off the hook
The 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, 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 an appearance on 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 healing arms. m-m-m-m-moulty ! don\’t turn away. jackperson59: I\’m still waiting for that pic you promised of your sister, her schoolfriends and Moulty posing in his parents\’ backyard. E-mail me and I\’ll gladly tag it on here. ▼ THE BARBARIANS: MOULTY from \”Moulty b/w I\’ll Keep On Seeing You\” 45 (Laurie) 1966 (US)