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Home arrow Reviews arrow Books arrow "Syd Barrett: Legend" - Bob Cairns
"Syd Barrett: Legend" - Bob Cairns Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Saturday, 12 September 2009

Syd Barrett - LegendWritten by Bob Cairns, and published on July 31st, 2009, "Syd Barrett - Legend" traces the rise to stardom from an early age through to his tragic death in the summer of 2006.

Details of the solo album recording sessions are discussed, and the full lyrics to his solo material are reproduced for the first time within the body of any work.

Drawing on other published texts and the author's own interviews (particularly with Rosemary Breen), the book covers all aspects of Syd's life, from the early, formative years, through his musical career, and his later, final years. It also looks at events post-death, including tributes made to Syd, the sale of his house, and the auction of his possessions.

Coupled with the array of family pictures and professional shots (such as those from Mick Rock) is a fair amount of new information and clarification which has clearly come from his close family. This is particularly key in chapters that focus on his health issues in later years.

Unfortunately, the picture quality isn't perfect in a number of instances, with some printed in an incorrect ratio, and others seemingly sourced from fairly low resolution jpegs, which is a shame as there are some - supplied by Rosemary Breen - which haven't been seen elsewhere.

Factually, there are a few oddities, and places where mistakes or typos jump out of the page; for example, the assertion that The Wall was released in 1989, and there are a number of references to "Jimmy" Hendrix. Cairns also states that 'Lucy Leave' and 'Let's Roll Another One' were never recorded whereas certainly in the shady world of bootlegs, studio versions of both songs are quite common.


The solo albums are analysed track-by-track and to a degree, song critique is a tricky thing. It's a bit like the old cliche that beauty is in the eye of the beholder - music inspires the same emotional response within humans, that varies wildly from one person to the next. Having said that, broadly, song critique can be useful as an overview for the uninitiated, but it is never conclusive and is of debatable value to some. With Syd's songs, the opinions of different groups of his fans conflict wildly from track-to-track. To a degree Cairns tries to mitigate this with descriptions of the sonic nature of the tracks, as well as adding his own views on their relative value.

Cairns discusses meanings behind a number of the lyrics, based on interview material, previous documentation, and in places "best guesses" on what Syd is referring to.

The song analysis, lyric inclusion, and picture sections make up the lions share of the book.


"Syd Barrett: Legend" is a book that won't be for everyone, and much of the material within will be familiar to many visitors to this site. However, with the inclusion of the lyrics for the first time (officially), the track-by-track analysis, and the input of Syd's family to bring the story up-to-date, it's a book some will definitely consider adding to their no-doubt bulging Floyd bookshelves.

Orders for the book are being taken at: Amazon UK, Amazon US/International, Amazon Canada, Amazon Germany, or Amazon France.

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