CRAZY DIAMOND
(Box Set Booklet)
by Brian Hogg
1993

[from
http://www.geocities.com/Vienna/Strasse/2724/boxset.html" ]


"What colour is sound?"

Questions of such a philosophical nature are not
generally part of a pop marketing campaign, but it was
1967 and it concerned Pink Floyd, "the leading group of
Britain's Underground", as contemporary pundits dubbed
them. The single in question was 'Arnold Layne' and the
psychedelic association - Pink Floyd had a light show -
inspired a competition whereby listeners to EMI's new
release slot on Radio Luxembourg were asked to guess
which hue the song reputedly suggested.

It's worth recalling that although 'Arnold Layne'
brought the group a national audience, several admirers
from within their founding enclave muttered disquiet
about its unashamedly commercial ation. Elsewhere voices
were raised about its transvestite subject, and not for
the last time would its composer, Syd Barrett, be the
subject of fervent debate.

Born in Cambridge on January 6, 1946, Roger Keith
Barrett was given his 'Syd' sobriquet while attending
the city's High School, where his friends included
Roger Waters and Dave Gilmour. The latter subsequently
joined Barrett on a busking tour of France and although
the pair also worked as a folk-based  duo, songs from
the Rolling Stones peppered their muse.  Syd also
championed the Beatles in a circle usually sympathetic
to jazz. Designer Storm Thorgerson, speaking to
journalist Nick Kent, recalls Barrett's obsessions as
"music, painting and religion. He was a great artist,
but he just stopped. He was starting to shut himself
off slowly then." Syd did however take up a place at
London's Camberwell School Of Art, but continued
playing in various part-time aggregations, including
The Hollering Blues and Geoff Mott and the Mottoes.
Waters was meanwhile studying architecture at Regent
Street Polytechnic, where he formed Sigma 6 with fellow
undergraduates Nick Mason (drums) and Rick Wright
(keyboards). Having added bassist Clive Metcalfe, the
same act evolved into a variety of permutations - The
T-Set, The (Screaming) Abdabs - each of which survived
on a diet of de rigueur R&B. Metcalfe then left the
line-up; Waters switched from guitar to bass, but while
Juliet Gale (who later married Wright) was briefly a
member, Bob Close took over the lead spot of the group
which underwent a radical change when Roger invited
Barrett to join. The latter's blend of mysticism, pop
and hallucinogenics was at odds with Close's traditional
outlook and the Abdabs imploded towards the end of
1965. Almost immediately 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.

Within weeks the new line-up had repaired to the
Thompson Private Recording Company, a tiny studio sited
in the basement of a house in Hemel Hempstead. Here
they recorded two songs; an original hinged to the
'Gloria' riff entitled 'Lucy Leave', and a version of
Slim Harpo's 'I'm A King Bee'. Rudimentary they may
have been, but both tracks indicate a defined sense of
purpose, particularly the former which, although pop
R&B, shows a playful imagination.

However, it was late the following year before the
quartet, bereft of their 'Sound' suffix, began
attracting notoriety as part of a counter-culture
milieu centered on the London Free School at All
Saint's Church Hall. This self-help organization
attracted proto-hippies, working-class activists and
Black Power acolytes, including Michael X, and was
instrumental in providing a focus for the emergent
underground, inspiring two of its adherents, (Barry)
Miles and John 'Hoppy' Hopkins, to found Britain's
first alternative publication, 'International Times'.

The paper was launched on October 15 at a party at the
Roundhouse; it was here The Pink Floyd made its major
debut.

A subsequent review in 'IT', termed the quartet a
"psychedelic pop group" and described their "scary
feedback sounds and slide projections (which) produced
outer space/prehistoric textures on the skin". Other
accounts noted that the power blew out during
'Interstellar Overdrive', which suggested that by this
stage the Floyd were blending original songs to a set
once renowned for freaked-out readings of 'Louie Louie'
and 'Road Runner'. Early Barrett originals including
the whimsical 'Effervescing Elephant', written at age
16, and 'Golden Hair', a poem from James Joyce's
'Chamber Music' which he'd set to music. Armed with
such disparate inspiration, the Floyd returned to
Thompson's on October 31 where they recorded what
became the soundtrack to the film 'San Francisco'.

