment on their mistakes hoping that
the matter would soon be forgotten.
Unfortunately the Holy Igquisition never forgets and the Holy
Church of Iggy the Inuit finds it among its tasks to praise Stanislav
for his impromptu Banksy-like
actions. The fact that his forgeries were published at the official Syd
Barrett site give his works a meta-realistic certificate of
authenticity. Syd Barrett, quite a jokester himself so we have heard,
would probably have liked this very much and is laughing his arse off
from the great gig in the sky.
When geniuses meet
It was written in the stars that on Friday, the 5th of August 2011,
Stanislav and the Reverend would meet in front of the Brussels Magritte
museum. On that occasion Stanislav handed over a present for the Church
that was immediately digitally immortalised by hordes of visiting
Japanese tourists. The Church and Stanislav will now be for ever bonded
and Iggy Rose has commented on Stanislav's new artwork with the
following unforgettable phrase:
Oh WOWEEEE that is FANTASTIC XXXX
Let's end this article with the words of a wise man: “In the sunny land
of Belgium Stanislav was forced to eat a Brussels waffle and there was
much rejoicing.” Happy Birthday, Stanislav! Happy Birthday,
Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit!
The Church wishes to thank all the fans and contributors of the Church,
especially the lovely people of the Late Night community from the past
and present. Stanislav and Dolly Rocker for sparkling the fuse, JenS and
Julian Palacios for rolling the ball, Margaretta Barclay and Mark Blake
for adding up to the Iggy Follies. The French connection for putting my
feet back on the ground. And, last but not least: ♥ Iggy ♥.
Despite the fact that the sixties children of the revolution all wanted
to express their individualism and refused to be a part of the square 9
to 5 world they all managed to show up at the same places, dress
virtually the same and take the same chemical substances.
This also applied for their holidays. Although they had been seeing each
other the whole year in old rainy England, in summer they would pack
their bags and flee – en masse – to the same cool (but
sweaty) locations, following the so-called Hippie
The Hippie Trail extended to the Himalayas and several Cantabrigian
hipsters made it to the Indies, looking for a guru who would teach them
things a local vicar couldn't teach them. Paul Charrier, one of the
Cantabrigian mods, beats or whatever denomination they liked that week,
was one of the first to witness this. When he returned to England and
opened his bag of tricks, he managed to convert a few others to the
narrow path of Sant
Mat, but others, like Storm
Thorgerson and Matthew
Scurfield, opposed to this 'wave of saccharine mysticism hitting our
shores' (see also: We
are all made of stars).
India and Pakistan were long and hazardous journeys and for those who
only had a few weeks to spend there were always the Balearic islands
where they would meet at La Tortuga or La
Some 700 hippies arrived in Formentera in 1968 and by the summer of 1969
there were already 1,300, almost one for every 2.5 islanders. They
didn’t stay all year round but were usually university students spending
their holidays on the island. In 1970, Franco’s regime threw all 3,000
of them off Ibiza and Formentera. According to the regime, the hippies
gave the place a bad name, but the islanders didn’t agree – for them the
hippies were simply tourists. (Taken from: Thinkspain.)
Of course the islands of Formentera
(Balearic Islands) already had some reputation of their own. The place
not only gained popularity by (American) writers and artists after the
second world war for its mild climate, but also because it was a central
drug smuggling point. The heroes of Beat literature not only liked the
bohemian's life, but in their quest for nonconformity they also actively
sought contact with 'the perilous margins of society - pimps, whores,
drug dealers, petty thieves'.
Quite some Dutch artists visited the place, for one reason or another.
The proto-hippie-folk singing duo Nina
& Frederik (Dutch-Danish, in fact), who had some hits in the
fifties and early sixties, lived there. In his later life Frederik
Van Pallandt attempted a career as drug smuggler and his murder in
1994 may have been a direct result. Other artist included poet Simon
Vinkenoog, author Jan
Cremer and Black & Decker trepanist Bart
Huges. The sixties saw visits from the Beatles, the Stones and in
their wake some beautiful people from London (for a more detailed list: Ibiza
in the beatnik & hippie eras.)
David Gale, his girlfriend Maureen, Dave Henderson, Storm Thorgerson and
John Davies went to Ibiza in 1963 for their holidays where they visited
Formentera island for a day. Back at home they all decided to have
another holiday there.
