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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

The Madcap Laughs

Syd Barrett

1970

The Madcap Laughs

Album Summary

The Madcap Laughs is the debut solo album by the English singer-songwriter Syd Barrett. It was recorded after Barrett had left Pink Floyd in April 1968. The album had a chequered recording history, with work beginning in mid-1968, but the bulk of the sessions taking place between April and July 1969, for which five different producers were credited − including Barrett, Peter Jenner (1968 sessions), Malcolm Jones (early-to-mid-1969 sessions), and fellow Pink Floyd members David Gilmour and Roger Waters (mid-1969 sessions). Among the guest musicians are Willie Wilson from Gilmour's old band Jokers Wild and several members of Soft Machine. The Madcap Laughs, released in January 1970 on Harvest in the UK but not released in the US until 1974, enjoyed minimal commercial success on release, reaching number 40 on the UK's official albums chart. It was re-released in 1974 as part of Syd Barrett (which contained The Madcap Laughs and Barrett), which saw the first US issue of the two LP's. The album was remastered and reissued in 1993, along with Barrett's other albums, Barrett (1970) and Opel (1988), independently and as part of the Crazy Diamond box set. A newly remastered version was released in 2010.

Wikipedia

Rating

2.72

Votes

4991

Genres

  • Rock
  • Folk
  • Psychedelic Rock
Reviews
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Fri Mar 19 2021
1

GOOD LORD WHO THE FUCK CARES.

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Fri Nov 05 2021
1

This is proving to be the hardest album I've found to review so far, not because I'm confused by my opinion of it, but because I don't know whether to consider it accidentally exploitative. Bruef summary: Roger Waters and Nick Mason forms the Architectural Abdabs at art college (a standard incubator for artsy British bands), Syd Barrett joins and changes the name to Pink Floyd after two blues musicians he loved, they achieve their first success with Piper at the Gates of Dawn, tragically Syd suffers from serious mental health issues and cannot continue with the band, Syd records two solo albums, Syd quits music and lives reclusively until his death in 2006. I was not prepared for how grim the experience of listening to this album would be. Yes, by inclination Syd Barrett was a whimsical songwriter with an obviously far better sense of humour than Roger Waters, and on the surface this album showcases that to the point of incoherence, but this album isn't just a mess, although it is an absolute casserole of an album. The first side is okay, exercises in Barrett's warm eccentricity, but not spectacular. Sadly, the last few tracks degenerate into essentially studio outtakes, revealing an ugliness to the whole exercise. It felt slightly sordid listening to this album. It didn't feel like the demonstration of a lost genius; it felt like a ramshackle using of a talented but troubled man. This is not to say that a work by someone with significant mental health issues is by its nature compromised either aesthetically or morally. Barrett's contemporaries Brian Wilson and Nick Drake both made excellent albums whilst struggling with debilitating mental illness. But one can wish an album show its creator a little more dignity. So, I can't recommend. I have to give this one star, but please understand it's a highly qualified one star in no way reflective of Syd Barrett's talent.

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Wed Apr 07 2021
4

Groovy, melodic, whimsical & very Beatlesque...so cool I’ve never heard of Syd or even seen this album cover over the years. Juts learned he is a co-founder of Pink Floyd. Sweet! So far The Madcap Laughs is one of the best discoveries yet. No Good Trying, Love You, Octopus, Long Gone & Late Night are my favs!

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Sun Nov 08 2020
3

A hard album. The music of a great talent deteriorating. You can hear this is someone who is damaged. It's rough and raw but there are some good songs even if it's all tinged with a sadness and tragedy. "wouldn't you miss me at all?!". Heartbreaking stuff. Here we go is a bit more upbeat and a cute song.

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Wed Apr 21 2021
3

I like Terrapin, No Good Trying, Octopus, and Late Night. At it's best the album is acoustic dreamy psychedelia... but the rest of it is stripped down poetry that kind of sounds like a demo tape.

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Wed Mar 17 2021
3

Pretty dope. Pared down. Unpolished. I’ve always preferred Pink Floyd without Sid Barrett but solo I like him. He’s got a psych-folk-proto-punk thing going. I hear Donovan, The Iggy and the Stooges, Brian Eno. “No good trying” is some proto punk with thrumming guitar and great drumming. A couple of the more proto-punk songs were real bangers but nothing else stood out, kind of faded into hypnotic, cool background music. Better than expected. B-

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Tue Apr 13 2021
1

Fuck me. This guy is considered a genius?! I find this mostly un-listenable. Its like the Beatles had a breakdown. One of the worst to dates. 1/5

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Wed Jan 12 2022
4

Sounds like a continuation of the type of songs Syd Barrett was making while in Pink Floyd but even more chaotic. It's a wild listen.

