Posted by: Jamie | September 2, 2013

Schizo Action Baby

The mind fascinates. Its ability to create, process and to break down.

The music world is full of brilliant thinkers working beyond their expected capacity creating worlds, imagery and sound beyond the known parameters.  But sometimes, such brilliance comes at a cost. Icarus, right?


Perhaps it’s my own sickness that attracts me to such recording artists that raged against demons out loud and wrestled them onto tape. In celebration of the frail human mind, and in respect, here are a few recordings you might dig if you are crazy enough yourself:

A Guide to Schizophrenic Rock ‘n’ Rollers:

Syd Barrett: The Madcap Laughs (1970)


RIYL: Childlike whimsy and acid-laced Brit rock that’ll make you shave your eyebrows.

A lot of people know this story, but Syd was the co-founder of the monster rock group Pink Floyd. I’m sure you can read all about him and his antics many places online. But truly it’s easy to see his brilliance for meter and turning a rhyme. His insanity is one of innocence and you can’t help but listen and want to give him a lolley for his troubles. His disappearance into the void would fuel his former bandmates’ songwriting material for years to come. He is the crazy diamond we all tell to lovingly shine on. Key tracks on this record are “Octopus“, “No Good Trying”, “Dark Globe” and the James Joyce-inspired “Golden Hair“.

Alexander ‘Skip’ Spence: Oar (1969)


RIYL: Axe-wielding paranoia, left-field Americana

Ol’ Skip was once a drummer for Jefferson Airplane and then later the leader of the flash-bang group Moby Grape. The story goes that he was institutionalized because he tried to kill a fellow bandmate with an axe, chopping into his friend’s hotel room door like Jack Nicholson in “The Shining” (“Heeeere’s Skippy!”). Upon his release a few months later, he rode to Nashville on a motorcycle in his pajamas where he knocked out this strange little album in a few days all by himself. Presumably, these were the tunes he wrote from the padded room. Some are delightful (“Little Hands“, “Diana”, “All Come to Meet Her“) and some are indistinguishable mush (Magaret-Tiger Rug). Ultimately this record sounds like a guy stuck in a room with his thoughts with no help to filter or form them. These songs have a strong cult following (the crazy following the crazy?) and have actually been covered by the likes of Robert Plant, Beck and Tom Waits. Check out the tribute album More Oar.

13th Floor Elevators – s/t (1966)


RIYL: electroconvulsive shock therapy garage rock

Band leader Roky Erikson is perhaps atop of the cuckoo pyramid. He would undergo years of institutionalized therapy after pumping out some frantic and inspiring records in the mid to late 60’s. The sound is as unhinged as its creator and it’s hard not to get caught up in the insanity. Roky would later claim that his body was inhabited by a Martian. So, yeah….This first record is full of shining moments, none more awesome them the opener “You’re Gonna Miss Me“. And how.



  1. You own ‘Piper at the Gates’?? Is it an original or reprint? Pretty sure I have ‘Madcap’ and possibly ‘Opel’ and ‘Barrett’. ‘Here I Go’ is a Syd song I’ve always liked. The story about him walking into the “Wish You Were Here” sessions and going most of the day without being recognized is haunting.

    It’s always so interesting how there are people like Syd in our youth, who we see as real-life Peter Pans, but then for whatever reason, they always disappear into everyday life itself or obscurity. I had a friend in college who was like the Peter Pan of our small campus and the media program. He made fun, exciting movies that were always way better than the rest of our crap and showed them at talent shows, campus film festivals, etc. We knew he was going places. Then, after graduation, he just became a teacher and hasn’t really done much since, to my knowledge. Not like we thought he would.

    Seems like there’s probably some more good music/stories to be mined from this lamentation.

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