What all the nice critics have been saying
“Chapman has unravelled the skeins of rumour, exaggeration and anecdote that have been wound so tightly around Barrett... the best book yet about him.”
Sean O’Hagan, The Observer
“Rob Chapman bravely hacks his way through the undergrowth of innuendo and speculation to give us the clearest insight yet into the rise and fall of one of rock’s greatest enigmas. His critical analysis is inspired. His panorama of what he calls Barrett’s found world, an unprecedented meeting of a whimsical English tradition and modernist techniques, is impressively researched.”
Mike Barnes, The Wire
“Rob Chapman's impeccable research herein is nothing short of that of a Culture Hero. Again and again, Chapman trawls up specific poems and children's rhymes whence came Syd's endless lyrical plunderings, until you begin to groan at your hero's Muse being so spectacularly outed. Read the book – it's compelling. Rob Chapman, Sir Rob Chapman, you're a heartbreaker, sir, but what a heroic piece of Cultural Retrieval.”
Julian Cope – Head Heritage website
“Though Syd has been the subject of various biographies, none has approached his peculiar life, inspirations and struggles with both drugs and mental illness with anything like the sensitivity and rigour of Rob Chapman's heavyweight account.. Chapman's obvious feel for his subject and palpably zealous research make for a book that comes as close as any maybe will to capturing Barrett's wayward lightning in a bottle.”
Adam Lee Davies, Book of the Week, Timeout
“This is, without doubt, the most serious and intelligent of the four Barrett biographies so far published. The first since his death in 2006, it is also the first that has the co-operation of his family. And Chapman is a fan, so it is done with genuine passion. Written in simple, unpretentious prose, it is particularly good at contextualisation: explaining the social and political roots of the London psychedelic scene; detailing Barrett's musical and literary influences.”
Sam Taylor, Daily Telegraph
“Without doubt, Chapman’s portrait is the most sympathetic and reliable yet published. It is well written and impressively researched.”
Ian Thomson, Times Literary Supplement
“It's a pleasure to report that this, the first biography since Barrett's death in July 2006, is the best written, the most accurate and by far the most incisive account of the man's life and work… Chapman has well-attuned ears, a vast critical palette on which to draw, and an understanding of the English literary canon that repeatedly gives new meanings and insights to our understanding of the forces which shaped the so-called 'Madcap'.”
Mark Paytress, Mojo
‘“Barrett's tragic story has already been the subject of several books, but Rob Chapman’s comprehensive biography towers above them all. Exhaustively researched and strongly opinionated, it benefits hugely from the author’s access to Syd's correspondence as well as full cooperation from his surviving relatives... like all good music biographies, this one sends you back to the songs themselves with renewed appreciation and respect.”
Andrew Lynch, Sunday Business Post
“There are many reasons to recommend Rob Chapman's gripping biography of Syd Barrett, signal among them his separation of actuality from legend ...'The Syd Barrett story is as well known as his material,' Robyn Hitchcock reflects towards the end of the book ... 'It would be great if Syd was known for his songs rather than the way his life went.' This is the tragedy that Rob Chapman in Irregular Head so compellingly remedies.”
Allan Jones, Uncut 5-star review
‘“Rob Chapman aims miles beyond another reprisal of the mind-mashed Syd mythography. His account is rich on pretty much all fronts - analysis, social context and revelation”
Roy Wilkinson. Word Magazine
“Even when taking us through the last 25 years of Roger's life - Barrett's old name ... he accords similar respect to the man who spent his last years quietly back in Cambridge ... Chapman reminds us how unfair it is for fans to feel that they own their heroes. How fitting that his biography does such a good job of letting his hero out into the world, through the voices of those who knew him.”
Jude Rogers, New Statesman
“In this, the best account of Barrett's life, Rob Chapman picks out truth from legend while providing insights into Syd's last years and locating him in the great line of English surrealists.”
Paperback Book of the Month, Choice Magazine
“[Barret is] seen as the archetypal rock 'n' roll burnout, a pioneering popster who unlocked the secret of flight, but flew too high and came crashing to earth. Rob Chapmans biography attempts to crash through the dark lens and catch a glimpse of the ordinary fallen angel behind the zombie mask.”
Kevin Courtney. Irish Times. Book of The Day
“The most comprehensive and genuine biography of Barrett that’s available. It’s not only sympathetic to the man himself, but cuts through the myths and half-truths, and details the story of a flawed and erratic genius...... It is, quite simply, brilliant.
There’s really no need for any more biographies of Barrett now, we’ve seen the flaws, read the myths, and now we’ve got the human side of the story.”
Chris Gilson - What Hi-FiS
Ryan Muldoon interviewed me for his blog. He didn't ask the usual questions about Syd going mad, so he got a really enthusiastic response from me.
Read the whole Q & A here.
I can also be seen blabbing about Syd here.