Syd Barrett : Wouldn't You Miss Me? (The Best Of...)

You can't help thinking what might have been had he been able to hold himself together.

Syd Barrett was kicked out of Pink Floyd at the start of 1968 after going onstage in Pontypool with crushed-up Mandrax tablets smeared in his hair. Mere months after he'd sculpted the brilliant punk-psychedelia of the band's debut album 'The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn', his mind - subjected to a barrage of

LSD - was shot to pieces.

The material on this new compilation is taken from the

two albums ('The Madcap Laughs' and 'Barrett') he recorded in the aftermath, and features the bonus of one previously unreleased track (the whimsical 'Bob Dylan Blues'). It also offers a reminder that these sessions yielded some of the rawest and most poignant music ever committed to tape, not least because it's basically the sound of someone having a nervous breakdown right in front of you.

Compared with the expansive effects-heavy sound that Barrett pioneered with Pink Floyd, the songs here are sparse and haphazard. Their naive, structures and fractured guitar parts are only saved by the sheer vulnerability in his voice. It's a frequently beautiful - albeit unsettling - experience, and you can't help thinking what might have been had he been able to hold himself together.

James Oldham
8 / 10

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