Vegetable Man

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"Vegetable Man"
Song by Pink Floyd
from the album The Early Years 1965–1972
Released 11 November 2016
Recorded 9–11 October 1967
Genre Psychedelic[1]
Length 2:32
Songwriter(s) Syd Barrett
Producer(s) Norman Smith

"Vegetable Man" is a song written by Syd Barrett for the English rock band Pink Floyd in 1967. It was considered for the band's third single or for inclusion on their second album A Saucerful of Secrets. Bootlegged for decades, the song did not have an official release until 2016, when it was included on the box set The Early Years 1965–1972.

Cover versions of the song have been released by the Soft Boys and the Jesus and Mary Chain.

Recording and consideration[edit]

The song was recorded from 9 to 11 October 1967.[2] The first take ends with 15 seconds of laughter from the band,[3] while a different take is a faster-paced jam of the song.[4] The song was an attempt to record a follow-up single to "See Emily Play",[3][5] as well as the beginning of sessions for the album that would eventually become A Saucerful of Secrets. Among the songs considered were "Paint Box", "Scream Thy Last Scream", "Jugband Blues" and "Apples and Oranges". "Vegetable Man" was scheduled for release, as the B-side to "Scream Thy Last Scream", but cancelled, and both tracks remained unreleased until 2016.[6][7] Eventually, "Apples and Oranges" was chosen for the single release instead, with "Paint Box" as the B-side and "Jugband Blues" appearing on their next album A Saucerful of Secrets. The band played "Vegetable Man" live for a BBC radio broadcast on 20 December 1967.[8]

Peter Jenner wanted the song released: "I always thought they should be put out, so I let my copies be heard. I knew that Roger would never let them out, or Dave. They somehow felt they were a bit indecent, like putting out nude pictures of a famous actress: it just wasn't cricket. But I thought they were good songs and great pieces of art. They're disturbing, and not a lot of fun, but they're some of Syd's finest work – though God knows, I wouldn't wish anyone to go through what he's gone through to get to those songs. They're like Van Gogh."[9] Producer Malcolm Jones (who produced Barrett's The Madcap Laughs solo album) had remixed this song and "Scream Thy Last Scream"[10] for inclusion on the Barrett rarities album Opel (1988), however, the band blocked its inclusion.[11][12]

Composition[edit]

Although widely bootlegged, the song, along with "Scream Thy Last Scream", did not get an official release until 2016. Jenner claims Barrett wrote the song describing himself as he sat at Jenner's home,[3][13] "He had to go and record and, because a song was needed, he just wrote a description of what he was wearing at the time..."[14][15] Jenner called the track "too dark".[16] Many cite it as a document of Syd's apparent monumental breakdown as a recording artist and as a person.[17] The song was written around the same time as "Jugband Blues" which is directed towards anyone within Barrett's orbit, while "Vegetable Man" is aimed at the music industry and himself.[18][19] Both songs contain the same cynical humour.[18]

Official release[edit]

Although popular as a bootleg in a low quality form for decades, the song was not officially released until 2016, when it appeared on the The Early Years 1965-1972 box set.[20] The remastered version of the song was given its radio debut on BBC Radio 6 Music on 4 November 2016.[21]

