Released by Strange Fruit/Pinnacle, 2004. Catalogue number: SFRSCD127
Another item vying for space on
your CD shelves has now arrived in the stores. What would appear to be
a repackaging of the Peel Session CD from the 1990s, is actually an
augmented and remastered collection of Syd Barrett sessions, recorded
for BBC Radio 1.
Work has been done on the
recordings to make them sound better than before. Certainly, there is a
slight improvement over the original Peel Sessions CDs - there's more
presence and crispness to all frequencies. A definate if reasonably
The selection starts with the
first of five tracks from early 1970, featuring a very "with it"
sounding Syd, backed by Jerry Shirley on drums, and David Gilmour
providing guitar and very competent bass and organ work, which
underpins the majority of tracks here. It is Gilmour's work that really
keeps the music heading in the right direction.
The ballad Terrapin is a great
opener, with its "Oh baby, my hairs' on end about you" refrain
plaintive in its simplicity and yearning. Gigalo Aunt is a fairly
disinterested reading, until the Bo Diddley tinged solo towards the end
of the song. Gilmour's organ and bass provide the main impetus with the
Baby Lemonade is restrained and
markably different to the version on "Barrett" - a lovely performance,
even if David's bass is a little too prominent at times.
Elephant, a song written and performed by Syd from his childhood, is
similar to the album version, but without any backing or sound effects
- it's just Syd and his acoustic, in busking mode.
Two Of A Kind, the final track
from the 1970 session, betrays its rumoured origins as a Richard Wright
composition, being lyrically and musically atypical of Mr Barrett's
An obvious dip in sound quality
in the fade in to Baby Lemonade from the "lost" session of 1971. The
tape stolen, mislaid or wiped at the BBC, it fell to the producers of
the CD to source one of the many bootlegs of the session. Although
better than most, there are one or two boots which feature better
quality versions of this session. However, this of course is an
official release and the best we're gonna get (and Syd will get
royalties from this - so a worthwhile purchase). The three tracks are
still eminently listenable, even if Syd does sound a little more
fragile than before.
David's bass dominates the sound,
and if there are drums, you can't hear them! Baby Lemonade, and
particularly Dominoes, are very mournful, the sadness enlivened only by
the fairly jaunty bass and guitar work. Love Song concludes matters and
is the worst sounding of the lot; very muddy and one or two tiny skips
heard. And it fades mid song, too!
At only twenty minutes, it is a
short CD, but priced accordingly with most retailers. It IS an
improvement over both the previous Peel Session CDs, and if you've not
got the 1971 session already this is an easy, and legal, way to pick it