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Anton Barbeau Presente : Kenny Vs. Thrust (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

If any other artist opted to re-visit and re-record selections of their back catalogue you might be inclined to think that they might have merely run out of energy and ideas, and were taking the easy option. When someone with such a wild, varied and comprehensive CV as Anton Barbeau heads down such a route it makes perfect sense. Unless you are one of those completists who have to literally have everything released by your favourite artists then there are probably a few holes and omissions in your Barbliothèque and so K vs. T goes some way towards correcting that state of affairs.

But more than that who is to say when a song is finished or what is its definite form? Why not take some of the songs from the past and see how they evolve in the hands of a different set of musicians and with the passing of time. And thirdly, not that we were counting, perhaps more than anything this album works as a wonderful snapshot, an overview and point of entry for the uninitiated.

Named after the two respective bands normally found as Anton’s musical vehicles on either side of the water, this is a sonic pick ’n’ mix from across the years recorded loose and live. Land of Economy has been around since his early days and neatly sums up the wisdom and whimsey which always seem to dance hand-in-hand through his music and Jingle Jangle takes the chiming guitars of the twee indie music it is rallying against and pierces it with raw-edged, fuzz guitars and a tsunami of sarcasm…I think!

Back to Balmain gets us really into the realms of sonic-archaeology and digs down into the teenage years, proving if nothing else that he has always had a way with a pop tune and Tidy Up Yourself not only shows that generic demarkations are just things that other people concern themselves with but also that name dropping is at its best when it is played for laughs. The album even ends with the Bowie-like Burning Burning, a politically charged slice of acoustica originally written for an Allyson Seconds’ record.

It is easy to see why Anton Barbeau is likened to some of the greats of paisley-pop (is that a thing?) – Andy Partridge, Syd Barrett, Robyn Hitchcock and our lord Julian Cope – his ability to similarly push Summer of Love vibes through a sometimes cynical, often silly, pop kaleidoscope remains unparalleled. The music is warm and welcoming, energetic sometimes even euphoric and it is clear that he is only interested in following his own wobbly creative  furrow across his chosen musical field. And wobbly is definitely where it is at!

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