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Mon Dec 20 2021
2

He may have fronted one of the greatest bands ever, but this album was incredibly average and frankly, quite irritating at points. The obnoxious use of the voice at times, poor production, sloppy and lazy delivery overall.

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Sun May 15 2022
2

I like Piper at the Gates of Dawn quite a bit, but this sounds like a Monty Python skit making fun of psychedelic folk. Barrett even sounds like Eric Idle on some songs.

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Wed Mar 17 2021
1

This is the region of psychedelia that has never been my cuppa tea. Circus clown music. People with undiagnosed mental health issues and access to recording studios but no access to help or treatment. Skip Spence comes to mind. Sometimes it's brilliant. Most of the times it's a miss for me. More open minded listeners can hear the genius underneath Syd's playhouse. Wish I could. Never could get into his Pink Floyd albums. Couldn't get into his solo stuff. Also why does this type of psychedelia get closely lumped with LSD? Listening to this on LSD would be rough. F

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Sun May 16 2021
1

Turns out Syd wasn’t as mental as the guy who decided to give him a solo album. A tedious mess of an album.

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Fri Jan 14 2022
1

not sure how this made the list. it is just ok, I find it unremarkable

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Thu Sep 29 2022
1

Laughable.

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Wed Sep 30 2020
5

Wow this is great

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Wed Mar 24 2021
5

Just weird enough to be interesting without being insane.

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Thu Jan 06 2022
5

Love it

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Fri Feb 11 2022
5

i actually really enjoyed this! gave me very much coctaeu twins vibes

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Sun Feb 27 2022
5

Trip trip even ho, up down high and low

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Fri Jul 08 2022
5

Love it!!!

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Fri Dec 09 2022
5

Classic alert! I heard this one a few times growing up. The songwriting is so consistently creative and varied, it really shows good one of these older folky rock albums can be if its done right. It reminds me of the earlier pink floyd stuff also written by him, which is equally great. It's a shame he released so little music, and that pink floyd went down a less interesting route without him

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Thu Jan 05 2023
5

Love a bit of Syd ❤️

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Wed Sep 16 2020
4

honestly i wasnt expecting to ever listen to this. not much of a pink floyd fan and the whole album seemed a tiny bit exploitative to me? upon listening it's actually really good! lot of nice melodies and pretty guitar here.

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Fri Mar 26 2021
4

7/10 FT:Octopus

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Wed Sep 23 2020
4

Very psychedelic

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Thu Dec 31 2020
4

Love a good psychedelic album!

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Fri Jan 29 2021
4

Added to my Spotify library!

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Wed Mar 10 2021
4

As expected quite experimental but still not too eccentric. Should listen more closely again!

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Fri May 07 2021
4

4.0 + This album probably isn't a crowd pleaser - definitely rough in parts ("If It's In You") but there are also so many catchy tunes here! Also, the bedroom recording vibe feels vital to me, especially for the era when so many bands were obsessively layering on the studio lacquer.

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Wed Apr 21 2021
4

It's so easy to get lost and loose yourself in this album, it's perfect for vinyl

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Sun Apr 11 2021
4

Actually better than I thought it would be. I like the grooves it has

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Mon Jul 12 2021
4

Strange album, like a trippy, raw Beatles album. RIP Syd. Wish you were here.

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Thu May 20 2021
4

alternativo not bad solo ecuche una cancion

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Sun Aug 08 2021
4

With Gilmour and Waters producing a good chinch of this one, you can really hear where they were heading as well. Great album, practically Pink Floyd

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Sun Sep 05 2021
4

Uh, ovo je baš sirovo, baš se vidi droga na ovom albumu. Koliko je tužno u neku ruku (hehe), tako je zapravo dosta i dobro. Meni se sviđa, i to mi je ako ćemo već govorit, najbolji solo album od nekoga iz Pink Floyda. Amen.

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Wed Sep 15 2021
4

Thank you Sydney

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Wed Oct 06 2021
4

Syd Barrett was a gifted musician and songwriter. Mental health is still poorly understood. But out of tragedy comes a great album.

