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The Madcap Laughs [VINYL]
Format: Vinyl|Change
Price:£15.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 10 September 2012
Complete garbage, and overhyped rubbish. Don't waste your money. Nothing like the pink flloyd we know and love! Very childish and despite several attempts had to turn it off
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on 15 October 2011
Being a committed Pink Floyd follower and fan, I bought The Madcap Laughs on the week of it's original release. Forty years later most people are praising it as the brilliant work of a genius. Yes, Syd was undoubtedly a genius, but this album is simply not very good. I played it a few times and also played it to friends. By and large the only reaction was to be very disappointed. The disc languished largely unplayed amongst many other great LP's of that era and I later sold it.

Madcap is like a home made acoustic collection of mainly ordinary songs (and I use that word loosely) that even the help in production of David Gilmour cannot rescue from mediocrity. If Piper At The Gates Of Dawn is regarded as 9.5/10, Madcap is 1.5/10. Years later it's of great interest to Floyd historians. But don't be fooled, no-one at the time rated it at all. It sunk without trace and hardly sold more than a couple of thousand copies. That should tell you what it's really like.

This review is likely to make a few, new, die hard fans unhappy and they will mark this review as 'not helpful'. They may think I have criticised their hero. I take no pleasure in disparaging Madcap. Syd was undoubtedly brilliant. But his best days were well over when he was goaded into recording this stuff. Syd's reputation would have remained much higher had he not bothered. Stick with Piper At The Gates Of Dawn and celebrate Syd's magnificence in his prime. I was there - and I know.
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VINE VOICEon 5 July 2010
Roger "Syd" Barrett,a founding member of Pink Floyd,a psychedelic rock group, having hits with Arnold Layne,See Emily Play and Piper at the Gates of Dawn,having written most of the material,was an innovative guitarist in his own right,exploring sonic possibilities of dissonance,distortion,feedback and echo,able to create mysterious, otherworldly sounds using slide guitar.However the pressures placed on Barrett and his increasing LSD drug use, edged him towards psychiatric illness and mental breakdown.His antics became unpredictable on stage and he was replaced by David Gilmour.They just left him out in January 1968.He had a brief solo career1968-72.He released 2 albums,The Madcap Laughs and Barrett.

In The Madcap Laughs Barrett's more vulnerable moments have been left on tape giving the music a more authentic feel.Some sessions occurred between May-June 1968,but the bulk was recorded between April and July 1969,with David Gilmour and Roger Waters,serving as studio musicians and producers.A few tracks have been overdubbed by members of the band Soft Machine.Despite Barrett's descent into insanity,this record is a real exploration of psychedelic rock.Some of the tracks are simple acoustic guitar and Barrett's voice.Others have electric and base guitars, organs,vibes, pianos,cymbals,drums and are more multi-layered, largely overdubbed over his voice and guitar. Barrett didn't want any rehearsals or re-recordings done. Syd's playing and singing were highly erratic and unpredictable--he skipped or added beats and bars seemingly at random, or otherwise he would strum on a single chord for a long time before unexpectedly reverting back to the main portion of the song. This was all much to the frustration of the session musicians leading to certain tension.

Madcap,the rash,impulsive,high-spirited girl he sings to in these songs,flips from being inner demon or muse.The spontaneity and immediacy come from his raw talent,stripped bare.He is slipping away from us mentally,getting into his own groove,out on his own track,soon to be lost forever,far from the world of groups,session musicians and engineers,floundering in a limbo of headspace,a universe in reverse.On the album cover the image of Barrett crouching in the corner of his living room,face obscured by dark, wavy hair and bad lighting.Purple and orange floorboards.This is the antechamber to the end of the 60s,when darkness descends,stark instrumentation,haunting lyrics,a vulnerability so palpable and unedited,you know this man is not sane. He will soon putter out from conscious creation.However he was in fine form during the sessions.Some of the later tracks are rushed and spartan due to time allowed.

