I should probably be slapped for having overlooked this album; it’s been out for a while and somehow wound up mixed in at the bottom of the small mountain on my desk of CD’s to be reviewed.  So with profound apologies to all, here is my take on the most recent work of pop-meister Anton Barbeau.  Magic Act is one of those albums that don’t come along as often as you’d like, but when you do, you want to share it with everyone because it’s one of those “moments” – a golden fraction in time that you know needs to be heard within and out of your own personal orbit.  So rather than carry on, let’s get to the songs, of which there are many.  Although, just to give you a quick glimpse of some of the people who took part in breathing life into this project would include XTC’s Colin Moulding and Andy Metcalfe and Morris Windsor who were both Soft Boys and Egyptians.  So you know where it’s at – dig?

“High Noon”, which starts the album is the perfect hybrid, vocally, of Bowie and Bolan; it has that kind of glam-era vibe and feel but the grittiness of a stripped-down early ’80’s garage feel, rather than the layered-on production style of the early ’70’s, which is a great contradiction – and listen to those harmonies; “Milk Churn In The Morning” has that Hitchcock-esque lyrical weirdness and the gentle gliding of the pick on the guitar with a steady riff although in a non-arpeggio manner, but going into that realm of pop mixed with neo-psychedelia is absolutely on-the-one and the dead-stop ending is a wake up and “City By The Sea” is a wonderfully, churning, bubbly and funky piece with a lot of groove.  “Heavy Psychedelic Toilet” is another foray into…  well, psychedelia with some brilliant lyrical twists (“…the face of God is a three eyed girl in a psychedelic toilet…”) although the opening has a grand, almost-prog styled opening and the music is more “sinister” sounding than your more predictable “I Am The Walrus” or “See Emily Play” re-writes; “Euphemism & Innuendo” has one of those delightfully spiky/milky guitars that hypnotize you, but then the Floyd-like nature arrangement picks up halfway through with an orchestral arrangement (and a very Saucerful Of Secrets kind of ending) – this may be my favorite track from this album and “Hop Skip A Jump” is another Bowiesque piece – something that I would look at as a fitting tribute and a perfect way to close this album.

So okay – apologies for not having given this album the proper attention when it came out last year.  At least now, I’ve had the time to absorb and digest it – and it’s delicious.  So there’s no need for any further bluster.  I know I’m no different from anyone else who has heard Magic Act; Anton Barbeau has made musical magic.


Magic Act is currently available


About the Author

Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been, for good, bad or indifferent, involved in the music industry for over 30 years - first as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, then as freelance journalist, producer and manager to working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star and his orange Gretsch. Doesn't that make him neat?

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