Monday, August 20, 2012
Review: 'A Very Irregular Head: The Life of Syd Barrett'
Chapman’s Syd is a human being, not an acid-guzzling comic book character. He is a serious painter with serious talent, who also displayed a flair for music, had a go at it while it suited his interests, and largely walked away because he couldn’t deal with pop stardom any longer. Yes, our author acknowledges that his subject developed mental problems, and he discusses them with neutrality that does not make any sweeping, doomed-to-fail diagnoses about the cause. Was Syd the textbook “acid casualty?” Was he schizophrenic? Chapman doesn’t pretend to know because, well, no one does. He sticks to the facts, which he researched with precision and a knack for weeding out the bullshit. The end result is a story that may not produce a bunch of wild new tales to titillate the ghouls but may comfort the true fans because Syd’s life was not quite as sad or tragic as the most sensational biographers would have us believe.
A Very Irregular Head: The Life of Syd Barrett was originally published in 2010 and is now being reprinted in paperback by Da Capo press. Order it from Amazon.com here: