Robert Lund - Man
2k+2 Been Very Good To Me
New York Waste, Jan. 2003
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The boy - well, you know what kind of eyes he had...
FUSE GALLERY (93 2 Ave.) hosted an opening reception for an exhibit of Mick Rock's photographs of Syd Barrett from his recent book Psychedelic Renegades. Mick, a high-school friend of Barrett's, was a photographer in London during the late 60s for Hipgnosis, a design firm specializing in far-out rock album covers, including many Pink Floyd albums. For more on Mick Rock and the exhibit check out www.fusegallery.com/mickrock.html.
The place was packed with a crowd covering a wider range of ages than the typical rock event, as Barrett admirers who remember the group from the late 60s mingled with others born after Syd's departure from the Floyd and retirement into a quiet private life. Visitors basked in the psychedelic vibes emanating from the enchanting photos of the young Syd. Having spent the late 60s off in a private life of my own, my awareness of Pink Floyd was enhanced when my teenaged son got into Pink Floyd in the early 80s, as his gaggle of hardcore punks balanced their current musical input with a healthy diet of "the classics." It was evident from the crowd mix at the opening that although his last recording was released in 1970, Syd's cult status spans generations of music lovers.
Mick's images of his friend show a range of expressions as Syd went further into the mental recesses which eventually precluded continued participation with the band, particularly in the 1969 color publicity shots for Barrett's 1970 The Madcap Laughs album (one of which appears on the exhibit flyer). At Syd's last live show with Pink Floyd, he just stood there, guitar around his neck and arms dangling at his side. We're all familiar with the basic story of how his increasing intake of LSD led to a withdrawal from the reality of studio recording and live performance, and the term "schizophrenic" has been tossed about; but no one really understands how Syd worked or what really happened to him. My appreciation of the photos was deepened by reading a history of Syd at www.tapscott.com/~robp/floyd6.html, made up of quotes from many significant characters in the story (including Syd and Mick Rock) - highly recommended reading for anyone intending to see the exhibit at FUSE (running through Jan. 25th). Syd Barrett's seminal influence on the sound of Pink Floyd is highlighted by one entry there describing the post-Syd band: On the trademark Dave Gilmour slide and echo guitar style, Peter Jenner (Pink Floyd's first manager) said "That's *Syd*. Onstage Syd used to play with slide and a bunch on echo-boxes. At the time David Gilmour was doing very effective take-offs of Hendrix-style guitar-playing. So the band said 'play like Syd Barrett'." A couple of people I asked at the gallery about Syd's present whereabouts told me they were "pretty sure he was dead," but a 2000 interview with Syd's 22-year-old nephew (www.tapscott.com/~robp/interview.html) refutes this notion. Syd has simply put his entire Floyd life so completely behind him that, for many, he might as well be gone from this world along with other icons such as Morrison and Hendrix. It hardly matters to many, as his spirit lives on in the music and his influence on so many other musicians.
Mick Rock has done a great service to the memory of Syd Barrett and to his fans with the release of this beautiful collection of photographs.
Back to the Present
The holiday season brought with it the usual flurry of special shows, and neither of us has the time for me to begin to tell about all of them. Particularly festive was the Very Ramones Xmas Party at Don Hill's on Dec. 20, featuring Marky Ramone and a plethora of special guest performers. The night started out with Blue Dog, one of the most exciting bands I've seen lately. Comparisons always suck, but think of influences like Sublime, Rage Against The Machine, Eminem, with a dash of Dictators street style. Queen V followed, always drawing in the hearts of the audience with her intense delivery, and reminding us why the band bears her name.
For the main event, Marky Ramone took to the drums again (after giving his all the previous night at the Joey Ramone Xmas Bash at Continental) as a long lineup of notables sang covers of Ramones songs. We were treated to all-star performances by the likes of Dick Manitoba (with Danny Rey on guitar), Jayne County, Theo (Sean on guitar), Jerry Only (Dez Cadena on guitar), and Micky Leigh. Then the house band joined Marky while locals like Maya Price, Queen V, Drew, and Meghan (NY No Stars) kept it going (apologies to those I've skipped, I only have one brain).
Other December highlights
The Rock Candy Xmas Party at Don Hill's Dec. 18th, another great BITCH night, topped off by PISSER. The aforementioned Joey Ramone Xmas Bash Dec. 19th at Continental, where the Kowalskis and Bullys joined many of the same people who performed at Don Hill's the next night. CBGBs show on Dec. 22nd with Harley's War, Murphy's Law, and Agnostic Front, where I got to mosh with my son JP in his 80s hangout to the bands that sustained him as a teenager. Swamped with numerous choices as to where to spend New Year's Eve, I opted to close the year at Don Hill's, where Queen V gave one of her best shows since the band's recent reorganization. Another new guitarist fit in well on his first show with the band, while V played guitar on about half the songs, allowing her to put her whole body into her performance on the others. The Toilet Boys wrapped it up, sending us into 2003 with another of their fiery rock shows. I managed to scoot over to CB's Gallery in time to catch the end of the NY Waste party with USA Wasted and the psychobilly Graveyard Farmers from L.A.
I need a clone!