Syd Barrett - The Radio One Sessions

Syd Barrett Radio 1 Sessions CD

Released by Strange Fruit/Pinnacle, 2004. Catalogue number: SFRSCD127

Available to order through these links: US/International, UK/Elsewhere, France, or Germany.

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 subtle upgrade...

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 track.

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.

Syd Barrett Radio 1 Sessions CDEffervescing 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 other output.

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 up.

Available to order through these links: US/International, UK/Elsewhere, France, or Germany.