"The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story" (video release title) tells the full bizarre, tragic, but also celebratory story of Syd Barrett, the co-founder of Pink Floyd. With contributions from...
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"The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story" (video release title) tells the full bizarre, tragic, but also celebratory story of Syd Barrett, the co-founder of Pink Floyd. With contributions from friends, managers, lovers and of course the members of Pink Floyd themselves. The film includes rare early television appearances of Pink Floyd and home movies too.Written by
a strange and sad story, but with many great songs all the same
Syd Barrett, say the name to anyone who knows much about the late 60s rock-psychedelia times and one knows right away that he was a pioneer in the era, founder of Pink Floyd, responsible for some of the most avant-garde pop songs ever recorded (Astronomy Domine and See Emily Play were two songs that see-sawed between more legitimate British pop-rock clout and true far-out derangement)...and then after being kicked out of the band, following too much too soon in acid dosage recorded two solo albums, fading away soon after to what doesn't happen to many rock stars after losing their previous clout- a quiet existence. The story of his career as a musician, told here through interviews with all the original Floyd members (even one guy who was only in the band in 1965), is at times staggering and pleasant, and in all one gets the sense that Barrett maybe just wasn't totally fit for the bill of the leader of a big-new-sensational rock band. On the other hand, it wasn't either a downfall like with the rock stars of the period who died off from drink and drugs. There was madness to the man, however a madness that may or may not be to that of him "faking it" at times.
The director paints a pretty good portrait of Barrett through the interviews, getting facts that are close to legend in the history of Pink Floyd (the Pat Boone show debacle; just flat-out "not picking up Syd" for a gig and that being the end; Barrett's extraordinarily eerie re-appearance during the 'Shine on' recording session), but it's in the more personal side, little details about his living conditions and how he would write/record songs that really makes Barrett understandable as a half-miasma, half-heartfelt soul of creative energy. He starts out basically as a witty and smart Cambridge boy who's liked by pretty much everyone, and then come the drugs - and more drugs - and what must have been the equally surreal experience of playing music like Lucifer Sam and Bike in front of an equally stoned audience. Then the interest picks up much more, ironically enough, when Barrett's no longer in Floyd, and goes through the scatter-shot process of making The Madcap Laughs and Barrett, his solo albums (one fascinating story involves the making of "Vegetable Man", a single that never got released), where his career didn't quite peter out right away but fell apart when it had to come to performing live.
Barrett was many things to many people, certainly more than anything to his old friends in Floyd who were sort of shattered seeing him after no contact for years in 1975 looking nothing at all like his 1967 image. Yet through the very weird mania about him, his ability to have "black holes" in his eyes, to see through people, literally likely in his mind, and his inability to cope with a profession where an existential crisis sort of hit him right in the middle of a song (to play or not to play), there remains the songs. And at the least, the Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett story gives context to the man and is a very fine documentary to show to someone who may not be familiar with Barrett-era Floyd and especially not with the solo albums, which are by and large very sweet works of abstract lyricism, mixing guitar work and singing one might find nowadays in a night-time café, and truly experimental work in production.
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