We board an unorthodox musical train of thought,not able,like the session musicians,to anticipate where it will go.The opening song,"Terrapin"changes key and skips beats without warning.The word order combination 'Floating,bumping,noses dodge a tooth/the fins a luminous/fangs all `round the clown/is dark below the boulders hiding all/the sunlight's good for us' is rich in imagery,soulful in voice.Are we ever on the same page?In "No good trying" there is the wilful egotism and directness of a child.In `Love You' we have the whooping joy of first love.We know what it means,yet it it has no sense.In "No Man's Land" there is a gibberish verse no one can even understand to write down,meant to be understood,yet Syd liked it that way."Dark Globe",a first person narrative of schizophrenia,with the plaintive refrain "Wouldn't you miss me at all?" or "please lift a hand" like voices in his head."Here I go" Barrett waxes lyrical about a romantic,happy ending,with a happy tune disguising something scary beneath the surface like a darkness he neither knows nor cares about,warding it off with a jaunty,familiar air.

My favorite track "Octopus",a cornucopia of joy from a liberated,child-like soul, full of imagery of promise:"with a honey plough of yellow prickly seeds/clover honey pots and mystic shining feed.." I love his rendition of Joyce's "Golden Hair" with Barrett strumming mournfully against some soft cymbal work by session musicians.Two great souls united through a harmony of song.Sad and beautiful.The sad nostalgia of "Long Gone" combined with a visionary intensity:"I borrowed the page/ from a leopard's cage/and I prowled in the evening sun's glaze". With "She took a long cold look"a simple love song mutates into something much chillier.He is at the lowest ebb of his mental health on "Feel",almost mad,and "If it's in you",both harrowing examples of the misunderstood Barrett, teetering on the edge.The valedictory "Late Night",a beautifully rendered love song,gentle like sunshine through rain.Barrett never did anything to match this superb record,indelibly marked with his genius.As Pope once said:"Great wits to madness sure are near allied".However this record stands as a landmark of true creative promise.After this the stutter into vagrant silence,then the long walk home to his mother's house.
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on 17 September 2009
The Madcap Laughs contains some of my favourite of Syd's songs, there are memorable tunes a-plenty, some songs are bare bones fragile voice and guitar performances, some are bolstered with creativity by a band (though it is unclear if Syd played any artistic role in these augmentations). If I had to pick a favourite song it would be Octopus, but there are many classic Syd performances on here, mostly congregating up front, before the album starts to unravel before our eyes. These later songs in particular possess a disarming, heartbraking honesty. He's communicating from over the horizon, but it's a horizon too close for comfort, inside the head.

Syd's story is trapped nowadays in a romanticized mythology, we love him because he was extraordinary, talented, buoyant, charming, beautiful, clever, whimsical, young, and also, because of his disintigration. Like it or not, the combination of beauty and tragedy is alluring, and goes some way to explaining the popular attraction to him. He might be a genius, that is incidental, we need him to have been a genius to make the picture perfect so we declare him one, just as all those fallen soldiers of whichever war on whichever "our" side was were saintly heroes. So we proclaim his music the work of genius. His story also acts as an evocation of how precarious a tightrope walk through life can be, particularly when his delivery wavers, as on Feel. Think also of Nick Drake and others who have left too soon. The throngs of musicians inspired by Syd are likely enchanted by the beautiful tragic mythology as much as by the music, for the two are inextricable. Through our hazy gaze the truth evolves and blurs, and we like what we see.

