Chris Barron: Angels And One-Armed Jugglers (Chrysanthemum Records, October 20, 2017 Release Date)

Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Most of you probably don’t know Chris Barron by name. But, if I mention the band he fronts, you will. Chris Barron is the lead singer for the Spin Doctors. They are that funky jam band that was the alternative music soundtrack for the year 1992.  The music on their 1991 debut, Pocket Full Of Kryptonite, is funky, upbeat, and catchy as hell. That led to these guys being completely over played and over saturated. They were a victim of their own success, through no fault of their own. Spin Doctors are still around and going strong. They took a two year sabbatical from ’99 to ’01, but have been at it ever since.

This is a solo release of Chris Barron and by the way, the music is really, really easy on the ears. I hear a lot of influences here that create a nice, woven musical blanket. At times, Chris Barron sounds like a cross between Tom Waits and Randy Newman. At other times, he sounds a little Replacements and Neil Young. But make no mistake, this is an original collection. 
There is tuba on here. Yes, tuba. I did not make a mistake. The World Accordion To Garp (Track 9), has a blessed tuba on the track! And of course, accordion. This sounds like a wonderful French tune from the ’40s. It is a very nice tale and I am still trying to determine it’s meaning. Stay tuned for my interpretation, I just need some extra listens and more time. 
Any fan of The Beatles and/or Big Star will appreciate Too Young To Fade (Track 12). This is a really great pop song. Edgy pop. Great production and instrumentation on this tune. Definitely a little bit on the psychedelic side. “Too old to burn, too young to fade”…..That is a profound line. The song is about not fitting in. Feeling out of place. You are not one or the other, a misfit. Well, that is my take on it. It also happens to be a wonderful song. 
Darken My Door (Track 3) has real hit potential. A perfect contrast of hard and soft and sweet and spicy. Really nice writing on this track. This does not seem to be the happiest of tunes. I interpret it as a woman who puts a “curse” on ya. Either literally or figuratively, it doesn’t matter. Just someone you can’t get out of your  head. The backing vocals are superb as well. 
I am quite impressed at how good this album is. I really had no expectations, one way or the other, I wanted to give Angels And One-Armed Jugglers a clean listen. And it really floored me.  The writing, production, vocals, and playing are all top shelf. It careens different genres but comes back to rock and roll. “Hail, hail rock and roll!”
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