This recording is fun. Fun, fun, fun, you hear me?
Indeed they are. Who else could they be? Well, try 1968 era Traffic (after they dropped the psychedelia of "Mr Fantasy" ) and you've got an idea who Little Barrie would like to be if they were standing at home in front of the bathroom mirror. Aw, shucks; that sounds a mite unfair, especially as I really, really like this, their debut album. Barrie? You there? I'm sorry.
This recording is fun. Fun, fun, fun, you hear me? Fun in a way that The Bravery and the legions of their mascara'd ilk are not. It's refreshing, and cheeky like pop music should be. Sure it's derivative (young listeners will say they nick Paul Weller's sound, older ones will know better and get their mid '60s RnB and Stax singles out for comparison), but lordy, it's a treat to listen to after wading through album after album of bands who think they can reproduce Heaven up Here (and, for the record, do so lamentably).
The opener, "Free Salute" is groovy in the most positive way imaginable. It's groovy in the way Orchestra Baobab is groovy; it sets your toes a tapping and your mouth a grinning. And not only is it groovy but it has the added advantage of " musical presence and gravitas" on it's side. What I mean by that pretentious sentence is that the sound of the band is at once beautifully realised, and given enough space and signposts for future development. Doubtless this is due to the work of producer Edwyn Collins, who has brought the total of his pop experience and his work with people like Dennis Bovell and Zeke Manyika to the mix; (Edwyn was always something of a funk/disco diva anyway, preferring to name check Chic rather than '60s garage bands). This experience stands out here with the salty guitar licks and the grumbling bass (that rattles and rumbles in a bad tempered manner in the basement, always looking for an opportunity to dominate everything else around). I wonder whether Little Barrie would sound quite so assured without Edwyn's guidance; certainly they could regress into a pub blues covers band if they were not careful... Actually, whilst mentioning Edwyn Collins, can I say once again, please God and whatever powers exist celestially, let Edwyn get better soon and enjoy a full speedy recovery...
Back to the album. There are so many tracks I could point out, but I'll content myself with praising the impossibly funky "Well and Truly Done" and the brilliantly monikered "Long Hair", a song title that deserves a "lost sixties classic" title. I also like "Burned Out" and "Please Tell Me"; suffice to say they are all fluid and loose and charming and fun. This is the sort of music that is nigh-on impossible to describe adequately; it's just not pretentious enough to allow me the indulgence of wittering on. I'm just going to have to content myself with saying that I can't stop playing it, and I can't stop whistling along to it. Music to make a thoroughly gormless review to. Little Barrie and Edwyn 5 This Reviewer 0.
Words : Richard Foster