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 Inpsiral 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…
2. Skirts And Shorts
4. The Wrong One’s Gone
5. You Can’t Go To The Party
6. From The Blossom To The Moon
7. Ginger Funk
8. Dark About Now
9. Dirty Water
10 Scares Girls
11. Scratches And Bruises
13. Top-Fruit Tree
14. Daisy Rang
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.