The Barbarellatones - The Best of

Confession time. Barbarellatones main man Robbie Quine was also the driving force behind Sex with Lurch - a band I loved - so I was approaching this with high expectations. Thankfully, I wasn't disappointed. Soundwise there isn't a huge difference between the two bands although despite having songs like "Boris Karloff" and "Acid Test" the horror theme is largely absent from this CD.

What remains though is Robbie's keen ear for a good tune and this album is packed with evidence that his song writing has matured considerably. His rather world-weary vocal delivery isn't going to be to everyone's taste but it suits the overall tone of the tracks perfectly.

This isn't an album to play when you want an energy buzz before a night on the town; this is more suited to the hours when you've returned home, slightly worse for wear and the excitement of the evening over and done with. There's plenty of variety and plenty going on in individual songs to stop it getting dull. Thankfully, this doesn't come across as 'something for everyone' but a band confident in what it's doing and leaving no stone unturned in the quest to make everything just that little bit better. If handclaps are going to give a little extra zing then there they are. Sitars get liberally sprinkled to add a little psychedelic air and did I mention the superb lead guitar work that frequently makes an appearance without it coming across as "Look at me, I can really play!"

Do I have to name favourites? Well, I can't. I'm sorry. They keep changing. "Thursday's Child" towards the end of the album is a ballad par excellence. Subtle in tone, I kept getting little hints of Low-era David Bowie. Third track in "Pussycat Babylon" is an unholy mix of prime time T.Rex (with its Bolanesque guitar riffs) and first album Faster Pussycat (when they knew how to have a scuzzy good time) but frankly I could put this on random play and never be disappointed with what appeared.

Some people are going to be put off by some of the more tongue in cheek numbers. The comedy aspects of "That She Blows", "Baby Wants a Corndog" and "Tokyo Cowboy" are going to have some people heading for the "Skip" button, which would be a shame as there's some sharp lyrical work going on there.

Three tracks from another of Robbie's bands - Prancing Ponies are also included here. These are slightly different in tone with a more of a 60s hippy vibe permeating the core songs without making them sounding overly dated. Opener "Rainbows 'n' Razorblades" is my current favourite of these, though also included is "The Fire of Love" which was featured in an episode of the Sopranos, which hopefully gave Robbie some well deserved exposure.

In case you hadn't already guessed, I LOVED this and I really can't recommend this 22 track CD highly enough. Why isn't this man a huge star?

by Phil T.

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