The Madcap Laughs

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Madcap Laughs
Syd Barrett's studio album


3rd January 1970

Label (s) Harvest Records (Europe)
Capitol Records (USA)

Format (s)


Genre (s)

Psychedelic rock

Title (number)


running time

37 m 47 s


Syd Barrett , Peter Jenner , Malcolm Jones, David Gilmour , Roger Waters

Studio (s)

Abbey Road Studios

- The Madcap Laughs Barrett

The Madcap Laughs is the debut solo album of singer-songwriter Syd Barrett in 1970. The album was recorded after Barrett Pink Floyd , whose co-founder and frontman was he who had left the 1968th

The work has an eventful history. Work on the album began in April 1968; however, the content was not completed until August 1969. Syd Barrett ultimately needed four producers to create it : Peter Jenner , Malcolm Jones, David Gilmour and Roger Waters . Among the guest musicians called in were Robert Wyatt , Hugh Hopper, and Mike Ratledge (all from Soft Machine ) and Willie Wilson, with whom Gilmour had played on Jokers Wild.

Background to the album

Syd Barrett had a very sensitive artist profile, which ultimately even made him a legend. His scarcely exhaustive and creative awareness of art, which he also lived out as a painter, was linked to a humorous and charming British consciousness that was full of bizarre things and occasionally full of cosmic pagan ideas. During her time with Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett started using drugs, mostly LSD . Barrett increasingly submitted to the drug and because, according to his bandmates, genius and madness were already close to each other, the drugs acted like a catalyst. He broke the threshold to madness more and more often.

Barry Miles , Floyd-Intimus and then correspondent for EVO in London, recalls that a Barrett friend saw that Syd Barrett took his first LSD trip back in 1966, preceded by shared experiences with mushrooms and marijuana . He told (translated into German):

“We aspired to enlightenment and wanted everyone to experience this incredible drug. Syd was very selfish and uptight in every way, so we thought it would be a good idea for him to try. In retrospect, I don't think he was ready for this experience, he was just too unstable for that. Syd was a very simple personality who always found it difficult to cope with basic experiences. "

In the period between mid-1967 and early 1968 - Barrett was still a member of Pink Floyd - his behavior became increasingly moody and unpredictable. Concertgoers were able to convince themselves during band appearances that Barrett was often completely absent-minded, only played a single chord on the guitar, or not played at all, or left the stage at will. In August 1967 Barrett suffered a nervous breakdown , which is why participation in the National Jazz and Blues Festival in Windsor had to be canceled. This month came out the first work The Piper at the Gates of Dawn .

In September 1967 Pink Floyd went on tour in the USA for the first time. Barrett's condition worsened again significantly. In the Fillmore Auditorium, Barrett tuned his guitar during Interstellar Overdrive . While the audience found such escapades amusing, the rest of the band were stunned.

Producer Peter Jenner stuck to Barrett, because he still hoped in October of this year that the songs In the Beechwood and Vegetable Man could be finished. They ultimately remained unpublished.

During the Christmas season of 1967, Roger Waters approached his old school friend David Gilmour, whom he wanted to win as the second guitarist for Pink Floyd, while Syd Barrett was hardly ready anymore. Gilmour struck up and took over Barrett's part at concerts. Barrett himself wandered around on the music stages and played every now and then on his own inspiration. Ultimately, he was booted out as a live musician.

It became foreseeable that Syd Barrett would have to be dispensed with entirely. The decision to do so was already made in January 1968. After the publication of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn , which was mainly influenced by Barrett, it turned out to be impracticable to just do without him live, and studio work had become virtually impossible. In early April 1968, Barrett had officially left the band. Barrett told Melody Maker :

“It wasn't really a was. I suppose it was really just a matter of being a little offhand about things. We didn't feel there was one thing which was gonna make the decision at the Minute. "

“It wasn't really a war. I suppose it was just about seeing things a little more casually. We didn't have the feeling that there was one thing that needed a decision from one minute to the next. "

Production of the album

Peter Jenner as a producer

EMI Recording Studios, 1969

After Barrett Pink Floyd had left in April 1968, the producers ended Peter Jenner and Andrew King of Black Hill Enterprises working with the band, but still managed Barrett. In May 1968 Jenner invited Syd Barrett to Abbey Road Studios to record songs with him, especially previously unfinished tracks, because he had assumed that Barrett might be interested in refining and publishing the rough versions. Barrett, for his part, had rather obscure plans. The first production attempts were delayed until June / July because Golden Hair, Late Night, Clowns and Jugglers and Opel could not be processed properly at first, while the collaboration with Barrett turned out to be very problematic. Barrett finally broke off the production work and disappeared aimlessly in the Mini with his girlfriend, after which he familiarized himself in a psychiatric facility in Cambridge .

At the beginning of 1969, the convalescent reflected on resuming work with Peter Jenner. After initial problems, he signed a contract with EMI and was referred to Malcolm Jones after Jenner and colleague Norman Smith refused to continue working with Barrett.

Malcolm Jones as a producer

Syd Barrett recorded The Madcap Laughs album on a Fender Telecaster , similar to the one in the picture.