Mary Wing (and her friend Marc Dessier) found Formentera so beautiful
that in 1965 they decided to stay there.
Nick Mason acknowledges that after the '14
hour technicolour dream' (29 April 1967) the band was very tired and
that Syd showed more severe symptoms than the others. Despite all that
the continuous, eight days a week, gigging went on with the mythical Games
For May concert two weeks later (12 May), the memorable Hans
Keller BBC interview (14 May) and the See
Emily Play recording session (18 May). There were nearly daily
concerts or recording sessions between May and June of that year, but
little by little cracks started to appear in their overcrowded agenda.
June, 11: two cancelled concerts in Holland June, 18: public
appearance on a bikini fashion show for Radio London, cancelled June,
24: two cancelled concerts in Corby and Bedford June, 25: two
cancelled concerts in Manchester
On Thursday, July the 27th 1967, the Pink Floyd mimed (for the third
time) on the Top Of the Pops show although Barrett was rather reluctant
to do it. The next day they had a recording session for the BBC, but
apparently Syd was seen leaving the block when it was their turn. This
time the band and its management took Syd's behaviour seriously and
decided to cancel all August gigs (with the exception of some studio
Update September 2012: one of these cancelled gigs was the 7th
National Jazz, Pop, Ballads and Blues Festival that was visited by Iggy
the Eskimo: Iggy
- a new look in festivals.
Now what would you do when the lead singer of your band has got mental
problems due to his abundant drug intake? You send him to a hippie, drug
infested, island under the supervision of a psychedelic doctor who
thinks that LSD has been been the best invention since masturbation.
In 1969 Smutty would have his medical office at Jenny
Fabian's apartment: “I did find it a bit weird though, trying to lie
around stoned listening to the sounds of vaginal inspections going on
behind the curtain up the other end of the sitting-room."
After a first attempt in the studio on Scream
Thy Last Scream, Pink Floyd finally went on holiday for the second
half of August. Syd Barrett, Lindsay Corner, Rick Wright, Juliette Gale
(Wright), Dr. Sam Hutt, his wife and baby went to Formentera while Roger
Waters and Judy Trim (Waters) headed for Ibiza. They all had a good
time, except for Barrett who – during a storm - panicked so hard he
literally tried to climb the walls of the villa, an anecdote that is so
vehemently trashed by biographer Rob
Chapman that it probably did happen.
In retrospect the decision to take a hippie doctor on holiday wasn't
that stupid. One of the underlying ideas was that he would be able to
communicate with Syd on the same level. The band, conscientiously or
not, were also aware that 'there was a fear that sending Syd to a
[traditional] doctor for observation might lead to his being sectioned
in a mental hospital'.
In those days most care centres in Great Britain were still Victorian
lunatic asylums where medical torture was mildly described as therapy.
At least these were the horrid stories told by the people who had been
so lucky to escape.
He showed me to the room that was to be mine. It was indeed a cell.
There was no door knob on the inside, the catch had been jammed so that
the door couldn't be shut properly, the window was high up in the wall
and had bars over it, and there was only a standard issue bed and locker
as furniture. (William Pryor)
Nobody wanted this to happen to Syd, but a less prosaic thought was this
would have meant the end of the band, something that had to be carefully
avoided. “The idea was to get Syd out of London, away from acid, away
from all his friends who treated him like a god.”, Rick Wright explained
but in reality Dr. Hutt, and the others, merely observed Syd Barrett,
catatonic as ever and still 'munching acid all the time'. Nick Mason, in
his usual dry style: “It was not a success.”
Whoever thought that giving Barrett a few weeks of rest was going to
evaporate the demons from his brain must have been tripping himself and
on the first of September the agenda was resumed as if nothing had
happened. The first 6 days were filled with gigs and recording sessions.
Three days later a Scandinavian tour with the legendary Gyllene
Cirkeln and Starclub gigs, followed by an Irish Tour and later, in
October, the disastrous North American Tour...
Although the previous paragraphs may seem harsh they are not meant to
criticise the people nor their actions. It is easy to pinpoint what went
wrong 45 years ago, but as it is impossible to predict an alternative
past we will never know if any other action would have had a different
or better effect. The Reverend is convinced that Syd's friends, band
members and management tried to do their best to help him, but
unfortunately they were running in the same insane treadmill as he was.
