Agony Shorthand

Monday, April 07, 2003
MASTERPIECE : "SEE EMILY PLAY".....First in an occasional series, starting with one of the all-time greats, PINK FLOYD's masterful 1967 second single, "See Emily Play". Even Syd Barrett's genius solo work can't touch this amazing song, a near-operatic, soaring, experimental psychedelic pop monster. The multi-layered production is just about perfect, and the varied instrumentation (farfisa, electric piano and what sounds like a glockenspiel) is stitched together to great freakout effect. Word has it that Syd used a Zippo lighter as a slide on this one, and my cursory research on the World Wide Web also indicates that these recording sessions gave off the first hints of Barrett's mental decline to David Gilmour. I don't buy the whole "crazy genius" hullabaloo -- once Syd's brain went south (one could say he presciently "lost his mind at play"), so then did Pink Floyd -- I mean, have you ever really tried to get into "Saucerful of Secrets"? Even Barrett's sole contribution doesn't cut it. Those first three singles, though, and "Piper At The Gates of Dawn" -- fantastic, brilliant, top shelf etc. I could listen to "See Emily Play" over and over, and would easily put it on any Top 20 all-time songs list.