Barnes & Barnes' original 45 of Fish Heads was released on their Lumania label...the records kept coming, first on Lumania and then the heralded LP debut on Rhino, Voobaha. Singles and LP's followed (including the 1983 12" EP on Boulevard/CBS Soak It Up and the 1987 Rhino best-of Zabagabee), and in 1991, Rhino released their final (so far) CD recording, Loozanteen.
These reviews are written and posted to rec.music.dementia as a service to those who do not have the reviewed recordings, as a means to acquaint those readers with the recorded material and the artists. Any quoted lyrics are included solely for enhancement, copyrights remain with the original owners, I make no claims. I am not affiliated with The Dr Demento Show, On The Radio Productions, etc. (except like, I was in the, like, Funny Five or something...uh huh huh huh)
Barnes & Barnes
Rhino R2 70517 (1991)
Loozanteen-Fire In The Hole-The Invisible Maniac-What's It Like To Be You-Why Don't You Kill Me Now-Talk Line-Love Is So Noisy-Lovely in Loveland-Half-Homophobic Dream #23-Background Boy-Drinking With The Devil-Peg Leg Sue Got Married-Touch Yourself-Spanking Thru My Hard Times-Wax Your Carrot/The Boogie Man and Dan-I Love To Ride The Bus-I Feel Depressed
The album opens with an overture of sorts, a repeated ostinato of sampled vocals, ridden by a sole synth oboe and supported by a two-note guitar riff. Part way in, we are introduced to the theme of the album by the single word "Loozanteen", sung only twice by the Lumanian choir.
Fire In The Hole is straight-ahead rock, chock full of the classic B&B brand of double entendre. Opening with a spoken prelude by Art Barnes, the drums and bass kick in the rhythm section and the lyrics: "Grab your hose/Grab your pole/Cause there's fire in the hole", and lots of clever stuff in that vein...
Movie music is the fare in The Invisible Maniac, it appears in the film of the same name; the lyrics comprise profiles of just about every cinematic whacko ever presented, predictable but strong stuff such as "He'll find you in the bathroom shower/He likes to watch you when you're nude/It really gets him in the mood" over a straight-ahead but somewhat funky groove...The break is scary soundtrack stuff with lunatic laughs and a child's "Uh-oh!" The tune has a good homogenous mix between the individual voices of Art and Artie Barnes, and the instruments.
What's It Like To Be You is a throwback to the classic B&B sound of Voobaha and Spazchow in that the tune, sung by Artie at his most troll-like (check out de Pumped Out Blues from Voobaha), is supported by drum machine playing a classic rhythm-box groove, almost Latin in its construction...this is the sound of B&B pre-digital, and the theme is Artie decrying the subject of the tune, who turns out to be...........
Good ol' straight-ahead 4/4 rock is the basis of Why Don't You Kill Me Now, this chick is so damn hot, instead of the torture, get it over with and "Why don't you kill me now baby/Don't prolong this agony"...Good production once again, full guitar complement including a few acoustics for good measure.
Talk Line is pretty topical, Artie singing of most patrons' inner hopes, that maybe the voice on the other end of the $9.95-a-minute talk line will be "the one", and "if the stars are right/Maybe we will fall in love tonight on the talk line"...whoever they recruited for the sensual female voice in the dreamy talk-line sections may well have a career ahead of her if she doesn't already...Really techno sound, heavy gated snare sound at the fore with the bass line locked in.
We move into a ballad, and a pretty darn straight one in Love Is So Noisy. A pensive guitar figure brings in thoughtful lyrics as in "Open your eyes little boy blue/Look at the skies up above you...All the answers will be revealed/All your sorrows soon will be healed, it's true", this over phased acoustic guitar and smooth synth lines, not to mention backwards 1967 cymbals...despite the connotation of the title it's really a pretty tune and an imaginative arrangement incorporating (digital) timpani among other things, and a whispered trademark "yeah" at the end.
Lovely in Loveland was featured in the afternoon drama "Santa Barbara". How it was tied in is beyond me, as it sounds like the When I'm 64 of the album. Sung by Art, it has some interesting chord changes and resolutions contrasting the simple "boom-chick" rhythmic basis. He even includes a "Whoo" parallel to 64 at the end. Fun little positive tune.
It's rock 'n' roll versus Devo in Half. While singing about the terms of a divorce settlement, they pit a fast rock foundation against some unmistakably Devoid synth blurbs in the 2nd verse (not unlike Uncontrollable Urge from Q: Are We Not Men?...). Caught with her sister in the bath, now she's gonna take "Half the house/Half the car/Half the dog/Half the VCR"...
The lyrical gender switch is so subtle in Homophobic Dream #23 that it bears a second listen to catch the nuance: "I thought he loved me but he never really loved me/He tore my gay happy world all apart". It is a short ballad, drumless, with guitar supporting some good chorus vocals and the required "Yeah".