This began on April 10, 1969 with material pre-produced under Jenner. New songs were recorded. Jones was enchanted by late night , and he thought Golden Hair was great. Barrett played the slide guitar in Late Night with a lighter, accompanied by gentle transcendent percussion. Extracts from Lean Out of the Window by Irish writer James Joyce contribute to Golden Hair . Terrapin and Love You were rewritten ; Swan Lee and Clowns and Jugglers were overlapped and Barrett focused on the guitar and vocal parts of Opel . Jones announced that Barrett was in great shape these days (in "great form, and very happy" and "very together").

A week later, Barrett brought along musicians, such as Jerry Shirley from Humble Pie and Willie Wilson from Jokers Wild. The original plan was to play the electric bass . Barrett always played his parts live in the studio. In If It's in You, for example, the wrong start of the piece is published, especially his out of tune singing, to which he reacts noticeably nervous and with clumsy comments. Now and then you can hear the rustling of sheet music. Barrett and the musicians improvised in No Man's Land . Barrett's attitude of enjoying superiority (“Syd had a terrible habit of looking at you and laughing in a way that made you feel very stupid”) caused discomfort.

Barrett wrote Here I Go within minutes and recorded it with No Man's Land within a very short time . When Rhamadan was about to be reworked, Barrett let Jones know that no more musicians were needed because he had a fantastic idea to implement. He came to the next rehearsal with a cassette recorder on which motorcycle noises were recorded in bleakly suboptimal quality. Barrett persuaded Jones to process the noises.

On April 25, 1969, Barrett mixed Opel on his own because Malcolm Jones was ill and could not appear. It was discussed in advance to transfer 4-track recordings of songs to 8-track devices in order to prepare for overdubs . The studio, on the other hand, didn't like it when Barrett was left unattended while working. Nevertheless, in the aftermath of Opel , Jones found it appreciatively: One of the “best and most haunting” songs. With members of the band Soft Machine he recorded more songs, including the remaining bass parts.

When David Gilmour expressed interest in seeing Barrett's progress with the recording, Barrett pleaded with him to assist him in the future. Disappointed, Jones then resigned from responsibility for the project.

David Gilmour and Roger Waters as producers

Gilmour and Waters were in the middle of the process of creating Ummagumma when Syd Barrett turned to the two of them to help him finalize the production of his album. To Barrett's dismay, the two musicians gave him only two days for this. On June 12, 1969 Clowns and Jugglers in Octopus rewritten, building on with Soft Machine compiled version. The content of this song is based in excerpts on the poem “Rilloby-Rill” by the British writer and historian Henry Newbolt . After that, Golden Hair was revised and Long Gone and Dark Globe (with chords in waltz time ) were re-recorded. The two ex-colleagues felt the pressure of their contractual obligations to Ummagumma , and a tour in the Netherlands was pending. So they stuck to the priorities in terms of their own project, and it wasn't until the end of July that they all came together again to give the recordings the final touches in further sessions. At the beginning of August, first five, then three songs were mixed within two days and within a few hours and recorded by Gilmour and Barrett on October 6th.

Publication and aftermath

Octopus was released as a single in November 1969; on January 3, 1970 then The Madcap Laughs . The album was released in January 1970 in Europe on Columbia’s underground subsidiary , Harvest Records , and in the United States on Capitol Records . The pecuniary success of the album was only modest when it was released. However, it received wide acclaim from critics. In the US the charts were missed and in the UK the album reached number 40. In 1974 the compilation “The Madcap Laughs” and “Barrett” (merging of these two albums) was released.

On the release, Gilmour said:

“Perhaps we were trying to show what Syd was really like. But perhaps we were trying to punish him ... "

“Maybe we were trying to show what Syd was really like. But maybe we tried to punish him ... "

Barrett commented:

"I don't think it would stand as my last statement."

"I don't think this will be my last statement."

Waters found that Barrett was a "genius". In order to be able to continue producing at EMI, better sales figures would have been required. Co-producer Jones was dismayed by the below-average production contribution of the two Pink Floyd members. Nevertheless, he promoted the album in the Melody Maker under a pseudonym and declared there that it was a great album.

On June 6, 1970, Syd Barrett gave his only solo performance of the album, which took place at Kensington Station and only brought Gilmour and Shirley as musicians. During the fourth track, Barrett put down the guitar and left the stage completely unexpectedly. Bootlegs exist for the concert .

The Melody Maker commented on the appearance of The Madcap Laughs:

"The mayhem and madness representing the Barrett mind unleashed"

"The chaos and madness that unleashed the Barrett spirit"

Record cover

During the production of The Madcap Laughs, Syd Barrett moved into an apartment in Wetherby Mansions, near Earls Court in London . He had painted the floor of his bedroom in orange and purple stripes especially for the album cover. The cover was photographed by Mick Rock , who worked for Rolling Stone . At the appointment this met Barrett in underpants and his girlfriend naked. Barrett had forgotten the appointment and his girlfriend Evelyn (known as "Iggy the Eskimo") was not scheduled for the photo shoot, but was immortalized on the back of the cover.

