Sunday, July 20, 2008

the barbarians: moulty



not quite black leather barbarians, but barbarians nonetheless.



laurie LR 3326. written by e. greenberg & d. morris.


Pre-dating The Seeds even, The Barbarians - formed in 1963 - were a proto-punk garage band straight out of Provincetown, Massachusetts. Their original line-up - consisting of Jeff Morris; Jerry Causi; Bruce Benson; and Victor "Moulty" Moulton - cut their first 45 in 1964 on tiny Massachusetts local imprint, Joy Records, a primitive British Invasion inspired number titled "Hey Little Bird".

Long haired and uniformly shod in jesus boots as part of some half-hearted gimmick, the real star of the band was Moulty himself, their one-handed drummer (and vocalist on this, their most infamous single) who sported a hook as the result of a tragic childhood accident.

Following a well secured appearance in Santa Monica's Teenage Music International show - sharing centre stage alongside a host of first division heavyweights including the Stones, James Brown, Chuck Berry, and the Beach Boys - the Barbarians were invited to record an album on Laurie; their predictably self-titled debut hit the racks in 1965. Although it featured the off-handedly cool (excuse the pun) "Are You A Boy, Or Are You a Girl ?", the LP itself is merely interesting.

The real jewel in their crown of thorns is the autobiographical, "Moulty", apparantly recorded during the album sessions as throwaway filler, but subsequently released as a 45 on Laurie in '66. The song by all rights should just be a rudely executed tear-jerker - a garage junk fileaway - but no, this 'nugget' actually goes far enough to rival the Stooges for pure punk attitude and pulse quickening heart. And it didn't even make the album's final tracklist.

But wait, it gets way more interesting.



The rest of the Barbarians don't even make an appearance. Recorded
in New York City after all but Moulty packed up their equipment and
fled back home, it transpires those musicians more than ably backing Victor Moulton are none other than The Hawks, or - to the still clueless - Bob Dylan's The Band. And none of the Barbarians - especially Moulty it would appear, ashamed to be seen milking his disability - wanted the song released in the first place. Producer, Doug Morris, however, could smell a hit when he heard one and went ahead and printed it up as a shiny new 45 regardless. Tempers frayed, the group soon walked.

The Barbarians bravely kept right at it, evolving into Black Pearl by 1968, but the real hero here is undoubtably Moulty and his righteous call to arms.

Don't Turn Away.

THE BARBARIANS: MOULTY from "Moulty" 45 (Laurie) 1966 (US)

SUNDAZED BARBARIANS

15 comments:

Jon said...

I have a friend from Massachusetts who was surprised to learn that I knew who the Barbarians were. He knew them from local teen dances when he was a kid and didn't know that they were slightly famous.

ib said...

Cool. I'd like to have seen Vic Molten in action, but I'm just happy really to know a couple of their 45s.

Apparently, they reformed sometime in the 80s or later, but they look now like they'd be more comfortable playing for a Rotarians' Supper Club.

wzjn said...

Great song choice by a great band from here in Mass. I enjoy the album as a 'period piece' and agree with you that they rivaled their contemporaries as a raw 'bad boy' band.

Go Moulty!

ib said...

Thanks, wzjn. When you get down to it, there are a huge number of great bands out of Massachusetts; Pixies are one of my favourite groups ever, and I'm nearly as fond of Morphine.

At some point in the future, I definitely intend to pay my respects in more detail.

Cheers!

Jon said...

You forgot Jonathan Richman.

ib said...

Shit! You're right, Jon. How could I manage to leave out Jonathan Richman ?
I'm very possibly hitting the pre-senility factor here...

I posted "Roadrunner" over on Art Decade previously, but I really oughtta dig out his duet with Mo Tucker or something...

Jon said...

Well, it would be like trying to casually mention every great artist from Minneapolis or Detroit. There are so many of them that you are bound to forget someone important. My personal Boston favorites are the various combinations of (the) Lyres, but they're not a particularly well known band. I'll have to admit that I don't know Pixies or Morphine at all. I just had to give Jonathan his due. If it's request time, I'd love to hear a duet with Mo Tucker.

Anonymous said...

i'm 49 and use to live in p'town from '66 to '69 and our family knew him and his parents. his parents used to watch us younger ones when my parents were busy. i have an old photo of one of my sisters and a few of her friends posing with moulty in his parents yard. i was in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades and so i never got to hear or see them play, but he's my first "celebrity" meeting. i'm shopping for their lp...i have a cd, but want the lp.

ib said...

Hey, anonymous. Great that you should have those memories from Provincetown and the shared family connection.

I'd love to see that photograph. If there's any way you might e-mail me a scan of it, I'd more than happy to post it along with credits to share with Moulty fans. Ace.

Good luck with tracking down a vinyl copy of their LP; vinyl surely does sound so much better.

Thanks for the comment. Appreciated.

Anonymous said...

to: ib......
anonymous here....when i can dig through the photo box and find the moulty pic of my sister and her friends posing with him in his parents yard, i'd love to share it with you. how would i get it to you? you can email me at:
jackperson59@insightbb.com with the info i'll need to get it to you.
i doubt he's have much of a reco;;ection of a bratty kid his parents watched back then, but i'd love to see him perform and say hi anyway.

ib said...

Anon, my e-mail address is siblingshot@googlemail.com.

Anonymous said...

I hung out with the barbarians in Toronto when they were playing at Ronny Hawkins' 2 clubs for a week early in 1965. That could be where the Hawks connections happened. I have some photos, only one at http://www.flickr.com/photos/bevdavies/2960892621/

Jon said...

Cool picture. Thanks

Anonymous said...

i knew Moulty when he went to Thompson Academy, a school in Boston Harbor,which was a private school for "wayward" boys. He was KOOl, good looking and polite for a heroin junkie.Always liked his song.

ib said...

Hey, anonymous.

Thanks for the background detail. Never would have pegged Moulty for a junkie. At least, not so early on...

Then again, I suppose circumstances placed him in a particularly vulnerable position. Him, and a lot of other kids. For wildly differing reasons.

Cheers. I've always liked this song too. Very cool.