Making the madcap laugs

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SYD BARRETT - The Making Of The Madcap Laughs Introduction Scarcely a year goes by than the rock press, rather like the Times and the first cuckoo of spring, report a 'sighting' of Syd Barrett, usually in Cambridge or in London. Whether these reports are accurate is uncertain, but ever since the early seventies the myth surrounding the man seems to have mushroomed. There is a growing army ofadmirers who would see him as some sort of living legend, even though his total recorded output consists of little more than three albums. Legend or otherwise, I was able, in a modest way, to be able to assist Syd in recording some of his best remembered solo recordings (I produced the first 'Madcap Laughs' sessions amounting to half of the album). With the exception of the excellent 'Terrapin'publications there has been remarkably little written about Syd, so this is my attempt to remedy this in some small way. This publication is a straight, factual account of the making of the album, 'the Madcap Laughs'. As I kept all my studio production notes and files what follows is an accurate account of events in those few months of 1969. I had joined E.M.I. Records from Manchester University as amanagement trainee, although my main passion in life was music. Raised on rock & roll (I was 23 at the time, just a little older, I think, than Syd), I played in amateur groups in my native Southport, and even played on the stage of the Cavern Club (an unpaid, failed, audition in case you want to know!). After a month on the E.M.I. training course, I was, in late 1967, offered the responsibility ofacquiring finished recordings from outside, independent producers. This included talents such as Mickie Most and Denny Cordell, who had just signed Procol Harum and the Move to E.M.I., and I naturally accepted. My first signing was 'River To Another Day' by Dave Edmunds' Love Sculpture. Deep Purple, Barclay James Harvest and Tyrannosaurus Rex soon followed. This was the time when the British'underground' movement was flourishing, and E.M.I.'s corporate image could make acquiring masters difficult in face of the competition from progressive companies such as Island Records. In view of this I campaigned within E.M.I. for the establishment of a label with a more contemporary image than Parlophone and Columbia. I eventually had my way, and was given the task of establishing and

runningthe new label, which I called Harvest, in addition to my other duties. After a successful launch in June of 1969, I was ready to plan more releases....... One day, late in March, 1969, I received a message that Syd Barrett had 'phoned EMI's studio booking office to ask if he could go back into the studios and start recording again. It was over a year since Syd had parted company with Pink Floyd and,as head of Harvest, the request was referred to me. I had never met Syd, although he had apparently been in the studio with Peter Jenner a year previously, just after I joined EMI. Needless to say I was familiar with his past successes with the Floyd, and I knew as much as anyone about the circumstances surrounding his leaving. It had occurred to me on several occasions to ask what had become ofSyd's own solo career. Peter Jenner and Andrew King, the original Floyd management team, managed many artists on Harvest. Dark references were made to 'broken microphones in the studios and general disorder' by EMI management, and this had resulted in a period when, if not actually banned, Syd's presence at Abbey Road was not particularly encouraged. None of Peter Jenner's recordings of Syd hadturned out releasable, and no-one in EMI's A&R department had gone out of his way to encourage Syd back. Now that I had A&R responsibility for Harvest, I was determined to make the most of this contact with Syd and I rang him back immediately. Syd explained that he had lots more material for a new album, and since he had not recorded for more or less two years there was no reason to doubt him. He...
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