Syd wasn't the only one to be exhausted and at the same time the
atmosphere was imbibed with the 'summer of love' philosophy of
respecting someone's personal freedom, even if it lead to
In 1968 Aubrey
'Po' Powell (Floydian roadie and later Hipgnosis member) visited the
Formentera island together with some friends.
I first came here forty-one years ago [interview taken in 2009, FA] with
David Gilmour, and then the year afterwards with Syd Barrett. The first
year I came to Formentera I stayed about four months living like a
hippie, and I just fell in love with it. (…) Also it was kind of
difficult to get to. You had to get the plane to Ibiza and then the
ferry which at that time was the only ferry that went between Ibiza and
Formentera and that took about two hours to get across and it only went
twice a day. So it was an effort to get there, you know, it was a rather
remote place. But a lot of writers, painters and musicians gravitated
there. (Taken from: Aubrey
Powell: Life, light and Formentera’s influence on Hipgnosis.)
Shortly after Syd Barrett watched the first moon-landing
(that had been given a Pink Floyd soundtrack on the BBC) he panicked
when he found out that his pal Emo (Iain Moore) and a few others (Po,
John Davies) had left Albion for sunny Formentera. He literally grabbed
a bag of cash and dirty clothes and headed to Heathrow, driven there by
The story goes that Syd tried to stop an aeroplane taxiing on the
tarmac. In at least one version the plane actually stopped and took him
on board, but other say he had to wait for the next departure. Again it
is biographer Rob Chapman who categorises this anecdote as
'unsubstantiated nonsense', on the weird assumption that it failed to
make the newspapers, but other biographies have also omitted this story
for simply being too unbelievable.
Anyway, somewhere in July or early August 1969 Syd arrived in Ibiza and
met Emo who was on his way to San Fernando (Formentera). The biographies
Crazy Diamond (Mike Watkinson & Pete Anderson), Madcap (Tim Willis) and
Dark Globe (Julian Palacios) all add bits and pieces to that particular
Iain Moore: “He had a carrier bag of clothes that I could smell from
where I was standing.”
Emo says Syd's behaviour was pivoting like a see-saw. One moment he
could be seen laughing, joking and singing with the gang; the next
moment he could snap into an emotional freeze. It was useless to warn
him for the blistering sun and in the end his friends 'had to grab him,
hold him down, and cover him from head to toe in Nivea'.
At Formentera Syd stayed with Mary Wing, who had left Great Britain in
1965 to live on the island with Marc Dessier. According to them Barrett
was a gentle soul but 'like a little brother who needed looking after'.
Barrett was in good form and to an audience of European hippies he
claimed he was still the leader of Pink Floyd.
Barrett borrowed Dessier's guitar: “Then he sat there, chose a letter of
the alphabet and thought of his three favourite words starting with the
same letter. He wrote them on three bits of paper, threw them in the air
and wrote them again in the order that he picked them up.” This
technique was not uncommon for beat poets and Syd may have been inspired
by Spike Hawkins who showed Barrett his Instant Poetry Broth book the
One Formantera picture shows Syd with an unknown girl who hides her
nudity behind a red veil. The (copyrighted) picture can be found on John
Davies MySpace page (image link)
and has been published in the Crazy Diamond biography and on A
For Pink Floyd buffs the picture shares a resemblance with the red veil
picture on the Wish
You Were Here liner bag, that actually exists in a few different
versions. Storm Thorgerson has used the past from the band and its
members for his record covers, backdrop movies and videos on several
occasions, like the Barrett vinyl compilation that had a cover with a
plum, an orange and a matchbox.
Hipgnosis collaborator 'Po' Powell was with Syd in Formentera in 1969,
but what does Storm Thorgerson has to say about it all? He reveals that
the idea for the veil came from John Blake, and not from Po:
John Blake suggested using a veil – symbol of absence (departure) in
funerals ans also a way of absenting (hiding) the face. This was the
last shot (…) which was photographed in Norfolk.
And in Mind Over Matter:
The red muslin veil is an universal item, or symbol, of hiding the face,
either culturally as in Araby, or for respect as in funerals. What's
behind the veil?
According to Nick Mason a female nude can be seen on the Wish You Were
Here inside cover but of course this doesn't say anything about the
unknown woman on Formentera. Who is she?
Nobody knows. And that secret remained a secret for over 40 years.
