v/a Mojo Presents: The Madcap Laughs Again
This is one of those CDs they give away with a magazine, in this case Mojo. It ties in with a big article they did on Syd Barrett, and is one of those ones where they put together a compilation of covers of an album (in this case Barrett's The Madcap Laughs), with different people doing each track. I tend to steer away from these things, but I found some of the tracks here rather engaging. OK, they are not all great – the opening version of 'Terrapins' is so piss poor that I will make sure that nothing else by Field Music ever darkens my door.
The better tracks on the compilation evoke the originals without sounding like them. Particular favourites would be the Hope Sandoval version of 'Golden Hair'; listening to it makes me wonder why I never got into Mazzy Star or Ms Sandoval's solo music, as there is an incredible richness to her voice. Cate Le Bon singing 'Feel' is also rather engaging, suggesting that maybe mannered or distinctive women vocalists suit Barrett's songwriting.
I am almost embarrassed to report that REM's cover of 'Dark Globe' is another classic. The band, and Stipe in particular, display a real empathy for the original taking one of the tracks where Barrett sounded like he was really losing it and making it sound like a proper song.
Still, good and all as this record is, it only really served to make me go back and listen again to the original. Just in case any of my younger readers do not know the oft-told story of Syd Barrett, he was the original singer and songwriter of Pink Floyd, but he fried his brain on drøgs and was kicked out of the band when his behaviour became too erratic. The Madcap Laughs is the solo record he recorded (with some members of his old band). By this stage he was pretty far gone, and the record works at one level as a document of mental illness. Nevertheless, Barrett's songwriting is still astonishingly on the money at times – tracks like 'Late Night', 'No Good Trying', and 'Terrapin' have a dark power found rarely elsewhere.
An inuit panda production