The album cover was designed by graphic designers Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell, founders of the Hipgnosis agency .


All titles are written by Syd Barrett, with the exception of Golden Hair (based on a poem by James Joyce). The titles are taken from the original album.

  1. Terrapin - 5:04 min
  2. No Good Trying - 3:26 min
  3. Love You - 2:30 min
  4. No Man's Land - 3:03 min
  5. Dark Globe - 2:02 min
  6. Here I Go - 3:11 min
  7. Octopus - 3:47 min
  8. Golden Hair - 1:59 min
  9. Long Gone - 2:50 min
  10. She Took a Long Cold Look - 1:55 min
  11. Feel - 2:17 min
  12. If It's in You - 2:26 min
  13. Late Night - 3:10

Total playing time: 37:47 min


  • Syd Barrett - guitar , vocals
  • David Gilmour - electric bass , 12-string acoustic guitar , drums (on octopus )
  • Jerry Shirley - drums
  • Willie Wilson - electric bass
  • Robert Wyatt - drums (tracks 2 and 3)
  • Hugh Hopper - electric bass (tracks 2 and 3)
  • Mike Ratledge - Keyboard (Tracks 2 and 3)

Producers and sound engineers:

  • Syd Barrett - producer (tracks 7, 8)
  • Peter Jenner - Producer (Track 13)
  • Malcolm Jones - producer (tracks 1-4, 6, 12, 13)
  • David Gilmour - producer (tracks 5, 7-11)
  • Roger Waters - producer (tracks 5, 9-11)
  • Phil McDonald - sound engineer
  • Peter Mew - sound engineer
  • Mike Sheady - sound engineer
  • Jeff Jarratt - sound engineer
  • Tony Clark - sound engineer

Record cover:

  • Mick Rock - photographer
  • Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell, Hipgnosis - cover design


The Madcap Laughs was re-released as a double album by Syd Barrett on Harvest Records in 1974 , in tow of Pink Floyd's groundbreaking success with The Dark Side of the Moon . A Madcap Laughs was the first record on this album. The second album was also released in 1970 and also the last work by Syd Barrett, Barrett . Storm Thorgeson had also designed the record cover for this.

In 1993 the album was reissued and appeared independently in the same year as a 3CD box Crazy Diamond - The Complete Syd Barrett (alongside Barrett and Opel ). In 2010 the album was edited for the last time so far.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Stewart Mason, The Madcap Laughs - Syd Barrett: Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards , AllMusic. As of July 31, 2012.
  2. Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd and Mental Illness
  3. Barry Miles, Pink Floyd, The Early Years , Chapter 5, p. 94, ISBN 978-3-85445-278-2
  4. ^ Julian Palacios, Lost in the Woods: Syd Barrett and the Pink Floyd. Boxtree, (1997). ISBN 0-7522-2328-3 .
  5. The Economist: Roger “Syd” Barrett, leader of Pink Floyd, died on July 7th, aged 60
  6. Nick Mason, Inside Out - A Personal History of Pink Floyd (Paperback), Phoenix pp. 95-105, (2005). ISBN 978-0-7538-1906-7 .
  7. ^ A b c Nicholas Schaffner, Saucerful of Secrets: The Pink Floyd Odyssey , London: Helter Skelter. P. 14 f., 91 f. (2005). ISBN 1-905139-09-8 .
  8. ^ Julian Palacios, Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe , London: Plexus, 325 (2010). ISBN 0-85965-431-1 .
  9. The Madcap Laughs (booklet), Syd Barrett. Harvest, EMI. 2010, page 1.
  10. ^ A b c d Toby Manning, The Rough Guide to Pink Floyd , London: Rough Guides. Pp. 45, 61 and 70f. (2006). ISBN 1-84353-575-0 .
  11. Michael Watts, Syd Barrett interviewing Melody Maker, March 27, 1971
  12. a b c d e f g h Malcolm Jones, The Making of The Madcap Laughs , Brain Damage. Pp. 3-19 (2003).
  13. ^ Mike Watkinson, Crazy Diamond - Syd Barrett and the Dawn of Pink Floyd
  14. Lean Out of the Window (James Joyce)
  15. Record cover with Joyce note
  16. ^ Syd Barrett - 'The Madcap Laughs' The Mick Rock Photo-Sessions Introduction
  17. a b Barry Plummer (Pamela Des Barres), Rock Bottom: Dark Moments In Music Babylon
  18. Rick Sanders, The Pink Floyd , London: Futura (1976). ISBN 0-86007-264-9 .
  19. Rilloby-Hill, Author: Henry Newbolt
  20. ^ Rob Chapman, Syd Barrett: A Very Irregular Head (Paperback), London: Faber. Page 270 (2010). ISBN 978-0-571-23855-2 .
  21. Syd Barrett board: He Whom Laughs First
  22. ^ Apartment in Wetherby Mansions
  23. Mick Rock (photo shoot) ( Memento of the original from August 8, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  24. ^ The Strange Tale of Iggy the Eskimo
  25. Review: Dave Thomson ( Syd Barrett )