A Cardi and Bloke

Les Barker

(DOG 011)

Mrs. Ackroyd Records
PO Box 95
South District Office
Manchester M20 4LB, UK

A review for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
By Judith Gennett
Bryan, TX KEOS Community Radio


Les Barker is, to be polite, an English poet. In the past, he's written and recorded quaint traditional English songs like "My Snails Have Not Yet Arrived," with famous folk musicians like Martin Carthy and June Tabor. A CARDI AND BLOKE, recorded live in August of 1995 at the Towersey Village Festival, features only Barker's pristine speaking voice. Barker's forte is puns, and "A Cardi and Bloke" (Bacardi and Coke...get it?) contains more of this "lowest form of humor" than any work ever before recorded. (OK, to translate, Barker is a comedian, but he's good at it, plus he doesn't stumble over words when he reads.)

Some of these little poem-stories are best appreciated by smart people acquainted with trivia. "Orifice Was An Italian Composer," is a story about music ("Do you have a phone here?" "Several. I have sacks o' phones.") and another "The Author's Story" jams zillions of author puns into a few meager mm of compact disc. "The Shipping Forecast" is a shipping forecast that makes no sense ("Cardigan, Fair Isle and Pullover..."). "Spot of the Antarctic" ends up the victim of a knife and fork. "Cosmo the Fairly Accurate Knife Thrower" 's assistants end up victims of the knife. "The Blood Donor," perhaps the most brilliantly bizarre of Barker's free form works, ends up the victim of an automated teller system.

Happily for this weary writer, Les Barker doesn't fool with a back up band, but The East London Society of People with Funny Laughs (ie the festival audience) provides background reinforcement and camaraderie. With such an accompaniment, the listener always knows when to laugh!

Barker's obviously English humor is warm and gentle though sometimes outrageously obnoxious. It is also inexplicably akin to that of Dr. Science. His voice is so lovely and melodic that the CD can be easily listened to even when the owner tires of the fate of Sooty on the Guillemot. I heartily recommend A CARDI AND BLOKE to Anglophiles and enthusiasts of the goofy alike!

[Editor's note: Barker's diminutive appearance, understated demeanor, and ability to engage the audience make his live performances even funnier than his albums.]

Copyright by Three Rivers Folklife Society, 1996.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission.

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