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Daily Record (s) 1/12/11: Gallery-Steve Barton & the Oblivion Click (2008); Projector-Steve Barton (2010)

In 2000s, 2008, 2010, compilations, pop, rock on January 12, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Yesterday I featured No Time Like Now, the 1983 album by Translator, as the Daily Record. Today, in a slight deviation from the usual plan, I’m featuring two albums, related to the Translator album, and to each other: Gallery by Steve Barton & the Oblivion Click, a 2008 compilation of tracks from albums released by the band (Barton, bassist Derrick Anderson and drummer Robbie Rist) and Barton’s Projector album, released just two months ago.

Barton was one of the two  principal songwriters in Translator (the other being Robert Darlington) and I just discovered his recent work last summer. In yesterday’s entry I mentioned his song, “Kinks on Vinyl” (found on Gallery) as being very high on my list of favorite songs from the last decade and, after listening to it a few more times this morning (I’m never able to listen to it just once), I am confirming yesterday’s proclamation.

What I love about “Kinks on Vinyl” is the series of lyrical images (a Nixon-signed plaque on the moon; a velvet Elvis; Kinks records playing in a darkened suburban home during a party) that all seem to tie together in a story but that don’t exactly resolve as a story. It’s enigmatic, kind of melancholy, drenched in fragmentary memories and it rocks like crazy.

I have to admit though, my love for “Kinks On Vinyl” is such that it’s actually kept me from fully appreciating the rest of the Gallery collection, which is just filled with a wide array of great guitar pop rock tunes. Some are rocking, some are poppier, one is a funky anthem to Talking Heads’ bassist Tina Weymouth (“Tina Finds The Silences”) and they’re all great.

Whether you’ve heard Translator or not, I highly, highly recommend Gallery, which is available on iTunes and eMusic.

Just a practical note though: especially on iTunes, Barton’s music gets mixed up with another Steve Barton, a late Broadway singer/actor. Clearly they were/are two different guys though.

While Gallery serves as an excellent introduction to Barton’s work in a band context over the last 10 years, Projector is a solo effort. Some tracks, such as the beautiful instrumental “Elegy in D Barton” and the moving “Super Fantastic Guy” were inspired by the death of Barton’s father in late 2009 (I learned this in an excellent review of the album posted here: http://stkarnick.com/culture/2010/11/17/review-barton-creates-simple-moving-album/).

While the quieter songs would obviously benefit from the spare production of the album, more rocking songs like “These 4 Walls” and the appropriately Bowiesque “Bowie Girl” work as well, bolstered as they are by one of my personal favorite sounds, that of insistently strummed guitars.

I’ve got nothing at all against one hit wonders or “flashes in the pan,” particularly if they create some little pop gem that I can love forever, but I’m always encouraged and inspired to experience artists who are committed to their work over the course of their lifetimes. With a musical history that starts more than 30 years ago, Steve Barton is clearly one of those artists.

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