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Les Barker - The War on Terrior

LES BARKER - The War On Terrier
Mrs Ackroyd Records DOG 018

Les pulls it off! The latest chapter in a very long tale (tail?) of surrealism and sense from the one-time banana-eating, dog-at-feet, former accountant from Manchester. So business as usual then. Is he a poet? A storyteller? A comic? A wise seer or a clever punster? All of these actually and here he's wonderfully at ease in front of audiences at last year's Bromyard and Stroud Fringe Festivals. Embracing a cliff-hanger of a tea for two ('A Very English Thing') to American new-time religion ('The Church Of The Wholly Undecided' - "the result of driving around Arkansas on a Sunday morning with the radio on.")

Les' meandering delivery is an object lesson in timing as his audiences anticipate upcoming punch lines, "I hurried to the library, mingled with the staff and the browsers, I was getting odd looks, I knew something was wrong........" and in true Bonzos fashion, you just know that "trousers" isn't far away! It's difficult not to laugh with him and even if you've never seen him you would sense that here was a vulnerable-looking bloke with daft grin, awkward gait and book-in-hand stance. 'Terrier' delivers a piquant mix of hard to categorise, skewed humour with purple flourishes. Stories of small animals and large furniture, secret punctuation, oh and Beckham's groin abound, with heavy irony when it comes to George W. Bush. Barker can pen thoughtful, insightful lyrics when it comes to peace and the planet as serious works such as his 'Stones Of Callanish' project testify. Occasionally the idea that he's playing to converts springs to mind and that he's not straining too hard but as what he does here flows particularly well, what the heck.

Off-stage, he's a quiet, sensitive lad, so is his a tortured, troubled soul and are the rumours true? Oh, you've not heard? Well, he goes to a doctor and says, "Doc, you must help me, I'm so depressed." Says the doctor "My boy, go and see the great orator Les Barker, he'll soon brighten you up." "But" comes the reply, "doctor I AM Les Barker!"

Clive Pownceby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 61 of The Living Tradition magazine.