Sunday, October 21, 2012


The Death of a Garage Band

Life is constantly evolving and so is music.   The memories will always remain.The future will always hold endless possibilities. So we move on now. Still a garage band in spirit.  Still carrying the Torch –
Rick Barton                                                                                                                                                        
Rick Barton was the original guitarist for the Dropkick Murphys from 1996 to 1999. He performed on several EPs as well as full length discs Do or Die and The Gang’s All Here. After that initial success, Barton backed away from the scene for a few years before jumping back in with both feet to form Continental in 2009. In a curious twist of fate Barton’s son listened to a rough version of  a song entitled Curious Spell and then encouraged his father to put a band together and get back on the road.  Barton was ready to go and felt that that he could help his son pay some dues and learn what it’s like to be touring musician. The road can be a harsh mistress as well as forgiving headmaster. This is a story of fathers and son; a search for the holy in the den of the profane.  Death of a Garage Band is the perfect name for the disc. Barton plays it rough and ready without overdubs. He doesn’t do pretty. This is a whiskey drenched soliloquy from a man who knows the truth. This is one of the gutsiest musical documents along with Modern Times by Dylan or Johnny Cash’s work with Rick Rubin.

Life is Just One Hard Broken Dream

Despite the overt pessimism in the title, Barton paints this song with subtle strokes that conveys a bit of Mose Allison irony. He sings it like a pissed off Steve Earle shouting about the FCC and the CIA and making it with Condoleezza Rice. Barton hasn’t lost a step. This is the real deal from a working class musician who creates honest music. This is a supersonic high speed punk rocker with a touch of roots rockabilly. He keeps up the harrowing tempo right through to the coda.

C’mon baby let me hold you

Wrecking Ball

This song opens with several bars of just Barton and his acoustic guitar. He sings about waking up on the wrong side of the bed and it is a downer for sure. The tempo picks up and Barton bangs out the chords like Green day before they got famous and pretty. The drummer is rock solid and pounds out the beat with atomic powered lightning strokes. The chorus is repeated several times just so you don’t miss it. She’s got 99 reasons to leave. There is a brief accapella vocal, don’t bring out the wrecking ball followed by a neat little bass to E-string riff with impeccable stop & go timing. Barton shouts out, “Let’s Go!” and the song slams shut with 99 reasons to leave. WHEW!

Monday Morning

The song begins soft and quiet , with a nice melodic touch then gets loud and frantic  as Barton spits out the lyrics like he’s choking with anger. He has the voice of the everyman but has an otherworldly banshee scream when he spits out the lyric, “You know it isn’t true.”  This is a breakup song yet Barton is more than a little ambivalent;

I called you up Monday Morning
To say that we’re through
Thought about it for the weekend  
And how much I’d miss you
It’s a strange situation  to 
wake up with someone new

It sounds a bit like a booze-soaked vision but it comes off a little like hedging on a bet. He’s holding a deuce but acting like he’s got an ace in the hole. He’s playing  for keeps with nothing to back it up. He wonders if he should fold or continue the bluff.

No Reservations

Barton may be middle-aged but he shows no signs of slowing down. Performing with his son must be energizing, fulfilling. Now he can give his son a real education, the wisdom of the ages and a glimpse of why he’s been hard or soft, remote and loving. Now Barton’s heart is wide open as he tells a story of fathers and sons. The band is tight and Barton’s guitar is a machine gun. The lightning riffs help define the message. It’s an honest take no prisoners approach to hard drivin’ punk rock reminiscent of the music the MC5 and Stooges created in the late sixties.  Rick Barton is unable to fake sincerity. He’s not cut from that cloth. He’s growing old but he will make things right with his son, the people he loves. This is a heartfelt treatise on living by the eight fold path through love and integrity.

Great Big Sun

The sweet melodic guitar trills at the beginning opens a lyrical path a wistful longing for…acceptance, normalcy or even steady income. But this is a life of a touring musician who also creates and records new music. Barton references the public’s preoccupation with passing fads, some forgotten. He could be talking about  popular music – big band, blues, jazz, rock, punk have all had their time in the spotlight; all fell from mass popularity only to resurface in small pockets across the globe. The verses speak of honest home grown values

We can build a house
we can plant some seeds
we make the neighborhood just a little bit more green
we carve our names in the tree out back 
we can live together in our tiny little shack

The shouted chorus says it all:


This is Barton chiding his friends/fans/lovers about truth and integrity even when it hurts his relationships. It could be about anyone or everyone, even be his old chums in the Dropkick Murphy’s. Barton has a fine radar for bullshit. He admits to his own wrongdoing and vows to change. It took him over three years to bring it back around and form Continental. The lyrics have some venom:

It’s all black or white to me  
I don’t know what the hell it means
Now you took my picture off the wall 
didn’t know you had me up there at all

Stay with Me

This is a hard rockin punk song a middle eight that has a musical structure similar to NRBQ’s  C’Mon Everybody and buddy holly’s Not Fade Away…only speeded up and punk’d. Barton’s guitar work is simply inspired. He kicks it in with incredibly nimble fingering and a great tone. He’s playing like Dave Edmunds whacked out on speed and nailing Sabre Dance like he’s the reincarnation of Khachaturian whacked out on the juice. This may be the hardest rocking track on then disc. This is a high volume, speeded up feedback-soaked masterpiece.  Barton sings from the heart

Help me now I’ve come undone 
lived all my life under our hot sun
I’ve been told this night ‘s about to come
I’ve pulled the trigger on this loaded gun

Don’t leave me now  
Stay with me
Don’t leave me now

A great closer.

No comments:

Post a Comment