“One day I went into a Tibetan store to buy some Nag Champa incense and look to see if they had any cool earrings. They had a little statue of a foo-dog. I asked the shop owner, “How much is the dog?” She got really pissed off and yelled at me “Not dog! Snow-lion!” I felt shamed, embarrassed…humiliated.”
….and so begins the twisted tale behind the latest album from prolific Barbarellatones frontman Robbie Quine. Some would no doubt describe Quine as being someone/thing who flies the freak flag high – I personally believe that he would shimmy up that pole, tear down said flag, add some leopard print and wear it as a sarong. His glam rock/surfing bird mash up of a legacy is, somehow, both the coolest and funniest thing you’ll hear. If his coolest lyrics don’t have you cursing the fact that you didn’t think of them first, then his other crazy couplets will have you giggling like a simpleton. His kitsch and kinetic rock ‘n’ roll rib-ticklers somehow cross The Carrie Nations and Carrie White with a trashy drag queen compare.
….But I have to be quick with this review; Quine knocks out albums quicker than Chris Brown knocks out female singers. By the time you get to read this, a new Barbarellatones release will probably be winging its way across the Atlantic with, and Robbie is doing himself a terrible disservice here, “good songwriting this time” – as if ‘Not Dog…’ is some kind of enfant terrible. Far from it, the record (happily offering up over an hour of material) hits you in the face like a Phil Spector…um….accident.
If Quine is looking to find fault with the songs on this record then he has quickly forgotten about the perfect pop pomp of ‘New Wave Days/New Wave Nights’, as perfect a piece of retro riot as you’ll find on any Barbarellatones release to date; hilariously cool lyrics wet look gelling with 80’s electronica to produce a real stand-out track. Any song that lyrically mentions leg warmers, Molly Ringwald and Flashdance and pays its own homage to Kajagoogoo is a winner in my book. This song takes you prisoner like Boy George, who also gets a murky mention.
‘Lonely Cat Lady’ pushes ‘New Wave Days…’ close when it comes to the highlights of this record, though – a gorgeous, grinning beast of a song that is both poignant and piss-smelling. ‘The Ballad Of Sex With Lurch’ is a love letter to Quine’s former band that should keep longtime fans happy while ‘Glamour Girls’ namechecks several icons and laughs at itself all at the same time. A surprisingly straight forward cover of ‘Bad Girl’ by New York Dolls is included, as is a remix of ‘Beyond The Valley Of The Barbarellatones’ track ‘Underwater Dreamworld’. ‘Nina Hagen’, the cult tune dedicated to a cult figure, is again included, this version being the one with guest vocals by the legendary Hagen herself. Quine can put this song on every album he ever releases for all I care – it still sounds great.
Kitsch me, kill me – a new Barbarellatones record is like a surprise visit from an old friend and, as the albums themselves continue to get stronger, the next visit cannot come soon enough.
To be continued…..