Now let's suppose a witness would show up who remembers she has been
seen walking near Earl's Court. And that she was called Sarah Sky
although that probably was not her real name. And that she spoke with
a foreign accent and lived in London. And that Sarah Sky vanished
around the late 1970's and has never been heard of since.
Partially solving a problem only makes it bigger. A new quest has begun.
Update 2012.05.26: According to Emo (Iain Moore) Sarah Sky may
have been one of the girls who went with them to Formentera. The Syd
Barrett Archives (Facebook) have the following quote:
Actually, I spoke to Emo last night and he said she was just another
person who was staying at the house they rented. It was a nudist beach,
lol. At least Syd kept his pants on this time! (…) Anyway, Emo
said they didn't know her and he couldn't remember who she was with.
(...) The girl in this photo is name unknown. She was American and
staying in a house in Ibiza. She was visiting Formentera for the day.
Update August 2012: Author and movie maker Nigel
Gordon does not agree with a quote in the above text, taken from
I just want to respond briefly to your article on Formentera etc where
you wrote or quote that Santmat is ‘saccharine mysticism’. I don’t agree
with you. Santmat recommends that we meditate for two and a half hours a
day. It’s pretty ‘salty’!
Update February 2015: Some 'sources' on the web pretend the
Formentera girl is none other than German photo-model Uschi Obermaier.
Obviously this is not true and if you want to know how the Church came
to this conclusion you can read everything at Uschi
Obermaier: Proletarian Chic.
Many thanks to: Nina, ebronte, Julian Palacios, Jenny Spires.
Sources (other than the above internet links): Blake, Mark: Pigs
Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2007, p. 90, 131. Chapman,
Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p.
228, 341. Davis, John: Childhood's
End, My Generation Cambridge 1946-1965. De Groot, Gerard: The
Sixties Unplugged, Pan Macmillan, London, 2009, p. 27. Gordon,
Nigel: Santmat, email, 18.08.2012. Green, Jonathon: Days In
The Life, Pimlico, London, 1998, p. 286. Green, Jonathon: All
Dressed Up, Pimlico, London, 1999, p. 255. Mason, Nick, Inside
Out, Orion Books, London, 2011 reissue, p. 95-97. Palacios,
Julian: A mile or more in a foreign clime': Syd and Formentera @ Syd
Barrett Research Society, 2009 (forum no longer active). Palacios,
Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London,
2010, p. 265, 353. Pryor, William: The Survival Of The Coolest,
Clear Books, 2003, p. 106. Scurfield, Matthew: I Could Be Anyone,
Monticello Malta 2009, p. 176. Spires, Jenny: The
Syd Barrett Archives, Facebook, 2012. Thorgerson, Storm: Mind
Over Matter, Sanctuary Publishing, London, 2003, p. 80. Thorgerson,
Storm: Walk Away René, Paper Tiger, Limpsfield, 1989, p. 150. Thorgerson,
Storm & Powell, Aubrey: For The Love Of Vinyl, Picturebox,
Brooklyn, 2008, p. 104 (essay written by Nick Mason). Watkinson, Mike
& Anderson, Pete: Crazy Diamond, Omnibus Press, London, 1993,
p. 90-91. Willis, Tim, Madcap, Short Books, London, 2002, p.
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 ♥
Happy New Year, sistren and brethren of the Holy Church of
Iggy the Inuit. 2014 is gone and again what a long strange trip it has
been, to quote – once again - musician, lyricist and poet Robert
Hunter. Syd Barrett is dead all right and unfortunately his
legacy hasn't been ageing gratefully at all last year. An enlightened
visionary once said that if you put two Barrett fans together they will
start a group and if you'll put three they will start a fight. This is
past year's history in a nutshell and enough reason for the Reverend to
say adieu to all Facebook Syd Barrett groups, without exception, even
the ones he co-founded. 2014 showed they are as unique as Pepsi is to to
Coca Cola, perfect clones and excelling in superfluous and sickly sweet
mediocrity. This crusty dinosaur needed to get rid of the bickering, the
hijacking of each other's members, the shouting to and fro, the arrogant
standpoint of people who never heard of Syd Barrett three months before
but who feel it their constitutional right to surpass their ignorance
and insult the old farts for the only reason they can.
