Angel Air 2014
Free and easy, and sometimes sleazy, Canadian artist conquering England – not without a reason.
Barry Authors, better known as J.J. Barrie now, has worn a few hats through his long life. Starting out in his home country as part of a comedy act, he was shrewd enough to sense the change on the stage, and progressed to management – handling, among others fellow comic Norman Wisdom and BLUE MINK – and to songwriting. Yet “Where’s The Reason,” a song Authors co-authored for Glen Campbell didn’t make it neither to the “Wichita Lineman” singer nor to the charts, when Barry cut it himself, so the newly fashioned Barrie ran for cover of “No Charge” which topped the U.K. hit parade and elicited a parody out of Billy Connolly.
That successful single, with its spoken word and Vicki Brown’s soulful testifying, has the pride of place here, while this 17-track compilation of J.J.’s output omits his initial misfire to embrace the performing, rather than compositional, side of Barrie. There is, of course, a funny autobiographical march of “The Oshawa Man,” but it sits beside “Husbands And Wives,” a perennial commentary on domestic situations, and the innuendo-filled “Lucille I Got A Honey Of A Deal.” The latter’s brass-brandishing cajun rock – also very contagious in the artist’s own “Lady Singer With A Country Music Band” – gets smoothed with Liza Strike and Madeline Bell’s voices and propelled with drums by Clem Cattini and Barry Morgan, yet the singer’s equally comfortable and convincing in a crooned loneliness like in the acoustic “I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song.” In its turn, the strings-drenched “Save Me” careens towards saccharine, if playful, MOR, whereas “The Autumn Of My Life” and the mariachi-tinged “Sweet Was My Rose” betray an experience not every middle-aged man can have.
And here’s the real artistry of J.J.: an ability to inhabit any song. There will be more of his oeuvre on Angel Air, so it’s time for rediscovery of Barrie.