Saturday, 10 October 2009

Edward the Confessor

I was once standing in a queue outside Dingwalls in Camden Town waiting to see Stump.
Dingwalls is a small club, and if someone interesting was playing - Stump were at the time - it was always a good idea to get there early; judging by the size of the line that night I'm glad I did.

There appeared to be a delay, and those waiting started to get a little fidgety; the odd 'Cuuuum-on' could be heard from the less patient waiters.

All of a sudden, as if from nowhere, a busker-type began walking up and down the line while singing and playing an acoustic guitar.

It was a great tradition one time in London: street entertainers would often perform to those queuing outside of theatres and the opera.

However, this guy was anything but traditional.

He was wearing what I imagine those Europeans who were out fighting in Indochina in the 1950s would have worn: a pith helmet; a matching khaki shirt and long, below the knee starched shorts; gray, school type socks pulled up tight, meeting the hem of the stiff shorts; and a pair of biblical styled open sandals.
On his face he wore a big ginger curly beard.

He was singing and playing his heart out.
At first he was interesting, then comical; but as the wait continued he started to become rather disturbing, he became more and more intense, making some in the line feel incredibly uncomfortable.

At last we were in, and as the club quickly filled an announcement was made: 'there will be a special guest performance this evening as well as the main act.'

Hmm, wonder who that could be?

Yeah, you guessed it.

It was the crazy fucking dude from outside; the busker who appeared to have just suffered some kind of mental breakdown while trying to do his thing; screaming at the top of his voice while strumming frantically on his quite badly damaged guitar with a dessert spoon.

On stage he was just as alienating.
But somehow, now his performance was legitimized, strangely endearing.

I can only remember one song distinctly from his set that night, mainly due to his confessional preamble, revealing how when he was a kid he couldn't be bothered to go all the way from his bedroom to the toilet, so he jumped out of bed, quickly shat on the floor and then hurriedly returned to his nice warm space beneath the covers.

His mother on finding the nasty deposit concluded that the dog must have done it, and proceeded to wipe the confused pet's face in it.

Our narrator had observed this horrific scene by timorously peeping out from under the covers, suffering terrible pangs of guilt; guilt that had remained with him ever since.

As soon as he started the song, you knew his story was true.
The amount of conviction he put into his performance - I've never seen anybody so remorseful, so racked with guilt and ruin - was so authentic, so real, your heart would have gone out to him (and the dog).
75% of the song consisted of him screaming how sorry he was: 'I'M SORRY DOG, I'M SORRY DOG...'
I swear I could see tears rolling down his face.

I had been introduced to the phenomenon that is Edward Barton.
As an homage to Edward, many of his contemporaries from his native Manchester (and beyond) put together this truly wonderful selection of their versions of his songs.
There's some excellent tracks here; Edward Barton was obviously a productive muse.

The real highlights (although it's hard to see any weakness in the album) come from Inspiral Carpets, who kick things off with what I think is their greatest recording.
The two tracks from Stump, who are split into two camps for this recording, are wonderful: McKahey and Hopper, the band's rhythm section, performing a subversive piece of 'traditionally' styled Irish music; juxtaposed with Lynch and Salmon's performance of Barton's elegy to onanism: 'Knob Gob'.
Patrick Mooney's cover of 'Me and My Mini' and the wonderful Ted Chippington's reading of Barton's 'Z Bend' are alone well worth downloading this album for; and it's great to hear Ruthless Rap Assassins performing 'Z Bend' in a hip-hop style; reminiscent of Franti's Disposable Heroes.
808 State perform the aforementioned 'Sorry Dog', and a big surprise comes at the end with Fossil performing a splendid piece of trip-hoppy jazz for their version of 'On a Hot Day'.

All in all, a fantastic recording.
A worthy homage to an unique performer and artist.

