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Barry Charles: Reviews

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Jim Mathers - RACQ Road Ahead magazine

Barry Charles and Haggis Maguinness
A Cordial Collision distributed by Barry Charles

A Cordial Collision is Barry's 7th solo CD


Barry is a veteran of the Australian troubadour scene. Originally from Melbourne, he fronted rock and soul bands back in the glory days of the Melbourne live music scene in the late 60's and early 70's. He relocated to the then sleepy hamlet of Noosa in Qld and pursued his long career as a troubadour. He has toured Oz and internationally and this is his latest CD. Barry's strength has been his big soulful voice, and solid rhythm guitar with a few originals on the top.

Barry has his own style that has developed over the years, but when pressed for specifics I would describe it as a big chunk of Tom Waits, a hint of Bill Withers and a fair slice of John Martyn. These are unadorned songs sung
with warmth and feeling. There is a lot of growl in the big soulful voice (a la Waits and Louis Armstrong) on this CD, so if you don't like that stylistic device listen elsewhere.

There are 10 tracks, mostly in a bluesy, folky style with a variety of tempos. There are Dylan and Waits songs, and some very tasty ones I hadn't heard before as well as Barry's compositions. He is backed up by a harp player called Haggis Maguiness (a bit of a celtic cultural mix there). He's a great harp player and adds extra flavour to every song. The production is very clean and straightforward and suited to this style of music. My fave tracks are Hoochie Coochie Coo and Noise. I would listen to this CD if I was driving in the car and felt like singing along.

Geoff Forbes - MBAS Bluesletter

    Two albums, first "Self Induced Cause" recorded 2005. To be honest, the looks of the booklet confused me a bit as on this picture he looks exactly like a popular Dutch radio DJ who only plays popular mainstream music. Thankfully Barry Charles has a much better taste in music. He sings a combination of original material and covers from artists such as Curtis Mayfield, Rolling stones and Jim Crawford. Charles surprises me with a deep and rich voice, (yes, yes a bit like Tom Waits, my god what a clich - I apologize for that). Some great material from Charles himself like 'Sunday Paranoid Blues'. Good saxophone in this one, not that any of the musicians backing his guitar play and singing is bad, definitely the right chemistry between them.

"Something Goin' On Out There" recorded 2008 - from the first second the biggest difference is the full and rich sound of the album. Sparkling music, on the opening track 'Shirley Sassy' and again he is backed by the right musicians (this time violin, harmonica, Wurlitzer etc.) From this fresh start to the more serious stuff in 'Cruisin'- I love the pureness of this song, great interaction between harmonica and guitar. In 'High Technology Blues' he combines his good sense of humour with his good taste of music. The only song in which he uses some electronic programming to proof that all those modern things frustrate him a lot.

Barry Charles is an unexpected surprise who is at his best in his self written songs, although the covers he does, aren't bad either. Two great albums!

Barry Charles / Something Goin 'On Out There. . . At last a sign of life of this Australian singer-songwriter and his latest CD dates from 2005. It remains inconceivable that this great singer not known in Europe, as has my previous rave review have not changed. Compared with 'Self Induced Cause' [2005] - this is more a solo project with contributions from Andy Bahor on violin, Andy Cowan on Wurlitzer piano, organ and synthesizer, and Haggis Maguiness on harmonica. The vast range of Barry's voice continues to amaze, I hardly know singers who can go so low, Long John Baldry sounds like a tenor compared to him, only the Mongolian throat singers go a step further. All three songs are covers from Charles, Do not Want To Know by John Martyn, You're The One of Bobby King and Little Red Rooster by Willie Dixon. He knows that, now as often retreaded classic, new impetus through a very different and very personal performance. In the beautiful High Technology Blues lets his voice growling, rasping and sound like a didgerido. Not a weak song in sight on this disc, I can only say that you miss a lot if you do not buy this CD, give the man a break! (JVL)

Marc Nolis - MazzMuzikaS Belgium on-line CD review (translation)

