Syd Barrett

Octopus: The Best of Syd Barrett

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Housed within is a healthy sampling of highlights circa Syd Barrett's brief post-Pink Floyd solo career. Yet based on songs that are conspicuously absent from this package, the 14 selections seem to miss the mark for parties in search of an authoritative anthology. Following Barrett's Floyd "dismissal" in mid-1968, the artist was signed to EMI's prog rock imprint Harvest. In a little more than two years he had exhausted his creative energies and impulses with the long-players The Madcap Laughs (1969) and Barrett (1970) -- with enough extras to have yielded the odds-and-sods package Opel (1988). Speaking of, the latter is the source for several outstanding sides, namely the driving instrumental "Lanky (Part One)" -- which takes on the mantle of "Interstellar Overdrive" -- as well as the co-dependant romanticism of "Late Night." The tune titled "Clowns and Jugglers" would resurface a year down the line as "Octopus." Another of these seminal recordings is "Swan Lee (Silas Lang)," bearing vivid lyrics clearly inspired by tales of cowboys and Native American Indians. "No Good Trying," "Golden Hair," and the aforementioned "Octopus" represent The Madcap Laughs. Unquestionably, both "Dark Globe" and "Long Gone" should be here, but aren't. The Barrett album has a stronger presence with "Baby Lemonade," "Wined and Dined," "Gigolo Aunt," "Wolfpack," "It Is Obvious," and "Waving My Arms in the Air" all present. Still, MIA are the equally vital entries "Dominoes" and "Effervescing Elephant." A decidedly more thorough précis of Barrett's output can be found on the 22-track Wouldn't You Miss Me: The Best of Syd Barrett (2001) compendium -- not to mention the inclusion of the previously unissued "Bob Dylan Blues." Completists on the other hand are encouraged to pick up the Crazy Diamond (1993) triple-disc box containing all of the above -- with the exception of the Wouldn't You Miss Me exclusive "Bob Dylan Blues."

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