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Mon Oct 11 2021
4

To the best of my knowledge, The Madcap Laughs is the most comprehensive documentary of schizophrenia in music to date. Reading the background of this album make you cry.... similar to a bad trip... (7/10) Favourite Songs: Here I Go, Octopus

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Fri Oct 22 2021
4

This little album >>>>>>>>>>>everything pink Floyd has ever done

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Fri Oct 29 2021
4

good, creative, weird, interesting

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Fri Oct 29 2021
4

Great psychedelic rock album from the legend that started Pink Floyd. Shame he went crazy.

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Wed Nov 03 2021
4

I really enojoyed this album. It was sort of weird. sort of engrossing. and in a very interesting way sort of lilted along. loved long gone.

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Thu Dec 23 2021
4

Not sure when this album was released on the timeline of Syd's spiral into madness but this proves his songwriting capabilities outside of Pink Floyd

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Thu Dec 30 2021
4

I loved how the psychedelic sound to this record is so lo-fi. I also loved the distortion at the end of No Man's Land. It was both fun and dark. Sweet and mad. Reading about the difficulty in producing this album was interesting, knowing how it came out. I really felt the lyrics in Dark Globe, with most of it feeling a little nonsensical, but then with that croon of "won't you miss me?" and "please."

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Thu Dec 30 2021
4

Very interesting to hear from a historical perspective, considering his contributions to Pink Floyd. Knowing the history, however, I couldn't help feeling a bit sorry for Syd Barrett.

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Thu Jan 27 2022
4

4.5/5. Dude definitely had vision and talent. Rip Mr. Diamond

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Wed Feb 16 2022
4

Syd Barrett is quite a story, and heartbreaking every time I learn more about it. Reminds me very much of someone I know who died at age 18 from an OD, and it haunts me. I can't hear 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond,' which from the music and lyrics alone already brought me to tears, without thinking of the story behind the song and, more recently, of the crazy diamond I knew personally, too. I tend to listen to post-Syd Pink Floyd a lot more than Syd-Era Floyd, but no matter what, Syd's influence on Floyd is forever. Syd's solo stuff is usually not to my liking, but I can deeply appreciate the artistry, poetry (although I'm not good at knowing what's absurdist humor in it...quite possibly all of it?), unusual melodies, and creative spark. This album might be my favorite of his solo work. There are some tracks I like here, like 'Terrapin,' and there are quite a few that sound sloppy and I'm not skilled enough to know how much is on purpose for effect and how much is due to his condition. It's all very textured and complicated and often jarring. I have a feeling it's a strong mix of intentional composition and just a straight-up reflection of him.

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Wed Feb 23 2022
4

I'm listening to a brilliant songwriter who didn't give two cents about commercialism and that's abundantly clear. It's getting better with every listen. On the 4th listen I still hear more amazing transitions. It's a very curious album that is walking a thin line between unbridled creative genius and rambly outtakes that could've stayed that way. I'm putting it on 4 stars but wouldn't be surprised if I find myself coming back to this album in a few years and giving it the full 5

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Fri Mar 18 2022
4

I need to see what else Syd has done besides Pink Floyd

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Fri Apr 29 2022
4

I know of the tragic story of Syd Barrett so I had some trepidation listening to this album but honestly I didn't think it was too bad.

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Thu May 05 2022
4

Syd Barrett’s talent is apparent. He has a talent for contracting whimsical unsettling songs with unusual melodies and chord changes. His lyrics are ruminating and surreal with a touch of childlike naïveté. Some of these songs are simply better constructed than others and makes me wonder how these recording sessions went. This album can be seen as a contraction of his work with Pink Floyd, but it often veers into darker territory where the psychedelic whimsical facade falls to reveal the extreme anguish and mental illness beneath. The music has tinges of proto punk and some musical elements would sound at home in modern indie rock.

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Fri May 06 2022
4

the whiteboy sangs

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Fri May 06 2022
4

I don’t even care about the Syd Barrett story man, this is just wacky, totally nutty, absolutely bonkers.

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Fri May 06 2022
4

Mad jammer

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Sun May 08 2022
4

Never listened to this solo material before. I enjoyed the album,

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Sun Aug 07 2022
4

The thing that always struck me about Syd Barrett was his odd sense of timing. It's so wonky it makes you feel like you just stepped off a carnival ride and you don't quite have your bearings.

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Fri Aug 12 2022
4

I love Terrapin.

