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|Manchester Evening News
22nd July 1994
That's just what Edward would like to do if his songs made any money.
PEOPLE usually believe what they are told, without question. Tell them that you're clever, and they'll swallow it whole. Explain that you're important, and they take it in as gospel without thinking.
So, when Edward Barton gave the world signals that he was weird, people believed him, sometimes to their amusement, sometimes to their horror. But believe him they definitely did.
Formerly, Edward's songs were obtuse, grim poems about spoons, his brother's (imagined) murder, and how he had five chickens, but no wooden chairs.
It growls and runs rampant. across the notes, inflicting many casualties, taking no prisoners. It is also totally affecting.
Then Opus III recorded his delicate classic, It's A Fine Day, which was a massive hit, but Edward branched out into art and theme parks and other exhibits. Edward has released Five Songs With Four Voices, where he has tried to write proper songs. He has succeeded.
The voices are also proper; Tracey Carmen, from Mind Body And Soul, to name but one. The songs are all a cappella, and as quietly beautiful as It's A Fine Day. Edward has a good reason for writing more proper songs.
"I thought it would be pleasant to be liked, whereas usually, Edward Barton's records inspire emotions ranging broad across the spectrum, from dislike to .."
Violence? But then, you might take that as a compliment...
"No, it actually makes me rather sad. This is an insidious attempt to be liked."
By liked, do you mean wildly successful, rich and famous? Does the money entice Edward at all?
"I never consider money a complete by-product. It's a useful commodity. I'm sure I care about it as much as anybody, the difference is maybe what I'd like to do with it. I'd like to build towers with it."
Do you mean structurally, or by the purchase of buildings?
"I'd like to use the money to employ the means to have towers built. I'd like to raise some bricks and mortar before I die."
Did you produce the record?
"Well, what does that mean? The record is co-produced officially with Tracey. What happens is, I write them, take them round to Tracey, who takes the wood out, and sings them back to me without any wood in them. We have a chat about them. I take the songs round to Tracey, and she nibbles at them. She complains and suggests alterations, and then we have an argument, which is the most pleasant of arguments.
"I've been to an awful lot of people's houses, suggesting they sing. I feel very sorry for them. I did write to every school in Manchester, asking if they had any pupils who were- particularly bright in the singing department."
And what did they say?
"I wrote during the summer holidays. It's a long time since I've been to school. So I made a mistake. I did get one or two replies, from some marooned pupils. But Nina was recommended to me. And then Smite is from a group called Cheyne who are from Manchester. Vivian worked with A Guy Called Gerald, and Chapter And The Verse.
"I still need one sort of voice, a big voice, one of those voices where you have to repaint the house when they've finished singing. Now I want someone who almost can't sing softly. I want someone who frightens traffic."
Forgive me if I appear rude, but what about yourself Edward?
"My stuff is so idiosyncratic, and poorly marketed, that I'll never know what anyone thinks because most people don't know it has been made. But I have recorded an LP."
Edward, would you agree that your perceived eccentricities work against you in the success stakes?
"Oh, absolutely, yes. But it gives you walls to work behind. But then, nobody can see through the walls. You've got that pleasant cube to express yourself in, but it's opaque."
Hopefully, these new songs will bring the walls tumbling down. Or at least render them translucent.
[Author: Penny Anderson]