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Spazchow:Barnes & Barnes

Artist: Barnes & Barnes

Date Released: 1981

Label: Rhino / Oglio (reissue)

Produced By: Barnes & Barnes

Tracklisting:

  1. Link (Explain Pain)
  2. I Need You
  3. Spooky Lady On Death Avenue
  4. Fletchy's Revenge
  5. Link (Plane Pain)
  6. Love Tap
  7. Cats
  8. Link (Train Pain)
  9. For You
  10. Where's The Water
  11. Link (Pub Pain)
  12. Swallow My Love
  13. And Other Things Too (E's Epistle)
  14. Link (Blue Pain)
  15. Slut
  16. Link (Eternal Pain)
  17. Roadblock
  18. Unfinished Business
  19. Link (British Birds Pain)
  20. The Inevitable Song
  21. Heart Ghosts
  22. Link (Bonus Pain)
  23. Link (Scary Pain)
  24. The Boogie Man
  25. Women Rattle Me
  26. Link (Backwards Pain)
  27. I Killed Her With Love (Artie Barnes solo)
  28. Bloodless Nights
  29. Mook E Bare (Art Barnes solo)
  30. The Longest Dream (Art Barnes solo)
  31. Link (Moog Madness Pain)
  32. Love Won't Save Me (Artie Barnes solo)
  33. Link (Otherworldly Pain)
  34. Passively Vicious

(Tracks 22-34 only on CD issue.)

ReviewEdit

This is one of my favorite Barnes & Barnes albums. It builds off the Voobaha sound, but is a much less funny record—which isn't to say there aren't funny songs, but they're a much more dark and bitter humor. The album is a concept record—at the time they were recording it, Art and Artie had both come out of long-term relationships, and were feeling pretty depressed about, well, love in general. So, when they got together and Barnesed, most of the songs were of this kind of nature. This is the album, too, where Barnes & Barnes are exploring more experimentation -- "Fletchy's Revenge" is a collage based on phone messages they'd received, "Where's The Water" is a haunting spoken-word piece about a couple dying in the desert after a car accident (and the simulataneous decay and strength of love in that situation -- "I was repulsed/to think I was repulsed"), and the various links are little snippets from various sources (Blue Pain is taken from the recording of "I Love You Baby" which would later appear as a bonus cut on Voobaha). The bonus tracks add a lot more depth to the original album—they even included extra link tracks recorded at the same time as the album. The bonus cuts are split pretty evenly between Barnes & Barnes songs and solo tracks. The only one that doesn't fit in thematically is "The Boogie Man", though that was included as it uses the same percussion track from "Love Tap" (and it's interesting to see how completely different those two songs are—you wouldn't notice if you didn't know beforehand). "Women Rattle Me" was an outtake from Voobaha cut at the last minute, and it's great that it finally appears here—it's a really great song. I believe "Passively Vicious" was similarly cut from Spazchow originally, and that too is a great one. The solo tracks provide a bit more depth and insight to the mindset the Barneses were going through at this time - they're more "serious" takes on the same subject matter. The guitar-driven "The Longest Dream" was recorded in America's studio, and the synthesizer based "Love Won't Save Me" is a dark, eerie atmospheric piece which is one of the best on the album (also the longest, at over six minutes). Artie Barnes' other solo piece, "I Killed Her With Love" is a dark, sad ballad featuring "Weird Al" Yankovic on accordion (he also guested on "Gumby Jaws Lament" from Voobaha, but that was a much more upbeat song... well, comparatively). This really is an excellent album—dark, experimental and more mature, and the bonus tracks deeply improve on the original album. This is one of those albums that's helped me through a lot of tough times when I could really relate to what they were going through—themes of alienation and loneliness are pretty much universal, after all. Anyway, though, I adore this album. If you're looking for a good place to start, and you like more experimental music, this is a really great record to pick up first. - Rev. Syung Myung Me

This is Barnes & Barnes second album. They did what many artists do for their sophomore outings and follwed up Voobaha, their debut album, with a completely different sounding collection of songs. This time, it's not about getting your groove on with amputees or taking fish heads out to the movies, it's about women. As Rowlf the Dog said in The Muppet Movie, "You can't live with 'em, you can't live without 'em...there's something irresistable-ish about 'em." Barnes & Barnes have taken that notion and run with it through a bitter, melancholy concept album that arguably features them at their most experimental. From a song about a drug addict set to a reggae groove ("Spooky Lady On Death Anvenue") to a disturbing drama set in the desert ("Where's the Water"), and even a bizarre collage of answering machine excerpts with buzzing keyboards in the background ("Fletchy's Revenge", whose concept would be repeated on Amazing Adult Fantasy's "I Want to Live in Your Brain", except with a chorus and a synthpop beat), Barnes & Barnes move as far away from Voobaha as they possibly could have at the time. Being such a large departure from their comedy work prior, and such an alienating and awkward listen unless you're as pissed off, lustful, or heartbroken as they are in the songs, the record is very much an acquired taste, even for diehard B&B fans like myself. It took me literally about two years to warm up to it, being such a difficult album to get a lot out of with casual listening. Even now there are some tracks that I don't like, and probably never will. I do appreciate its creativity, though, and the trademark Barnes & Barnes zaniness that can still be found lurking around in the shadows even when the song is about how the singer pines for every inch of a female's anatomy ("And Other Things Too (E's Epistle)"). The bonus tracks add some meat to the record, with "The Boogie Man" being an interesting listen even though it breaks with the subject matter. "Love Won't Save Me", a solo Artie Barnes (Robert Haimer) song, is one of my favorite songs ever; I find it very reminiscient of The Human League's earlier works, with the track entirely made up of keyboards, synths, and Haimer's sullen, longing, monotone vocal. It's definitely not the album you want to start on (I myself prefer Sicks) if you're looking to hear some of the works of the brothers Barnes, but for the advanced B&B junkie, there's a lot to love here- even if Barnes & Barnes don't have any of that on this album. -The Swill Man

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