ALBUM REVIEW: BARRY MORGAN – THE TOUCH OF YOU

Barry Morgan’s a piano man but he’s not singing songs. The man who put the “organ” into “Morgan” is the alter ego of comedian, Stephen Teakle, who originally rose to fame on Spicks & Specks. On his debut album, The Touch Of Youhe pulls out all the stops (that’s an organ joke) with eight instrumental songs that sound as big as his wind-swept hairdo and as wide as his enthusiastic smile.

For most people the organ is typically associated with the sounds of church or hold music, like muzak. But here we get a retro guy from the city of churches (we’re told his shop is in Adelaide’s Sunnyside Mall) and some rather real sounding music. Consider that he couples warm and velvety tangos with some lounge-style grooves and a few sultry bossa novas, for a start.

Across eight songs the listener is treated to some finger-snapping beats that are equally cheery, strange, daggy and pure kitsch. “Big Bossa” opens things with a cheeky bossa nova beat that is all rolling sounds punctuated by some hop-skip flourishes. The following, “Sands Upon My Hands” is a much more fluid number. It adopts a snake charmer’s guise before it segues off into a haunting place that is also strangely full of charm (ha ha) and that’s before you’re lulled into the ballad-pop of the title track.

“Fanfare” has an apt name, as it could be the soundtrack to some clowns getting in or out of tiny car, or just a carnival in general. “Let’s Go, Let’s Swing (The One Finger Method) meanwhile, calls to mind a mime with an easy gait while “Waltz For Barry” is all about star-gazing. Not only does the latter and album closer sound like we’re hurtling through space but you can also hear parts that are reminiscent of New Order and the bass section sounds a lot like Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me”.

Barry Morgan is an accomplished performer and The Touch Of You is full of madcap novelty and nostalgia. It also proves that the organ is an extremely warm and versatile instrument (particularly when it boasts an in-built drum-machine and effects pedals). The songs are a mix of retro cool and free-forward, futuristic thinking, meaning they often sound like they should be in that episode of The Simpsons where they all visit a theme park to see what “The people in the sixties thought things would look like today”.

The Touch Of You may be an instrumental offering but Morgan lets his organ speak for herself and the Aurora Classic is one feisty woman. This debut album is a retro throwback flavoured with just the right amount of cheese, sunny happiness and ragtime romps to make it nerdy, but cool. And if nothing else it will make you wanna party like it’s 1979…

Originally published on 25 June 2012 at the following website: http://lifemusicmedia.com/?p=22540

Visit Life Music Media’s homepage at: http://lifemusicmedia.com

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