Luckily there are still some free minds around who do the things they
do, unburdened, in all artistic freedom and who we can call our friends. Rich
Hall comes to mind, over the years this multi-instrumentalist has
acquired an impressive back catalogue of indie records, with of course
the impressive Birdie
Hop & The Sydiots that appeared in 2013.
This year he surprised the lethargic Syd Barrett world with an enhanced
version of the Barrett track Opel. Opal, as some people claim it should
be, is a haunting tune and has some of Barrett's finest verse (crisp
flax squeaks tall reeds) but it only exists as a demo. Hall added
additional layers of guitar, thus creating something that could be close
to the definitive Opel / Opal version.
In the privacy of the confessional Rich had already whispered into the
Reverend's ears that he was of the opinion that Barrett's seminal 1974
sessions could be turned into something more coherent and because nobody
believed him, the Reverend included, he decided to give these tapes the
Opel treatment as well.
Dark Side of the Moon had made Pink Floyd a supergroup and
their record companies decided to earn some quick cash, surfing on the
success of the million seller. The first budget release was A
Nice Pair (1973) that combined the Floyd's first two records, The
Piper At The Gates Of Dawn and A
Saucerful Of Secrets, although American copies had some alternative
mixes of some of the tracks. Actually this was not such a bad idea,
because in America Pink Floyd had been a relatively unknown band till
then. The compilation hit the Billboard top 40.
For the first time American kids heard of Syd Barrett and his two solo
albums, that had never crossed the ocean, were re-packaged in 1974 as a double
album with a 'founder member of Pink Floyd' sticker on the front.
The album rose to position 163 in the American charts, which was an
unexpected success and made the record executives hunger for more at
both sides of the Atlantic.
Bryan Morrison, who was still Barrett's agent, convinced Syd to get back
in the studio with Peter Jenner (who we interviewed this year: An
innerview with Peter Jenner) to start a third studio project, but it
only resulted in some hastily shambolic recordings. But now, in 2014,
Rich Hall took the 1974 demos, added extra guitar, bass, drums and
sleigh bells (where would rock music be without sleigh bells?) and here
is how it sounds. The result is still best described as your drunk uncle
torturing his guitar on Christmas eve after his fourth coffee cognac,
but kudos to Hall for enriching the demos. At least we hear now where it
could have led into if only Barrett would have had the balls...
Boogie #1 (with a trace of Bo Diddley’s ‘Pretty Thing’)
If You Go #1
If You Go #2
John Lee Hooker (actually Lighting' Hopkins' Mojo Hand)
Chooka-Chooka Chug Chug
Opposed to a band called Pink Floyd there is a company with the same
name that seems to have other interests than to serve the band it
represents, even going as far as insulting and legally threatening
webmasters and active forum members (read: über-fans)
because they dare to write something that doesn't fit into saint David's
money scheme, who thinks he is the caretaker of all things Syd Barrett,
which – in reality – means buying all possible Barrett-related items,
movies and recordings and hiding them in a storage place, out of sight
of the public and the fans. Ted Shuttleworth about his Crazy Diamond
movie script in 2011:
Presently, the script is with a guy who has been placed in charge of the
Syd Barrett estate. He is also David Gilmour's manager, and ostensibly
Pink Floyd's manager as well. I have no idea if he's ever read it. I
imagine he hasn't. But if a movie about Syd is ever going to seriously
happen, he is the man who is going to give the first OK. Maybe one of
these days he'll call me back. (Taken from: Ted
Shuttleworth and the "Crazy Diamond" Movie)
Well, in the case of the Crazy Diamond movie, that was equally trashed
down by Roger Waters and by David Gilmour, this might have been a good
The Last Minute Never Mentioned Boogie Band
Not that the webmasters of the Pink Floyd fan sites are any better. The
three big Pink Floyd fan-sites, two of them serious and a third who
copies all from the others, wet their trousers whenever a Floyd member
or Floyd collaborator does a 'thing' however trivial that 'thing' might
be. The Igquisition made a nice table about some recent Floydian
events, counting the times they have been mentioned.
Of course we don't mind that Snowy
White selling his 1957 Goldtop Standard Les Paul guitar
gets a mention, it can be heard on the 8-track version of Animal's Pigs
On The Wing (this track was later re-issued on Snowy's Goldtop
It is not more than normal that Nick Mason, sitting in on drums on a
(frankly dreadful) Kirsty Bertarelli Christmas single (The
Ghosts Of Christmas Past), or David Gilmour, joining
Bombay Bicycle Club at the last gig ever on Earls Court, is documented
on the fan-sites, that is what fan-sites are for.
