Barbarians, The


Band members                              Related acts

  line up 1 (1963-65)

- Bruce Benson -- rhythm guitar 
- Jerry Causi -- vocals, bass

- Ronnie Enos -- lead guitar, backing vocals
- Victor "Moulty" Moulton -- drums, percussion 

 

  line up 2 (1965-67)

- Bruce Benson -- rhythm guitar 
- Jerry Causi -- vocals, bass
NEW - Jeff Morris -- lead guitar (replaced Ronnie Enos)
- Victor "Moulty" Moulton -- drums, percussion 

 

  line up 3 (1967-68)

- Bruce Benson -- rhythm guitar 
- Victor "Moulty" Moulton -- drums, percussion 

NEW - Walter Parks -- bass (replaced Jerry Causi)

NEW - Denny Romans (aka Demian Bell, aka Dennis Tobell) --

  vocals, guitar (replaced  Jeff Morris)

 

 

 

- Black Pearl (Bruce Benson, Jerry Causi and Jeff Morris) 

- The Blues Mekaniks (Demian Bell)

- Contraband (Dennis Roman)

- Demian Bell (solo efforts)

- Harp N Chords (Dennis Roman)

- Maypole (Denny Romans aka Dennis Tobell)

 

 


 

Genre: garage

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Are You a Boy, or a Girl

Company: Laurie

Catalog: LLP-2203

Year: 1966

Country/State: Provincetown, Massachusetts

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG+

Comments: mono pressing; name on cover and inner labels; minor marks, but no skips

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4234

Price: $40.00

Cost: $59.55

 

One of Provincetown, Massachusetts contributions to rock history, rhythm guitarist Bruce Benson, bassist Jerry Causi, lead guitarist Ronnie Enos, and one-handed singer/drummer Victor "Moulty" Moulton formed The Barbarians in 1964. 

 

I'm not sure how much truth there is to the story, but the band supposedly sprung out of a white lie Moulton told a cousin.  The cousin supposedly heard Moulton practicing the drums and asked if he was in a band.  Moulton said he was and through out the name The Barbarians.  A couple of weeks later the cousin told Moulton he'd scored them a gig at a local club.  Not wanting to be caught in a lie, in desperation Moulton called musically inclined friends and acquaintances, literally cobbling The Barbarians together days before they were suppose to perform.

 

 

 promo photo (what's with the sandals?)

 

After a personnel change that saw Enos replaced by Jeff Morris, the band signed with the local Joy label, making their recording debut with a 1964 single:

 

 

 

-  'Hey Little Bird' b/w 'You've Got To Understand' (Joy catalog number 45K-290)

 

An attractive slice of garage rock (possibly the best thing they ever did), the single did little in terms of national sales, but laid the ground for their breakthrough.  Nobody seems certain how it happened, but after being together for four months, the band's big break came when they won a slot on the Teenage Music International (TAMI) show. Surrounded by the cream of American and British rock acts (The Beach Boys. Chuck Berry, Marvin Gaye, The Stones, etc.), with backing from the famed Wrecking Crew, they played five songs, including a dazzling performance of their sophomore single.  YouTube has a clip of the performance athttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOWC7lhuKtQ   For anyone interested, YouTube also has a terrific clip of the band playing The Beatles influenced flip slide on ABC's Shindig:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIXgi1zpKps 


The resulting attention attracted the attention of Robert and Gene Schwartz, and Allan Sussel's larger Laurie label, which promptly signed the group to a contract. Seemingly interested in taking advantage of the band's shaggy,  proto-punk image, Laurie teamed the quartet with producer/writer Doug Morris.  Written by Morris and propelled by Moulton's energetic drumming and craggy vocal delivery, their second single offered up another inspired slice of garage rock:

 

 

- 1965's  'Are You a Boy or a Girl'' b/w 'Take It Or Leave It' (Laurie catalog number LR 3308) # 55 pop

