A dozen tracks of complete hokum, as it clearly says on the album cover, from one of the USA’s finest hoaxers and hoary frontmen. This guy is not just a comic with a challenging sense of humor, he’s also one helluva singer/songwriter with an at times decidedly jaundiced eye on the skewed social and political world of modern America. I have to declare an interest from the very start with this offering: I absolutely love it. It makes me laugh out loud, and the sheer inescapable mastery of the full-tilt, Stax-like horny (pun intended, as Barnes would expect) musical backing makes for totally irresistible stuff.
Barnes crosses genres as easily as he reaches out to cross-dressers, straights and gays with a full-hand of delicious songs. From the opening track, “America Needs A Queen,” with its sublimely comic lyrics demanding a gay leader on top, you know where this collection is likely to take you – a rolling ride of excellent music, packed to bursting with wit and wisdom, sure-fired soul and super sounds. Religion also comes into the firing line with a marvelous number, “Westboro Baptist Blues,” that should carry a health warning along the lines of ‘Do Not Listen While Eating or Drinking’ – for fear of spraying your near neighbors with half-chomped, slurped debris.
A wonderful, fun album with a backing band that includes the likes of the late Lew Soloff on trumpet and around half of the surviving members of Blood, Sweat & Tears, among others. And as a bonus – if such was needed – this is a double CD/DVD release, so you can also watch the mayhem as it unfolds.
– Iain Patience
Chris Barnes plays his blues by planting tongue firmly in cheek, and then biting that tongue with heaping sarcasm and wit. Add in a dash of topical social commentary alongside the funky grooves and thunderous rhythmic assault and you’ve got the foundations of one of the most entertaining, if not pertinent, blues/roots releases in recent memory.
The Scranton native, who has done NEPA proud for the last 30-plus years as a successful comedian, writer, actor, club owner (he and partner Jacqui are proprietors of the successful gay bars Flaming Saddles in New York and L.A.), and all-around master performer, has just released a blues album under the moniker Bad News Barnes & The Brethren of Blues Band. The album, titled “90 Proof Truth,” is a titanic statement, both lyrically and musically – but that’s nothing new for this outspoken personality.
“I’m getting my message out there at a time when it’s so necessary,” Barnes said.