New Wave At The Roadhouse?

Originally posted January 7, 2008

My musical interests, passions and tolerances are pretty widespread. Although it wouldn’t be difficult for someone who does not know me to figure out from my CD, record and mp3 collections the types of music I like most – Sixties and Seventies rock and pop, blues and R&B – it would be a little harder for that observer to determine what types of music I don’t particularly like, as there is at least a little bit of almost everything in those collections.

But there are some genres of music – and some eras – that leave me less satisfied than others. Music from the 1980s, in general, leaves me cold. Oh, there was some stuff I liked – and some stuff I missed at the time that I’ve learned about since that I also like – but I tend to dismiss much of the music from that decade. Musical styles don’t split themselves neatly at decade lines, of course, and punk, for one, arose during the late 1970s, but to me, the Eighties was made up of punk, new wave, synthpop and a lot of other stuff that I wasn’t particularly interested in listening to. I kept my radio tuned to oldies and to a station near the Twin Cities that played a free-form jazz format that eventually numbed the brain. But that was okay; I wanted to be numb back then.

As I noted, there is at least a little bit of every kind of music in the vast numbers of CDs, records and mp3s I have, and there is more Eighties music – punk, new wave and synthpop included – than I would have anticipated owning twenty years ago. Still, the Eighties are clearly the least represented decade in my collection, as counted by mp3s in the RealPlayer:

1950s – 887
1960s – 4,679
1970s – 7,208
1980s – 1,811
1990s – 2,406
2000s – 2,460

(A note: The last time I ran this calculation, the Sixties and Seventies were just about equal. I’m in the process of recording vast numbers of mp3s to compact disc and trimming them from the RealPlayer. I’ve finished the Sixties and have yet to start on the Seventies; I anticipate the two decades will be roughly equal when I am finished.)

I was reminded this morning why I have less music from that decade than from others: I ripped mp3s from Forbidden Tones, a 1986 album by one of my favorite bluesy singers, Texan Lou Ann Barton, whose wonderful 1982 album, Old Enough, I shared here in March of last year. I’m not sure who decided to have Barton – the owner of one of the great R&B voices – record an album in a style than can only be described as “New Wave Goes to the Roadhouse.” As Barton self-produced the album, I can only assume that it was her own idea.

It didn’t work. I remember thinking so after I bought the LP in a St. Paul bookstore in 2000, and I came to the same judgment this morning while recording. I may be a minority in that assessment: Stewart Mason of All-Music Guide loved it, saying it shouldn’t work but it does. He notes that Barton’s cover of “Pink Bedroom,” the John Hiatt tune from which she took the album’s title, “sounds like a Get Happy-era Elvis Costello & the Attractions fronted by a roadhouse belter,” as if that’s a good idea. To my ears, it’s not. Nor was covering the Lennon-McCartney tune “Every Little Thing” in a style that seems to be an attempt to be ironic; Barton’s voice can do many things, but irony is not one of them.

It’s a brief album, clocking in at about twenty-seven minutes, and Barton brought into the studio some pretty good players, among them guitarists Richie Zito and Jimmie Vaughan and keyboard player Larry Knechtel.

Some might ask why I’m sharing the album if I so dislike it. Well, I know that tastes aren’t universal, and I imagine there are those folks who stop by here who will like it or who heard it when it came out and miss it. And as it’s out of print, well, here you go.

Tear Me Apart
Camero Girls
Every Little Thing
Pink Bedroom
Quittin Time
One Good Reason
Tears in the Night

Lou Ann Barton – Forbidden Tones [1986]


One Response to “New Wave At The Roadhouse?”

  1. RB In The Fog « Echoes In The Wind Archives Says:

    […] Forbidden Tones by Lou Ann Barton [1986] Original post here. […]

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