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Mon Aug 15 2022
4

A pleasant surprise. Don't love it but added 90% to the mega playlist

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Wed Sep 07 2022
4

Pretty cool

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Wed Oct 05 2022
4

Elsku Syd <3 Þetta er svo mikil kaotísk einlægni. Elska Syd. Elska tónlistina hans.

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Mon Nov 07 2022
4

This album is a great example of his superior creativity to the rest of his former band mates. He has incredibly original chord changes and song structures that make it impossible to guess what is coming next, without ever letting you down. Very sad that we couldn't see him develop more as an artist. I think he was only scratching the surface of what he had to offer. 4/5

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Mon Nov 21 2022
4

psicodelia escrachada, rimas bobinhas, gravado de maneira podre, incrivel. mas falando serio, o syd barrett é um dos meus compositores favoritos, um guitarrista fenomenal e unico tambem. o jeito que ele faz as coisas na musica é completamente fora da curva. por mais que nesse album a habilidade na guitarra dele não seja tão presente quanto nos tempos do pink floyd, o poder de composição dele aqui fica explicito. destaque em love you, no mans land, octopus

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Thu Nov 24 2022
4

Fractured genius.

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Mon Dec 05 2022
4

A bizarre album, with some nice songs, though it feels a bit low production value, quite distorted in not a good way. Saved tracks: Terrapin, Love You, No Man's Land, Octopus

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Thu Jan 12 2023
4

Nice sensitivity and fragility.

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Fri Jan 27 2023
4

This was more interesting historically than anything, but I generally did enjoy it.

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Fri Apr 09 2021
3

This was pleasant, but other than "Golden Hair" not much stood out. 3.5

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Wed Jan 27 2021
3

Listen again

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Fri Apr 02 2021
3

Some half decent songs

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Sun Jun 13 2021
3

Better than I thought, sounded like early Pink Floyd.

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Sun Feb 21 2021
3

a nice album. i enjoyed it a lot and it also inspired me to make a playlist so this is good.

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Fri Mar 05 2021
3

Similar to the Beatles Sgt. pepper days, maybe more folk? Very raw

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Fri May 14 2021
3

Weird and fun - just like Syd! Not exactly my favorite but I respect the artistry, and how his unique way of thinking and writing sounded outside of Pink Floyd. Almost a 4, but I can't quite justify it, so we're sitting at 3.

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Sun Jun 20 2021
3

Reminded me a lot of Donovan.

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Mon Mar 29 2021
3

5

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Fri Feb 19 2021
3

"Isn't it good to be lost in the wood Isn't it bad so quiet there, in the wood Meant even less to me than I thought" (Octopus) Mejor de lo que esperaba pero aún así un poco de cortarse las venas.

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Thu Apr 01 2021
3

Stream of consciousness abounds here. It's a wild ride, for sure.

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Tue Feb 23 2021
3

Not my tempo

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Wed Apr 14 2021
3

Whilst Syd's history is undeniable as one of the founders of Pink Floyd, there is no denying that he went over the edge and past the ledge, waving at Keith Richards as he flew past it plummeting into his shiny place in the universe as the crazy diamond he will always be. AND let's not forget he's got a bike and you can ride it if you like... ;-)

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Sun Jun 06 2021
3

some really good songs on here. i'd never really got Syd's style but after listening this time it became more clear to me why he's considered to be such a raving genius.

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Wed Jul 07 2021
3

An interesting an enjoyable listen, reminded me of Brian Enos pre-ambiant work.

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Fri Jul 23 2021
3

3 I guess. I'd consider a 2.5, but I can't bump it down to a 2. "If It's in You" almost broke me, what a long 2 minutes.

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Fri Jul 23 2021
3

Really loved parts of it and really hated others. I'm not crazy about Syd's vocal style and the rehearsal bits were annoying but there are still a handful of great songs to salvage

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Thu Jul 29 2021
3

Overall I think I liked it. Listened a couple of times. Some nice acoustic work. Got kinda weird toward the end. I can see why it's on here but I'm not sure it's something I'll revisit that often.

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Mon Aug 02 2021
3

It was okay

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Thu Sep 02 2021
3

Slow burn.

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Thu Oct 28 2021
3

Enjoyable! Not super memorable for me. I liked it more than than Syd Barrett era of Pink Floyd so I guess that is something.

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Thu Oct 28 2021
3

Its usually not my style of music, but the album was surprisingly good.

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Wed Dec 08 2021
3

Was ok.