"Syd's influences were the Stones, Beatles, Byrds and
Love," the group's first manager, Pete Jenner, told
Nick Kent, adding that Barrett wore out his copy of the
last-named group's debut album. "I was trying to tell
him about this Arthur Lee song I couldn't remember the
title of, so I just hummed the main riff.  Syd picked
up his guitar, followed what I was humming, and went on
to use the chord pattern he worked out for
'Interstellar Overdrive'." 'Interstellar Overdrive',
with its extended free-form passage, was the piece
which established Pink Floyd's experimental reputation
and it was one of the tracks the group attempted during
their first recording session at Chelsea's Sound
Techniques. By December 1966 the group had become, with
The Soft Machine one of the acts appearing at the UFO
Club in Tottenham Court Road, founded by Hoppy Hopkins
in partnership with Joe Boyd. This pivotal venue
brought the new religion to the West End and although
its tenure was short, a mythical status was quickly
established. Boyd, already proven as a record producer,
struck up a relationship with the group which, in
January 1967, repaired to the aforementioned studio.

Two versions of 'Interstellar Overdrive' were
undertaken; one truncated, another long, and it was
also here that the quartet completed Barrett's quirky
'Arnold Layne'. Although this latter master was placed
with EMI's Columbia outlet, the company rejected
'Interstellar Overdrive', both readings of which
subsequently appeared on the soundtrack to "Tonight
Let's All Make Love In London". When this set was
exhumed in 1990, it was bolstered by another improvised
piece, dubbed 'Nick's Boogie', which may indeed date
from the 'Thompson's' era. The Floyd also cut an early
version of 'Astronomy Domine' at this time, but whether
it was the product of these or subsequent sessions is
unclear.

'Arnold Layne' was meanwhile coupled to another
original from the first Sound Techniques' visit,
'Let's Roll Another One', later given the less-
contentious title, 'Candy and a Currant Bun'.
The pairing formed the Floyd's debut the following March
and the resultant Top 30 hit confirmed the group as a 
national attraction.

Staff producer Norman Smith took over from Boyd for
subsequent releases and having largely completed work
on a debut album, the group cut its second single: 'See
Emily Play'. The song was initially entitled 'Games For
May' in honour of the event the Floyd had undertaken at
the South Bank Queen Elizabeth Hall. "(They) intended
this concert to be a musical and visual exploration -
not only for themselves but for the audience too,"
proclaimed the attendant press release and the show did
mark a watershed in their career. When 'See Emily Play'
reached the UK Top 5, the quartet were perceived in a
commercial way which in turn brought new pressure upon
Barrett, then unquestionably the group's leader.

The Floyd's debut album, "Piper at the Gates of Dawn",
followed in August. Of its eleven tracks, Syd composed
eight - collaborating on two others - and the result
was one of the finest sets of its era. If English
psychedelia dosed its narcotisation with Lewis Carroll
and Edward Lear, then the combination of experiment and
childhood fantasy was never stronger here as whimsy,
nostalgia and dynamite riffs cross- pollinated its
enchanting tapestry.

By the end of 1967 the Floyd had not only traversed
Britain's cinemas and ballrooms on a package with The
Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Move and Amen Corner, they
had also undertaken a fractured US tour. The sojourn
was little short of disastrous, particularly when the
group was pressed into appearing on television shows
hosted by Dick Clark and Pat Boone. Barrett refused to
mime on the former - "Syd wasn't into moving his lips
that day" - while the letter's vacuous repartee was
greeted by stony silence. The tail-end of the visit was
wisely canceled.