 

Given the single's success, as was standard marketing procedure, Laurie rushed the band back in the studio to record a supporting album.  Released as the cleverly titled "Are You a Boy, or a Girl", the resulting album came off as hasty and largely ill conceived.  Recorded in a rush, the twelve tracks essentially captured their live show.  Unfortunately, due to the fact the majority of the set consisted of popular covers, to my ears the overall effect was a mildly disappointing. Understanding that mid-1960s marketing demanded a band include covers in their repertoire, there wasn't anything terribly wrong with their work save a really lame 'House of the Rising Sun' (which the liner notes mistakenly credited to Rod Argent), a truly bizarre jazz instrumental ('Marie Elena'), and a rote remake of The Byrds' cover of Dylan's 'Mr. Tambourine Man'.  Elsewhere, largely written by producer Morris, tracks such as 'What the New Breed Say' and 'Take It, or Leave It' were stronger, benefiting from Moulty's raw vocals and the band's considerable energy.  Guitarist Morris showed some real talent throughout the set.  Still, the over-reliance on cover tunes managed to suck whatever energy they generated on original numbers.  Shame they weren't given a chance to come up with more original material.   

 

- Opening up with some nifty Byrds-styled jangle guitar, 'Are You a Boy or a Girl' promptly dived into a harder garage rock orientation with Moulton's rugged, sneering voice giving the song an  ominous edge.  You were left to wonder it they were looking to smack some poor hippies around ...  well, they had long hair themselves, so probably not.  Shame they didn't release an extended version since it sounds like the track faded out before they were done.  Is it the first punk song?  I'm not sure, but it did have a great snide edge to it.   rating: **** stars 

- Musically their cover of Dylan's 'Mr. Tambourine Man' didn't sound that different from The Byrds version.  Powered by more jangle guitar, the main difference here was Moulton was even flatter than Roger McGuinn's.    rating: ** stars 

- So, in spite of the writing credit, Rod Argent wasn't responsible for 'House of the Rising Sun'.  About all I can say here is that if you liked The Animals cover, this one will be okay.  rating: ** stars 

- The decision to include the jazzy guitar instrumental 'Marie Elena' had to be a label choice since it bore absolutely no resemblance to the band's proto-punk sound.  Pretty enough, but the band sounded like they were on automatic pilot and if you really wanted to hear this kind of stuff you'd slap on a Ventures album.   Luckily it was short.   rating: ** stars

- Showcasing Moulton's tribal drumming, the band's cover of 'Bo Diddley' was actually quite good. No, it didn't stray far from the original song structure, but they brought a nice punk energy to the track.   I heard dozens of covers that were far worse than this one.   rating: **** stars

- In contrast their cover of Chuck Berry's 'Memphis, Tennessee' was pro-forma.  I'm guessing the band were less than thrilled to have to include so many covers in their repertoire.  rating: ** stars

- Almost a folk song (at least for these guys), 'What's the New Breed Say' had a breezy melody and showcased some of Morris' best playing.  The track was subsequently released as a single.  rating: *** stars

- A stark and slight ragged ballad 'Take It, or Leave It' showcased Moulton's interesting percussion style and some nice lead guitar.  With a heavy echo effect, this one actually sounded like it had been recorded in a shower stall.  rating: *** stars

- The album's most overtly commercial pop song, 'I'll Keep On Seeing You' had a nifty melody and demonstrated the softer side of Moulton's voice.  Very nice and the song I would have tapped as a follow-on single.  rating: **** stars

- The album's second instrumental, the fun and bouncy 'Linguicia' sounded totally out of place on the album.   rating: *** stars

- Given an upbeat, slightly country-tinged edge, their cover of 'Suzy Q' was also fun, but hardly memorable.  At last it was short.   rating: *** stars

- Their cover of Ray Charles' 'I've Got a Woman' started out slowly, but abruptly shifted gears into a totally unexpected rockabilly arrangement.   I'm not sure why, but it actually works - credit Morris killer guitar work perhaps.   rating: *** stars

 

As mentioned, in addition to the earlier title track hit, the album was tapped for a follow-up single:

 

 

- 1965's 'What The New Breed Say' b/w 'Susie-Q' (Laurie catalog number LR 3321) # 102 pop

 

Flashes of brilliance surrounded by way too much throwaway product.  Curiously, in spite of all of the resulting publicity, including numerous appearances on ABC's "Shindig" television program, the album failed to chart.