BARRY CHARLES: 'SOMETHING GOIN 'ON OUT THERE...”  25/augustus/2009 18:17 Stored in: CD Reviews
    This unique Australian singer-songwriter singing talent was born in a very musical family. Grandfather had a baritone voice, tenor father. Barry in turn was sealed with a black blues and soul vocal range. With a fine technique on guitar and harmonica he creates a really unique phrasing. During the summer of 2000 he took the world famous Glastonbury festival, and gave it their best at the World Exhibition in Hannover, Germany. Two years later, Charles played several solo gigs in Europe and opened for The Night Porters including in the UK, Fairport Convention in Bruges and was the guest of Suzy and John in the Crossroads Blues Cafe in Antwerp. This last year he published "Something Goin 'On Out There" - eight songs, three covers. With a minimum of one occupation (Andy Cowan, synth. Programming, Wurlitzer piano, organ and Baylor and Andy on guitar and violin) Barry serves us more than just soul-blues material. With "Little Red Rooster" by Willie Dixon, he expresses his deep respect for this legendary blues artist. Barry performs solo with just an acoustic guitar and rack harp. Without airs he opens whistling 'Sassy Shirley ", this lady is brutally silenced by Andy Baylor's violin. Bobby King was once backup singer with Ry Cooder, and this lends' You're The One "to Charles, it is especially the harmony that strikes us here. In the soulful "Cruisin 'the Haggis Maguiness on harmonica for the comic relief will. Hopefully Barry Charles returns quickly to other continents, and he doesn't forget Flanders on his tour schedule. Philip Verhaege

REVIEW - SOMETHING GOIN' ON OUT THERE . . . Before you hear the exceptional vocal range, the innovative scatting and the Tuvan-influenced throat singing of unique Sunshine Coast singer-songwriter Barry Charles, what hooks you in are the funky grooves he lays down on his acoustic guitar. Charles' rhythmic playing style and vocal gymnastics are interwoven through five new self-penned narratives on this CD produced by Andy Cowan at his home studio in Victoria. Charles blends humour and reverie as he muses on themes ranging from sassy ladies and cruising the highways to life's precious gifts and modern technology in sings which would be among his most pre-eminent work to date. The short and sweet half hour album's musical backing is economic with tasteful input from Andy Baylor on violin and guitar, Haggis Maguiness on harmonica and Cowan on harmonies and keys. While he is very much a contemporary folk-blues songster, Charles' slow-paced, solo voice/guitar/rackharp take on Willie Dixon's 'Red Rooster' is the essence of early Delta country blues. He also reworks John Martyn's quasi-blues 'Don't Want To Know' and brings out his soul leanings on Bobby King's 'You're The One'.

Al Hensley - Rhythms Magazine (Feb 15, 2009)
COMMENT - A short note to say how much I've been enjoying your latest CD!
What struck me most was the wonderful sound - easily the best sounding recording I've heard in a while, and lovely subtle arrangements, letting the vocal and guitar speak for themselves - really well performed!
Jim Carfrae UK - musician (Oct, 2008)

CHARLES WORTH THE WAITS " . . . Noosa, Queensland's Barry Charles has been blanketed with lavish reviews the world over for his musical prowess interpreting his idol - Tom Waits - not to mention his world-class voice with a staggering five octave vocal range, Charles has to be seen (or heard) to be believed!

xpress magazine - Perth, Western Australia
REVIEW . . ."self induced cause"... 'the last three numbers has been taken live, the Curtis Mayfield song, 'People Get Ready', transformed by Charles into entirely his own number, 'Ode To Tony Joe', where Charles comes still lower than is believable, and then the best interpretation which I have ever heard of 'Miss You' . . ."[TRANSLATION]
Belgium online CD review - May '06 - MAZZMUSIKAS
REVIEW . . . "self induced cause"... ‘Whether performing an original composition or interpreting a non-original Barry makes every song his own and often takes it into uncharted terrain'
'. . .what you'll hear are solefully intrinsic renditions inwardly sympathetic to the songs' basic elements as Charles pilots them into his own musical universe.'
Al Hensley - Rhythms magazine
REVIEW . . . "Northern Shores"... ‘a man who started with an amazing voice has been on long journeys into sound and of fearless experimentation to get where he is with this really great CD. What’s amazing is that he does almost everything - vocals, guitar (he’s just so impressive and expressive), and harmonica - with Tim Finnigan on double bass'.
Andrew Tucker - Music Scene
REVIEW . . . "Beyond Boundaries" 'as a singer, Barry Charles has the voice, the personality and delivery to give you a variety of musical experiences . . .'
Andrew Tucker - Music Scene