A projected third single, 'Scream Thy Last Scream', was
replaced by 'Apples and Oranges', although any notion
that the latter boasted hit potential was obscured by
its oblique chord sequence and lack of palpable melody.
'Scream' has meanwhile joined 'Vegetable Man', another
product of this tortuous period, as the great 'lost'
Barrett creations. The masters for both still bear the
declaration "not to be used for LP", ie: the group's
projected second album.

The 'Apples' sessions also yielded 'Jugband Blues' and
'Remember A Day', both of which did surface on
"A Saucerful of Secrets". Barrett's input during this
period remains a matter of conjecture but his presence
on these particular tracks - the first of which he
wrote - is unequivocal. Other selections, including
'See Saw' and 'Corporal Clegg' owe a debt to his unique
vision, and indeed several other selections were
commenced prior to his departure in April 1968. That
said, he does not appear on 'It Would Be So Nice', the
group's fourth single, recorded the previous month, and
thus the notion of a straight forward break in
misleading. Barrett's one-time collaborator, Dave
Gilmour, had been drafted into the line-up in February
1968 and for a brief time a 5-piece Floyd existed.
Rumour and gossip suggested that Syd would take on a
Brian Wilson role, writing and recording material while
the band appeared in public, but in the end he was
ousted completely.

"I suppose it was really just a matter of being a
little offhand about things," was how Syd recalled the
split to 'Melody Maker'. However the notion that the
Floyd's one-time pivot was now bereft of inspiration is
rather ingenuous. 'Difficult' he may have become, but
within a month after his axing, Barrett was back in
Abbey Road.

With his manager, Pete Jenner, as producer, Syd began
his solo career on May 13 with two new compositions,
'Silas Lang' and 'Late Night'. The former title now
seems to have been a misnomer - Barrett apparently
never referred to it as such - and the piece is better
known as 'Swan Lee'. Four compositions were attempted
the following day: 'Lanky (part 1)', 'Lanky (part 2)',
the Joycian 'Golden Hair' and 'Rhamadan'.

Only one take was made of the first-named track which
was subsequently placed on "Opel", 1988's collection of
out-takes and rarities. A sketch-book instrumental,
'Lanky' features some rivetting, angular guitar work
and suggested that the composer was still enamoured
with improvisation. Its success or - some seven minutes
of percussive sounds - proved less interesting, which
'Rhamadan' continued a similar, but lengthier, vein and
to less effect. However the first, fragile version of
'Golden Hair' was enchanting, and closed "Opel" in
suitably elegiac fashion.

Barrett and Jenner returned to Abbey Road the following
month. Overdubs were added to both 'Swan Lee' and 'Late 
Night', and on 20th July the pair began work on 'Clowns 
And Jugglers', the first take of which is featured
here. This mesmerising piece features yet more punitive
guitar work and indicates Syd was already planning
wherein further instrumental parts would slot.  However
this was the final track recording during this period
and, for reasons never fully explained, Barrett did not
recommence work until April the following year.

By 1969 the balance between Syd and his former group
had changed immeasurably. The Floyd, regarded as regal
denizens of progressive rock, were embroiled in
completing 'solo' capsules for the landmark "Ummagumma"
when Barrett approached EMI about further recordings.
The company had already launched Harvest, a safe-haven
for all things non-establishment, which was at that
point administered by Malcolm Jones. Jones received
Syd's offer with enthusiasm but, wary of a conflict of
interest, decided against using either Jenner or Norman
Smith as producers as both were still committed to the
Floyd. Thus Malcolm took charge of the sessions, almost
by default, but the results were highly impressive.

Barrett re-entered Abbey Road on April 10th 1969 and
having tinkered with the Jenner recording of 'Swan
Lee', the singer attempted another version of 'Clowns 
And Jugglers'. However, both he and Jones agreed that,
rather than revamp old material, the pair should return
the following day with a view to cutting Syd's more
recent compositions.

The first new song completed was 'Opel'. Nine takes
were attempted, the last of which was unquestionably
the finest. It remains unfathomable why this
mesmerising performance should have been left
unreleased; its exhumation was deserved and the track
rightly formed the focal point of that aforementioned
collection.

