NEM#107: Barry Andrews (Shriekback): Objectifications of Groove

Barry started in ’77 playing keys with XTC and after two albums started his own band Shriekback in ’81, with whom he’s had 14 releases plus some solo albums. He’s known for inventive soundscapes placed over solid grooves (usually thanks to drummer Martyn Barker) and philosophical lyrics delivered in a low chant.

We discuss three Shriekback tunes: “Such, Such Are the Joys” from Why Anything? Why This? (2018), “Amaryllis in the Sprawl” from Glory Bumps (2007), and “Stimulate the Beaded Hamster”/”Pond Life” from Naked Apes and Pond Life (2000). We conclude by listening to a solo tune, “Virgin of the Ladder” by Barry Andrews from Contaminated Pop (2019). Intro: “Nemesis” from Oil & Gold (1985). For more, see

Listen to the early track “Evaporation” that we discuss as featuring Barry singing through a vocoder. Here’s the video for “Nemesis,” and here’s the opening track from the following album Big Night Music, often cited as their best album; both prominently feature Dave Allen’s bass and Martyn Barker’s drums. Here they are live in ’84 with Barry singing, and here’s a very different live track from just a couple of years later, with Michael Cozzi instead of Carl Marsh on guitar. Carl originally did most of the lead vocals, as on this early track, and he’s now back in the band as on their new single, “And the Rain.”

Here’s one of only a couple of Barry’s tunes that XTC recorded, with him using his punk voice. Between XTC and Shriekback, Barry played in a brief Robert Fripp instrumental new wave band between incarnations of King Crimson called League of Gentlemen; here they are live. Here’s a solo single also from that period now available on his Lost Pop Songs album. Two of Barry’s solo albums have been just piano and vocals; here’s the tune from that that Barry recommended. Some of those were acoustic re-workings of old Shriekback tunes. Here’s a promo video for Contaminated Pop, which he there refers to it as his first solo album, but I’m counting at least four others, so I guess it depends how much he feel like it was actually released and promoted. Here’s Monstrance, i.e. Barry jamming with Martyn and XTC’s Andy Partridge.

Barry brought up the Robert Wyatt version of “Shipbuilding” as a vocal influence.  Here’s Lu Edmonds playing what Barry referred to as a Turkish banjo, and here he is talking about the Saz.

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