To a certain extent this album appeared to be a directed cocking of the snook in the general direction of occasional partner John Otway.
Obviously made during an impasse in their tenuous relationship - there is no Otway here; apart from being depicted as 'The Joker' on the cover, and apparently 'supplying' the guitar that Barrett obliterates firstly with a saw and then with what sounds like a size eleven, fourteen hole Doctor Marten boot while performing the absurdist 'deconstruction' masterpiece 'I Did It Otway' - the wild one plays nearly all the instruments and adopts vocal duties for an album that sways from folk-rock to faux jug music, and from acoustic ditties to punk inspired silliness.
As a virtuoso of all things stringed, Wild Willy delivers, but not always in the way you'd expect.
The album opens unsurprisingly enough, for the first few bars at least, but when Barrett starts to sing the opening lines to 'Late Night Lady' one wonders where the 'Wild' prefix may have come from, as his voice is surprisingly timid; a near falsetto expressing an amount of vulnerable charm and brimming with a sense of the English pastoral - maybe his moniker came about due to an association with nature rather than possessing, what one could have assumed, a lust for blind hedonism.
No one could make an album in 1979 without referring to punk, and 'Lets Play Schools' is certainly in a punk mode, if not post-punk; its also the track that sounds the most like an Otway/Barrett number, but it is alone, and the remainder of the album lurches from faux Americana (including a Barrett penned kind of spiritual number entitled 'The Song'!) to catchy, quirky instrumentals.
All in all, its another one of those albums that on first hearing takes you completely by surprise. Thirty years on it can still be listened to and it still has the power to make you smile, sing along, and want to post on a blog and share with everybody...
Wild Willy Barrett - Call Of The Wild (1979)
Late Night Lady
Heartbeat of the City
Let's Play Schools
Eye of a Hurricane
Take Me Back
I Did It Otway
Vinyl rip @320kbs
A few pops - mainly in outros; but this has not been released on CD, so don't complain.
Get yourself some Wild Willy here