VIDEO / Don't tell Syd, for pity's sake: What are we to make of the arrival of Syd Barrett's First Trip?

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The Independent Culture
ON 19 July, Vexfilms release a video entitled Syd Barrett's First Trip. Featuring just 12 minutes of hand-held Standard 8 footage from 1966, it purports to show the former member of Pink Floyd on a hill near Cambridge, under the influence of hallucinogenic magic mushrooms for the very first time.

The video is being marketed as 'a must-see for any serious Floyd fan', though the phrase 'can-you-see?' is perhaps more appropriate. Much of the film appears to have been shot through a jar of marmalade. Just occasionally, though, we glimpse Barrett, wearing a long black jacket, scrambling about on some rocks. At one point he becomes rather agitated and scampers off into the distance, which may be a response to hallucinogenic substances. But he may simply have sat on a wasp.

The note on the cover reads, 'It's fair to say that life would never be the same for Syd after that day in the Gog Magog Hills outside Cambridge.' Indeed, Barrett's life was virtually destroyed by extended bouts of acid-taking: he now attempts to live quietly in Cambridge with his parents. Which makes Syd Barrett's First Trip an act of poor taste akin to salvaging some home-movie stock from Elvis Presley's childhood and releasing it under the title The King's First Hamburger.

Tacked on at the end are a couple of minutes of footage showing Pink Floyd walking about outside Abbey Road Studios, shortly after signing a record deal with EMI. The film is silent, though some viewers have declared that, even without the use of artificial stimulants, they can detect throughout the subliminal noise of a barrel being scraped.

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