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Wed Dec 08 2021
3

Nothing particularly wrong with it, just thought it lacked energy and was a bit generic at times. Two songs that stood out to me personally were octopus and it's no good trying

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Mon Dec 20 2021
3

Ultimately just too uneventful and boring sounding to be anything more than a 3

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Thu Dec 23 2021
3

Less polished, and much easier to connect with than any Pink Floyd music I've heard to date. 3/5.

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Fri Dec 24 2021
3

3 stars due to some great raw material and its massive influence, but not an enjoyable listen!

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Thu Jan 13 2022
3

This album gave me Beatles vibes in some spots, definite Pink Floyd vibes, and some Doors vibes. I found the album overall to be boring but I liked Octopus a lot, and have to appreciate Syd’s impact on Rock n Roll

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Thu Jan 13 2022
3

I like his voice and style and the straight forward simplicity of the songs. Some parts were a bit trippy but I dug it!

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Fri Jan 14 2022
3

IMO it's good, you can see how he was the crazy guy in pink floyd to an extent.

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Fri Jan 21 2022
3

More of a look into the freestyle mind of Syd after leaving Pink Floyd. You can hear where he has it together and where he doesn't. I suspect this is a must-hear due to it being Syd Barrett and gives a peak into what Pink Floyd would be doing had he stayed. 3/5

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Wed Feb 02 2022
3

Die ruhigeren Nummern gefallen mir besser, in Summe sehr gute 3 Sterne.

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Fri Feb 04 2022
3

"The Madcap Laughs" is an inconsistent, often problematic, sometimes frustrating and occasionally dazzling insight into Syd Barrett's career after Pink Floyd. One year after his departure from the band- an event that fifty years of retrospective documentaries, press and interviews seem to have shrouded in mythos and poeticism- he was presumably in a fragile place and continuing to display concerning behaviour. This album is one of two solo records before he retired from music: in truth, we know much more of him as the "Crazy Diamond" or the man "behind the wall" than the singer-songwriter airing his fragmented solo material here. Intentional or not, it follows that many of the album's songs are distracted, free-roaming takes often with just Barrett's guitar and vocal. The melodies stumble around in search of something to ground them, often passing by unnoticed and sometimes making it through the fog to latch into memory. When Barrett's approach blossoms into something structured, like "Octopus" or "Here I Go", it's a heartening display of fully-formed music. The full band approach helps flesh them out: while they may not be as accomplished as his material with Pink Floyd, they sound relaxed, almost at ease with themselves. "Octopus" is full on psychedelic and "Here I Go" is grounded in a parallel reality, but both are compelling and well executed. Two more of the album's best cuts are its bookends, which strike a good balance between order and chaos: "Terrapin", a languid love song and "Late Night", which was mostly recorded before Pink Floyd's release of "Saucerful of Secrets" and would have fit in it quite nicely with its chorus of slide guitars. On the other end of the scale, "Dark Globe" is harrowing account of a man alone and afraid, punctuated by a wandering tempo and a pointed, anguished refrain of "wouldn't you miss me at all". Just as compelling, but much more raw and painful. It brings us to the chief dilemma at the heart of this album, around Barrett's former bandmates Roger Waters and David Gilmour handling most of the production duties. It becomes apparent they have control of the narrative, perpetuating the idea of Syd as a washed up, crazy diamond. The false intro to "If It's In You"- and the garbled timing errors going into a couple of different lines- are difficult to sit through knowing another take could have easily been chosen, that Barrett wasn't necessarily in favour of this rendition appearing on the album. Ultimately, "The Madcap Laughs" relies on the listener's morbid fascination with the myth of Syd Barrett, their investment in his story and his tragic downfall. And in truth, part of the album's appeal is this sense of unravelling, its unflinching intimacy. It's not always easy to listen to, and morally it's a can of worms to explore whether Waters and Gilmour were right to focus on producing this over ensuring Barrett had the help and support he needed. But while the album is distracted, fragmented, sometimes broken, there are glimmers of genius from a mind nobody can truly claim to understand fifty-five years on.

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Sun Feb 06 2022
3

Wehklagend, selbstmitleidig, extrem intim und dadurch unverstellt narzisstisch ohne unsympathische Züge zu verheimlichen. Dabei schräg schön und erstaunlich aktuell - diese Musik hätte in fast jedem Jahr nach tatsächlichem Erscheinen entstanden sein können. 2.8

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