Maybe it was the mental scarring I received from watching The Wall in the movie theater at the age of 6 or 7 (“It has animation!” my older brother said. “It’s like a cartoon!”), but Syd Barrett was always my favorite member of Pink Floyd. In my teenaged years, I spent many an hour with their first album, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, when Barrett was the creative leader of the band, and it still holds a very important place in my heart.
Despite his brilliance as a songwriter and instrumentalist, his decaying mental state only a few years into the band’s existence made it impossible for the band to keep working with him, but that doesn’t stop me (and at least one KCMU reviewer) from imagining an alternate reality where he kept his act somewhat together and kept making music into the 80s, 90s, and beyond. Instead, after a couple of solo albums he pretty much stopped making music completely, retreated to his late mother’s home in Cambridge, England and busied himself with painting and gardening until his passing in 2006. His influence is still felt today, and resonates through the thriving psychedelic and otherwise ‘freaky’ music of the 21st century.
Opel was released by EMI in 1988, and contains unreleased studio material from his brief post-Floyd solo career, during which he recorded the “proper” albums The Madcap Laughs and Barrett.
“The man himself -- not one of his numerous not-half-as-twisted-&-beautiful imitators. Bootleggers have probably heard some of these tunes before -- but not all of them! Opel is definitely the centerpiece of this collection. Sound quality’s great, too.”
“Seminal, supreme, + all those other cliched adjectives. Put this in H.”
“Who’s Syd Barrett?”
“This is classic ‘Kathy Fennessy‘ type music (I think). Maybe she could tell us who Syd Barrett is?”
“I hope you’re only joking w/the above remark.”
“Well, you can tell by the handwriting that DD was stoned, anyway.”
“Who is he? And where does he live?”
“Who knows what he might’ve done had he kept his head together.”
“Considering Roger Waters, I’m glad he didn’t.”
“RATS is perfect pop poop -- I’m happy it’s in H!”
“As long as every one else is asking dumb questions -- What is ‘perfect pop,’ Janis?”
“Go Syd Go!”
“Someone got real irate when I played ‘Opel’ -- wanted to hear some ‘intelligent shit.’ Can’t please ‘em all.”
“This guy is fucking self indulgent.”
“No more than you, Dave.”
“Better than my grandmother’s porki-pine meatloaf, yet with only half the salt.”