The singer then completed several versions of 'Love
You'; the first fast, the third slower, the fourth
forming the basis for that appearing on "The Madcap
Laughs". As performances, there was little to choose
between the different renditions and the final choice
reflected mood - "best to decide later" states the
cryptic note attached to the box.

This was followed by three takes of 'It's No Good
Trying' (five inclusive of false starts). The final
rendition was deemed the strongest and saved for future
overdubs, but we've also included an 'acoustic'
version. At 6 minutes 40, it's longer than the finished
piece and the emptier arrangement showcases Syd's
complex chord and metre changes. It's unsurprising that
two blues musicians should have inspired the Pink Floyd
name; the group's creator shows the same disdain for
standard form as John Lee Hooker or Lightnin' Hopkins.

Syd then used a cigarette lighter to overdub a slide
guitar sequence on 'Late Night', before completing the
piece with a first-time vocal. Equally perfect were the
voice and guitar- lines on a new song, 'Terrapin',
contributions retained on the eventual master. Barrett
then turned to 'Golden Hair', which still required
embellishment. Take 5 featured a prominent harmony
line, late abandoned, but that intriguing version is
contained herein.

It had proved a productive day's work. Jones arranged
to meet Syd the following Thursday (April 17th) at
which point the singer introduced two musical
acquaintances, bassist 'Willie' Wilson and drummer
Jerry Shirley. The former had been a member of Joker's
Wild with Dave Gilmour; the latter was concurrently in
Humble Pie, and having warmed up with rudimentary
rehearsals, the trio recorded five takes of 'No Man's 
Land'. The same number of attempts ensued of 'Here I
Go' and in both cases the final reading was deemed
best. Barring sundry overdubs on 'No Man's 
Land', these were the versions mixed down for "Madcap Laughs".

The following week Syd attempted to exhume the lengthy
'Rhamadan', declaring his wish to add a motorbike sound
he'd recorded on a cassette while on the pillion. The
results were largely useless, but a 30 second loop of
start-up, revving, gear- changes and motion was culled
from Abbey Road's tape library.  However, Barrett then
decided to drop the project.

On May 3rd the singer and producer began overdubs on
'Love You', 'No Good Trying' and 'Clowns And Jugglers'.
The Soft Machine - Mike Ratledge (Keyboards), Hugh
Hopper (bass) and Robert Wyatt (drums) - added
avant-garde backing to three songs which, despite Syd's
erratic tempo, boast a wonderful sense of mischief. Yet
whereas the first two performances appeared on "Madcap
Laughs", that of 'Clowns And Jugglers' was shelved
until the release of "Opel". On the 4th, Barrett added
backwards guitar to 'No Good Trying' and lead to
'Terrapin' and 'No Man's Land'. It was at this point
that Dave Gilmour entered the frame.

"Dave had been taking a casual interest during most of
the later sessions," Malcolm Jones explained in his
booklet 'The Making of "Madcap Laughs"'. "It was only a
short step to his suggesting that he and Roger Waters
should produce some tracks as well." Barrett had
remained on friendly terms with his erstwhile
collaborator - their respective flats were close to one
another - and Syd had even appeared backstage at a Pink
Floyd gig in Croydon. The remaining sessions were
completed in a three-day sprint - June 13th and 14th
and July 26th - partly because of Gilmour and Waters'
commitments to the mixing of "Ummagumma" and a tour of
Holland. On the first day Barrett began a new version
of 'Clowns And Jugglers', now retitled 'Octopus'.
Eleven takes, including false starts, were required to
complete a master, the last of which was used on
"Madcap Laughs". Despite its breakdown, and the
singer's indecision over the ideal key, take 2 is also
enchanting and is issued here for the first time. 
Eleven attempts were also required of 'Golden Hair';
the final rendition appeared on the album while the
sixth was exhumed for "Opel". Two new songs, 'Long 
Gone' and 'Wouldn't You Miss Me' (aka 'Dark Globe')
were also recorded at this session. The latter required
only two takes, but although the same number of 'Long 
Gone' were attempted neither was deemed suitable and
the issued version was completed the following month.