"Are You a Boy, or a Girl" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Are You a Boy or a Girl  (Doug Morris - R. Morris) - 2:12
2.) Mr. Tambourine Man  (Bob Dylan) - 2:06
3.) House of the Rising Sun  (Rod Argent) - 2:53
4.) Marie Elena (instrumental)  (Russell - Barceleta) - 2:35
5.) Bo Diddley  (Eugene McDaniels) - 2:10

6.) Memphis, Tennessee  (Chuck Berry) - 2:25

(side 2)

1.) What's the New Breed Say  (Doug Morris) - 2:09
2.) Take It, or Leave It  (Doug Morris) - 2:45
3.) I'll Keep On Seeing You  (E. Maresca - Doug Morris) - 2:24
4.) Linguicia (instrumental) - 1:29
5.) Suzy Q  (Dale Hawkins - E. Broadwater - Smiley J. Lewis) - 1:50
6.) I've Got a Woman  (Ray Charles) - 3:10


Next up was what had to be their strangest song.  Apparently recorded with the understanding it would never see the light of day, 'Moulty' didn't even feature the rest of the band, rather featured backing from members of The Hawks (aka The Band).  A truly weird narrative of how Moulton lost his hand (a homemade pipe bomb took his left hand when he was 14), and his hopes for the future, Laurie management released it as a single (credited to 'Moulty and The Barbarians' without bothering to tell the band.  Perhaps nothing more than urban legend, but Moulton was supposedly so upset with the single he flew to New York and literally threatened the head of Laurie Records. The single hit the top-100, but effectively ended The Barbarian's recording career:

 

 

- 1966's 'Moulty' b/w 'I'll Keep On Seeing You' (Laurie catalog number LR-3326) # 96 pop

 

The band also reportedly recorded a follow up LP for Mercury (though nothing from such sessions has ever been released).

 

 In 1967 the band underwent another personnel shakeup with  Causi and Morris being replaced by 

Walter Parks and Denny Romans.  The revamped band didn't last long.

 

Following the band's collapse Benson, Causi and Morris moved to San Francisco where the resumed their musical careers as Black Pearl.

 

Under the name Dennis Tobell, Romans ended up in the short-lived Maypole

 

Moulton tried his hands at a number of non-musical endeavors including teaching Karate at his brother's Karate studio, selling real estate, and operating a cleaning company.  Over the years he's occasionally reactivated The Barbarians, including a '90s line-up that included sons Eric and Tony.

The album's been reissued several times. With the addition of the single 'Moulty' 1979 saw Rhino reissue the collection with new cover art under catalog RNLP-1008.  1981 saw the German Line.Teldec reissue the collection (catalog OLLP 5067). The early-1990s saw both Bomp/Voxx and One Way release the collection in CD format (One Way catalog #17965).   

 

 

      

 

For hardcore fans, there's also a French four track EP - 1966's "Are You a Boy, or a Girl" (Vogue catalog number INT 18027)

 

"Are You a Boy, or a Girl" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Are You a Boy, or a Girl   (Doug Morris - R. Morris) - 2:12
2.) Suzi Q   (Dale Hawkins - E. Broadwater - Smiley J. Lewis) - 1:50

 

(side 2)

1.) What's the New Breed Say  (Doug Morris) - 2:09

2.) I Got a Woman  (Ray Charles) - 3:10

 

 

 

 

 

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