Barry Adamson - Memento Mori (Anthology 1978 - 2018) - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Barry Adamson - Memento Mori (Anthology 1978 - 2018)

by Kevin Orton Rating:8 Release Date:2018-10-26
Barry Adamson - Memento Mori (Anthology 1978 - 2018)
Barry Adamson - Memento Mori (Anthology 1978 - 2018)

Barry Adamson boasts quite a resume: Magazine and The Bad Seeds. Two of my favorite bands. That said, I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know much if any of his solo work. I just sort of took it for granted. Fortunately, we have Memento Mori (Anthology 1978-2018). 40 year’s worth of soundtracks for films real and imaginary. This collection not only spans his work with Nick Cave and Magazine but his solo albums, Moss Side Story, Soul Murder and Oedipus Schmoedipus. In addition to his soundtrack work for David Lynch and Derek Jarman, is a taste from his latest effort, Know Where To Run.

If ‘The Man With the Golden Arm’ tips its hat to Quincy Jones, ‘Jazz Devil’ is all spoken word Ken Nordine Noir with tongue firmly in cheek. Aided and abetted by sleazy horns. And I can’t help but ask where the hell have I been while he’s been cutting this stuff? In any event, 'Jazz Devil' aptly sums up Adamson's body of solo work. As a bassist, he's undeniable but tracks like, ‘Civilization’, go to show Adamson is also a great singer, composer, and arranger. Full of wit, charm and musically speaking, eclectic as a bric-a-brac shop. Tracks like, ‘Set Controls For The Heart of the Pelvis,’ playfully flirt with Curtis Mayfield Superfly Soul and early Pink Floyd. Part homage, part satire. Elsewhere, ‘The Sun and Sea’ can’t help but bring Serge Gainsbourg to mind via while ‘The Big Bamboozle’ nods toward Reggae and James Bond soundtrack territory. Speaking of Bond, ‘007, a Fantasy James Bond Theme’ is pretty self-explanatory. Lyrically, however, its all about a lonely kid growing up. An oddly moving track. Also notable is the Nile Rogers Chic of ‘I Got Clothes’.

Much on offer here veers from the playful to the downright silly and there’s so much genre-hopping, it’s hard to get one’s bearings. And perhaps that’s a good thing in some respects. This collection is a dazzling, encyclopedic display of versatility and musical knowledge. What’s more, Adamson doesn't take himself too seriously, possessing a true flair for dark comedy. That all said, a heartfelt ballad here and there would have been welcome. And Adamson is certainly capable of such.

In terms of his tenure in Magazine and the Bad Seeds, both ‘Parade’ and ‘From Her To Eternity’ are tacked on at the end. Both seem like an obligatory afterthought and their appearance doesn’t quite jive with the rest of the set. After an album devoted to Adamson's copious solo talents, it’s a bit jarring to suddenly hand things over to Howard DeVoto and Nick Cave. This is more a fault of the sequencing than the material in my opinion. In any event, I would have welcomed more of Adamson’s solo work than these nods toward his impressive resume.  

Overall, Memento Mori is a breezy introduction to Adamson’s work over the last four decades. A dizzying overview, that doesn’t allow the listener to sit anything out, let alone catch their breath.  

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