When Syd Barrett passed in 2006, there were two things mentioned in every obituary. He founded Pink Floyd in 1966, and left them in 1968 as rock’s first “acid casualty.” The stories surrounding Barrett’s breakdown are fascinating, but they threaten to overshadow the shear brilliance he often displayed as a musician. The new collection An Introduction To Syd Barrett is the first to incorporate his work with Pink Floyd with his later solo material.

An Introduction illustrates the differences vividly. The last Pink Floyd track included, “Bike” is an intense rant from a seemingly unhinged fellow. The solo “Terrapin” follows, with Barrett singing “I really love you, and I mean you,” as he lazily strums his acoustic guitar. Whatever demons that plagued him before no longer seem to trouble him. In fact, nothing seems to bother him anymore. From the tone of his voice, the subject matter, and the songs as a whole, we are hearing what remains of a man who has checked out.

An Introduction To Syd Barrett is exactly what it says it is. By including his early work with Pink Floyd with his later solo material, we get a well-rounded picture of what the man’s music was all about. Barrett will always be a footnote in the story of Pink Floyd, but his departure haunted them throughout their career. Many of the songs on both Dark Side Of The Moon and The Wall deal with it. On Wish You Were Here, they were explicit — nearly the entire album was about him.

For the curious, this is an excellent place to start in getting to know the music of Syd Barrett. — Greg Barbrick,

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