Various Artists - Edward Not Edward (1989)

Two Cows - Inspiral Carpets
King of a Flat Country - Robert McKahey & Kevin Hopper (half of Stump)
Dear Dad - Cathal Coughlin & the Fatima Mansions
Knob Gob - Mick Lynch & Chris Salmon (half of Stump)
Barber Barber - Dub Sex
Me and My Mini - Patrick Mooney
Telephone Box - Louis Philippe
Z Bend - Ted Chippington
I Slap My Belly - Jane
Z Bend - Ruthless Rap Assassins
Sorry Dog - 808 State
Barber Barber - A Guy Called Gerald
I am a Mother - Chapter and the Verse
Smother - Kiss AMC
On a Hot Day - Fossil

Viny rip @320kbs
There is some surface noise which I couldn't eradicate, but not enough to ruin listening experience: one mustn't be too anal...
Experience Ted's songwriting prowess here

Check out some of Edward's recent doings at his website;
go there for some free downloads.


. said...

Anyone else remember him on The Tube? It may have been his only TV performance. Hard to imagine him on any other show. His guitar was a total piece of wreckage, daubed with paint, strings hanging off, and he sang a tuneless song in a voice varying between a hoarse grunt and a hysterical yelp. I remember the audience going WTF?! At least, they'd have gone WTF?! if the internets had been around back then. Lol. Imho. (Ad nauseam)

devotionalhooligan said...

fuckin great album roy... how did i miss this BITD. i've just played it through twice & it's blown away the harsh realities i crawled out of bed to face this morning... never heard of ted before,z-cars is a well cool spoken word piece... and no filler tracks either,for me anyway.hope you're well mate. laters.xx

dave said...

fantastic, got any of his actual stuff to up? some prick was trying to rush me £30 for the 'me & my mini' 7", sad thing is that i would have bought it if i'd had the funds & i've regreted it ever since!

roy rocket said...

I wish I had a memory of Edward Barton on the Tube; can't even rely on YouTube for a confabulation... Damn.

Glad you liked it, DH; I guess it was one of those albums that come and go very quickly; if not grabbed in its moment then its lost - or should I say was, before the wonders of technology, and shareminding bloggers.
Sorry about the crackles, but over the years it has experienced much love.

Hey, Dave. If you follow my link to Edward's site you can get yourself some of his music for free.
He also has 7" 'Me and My Mini' for £4!
Plus a very tempting green scarf with the word misery printed along its length.
It could be the must-have this autumn...

michaelDUSTdevil said...

this looks wonderful!

& that Fossil song is by OOIOO from the lp posted here:

i have 5 more lps by them if you're interested...



roy rocket said...

I realised the song was by 00100 after I added comment (which is why I deleted it - Doh!).
However, 00100 sound very interesting and I will check out your post.
But if you do have any Fossil...?
I only know them from the track on this Edward Barton songs album...
Cheers, Michael.
Shanti, roy

michaelDUSTdevil said...

sorry my friend, can't help you there...

roy rocket said...

I figured it was an obscure one.
O well, just have to be satisfied with what I've got...
Down with superlatives!
; roy

dave said...

cheers roy, i tried his site, no answer as yet though... i reckon it's dead, someone told me ed was hob nobbing around writing for orbital & stuff!

i used to have the tube set on vid, me & my mini & got no chicken... probly going moldy in my mums loft, if i can rescue it i'll let you know. ta ta.

roy rocket said...

He has written for Kylie...

dave said...

the horror...

the horror.

Dr Gittfinger said...

Great post, you might be interested to know that I upped EB's 'Here Is My Spoon' to my blog about a year ago:

I'm sure I have some clips of him on Mark and Lard's show somewhere, must dig 'em out...


Dr G

Nick said...

He's got a new album out now - check out his MySpace site for previews:

So, he's still going strong - I must get round to going to one of his live gigs at some point... :-p

Anonymous said...

edward will be performing at the green room, manchester on december 18th.details are on his myspace page.
- mrs barton X

Anonymous said...

edwards tube appearance is now on youtube.
im so ashamed...
mrs barton

roy rocket said...

I love the river song on YouTube; the one with the cardboard children; very inspiring