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Edward Barton: Here Is My Spoon
'HERE IS My Spoon' is the follow-up to last year's 'Edward, Not Edward' compilation, when 808 State, Gerald, Fatima Mansions, The Inspiral Carpets and The Ruthless Rap Assassins all covered Barton songs.
Now Barton covers his own songs. 'Here Is My Spoon' is oozing with the pain of toil and suffering (no-one suffers for his art as much as Edward). His voice is comfortable, sort of old-style folky, but then when he hits on something really upsetting, he screams, squeals, and gruffly moans with an anguish that pierces your heart, and his larynx. Edward suffers horribly from being labelled as an eccentric, but never underestimate his strength of purpose. His music is not for the uncommitted; he cares enough to make his throat bleed through hard singing, and he has been known to wet himself with effort. Now that's devotion.
It's easy to laugh at first, especially when he solemnly explains how he helped a fellow musician make Barton music, and how "... many men rushed on the stage to help me," and then tells how his guitar technique is improved by playing with a spoon.
Cheap mirth is the easy option, which Edward won't allow, so he sings about revenge on the man who killed his brother, the dear brother who could "sing the balls off the bees," until suddenly you realise his brother might really be dead. Now that's power.
His anthem, 'I've Got No Chicken (But I've Got Five Wooden Chairs)' is sung by a pretty child, and then he sings it himself, frantic and traumatised, making the lack of poultry seem like an international issue.
There are so many people who make warped music far away from the outfield of popular (populist?) taste: Ivor Cutler, Beefheart, Tom Waits, they all survive. Give the Barton a chance.
[Reviewer: Penny Anderson]