Clearly Syd was held in very high esteem by the people around him, and this album seems to be also a testiment to their faith in him, that he could work magic even in the adverse conditions that were coroding him. Saying that, I am concerned that the original album, which showcases not just Syd's brilliance but his disintigration, should not have been released in this state, that perhaps some cynicism crept in or the people who should have been looking out for him were sleeping. The fact that the reissue was plumped-out with further fractured bonus cuts indicates to me that his demise is simply entertainment, and hey folks, here's some more of it for your listening pleasure. Members of the Pink Floyd crowd were shepherding the process of creating Syd's solo albums, so I wonder why reissues of Dark Side Of The Moon et all haven't been similarly augmented with false starts and confusion, duff demo's or whatever might be dredged up from the bottom of the pond...
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on 25 September 2015
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on 4 May 2007
This is a highly disturbing record. It's the sound of a man having a psychotic breakdown in the studio, recorded with cruel precision by someone who was both trying to help him, but who had also usurped his place in the group that had once been his. Not that it is really possible to condemn Dave (as he was then) Gilmour; Barrett had become impossible to work with in the group context by this stage and this album demonstrates why. Certainly none of these songs could have been recorded by Pink Floyd.

It's difficult to view Syd from this distance in anything other than tragic terms, but some people who ought to know better suggest that he was a tortured genius and some of the songs on this album are masterpieces. They're wrong and these aren't; they're the remnants of a crumbling psyche and listening to them is a bit too close to viewing the madmen in Bedlam for my taste.

"Syd" Barrett left the building a long time ago when his hallucinogen-induced illness overwhelmed his musical talents and now Roger Barrett has followed into that far country where it is always 1967, "See Emily Play" is always in the charts and "Wish You Were Here" is an eternity away.

Rating? Anywhere from 1 to 5; against the pathos of Barrett's decline it's irrelevant.
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on 26 February 2015
Some of the reviews of madcap seem to be written by boring closed minded people going on about Syds breakdown and how he lost his talent. I totally disagree. Madcap laughs is great. Syds songs just changed course into abstraction. Lunacy? No. Syd was an artist more than mentally ill and to me you cant compare madcap to piper at the gates cos theyre just different to eachother. My favourite song on madcap is "Feel" its so haunting and poetic yet people never seem to notice just what a great song Feel is. Strange that. But the whole of madcap laughs is is great, funny, strange, poetic and nutty! I just wish people would stop comparing it to other Pink Floyd albums. Its Art and it stands alone without comparisons and chin stroking critics droning on tediously about Syds breakdown. Just listen and let Syd draw you into his world
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on 11 May 2000
One of the most beautiful albums ever recorded. All the songs are very simple and melancholy. What is apparent is that between the writing of "Piper" and this album Syd certainly did change. he now appears more incoherrent in his writing ability. All the songs seem somehow unfinished, but somehow special nonetheless. If listened to with friends the album will seem embarrasing. However, if you listen to it alone, in context, it is shudderingly sad and beautiful. A genius in artistic freefall which will become apparent if you listen to Syd's next album "Barret".
Basically, if you loved "Piper" and are fascinated with the myth surrounding Syd then this album is essential listening. If you don't normally "listen" to music, as many people don't, then do not purchase this album. You won't enjoy it.
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on 17 February 2018
The duff takes that are offered as bonus tracks detract from the quality of this album, which seemed at the time to be the best I'd heard, and nearly fifty years later, it still stands out. I would have preferred Rhamadan as the bonus track having heard it on Youtube, which lasts for twenty minutes and is the only entirely successful foray into the avante garde by the Pink Ford members. In the 1990s I went into a record store and sorted through the "B"s and asked at the counter where Syd Barrett was, and I was told that they assumed that anyone who knew about him would already have his records. Now that the original artwork is being used for the CD it should surely arouse interest in any record shop browser, and it contributes to why this has always been for me the best album I had heard then or ever since. If only his Pink Flord band mates had his gramophone record savvy.
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on 2 July 2000
Released in 1970, "Madcap Laughs," has some superb songs, but like most albums has some poor tracks. Namely "If its in you" which is barely listenable to as are "Feel" and the abstractly lyriced "Long Gone,". However there are still some superb songs on this L.P which match anything he ever recorded with Pink Floyd. They include Terrapin with its excellent acoustic/ electric guitar interplay, "No man's Land," with it's hazy multi-tracked guitars, the landmark "Octopus," "No good trying," and "Late night ," with it's stinging slide. Overall, this album along with "Barrett" is a superb testament to Syd's genius as a songwriter.
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