This final day's work proved frantic. Syd attempted a
reading of 'Wouldn't You Miss Me' - that issued on
"Opel" - before opting for take 2 from the previous
session. Three untried compositions: 'She Took a 
Long Cold Look At Me', 'Feel' and 'If It's In You' 
were also completed. 'Feel' required a single take, 
'If It's In You' broke down four times before the fifth 
proved 'best', while the same number was required for 
'Long Cold Look'. The fourth take, complete with false
starts, is included here.

"The Madcap Laughs" was released on Harvest in January
1970, having been preceded the previous month by a
single which coupled 'Octopus' (a line from which
inspired the album's title.) with 'Golden Hair'.
Reviews for the set were complimentary and on 24th
February a confident Barrett undertook a live session
for John Peel's 'Top Gear'. Of the five songs
completed, only one 'Terrapin', came from 
"Madcap Laughs". The remainder were all new compositions,
including 'Gigolo Aunt', 'Baby Lemonade' and 
'Two of a Kind', the last of which Syd would not
record on album.

The fifth inclusion was 'Effervescing Elephant',
reprised from Barrett's nascent repertoire.

Syd returned to Abbey Road two days later where, with
Dave Gilmour again as producer, he began work on a
projected second album with 'Baby Lemonade'. Two takes
of 'Maisie' ensued before Barrett launched into the
first of 15 tries at 'Gigolo Aunt'.  Only three were
complete: take 7, take 9 - included here for the first
time - and take 15, which appeared on "Barrett".
The session ended with multiple takes of
'Waving My Ams in the Air', of which the first was
declared 'best'. A trio comprising of Gilmour,
Shirley and Pink Floyd's Richard Wright (organ)
accompanied Syd on these recordings, suggesting
that a sense of urgency prevailed. Where "Madcap" was
painstakingly pieced together, this second set
would result from periodic bursts of activity.

On February 27th the singer cut four demos -
'Wolfpack', 'Waving My Ams in the Air', 'Living Alone'
and 'Dylan's Blues' - all of which appear to have
been taken away by Gilmour. The last two titles did not 
reappear, and although a tape of the reportedly
excellent 'Dylan's Blues' circulated briefly, these
performances now seem to be lost forever. Work also 
continued on 'Gigolo Aunt' but it was not until
April 1st that Barrett returned to Abbey Road.

Rough mixes of work in progress ensued before Syd began
a new version of 'Wolfpack' on the 3rd. Recording was
then suspended until June 5th when Barrett completed
three 2-track demos of 'Rats', 'Wined And Dined' and
'Birdie Hop'. Each of these performances was eventually
issued on "Opel", although the same version of 'Rats'
formed the basis of that on "Barrett". Two days later
Syd recorded another new song, the ebullient 'Milky
Way', which again made its debut on "Opel".  He also
resurrected a composition from Pink Floyd's early set,
'She Was A Millionaire', retitled simply 'Millionaire'.
Two ill-starred attempts followed, neither of which
featured vocals, before the notion was discarded and
the day's work ended with group overdubs on the bilious
'Rats'.

Another break ensued before recording was recommenced.
Five tracks were undertaken on July 14th, including
nine new readings of 'Effervescing Elephant' - take 2
is preserved alongside the final master, plus numerous
overdubs on 'Wined and Dined'. Three attempts of
'Dominoes', one of Syd's most beguiling compositions,
were completed and both the false start and first full
take make their debut in this set. The singer's initial
attempt at 'Love Song', at this point known simply as
'Untitled', is also featured herein. Barrett also put
down 'Dolly Rocker' and 'Let's Split' during this
session but, although subsequently shelved, both songs
were placed on "Opel".

