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

The Madcap Laughs

Syd Barrett

1970

Buy At Rough Trade
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

2.66

Votes

10137
Genres
Rock
Folk
Psychedelic Rock

Reviews

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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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Fri Mar 19 2021
1

GOOD LORD WHO THE FUCK CARES.

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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 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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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Wed Mar 24 2021
5

Just weird enough to be interesting without being insane.

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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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Thu Feb 29 2024
1

If his band didn't go on to make one of the best selling albums of all time, would this be relevant?

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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 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 Mar 30 2023
5

Truly enveloping and weirdly comforting. Easy listening, but not as a slur.

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Mon May 15 2023
5

Mesmo cada vez mais identificado com as criações do Pink Floyd, não conhecida nada do Syd Barret. Ele pode ter deixado o Pink Floyd prematuramente, mas sua influência no som e estilo da banda é evidente. Este álbum solo é uma prova da sua genialidade musical e criativa. O álbum é uma jornada fascinante pela mente genial e, ao mesmo tempo, atormentada de Barrett, com letras profundas e instrumentais arrebatadores que criam uma atmosfera única.

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Mon Jul 10 2023
5

Sad. Beautiful. Majestic. Chaotic. The Van Gogh of music.

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Thu Sep 28 2023
5

Love it from the bottom of my heart

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Thu Oct 19 2023
5

OMGOMGOGMOMGIMGIGKNFJDJEJRJFJKTOGKG i love this one i love sydbarett I jump for joy and screamed when i seen this on my 10001 albums page

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Sun Nov 26 2023
5

I love this album and Syd, but even still it's a difficult listen. Obviously it's very much a mood piece, and after the first couple of tracks I generally find the mood established, and the album really gets it's hooks in. Barely anything here really sounds like Floyd. Golden Hair the most obvious exception. Was first introduced to Barrett via REM covering Dark Globe on a B side, my introduction to so much music, either working with REM, covered by them or simply mentioned in interviews. I would go on to love another of these musicians, Robyn Hitchcock, who himself was hugely influenced by Syd. I find it impossible to disentangle my love for those influenced by this from the album itself. It's so fragile, and essentially a load of demos (If it's In You is just all over the place). I'm also reminded of Oar by Skip Spence, another spectacularly fragile album, one I found a bit harder to get on with, but which is also definitely beautiful in places. I love the follow up album Barrett as well, although I would suggest that's patchier, with more obvious peaks and troughs, the standard on Madcap is very much of a piece. Favourites, Dark Globe, Golden Hair, Octopus, No Good Trying. Please lift a hand, I'm only person.

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Thu Dec 07 2023
5

Exactly what one would expect if they know the history of Syd. I love this kind of plodding, psychedelic music. You're not playing this at an upbeat party but it really is an outstanding example of this kind of music.

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Sun Dec 31 2023
5

I'm a sucker for a mad musical genius, and Syd was the king of mad musical geniuses. It's a shame he burned out so young. These songs are brilliant, fractured masterpieces. Shine on you crazy diamond. 5 stars.

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Thu Feb 22 2024
5

I loved this! It's funny I always liked the early kitsch little songs by Pink Floyd like "Bike" and "The Gnome" from Piper at the Gates of Dawn and knew they were Syd Barrett but never thought to follow up his solo stuff. It all got overshadowed by the more "serious" stuff like Meddle and Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here. And also, this is when I was first getting into music and if I wanted to hear Syd Barrett I would have had to have sought out the vinyl at a second hand record shop. No Spotify then! Whereas all the Pink Floyd albums were in my Mum and Dad's record collection or swapped between friends. Anyway, I really "dig" this. It's got a very naïve sound and that sort of outside aesthetic, like Ivor Cutler or someone. Giving it five stars is probably too much but I'm going to because this has actually opened up a new little musical avenue for me.

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Sun Mar 17 2024
5

(nothing to add - one of these superclassic albums that obviously belong to any list)

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Tue Mar 26 2024
5

10/10 love me some psychedelic art rock

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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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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 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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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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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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Mon Aug 15 2022
4

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

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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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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 20 2023
4

I think part of rating this a 3 over 4 is because I don't know much about Syd Barrett and it was interesting to learn a little more about the artist

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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 Feb 24 2023
4

I actually like this. It's what we in the business call a vibe

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Fri Mar 10 2023
4

4 stars, could be a 5 star album but I'd need to listen to it more to know.

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Wed Mar 15 2023
4

Good psychedelia that mostly makes me kind of sad. Sorry Syd.

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Thu Apr 06 2023
4

Ostin tän levyn aikoinaan siksi, että Syd Barrett mainittiin Television Personalities -yhtyeen biisissä ”I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives”. Onneksi ostin, en enää muista, millaista elämäni oli ilman tätä levyä.

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Thu Apr 13 2023
4

The strange mix of Pink Floyd and The Beatles. Nice one!

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Fri May 19 2023
4

Enjoyed this slightly of the wall musings didn't really say much or go anywhere but I didn't mind. Think he was addled on LSD at this point and the album defiently feels as though you are lost.

