Long before Richard Barone embarked on a successful solo career, he fronted the Hoboken band the Bongos. The group enjoyed critical acclaim, college radio success, and even got some videos played on early MTV. But by 1986, the band was falling apart. They recorded a final album in the Bahamas, but it remained unreleased, and Barone went solo. Now, after over 25 years, Phantom Train finally gets a proper release. Full of the chiming guitars and haunting melodies that were characteristics of the band’s best moments. We talk to Barone about why 2013 was the right time to release these tracks, how these songs figured into his next project, Cool Blue Halo, and the recent reunion of the Bongos.’
With the recent passing of Reg Presley of the Troggs, Icon Fetch has put together an hour-long tribute to the band and their influential lead singer. We’ll hear the story of “Wild Thing” from the man who wrote the legendary song, Chip Taylor. From Larry Page, the band’s manager & producer, who wouldn’t give up on the song, even though everyone hated it, Mike Mills of R.E.M., who played with the band on a collaboration called Athens Andover, and Graeme Clark of Wet Wet Wet, who took the Troggs’ “Love is All Around” back to the top of the charts in the Nineties. Also contributing are Richard Barone, Peter Zaremba of the Fleshtones, Tommy Keene, producer Mitch Easter, Debora Iyall of Romeo Void, pianist David Lanz, Jon Weiss of the Vipers, Peter Holsapple of the dB’s, and filmmaker Grant Wakefield, who talked with Presley about his obsession with crop circles.
Richard Barone returns to Icon Fetch with a brand new album Collection 2: Before and Afterglow, featuring demos and rare tracks spanning his entire career, including a brand-new reworking of the classic “Sidewalks of New York,” plus covers of songs by ELO, Nilsson, and Bobby Fuller. There’s even a seldom heard track from the Snails, Barone’s first band way back in 1976. Icon Fetch talks with the former frontman for the Bongos about unearthing these tracks from his library, writing his autobiography, Frontman, and plans for the 25th anniversary of his landmark solo album Cool Blue Halo. He also discusses a track he just recorded for the Occupy This Album project called “Hey, Can I Sleep on Your Futon?”
Thursday night marked the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s death. We pay tribute to one of the most influential musicians in the history of music through a special 2-hour edition of Icon Fetch. The show will feature live calls from listeners and recorded interviews with a wide array of musicians who were affected by Lennon’s talent. Among the guests are May Pang, who was Lennon’s girlfriend during the year and a half “Lost Weekend;” Delbert McClinton, who taught Lennon how to play the harmonica in the early days of the Beatles; and Tommy James, Gary Wright and Wally Bryson of the Raspberries, who all had a chance to meet Lennon during his lifetime.
Other artists include Grammy winners Shelby Lynne and David Lanz; rockers Dwight Twilley and Donnie Iris; melodic songwriters Marshall Crenshaw and Jason Falkner; and underground veterans Peter Case and Steve Wynn. Several authors who have written recent books about the singer, including Robert Rodriguez, Ken Sharp and Keith Elliot Greenberg, will also weigh in with their thoughts.
Richard Barone – Glow (Bar None Records) – CD review –
After fronting the New Wave band, the Bongos, in the early Eighties, Richard Barone released a trio of critically-acclaimed solo albums that were later dubbed “chamber pop,” for his use of non-traditional instruments (primarily cello) and intricate melodies. Glow is Barone’s first record of new material in a long time, seventeen years to be exact, and it’s the finest thing he’s ever done.
Every track, no matter how strange it starts out, features an incredibly melodic chorus. Take the very odd “Candied Babes,” with its strange, rhythmic “hey, hey hey,” and processed vocals, it segues into this heavenly chorus. He’s joined by legendary producer Tony Visconti, whose long resume includes T.Rex, Badfinger and David Bowie (Barone tips his hat, by covering the Marc Bolan classic “Girl”). Barone makes good use of technology to keep things interesting — he’s always been fond of the E-bow, a handheld device that, when held close to guitar strings, vibrates them, creating an effect similar to using an actual bow. He uses this to great effect on several tracks, including “1,2,3…Infinity.”
And then there’s Barone’s latest toy, the Digital Les Paul, which gives each string on the guitar its own separate track. He uses this on the gorgeous title track, where the strummed guitar goes from left to right across the speakers. No surprise that he reprises this for the instrumental “Glow Symphony.” Barone even teams with legendary songwriter Paul Williams (“Rainy Days and Mondays,” anyone?) for the gentle piano track “Silence is Our Song.” Finally, there’s “Sanctified,” which is possibly the greatest piece of music Barone has ever created: it begins with a gentle strummed guitar, where he earnestly sings “I believe I was born sanctified / but I forgot,” then switches suddenly to a fuzzed out slide guitar, with a church choir in the background. The contrast is jarring, but amazing as well. A triumphant return. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait so long for his next one. –Tony Peters
Richard Barone fronted the new wave band the Bongos in the early eighties, then went on to a critically-acclaimed solo career, which Rolling Stone dubbed “chamber pop.” He took several years off to work on projects for other people. He also wrote a book called Frontman – Surviving the Rock n’ Roll Myth. Now, he’s set to release his first studio album in 16 years, Glow. Icon Fetch talks with Barone about working with legendary producer Tony Visconti (David Bowie, T.Rex), his new toy – the Digital Les Paul, and writing songs with legendary tunesmith Paul Williams. Click below for the Richard Barone interview.