'Love Song' was completed during a period stretching
from the 17th to 21st July. Rudimentary attempts at
overdubbing 'Dolly Rocker' were entirely wiped before
Syd began work on another piece dubbed 'Untitled', but
later known as 'Word Song'. Unissued at the time, this
enchanting song also made its debut on "Opel". Five
takes of 'It Is Obvious' were then undertaken, and
although the first was chosen for subsequent
embellishments, other renditions were equally
meritorious and take 2 (with electric guitar), take 3
and take 5 (with acoustic) have been included on this
set.

Work on "Barrett" closed with remakes of 'Maisie' and
'Waving My Ams in the Air, which segued into a new
piece, 'I Never Lied to You'. The album, for which Syd
designed the sleeve, was released in November 1970 and
if reaction was more muted than that greeting "Madcap
Laughs", this was partly due to timing, rather than
content. It was apparent, however, that this second
selection, despite its more intimate framework,
captured a talent in the process of disintegration. "I
think Syd was in good shape when he made "Madcap","
Pete Jenner opined to Nick Kent. "He was still writing
good songs." By contrast, Dave Gilmour recalled in the
same NME article that, during the "Barrett" sessions,
"It was mostly a case of me saying: 'Well, what have
you got then Syd' and he'd search around and eventually
work something out." Notions of singles and perhaps a
third album abounded over ensuing months. Barrett did
complete a session for Radio 1's 'Sounds Of The
Seventies', but where on 'Top Gear' he chose to unveil
new material, here he offered 'Baby Lemonade',
'Dominoes' and 'Love Song'. In truth Syd was already
slipping into the life of a recluse although an
interview in 'Rolling Stone' of Christmas '71 he
declared himself "totally together".  Within weeks this
brave assertion was called into question when, during
an appearance at Kings College Cellar in Cambridge,
blue performer Eddie 'Guitar' Burns introduced a "last
minute put together boogie band". Here Barrett joined
ex-Delivery bassist Jack Monck and former Pretty
Things/Pink Fairies drummer Twink for what was, by all
accounts, a loose jam. The trio nonetheless opted to
stay together and, dubbed Stars, appeared with Skin
Alley and the MC5 at Cambridge Corn Exchange. The
resultant set was little short of chaotic, Syd failed
to surface for the next date and ensuing shows were
cancelled.

Barrett nonetheless remained the subject of interest
and speculation about his future activities heightened
following the release of David Bowie's 'tribute' album,
"Pin Ups", which included a version of 'See Emily
Play'. Indeed Bowie was one of many names suggested as
the mysterious benefactor funding Syd's ill-starred
return to Abbey Road in Summer 1974. Over the years
this four-day session has been the subject of debate,
and indeed the original notes to "Opel" cast doubt on
its existence as, at that point, neither tapes nor
paperwork seemed to have survived.  They have
subsequently surfaced, although the results bear little
relation to the work gracing "Madcap Laughs" and
"Barrett".  Instead Syd spent the time working on
ill-focussed blues' licks and chord sequences, only one
of which bore a title: 'If You Go'.

The process was abandoned before any vocal tracks were
attempted.

Since then interest in Barrett's activities has
remained constant, despite the subject's abdication.
The Pink Floyd track, 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond', was
an unequivocal tribute, while a judicious repackaging
of the singer's two albums during the mid-70s
introduced his work to a new audience. "Opel" showed a
spectrum much wider that the official releases
suggested and taken together Barrett's canon reveals an
intuitive, idiosyncratic talent of dazzling
originality. He may never record again and while it's
now difficult to divorce the fragile images from the
creator's personal traumas, there was a time when many
of the enclosed songs were viewed simply as beguiling.
Approach them now in similar spirit.

Brian Hogg - January 1993

(with thanks to: Nick Kent - "Syd Barrett", NME, 1974,
(Barry) Miles - "Games For May", NME, 1976, Malcolm
Jones - "The Making of 'The Madcap Laughs'", Private
Publication, 1982.)

(many thanks to Scott Frank for typing this)

SONGS WORDS BARRETT HOP!