Personnel[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

The Soft Boys covered this song on the 1980 EP Near the Soft Boys,[22] and the track was included on some editions of their Underwater Moonlight album.[23] A cover version by Scottish band The Jesus and Mary Chain[24] originally featured as the B-side of their debut single "Upside Down"[25] and appears on their 2008 compilation The Power of Negative Thinking: B-Sides & Rarities[26] and the 2011 2CD/DVD reissue of Psychocandy. Canadian band Kosmos recorded the song for the 2006 tribute album Like Black Holes in the Sky: The Tribute to Syd Barrett.[27] The Vegetable Man Project was a series of six CDs (plus a one-sided 10" single with 60 10-second excerpts) of various acts performing cover versions of the song, released by the Italian labels Oggetti Volanti Non Identificati and Yellow Shoes between 2002 and 2009.[28]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "New Pink Floyd box set has everything but a bell on it". RTE. July 28, 2016. Retrieved 22 March 2017. 
  2. ^ Palacios, Julian (1998). Lost in the Woods: Syd Barrett and the Pink Floyd. London: Boxtree. p. 194. ISBN 0-7522-2328-3. Accessed 7 December 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c Chapman, Rob (2010). Syd Barrett: A Very Irregular Head (Paperback ed.). London: Faber. p. 188. ISBN 978-0-571-23855-2. Accessed 31 October 2012. 
  4. ^ Palacios, Julian (2010). Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe (Rev. ed.). London: Plexus. p. 285. ISBN 0859654311. Accessed 28 October 2012. 
  5. ^ Frame, Pete (1996). MacDonald, Bruno, ed. Pink Floyd - Through the Eyes of... (1 ed.). London: Sidgwick & Jackson. p. 38. ISBN 0-283-06273-8. 
  6. ^ Chapman 2010. p. 187.
  7. ^ Jones, Malcolm (2003). The Making of The Madcap Laughs (21st Anniversary ed.). Brain Damage. p. 23. Accessed 7 December 2012. 
  8. ^ Palacios 2010. p. 306.
  9. ^ Schaffner, Nicholas (2005). Saucerful of Secrets: The Pink Floyd Odyssey (New ed.). London: Helter Skelter. p. 113. ISBN 1-905139-09-8. Accessed 31 October 2012. 
  10. ^ Palacios 2010. p. 419.
  11. ^ Manning, Toby (2006). The Rough Guide to Pink Floyd (1st ed.). London: Rough Guides. p. 186. ISBN 1-84353-575-0. Accessed 28 July 2012. 
  12. ^ Schaffner 2005. p. 134.
  13. ^ Schaffner, Nicholas (2005). Saucerful of Secrets: The Pink Floyd Odyssey (New ed.). London: Helter Skelter. p. 112. ISBN 1-905139-09-8. Accessed 31 October 2012. 
  14. ^ MacDonald, Bruno (1996). Pink Floyd - Through the Eyes of... (1st ed.). London: Sidgwick & Jackson. p. 279. ISBN 0-283-06273-8. 
  15. ^ Chapman 2010. p. 192.
  16. ^ Manning, Toby (2006). The Rough Guide to Pink Floyd (1st ed.). London: Rough Guides. p. 43. ISBN 1-84353-575-0. 
  17. ^ Chapman 2010. p. 190.
  18. ^ a b Chapman 2010. p. 191.
  19. ^ Schaffner, Nicholas (2005). Saucerful of Secrets: The Pink Floyd Odyssey (New ed.). London: Helter Skelter. p. 112. ISBN 1-905139-09-8. Accessed 31 October 2012. 
  20. ^ "Pink Floyd to release rarity-packed 27-disc set of their early years". The Guardian. 28 July 2016. Retrieved 4 November 2016. 
  21. ^ Yoo, Noah. "Listen to Unreleased Pink Floyd Song “Vegetable Man” Written By Syd Barrett | Pitchfork". pitchfork.com. Retrieved 4 November 2016. 
  22. ^ "Soft Boys, The - Near The Soft Boys EP (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  23. ^ "Soft Boys, The - Underwater Moonlight (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  24. ^ Palacios, Julian (2010). Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe (Rev. ed.). London: Plexus. p. 418. ISBN 0859654311. Accessed 5 July 2012. 
  25. ^ Manning 2006. p. 287.
  26. ^ Collar, Matt. "The Power of Negative Thinking: B-Sides & Rarities - The Jesus and Mary Chain : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 31 October 2012. 
  27. ^ Sullivan, Patrick. "Like Black Holes in the Sky: The Tribute to Syd Barrett - Various Artists : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 31 October 2012. 
  28. ^ "The Vegetable Man Project". discogs.com. Retrieved 12 April 2017. 

External links[edit]