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Thu May 25 2023
4

One my first playthrough I wasn't really sure about this album, having no idea who Syd Barret even was but was thinking this was a 3. Second listen made me realise how much I enjoyed No Good Trying, and Love You (where it sounds like he is actually saying "Ice Cream" instead of "I scream") and instantly made this a 4. After reading more about Syd I am keen to hear more.

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Thu Jun 01 2023
4

What a wonderful surprise of a record - reminiscent of the Beatles and Nick Drake but with a darker sound. At the core though Syd is writing earnest and heartfelt songs - and it feels real. The production also is subtly clever and it’s just the right length and the songs flow excellently into one another. It kind of tapers a bit on the last three songs which sound plasters on mindlessly - even though they’re not unwelcome.

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Mon Jun 05 2023
4

Probably the most prog thing to ever happen - pretty good but very strange. I liked it, but preferred his work with his former band.

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Wed Jun 21 2023
4

Eh not bad, not my kind of “rock”. 7/10

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Thu Jun 22 2023
4

Lol @ “children’s songs for people on acid” 😂😂😂 I was actually kinda lukewarm to start and then the weird campy offness started to really grow on me. Enjoyed it. 3.5/5

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Fri Jun 23 2023
4

Album 83 of 1001 Syd Barrett - The Madcap Laughs Rating : 4 / 5 Favorite Track : Here I Go Timely, as he has been popping up lately in posts from various music pages I follow. I heard this for the first time a few weeks ago as I was listening through the playlist. Didn't stick with me all that much, though I don't often stop and put much time into thinking on an album as I'm doing the playlist. I save that for the album a day generator. Have seen many other reviews that just totally panned this album. After my first listen, I was prepared to come back and do the same, but I listened closer and gave it a bit more consideration. I feel that one has to listen to this while forgetting that Syd Barrett was once an integral part of Pink Floyd and the direction they took and how far they went after he was gone. Then again, you have to listen to this while not forgetting the same. Dude was in a bad place, mentally. Some say that this album is just the result of him being humored in his thought that he still had something to offer musically. I like it. I hear the man and his creativity. It may not have the polish of the Pink Floyd albums that many seem to compare it to (even if subconsciously) but it is what it is and I like it...as unorganized as it may seem...I like it.

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Tue Jul 04 2023
4

4/5 There is something good about this one. It's old, never heard of him or any other music before but I dig it, baby...yeah... Standouts: Terrapin, No Good Trying, Others: Love You, No Man’s Land, Dark Globe, Here I Go, Golden Hair, Long Gone, She Took A Long Cold Look, Feel, If it’s in You

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Mon Jul 10 2023
4

Odd that I got Syd Barrett’s solo album before any by Pink Floyd, but unlike those albums, I haven’t heard this one before. It really captures his degrading mind and insanity at this point - really sad. The music is great anyway, somehow. I really liked the songs ‘Terrapin’ and ‘Here I Go’, especially the latter’s sort of twist in the middle. Great album from a legend who sadly lost his mind at a young age.

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Thu Jul 27 2023
4

8/10. Huh, I didn't even know Syd Barrett made a solo album, but I guess he actually made two in one year and then stopped. Pretty good, though.

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Wed Aug 16 2023
4

I had no expectations and loved every second of this. Where has this album been all my life? Whimsical and groovy and light and clever and fun. Go, Syd, go! Kinks / Beatles / Eno and Floyd vibes all at once.

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Wed Aug 23 2023
4

The essence of a list suggesting albums one "should listen to before you die" goes far beyond the mere statement: "This sounds good." The richness of music isn't merely about the melody, rhythm, or lyrics. It's about the history it carries, the influences it exudes, and the legacy it leaves behind. Take "The Velvet Underground & Nico," for instance. On a personal note, I'd rate it 4 stars. Yet, if look at its history, one could reasonably argue it's among the most influential albums ever. To genuinely appreciate music, one must embrace the journey of its creation, the roots of its inspiration, and its impact on subsequent generations. It's not just about the question, "How does this resonate with me?" but also, "How has it shaped the musical landscape?" Even if you don't care about musical history, you can't truly rate how good an album was when it came out if you don't understand what came before it. If, say, a Model T Ford was invented in 1800, that would be amazing! If it was invented in 2000 (long after modern cars were common), it would be a poor "invention". A creation depends on what came before it. But based solely on the sound I'd wouldn't give this more than 3 stars. But I know the role that Syd played in creating one of the greatest bands ever. No, this album didn't do that, but given that David Gilmour and Roger Waters helped complete it, it's certain that Syd continued to influence them after just the one Pink Floyd album that Syd was an active part of. Having said all that, even with the history and influence that this album had, I'd probably only give it 3.5, maybe 3.75 stars, but given that I believe some reviewers are just listening and asking "Do I like it?" w/o asking if there's more to why an album would be on the "1001 list", I'm rounding up. 4 stars.

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