Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Syd Barrett

  • The Madcap Laughs/Barrett [Harvest, 1974] B

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Madcap Laughs/Barrett [Harvest, 1974]
This set comprises the two albums Barrett made after leaving Pink Floyd in early 1968. The second was released in England just before Atom Heart Mother in 1970, which must have made a striking contrast; in the wake of Floyd's triumph with The Dark Side of the Moon the contrast is even sharper. Barrett coughs when he's not wheezing, he can hardly strum his guitar, and his lyrics are off-the-wall in a modest, workaday way. David Gilmour and Roger Waters back him up (good for them), but sloppily (good for them again); there's no hint of their engineering-student expertise. Admittedly, a lot of what results is worthy of the wimp-turned-acid-casualty Barrett is. But a lot of it is funny, charming, catchy--whimsy at its best. I love most of side one, especially "Terrapin" and "Here I Go." And while my superego insists I grade it a notch lower, I know damn well it gives me more pleasure than The Dark Side of the Moon. B