Friday, 28 August 2015

Powerpop - The Barracudas

The Barracudas were a fabulous band. They started out playing surf music, which was at least distinctive in London in 1979. Bizarrely, they got signed to EMI at a time when the record industry was at a loss to know what was happening to music, and they even had a minor hit single with 'Summer Fun'. Shortly afterwards, however, they abandoned surf in favour of 1960s psych-punk, and decided to become one of the world's legendary cult garage bands instead - a bit like the Flamin' Groovies perhaps.

Consequently their debut album, Drop Out with the Barracudas (1980) contained not just the bouncy summer stuff that was expected of them, but also a cover of 'Codeine' and originals like 'I Saw My Death in a Dream Last Night' and 'We're Living in Violent Times' (I used the latter as a chapter title in my book Rejoice! Rejoice!). EMI clearly figured that, whatever it was that was happening to music, it probably wasn't this, and let them go.

At which point the Barracudas really did turn into one of the legendary cult garage bands, particularly in light of them recruiting Chris Wilson, who actually had been in the Flamin' Groovies. This was, after all, the man who'd co-written 'Shake Some Action', and now he was playing with the Barracudas. The best fanzine of the time, Bucketfull of Brains, quite rightly loved them.

They carried on gigging and eventually re-emerged on Closer Records with two excellent albums, Mean Time (1983) and Endeavour to Persevere (1984). This track, 'Shades of Today', comes from the first of those, and it's a nice piece of Byrds-influenced garage pop.

I have to say, though, that it would have been more obviously poppy in the hands of another singer. Canadian vocalist Jeremy Gluck was a truly wonderful live performer, and never gave anything less than a fully committed performance, but his voice wasn't really the most subtle of instruments. Which was part of their ragged charm. I liked them a great deal.

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