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RANDOM PRECISION:Recording the Music of Syd Barrett 1965-1974 - David Parker

‘Random Precision - Recording the Music of Syd Barrett 1965-1974’ - David Parker - ISBN 1-9014472-5-1 – 287 pages

Syd Barrett, Roky Erickson, Alexander ‘Skip’ Spence, all lost their minds in pursuit of their art . . . and make no mistake, art is the only effective adjective that adequately describes the body of the work these maverick trailblazers left behind for subsequent generations. Syd Barrett, in particular, considered himself an artist first and foremost, and perhaps that best explains why he found the Tin Pan Alley world of popular culture so hard to endure on a daily basis, and eventually withdrew from society altogether! 


A founder member of The Pink Floyd, Barrett begun his tenure on record as principal Floyd songwriter with the words: 

Arnold Layne had a strange hobby

Collecting clothes

Moonshine washing line

They suit him fine’ 

Arnold Layne’

 And signalled its closure a short while later with the words: 


‘It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here

And I'm most obliged to you for making it clear

That I'm not here’ 

‘Jug Band Blues’ 

Two solo LPs (‘The Madcap Laughs’, ‘Barrett’) duly followed, before Barrett withdrew to the relative seclusion of his mother’s home in Cambridge, where he lived the life of a recluse until his untimely death from complications arising from Diabetes on the 7th of July, 2006. 

Many tomes have been written in celebration of Barrett’s extraordinary life, but none lift the lid off the music of the man quite like ‘Random Precision - Recording the Music of Syd Barrett 1965-1974’ by David Parker. Parker, erstwhile editor of the influential Barrett fanzine, Chapter 24, spent 4-years researching and constructing the book, utilising the official archives of EMI Records and Abbey Road Studios in conjunction with the memories of those who knew his working practices inside out, namely the producers and engineers who worked alongside him: John Leckie, Peter Jenner, Peter Brown, Alan Parsons and Andrew King. 

Using an accessible diary format, Parker takes us on a journey that begins with Barrett’s early semi-professional recordings in 1965 and ends in abandonment at Abbey Road in 1974. Enlightenment drips from every word as session upon session pass the reader by. Hard facts slowly but surely begin to erode myth, and relative insight is the ultimate reward. Accuracy and detail abound, along with many previously unpublished photographs, illustrations,documents, and ephemera.

Over 40-years since its commitment to tape, the music Barrett made with The Pink Floyd still resonates with a freshness that defies its age, driving long-term fans and neophytes alike to the point of obsession. As Barrett himself intimated in the final verse of one of his most enduring compositions, ‘Bike’: 

‘I know a room full of musical tunes


Some rhyme

Some ching

Most of them are clockwork

Let's go into the other room and make them work’ 

Now, thanks to ‘Random Precision’ and David Parker, it’s possible for us mere mortals to step inside that room and make them work as Barrett originally intended!


Jean Encoule – September 2008

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