Barry Adamson – Back To The Cat (Central Control)
When you see a list of Manchester’s musical greats, Barry Adamson’s name invariably gets missed off. Yet, the former Moss Sider is one the most successful, both critically and commercially, to have emerged from here in the past 30 years.
The reason for his success is simple. Barry Adamson records don’t so much play as brood and glower with dark beauty, and ‘Back To The Cat’, his eighth opus, is no different.
As always with Adamson, the album sounds like the soundtrack to a film unmade, all set pieces and strange scenarios, but there is a certain something that has changed.
Barry Adamson - Back To The Cat
Where the over-riding presence on his albums has previously been that cinematic sound, ‘Back To The Cat’, as the name alludes to, has a jazz feel and an easy listening bent to it which, while being hinted at before, has never surfaced so brightly.
That said, this is jazz and easy listening that’s been percolated through the ever present beautifully menacing influences of Adamson’s time in Mancunian new-wave greats Magazine and the gothic splendour of the Bad Seeds – shown not only in the music, but also in lyrics like “They whisper that they love you, then they detonate a bomb” (‘People’) and “It’s easy and it’s obvious, what’s yours just isn’t mine” (‘Civilisation’).
Still, from the dust-kicking, finger clicking ‘Straight ‘Til Sunrise’ and the hand-clapping, thrillingly free, keyboard ramble of ‘Spend A Little Time’ to the slow waltz heartbreak of ‘I Could Love You’ and the meandering trumpet of ‘Flight’, ‘Back To The Cat’ rings out the kind of rhythms that have been stored inside him since he used to listen to his father’s much-loved jazz records when he was growing up.
It all comes together most potently on ‘Walk On Fire’, a song which, in its toe-tapping beat, sinister keys, shivering bass and twisted soul vocal, somehow manages to combine all the styles that Adamson’s long career has walked him through without ever sounding muddled.
There are few people that make music quite like Adamson’s and even less who make it as well. ‘Back To The Cat’ is another shining nugget of quality in the career of a man who may well be the least acknowledged musical talent that Manchester has produced.
last updated: 08/04/2008 at 12:53
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