Give me that good ol' B&D - Background Boy is the only tune on the album not written by Barnes & Barnes...a nice & lurid plea from slave to Mistress for servitude: "I wanna be your background boy/Those spike heels I wanna feel/As before your loins I kneel/The kiss of your whip across my back"...Lotsa chromatic stuff from the guitars & bass in this one, the vocals somewhat slurred (wonder why!!!), and well-selected drum sounds.
Drinking With The Devil appeared in the film "Double Trouble", it most definitely is a soundtrack to a visit down below...Massive drums fade in, joined by some piercing solo guitar from Art, then grungy guitars & basses finish it off; the vocals, by Art & Artie in octaves, sing of drinking with the badass hisself "in a smoky bar in Hell", finally admitting they may get into a fight "over YOU"...now THAT's devotion???
The dream sequence or freakout of the album, depending on your orientation, is Peg Leg Sue Got Married. Another sampled vocal is joined by ethereal synth swells and some groovy female moaning (is this the end of the phone call started in "Talk Line"???) This is not an actual tune, but more of a collage of the above sounds.
Touch Yourself was released as a single (independently); this is possibly the most commercial-sounding B&B, but they sacrifice NEITHER their musical style NOR their twisted lyrical sense! I won't say what the subject matter is, anyone over the age of 13 will get that, but the lyrics seem to be a sales pitch for the easier road to fulfillment without the hassles of dating and relationships (everyone with me so far????). Musically, it is great fun, opening with Art on mandolin, leading into an opening chorus of dog woofs and bass drum, then to the verses...Interesting ending to this one, after the final "Yeah!", a sustained chord rides over Art on bass (and then banjo) playing the melody to Fish Heads over a distant secret appearance by the Great Newts of Lumania singing Fish Heads backwards!!! Are they trying to tell us something?!?!
An Indian feel provided by tabla and sitar effects permeates Spanking Thru My Hard Times, also included are the classic B&B topics, such as beer, cheese, and women, although in this case, the woman is gone. Thus, they are left alone with pictures of the past, in order to spank away thru the hard times...(uhhh, he said "hard". uh huh huh...yeah, and he said "spank" too. Heh heh m heh heh)
Two different tunes are performed over a percussion feel courtesy of a low-pitched sample, possibly a hyper-low marimba...Wax Your Carrot follows Spanking, almost instructions to do so...The Boogie Man and Dan is almost a little fairy tale sung by Artie, with a neat little organ sound over the percussion vamp, he is accosted by the Boogie Man (played by a slowed-down Art) and refuses his advances to give him his nasal contents. He simply walks away.
Two straight-sounding and musically wonderful tunes end the album. I Love To Ride The Bus is another song of longing for relationships of the past (explored in various places here and other B&B albums), the metaphor used here is that "you were beautiful when we rode the bus"...Very clever to relate something so important as a relationship to something so workaday as riding the bus...there are two sections to this, a guitar/ballad section and a contrasting middle section with mostly heavy electric guitars and bass: "Got to get/Got to get in/Got to get inside/Got to get inside and ride"...WHY wasn't this a single?!?!
I Feel Depressed sounds just so...pensive and, once again, longing to change what has already happened: "I said I'd change but I never did/I've been like this since I was a kid" (how many of us have felt that!!!) The main lyric alternates each verse, basically "I feel depressed/My life's a mess" and later "I feel depressed/and I miss your breasts" (hey let's not forget we're listening to B&B!)...an interesting melodic bridge links the choruses to the verses, great writing...the tune and the album end on a repeat of variations on the "I feel depressed" lyric, combined with another chorus in the background repeating the word "Loozanteen" into the fade. Sounds not unlike "Caroline No" off Pet Sounds.
This was the last new B&B material released so far, the hope is that they will be releasing a pair of "best of" compilations sometime this year, one of which comprising previously unreleased tracks. There is a definite sense of finality to this album, in revealing the human alter egos of Art & Artie quite clearly in the credits, and picturing them plainly without their Art & Artie guises; musically the reprise of Fish Heads at the end of Touch Yourself, and the inclusion of the "Loozanteen" title at the end of I Feel Depressed, the reduced number of "Yeah!"s on the album, all seems to sound like a wrap-up of sorts. So we may have heard the last from Barnes & Barnes "as such", although I for one will always keep up hope that mind travel to and from Lumania will not be suspended forever...
As a Barnes & Barnes fan since 1979, I am pleased to provide this review of Loozanteen to keep the name alive and in front of the esteemed readers of r.m.d...
Cheese to Jason Polland for the CD cover scan, check out his official B&B-approved website!
c 1995 Chris Mezzolesta [email@example.com] / Email for permission before reposting, all reposts must be intact and include copyright notice and name of original author. Converted to HTML 8/26/96.
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