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Edward Barton: And A Panda
When Edward Barton first appeared back in 1984 on Channel 4's The Tube performing a song called I've Got No Chicken But I've Got Five Wooden Chairs playing the guitar with a wooden spoon, I'd never seen anything like it, to say the least. Neither had many other people I think, and ever since he's become something of a cult figure and an enigma, especially it would seem in his hometown of Manchester. And although And A Panda is only his third proper album release in that time, Edward Barton appears to have always been busy, whether it be as filmmaker, artist, curator, performer, songwriter or poet.
Barton is probably best known for writing the 1992 hit for Opus III It's A Fine Day, but amongst his other songwriting credits are Kylie Minogue's Confide In Me, Pizzaman's Happiness and Halcyon by Orbital. And in 1989, his own Wooden Records label released a compilation of covers of his songs by artists such as The Inspiral Carpets, 808 State, Ted Chippington and A Guy Called Gerald. He directed the music video for James original release of Sit Down around the same time, and being popular with the Madchester bands, released a comic range of t-shirts mimicking many of them, including The Stone Roses, James and The Inspiral Carpets.
A big fan of his 1990 album Here Is My Spoon, which I used to own on vinyl, I'd not heard much about him since, and could never find much information about him on the internet (a major reason for me posting this article). So when a few months ago, I was sent a link to a You Tube video of Barton's for a new song called Dirty Water, I'd been looking out for a new album ever since. Although it appears to have been released in September 2009, I couldn't find the cd for sale on any of the usual internet sites, but have now discovered it available on iTunes for £7.99. Here's the tracklisting...
1. Two Squirrels
If you are looking to buy it on cd, it should be available in a limited boxset edition from Polite Shop for £12.00, and comes with 8 prints of his paintings, postcards, and a lyric booklet.
And so, what's it like? I have to say it's an excellent album, and all 14 tracks are very different to one another, covering sounds that delve deep in to electronica, with interesting rhythmical structures, almost reminiscent of Talking Heads in places I thought. The production, by Barton himself, is impeccable throughout, and his lyrics and delivery are as interesting as they've ever been. Oddly, one of the easiest things to compare it to on the surface is to liken it to the musical contributions you hear within The Mighty Boosh, and with the benefit of hindsight I wouldn't be at all surprised if at least one of them is a fan.
If you've liked any of his records in the past, you definitely won't be disappointed by And A Panda in my view, and if you've never heard him before, check out the video below and see what you think. Edward Barton is a unique, eccentric artist that should be celebrated, and having met him a couple of times over the years, I have to add, a very nice guy and a true gentleman.
Steve Cunio - New Beginnings
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Absolutely loving this box set and a day doesn't go by without my singing 'Two Squirrels!'. This sits very happily with my usual off the cuff rendition of 'Everyday I Try to Find the Man Who Killed My Brother', a track released on the Wooden label. Plays hell with styluses. Which reminds me, I must write off for the booklet mentioned on it. There must be one or two lurking in the cellar...
I also like 'You Can't Go to the Party' off 'and A Panda' because it reminds me of the days working at an after school club in Kersal when all the kids used to insist on plaiting my hair, building things into my hair, putting twists in it and it's also something I can sing to my girlfriend whilst messing up her hair before we go to a party.
It might be worth a mention on the Wiki that the track listing on the CD misses track 11 Scratches and Bruises leading unsuspecting punters to label track 10 Scares and track 11 Girls to make up the difference.
Now corrected on iTunes and resubmitted from more information on the case in the box.
Thanks, Edward! This album is top!
[Reviewer: Steve Cunio]