But that Andy
Jackson's solo album gets mentioned 5 times more by the fan-sites
than the The
Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band, with Syd Barrett guesting on 3
tracks, is frankly unbelievable. The original tape of this concert was
confiscated in 1985, in a rather NSA-shaped way, by a Pink Floyd black
suit and then hurled into the maelström they call their archive (see: The
Last Minute Put Together Reel Story). Luckily a second copy of this
tape was found back in 2005 and issued by Easy
Action records after nearly a decade of legal struggle.
When I am A Good Dog They Sometimes Throw Me A Bone In
That Neptune Pink Floyd is not aware of this release is probably just a
sign of their overall ignorance. However it is more problematic for A
Fleeting Glimpse not mentioning it. Col Turner, by his own words a fan
of Pink Floyd since 1966, should be well aware of Syd Barrett's
importance and legacy. His website, that has attracted over 50 million
visitors and whose forum has over 13000 members, brags that it is the
most accurate, the most informed and the first to come out with
officially confirmed news. Not mentioning the Last Minute Put
Together Boogie Band could be a sign that Col T only publishes what
Fifteen puppet master allows him to publish, as the Endless River
incident has clearly proven past year (see: The
loathful Mr. Loasby and other stories...).
Update 2015 08 02: Browsing through the Late
Night forum we came across a post from Lee
Wood who made the Syd's Cambridge DVD Box Set, limited to 100
copies, in 2009. He send a copy of the box to one of the leading Pink
Floyd fan-sites but was informed by the webmaster that they would not
review the release. Lee Wood:
"The Management" of PF seems to like total control. I sent a review copy
of the box set to Brain Damage whom I always thought were a good source
of information but they couldn't run a review until they got permission
from official sources. Needless to say it's been several months and
nothing has appeared. So perhaps its not worth looking to them for
unbiased information or any form of news of interest to fans. (Source: Syd's
Cambridge Box Set.)
Oh by the way, the official Syd Barrett website
never mentioned the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band release either.
But they are a One Fifteen product as well, and as such only interested
in selling t-shirts, some of those are quite nice even.
The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit published several articles
about this record, with interviews of Carlton
Abdullah John Alder (Twink for short) and Fred
Frith. Pearls for the swine, one might say, because even the
self-proclaimed Syd Barrett fans largely ignored this release and were
openly shouting for the tracks to be illegally published on YouTube.
Caca Del Toro
When a Mexican Syd Barrett fan asked the Church, in May 2012, if we knew
anything about a third solo album, allegedly recorded in a Spanish
monastery, we didn't know this old urban legend would rip the Barrett
community open like zombies with their entrails gushing out of their
All the Church did was looking into this (obvious) myth and reporting
about it. The research was taken a step further by Antonio Jesús from
the phantasmagorical blog Solo
En Las Nubes who not only tracked down the rumour to its source, an
article in a satirical magazine, but also managed to interview the
person who started this hoax. What we thought was a fine piece of
investigative journalism, taking months of research (the last articles
were published in 2013), was considered inappropriate by those people
who fill their time by studying the hair-length of Barrett (see: Hairy
Mess) on coloured photographs that were once published in magazines
However, the myth was far from over. In August of this year, four
reel-to-reel tapes were sent in a luxury 'immersion' box to 4 people on
3 continents containing a 2014 re-imagination of the record. Two of them
were the people who had published the Spanishgrass files on their blogs:
Antonio Jesús & the Reverend. The two others were Rick Barnes, record
collector, music investigator, administrator of the Facebook Syd Barrett
group Birdie Hop and Stanislav Grigorev, whose Floydian con-artistic
artwork even fooled the professionals that are Barrett's management.
Obviously the Church reported and commented about this (quite intriguing
and musically excellent) record and published a review when it was
streamed on Bandcamp (see: Spanishgrass
by Spanishgrass, a review of the 2014 album). Useless to say that it
was mostly disregarded by those fans who squawk orgasmically over
photoshopped Barrett images where it looks as if someone has just
vomited a bowl of three-coloured pasta all over him.
The general disinterest and the continuous backstabbing was a sign o'
the times, so thought the Reverend, to seek up new pastures and to say
goodbye with a cheerful bless you all.
(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 ♥