Early-'70s hitmaker gets two-CD best-of and instant-cachet Bob Stanley sleevenotes
Barry blue was an unlikely star even for an era that gave us Alvin Stardust?imagine Robin Askwith as a spiv crimper in a UK remake of Shampoo?but this was a teen dreamboat with an auteurist streak. The balalaika boogie of the self-produced “Dancin’ (On A Saturday Night)”, his biggest hit, may be 30 years old, but with everything up front in the mix, it’s lost none of its terrace-stomp whomp.
Born in 1950, Blue joined a formative version of Uriah Heep, before producing bubblegum obscurities for Decca as Barry Green. But his golden age was 1973-4, when he enjoyed a run of hits co-authored by Lynsey De Paul (due for reappraisal herself). “Dancin’ (On A Saturday Night)”, kept off the top slot by Donny’s “Young Love”, was followed by the glam blitzkrieg of “Do You Wanna Dance?” and neo-doo-wop “School Love”.
…Best Of has 34 tracks, which is going some, but there are moments of genre-pastiching genius to match Roy Wood’s output of the time, from the Spectoresque “Ooh I Do” (shades of De Paul’s “No Honestly”) to “The Girl Next Door”, a sonic companion piece to Hot Chocolate’s Brit-soul classic “Brother Louie”. Even after his heyday, Blue was busy if invisible, issuing singles under bizarre aliases, penning The Long Good Friday’s soundtrack, Toto Coelo’s “I Eat Cannibals”, songs for everyone from Bananarama to Celine Dion, even ’89 Italian house club smash “Afro Dizzi Act”(trading as Cry Sisco!). Maybe 2004 will see a further revival of his fortunes. After all, if it could happen to Rob Davis of Mud…