Barratt Band - Playing In The City (re-mastered)

Published Monday 24th July 2006
Barratt Band - Playing In The City (re-mastered)
Barratt Band - Playing In The City (re-mastered)

STYLE: Jesus Music
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 17882-21338
RRP: £14.69

Reviewed by Mike Rimmer

In the prog era, guitarist Norman Barratt was revered amongst British players for his work with rock band Gravy Train who released a number of albums on the Vertigo label. After getting saved he played with the Alwyn Wall band in the late '70s before forming the Barratt Band in 1981 and recording this landmark album. Produced by Vic Coppersmith who was working with The Jam at the time, what is most surprising here is the way in which keyboards play as much of a role in the overall sound as Barratt's guitar and gritty vocals. Recorded for the fledgling Chapel Lane record label whose studios allowed the label's artists to invest more time in production, the results were stunning at the time. 25 years on, they're still stunning as this album stands the test of time. Musically it's quite a mixture from the short sharp new wave influenced "The Only One", "Coming Of The Man" and "Bad Mean World" which all pound along in stripped down fashion. Barratt once told me that the gentle "Your Love" was simply a vehicle for an extended guitar solo where Barratt's virtuosity is certainly demonstrated. "Not The Way" and "Playing In the City" both exploit his skill with the talk box, the latter is probably still my favourite track on the album. The album closes in almost prog fashion with two songs that are designed to be heard together. "Voice In The Night" and "Never Seen Your Face" are epic songs that look at the crucifixion and beyond but it's the musical power of the tracks which really impresses. In the early '80s they were a live staple, gigging all over the place and these last two songs were the climactic moment in the gigs. Normant Barratt recorded further albums but none were as impacting and stunning as this. Still powerful after all these years and now this absolute classic is re-released!

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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Sample Track Listing:
1. The Only One [Listen]
2. Not The Way [Listen]
3. Your Love [Listen]
4. Playing In The City [Listen]
5. Comming Of The Man [Listen]
6. Bad, Mean World [Listen]
7. My Spirits Free [Listen]
8. Voice Of The Night [Listen]
9. Never Seen Your Face [Listen]

This track data is supplied by the Cross Rhythms CD/DVD review library. Please note that CD tracks may vary according to release region or product version.

Reader Comments

Posted by K. Gaskell in Wigan @ 22:25 on Oct 15 2016

I have this album. Russ used to be my drum teacher in the late 70s. Top album... still.

Posted by Guy Beauchamp in Cambridge @ 15:03 on Aug 31 2009

Listening to the demos I was magically transported back to Greenbelt 1982 at Knebworth! It's hard to be objective, but I'd agree more with Krouwel than Flapjack. Yes, the album is a product of its era, but there is a timeless quality that underpins it. And guess what - my 12-year old son likes it! Where is today's equivalent?

Posted by Bill Krouwel in Carmarthen @ 15:30 on Aug 4 2009

Utterly superb. One needs to listen without prejudice, of course...but I'd venture that there's never been a British Christian rock album as solid, dense, melodic, wild, committed, sweaty, poweful as this one. Good lyrics, too.

Ears in the eighties indeed!

Someone needs to wash theirs out...

Posted by Neville Flapjack in The 21st Century @ 22:33 on Dec 2 2007

Clearly this reviewer left his ears in the '80s. I heard this album a little while ago and it has no place in modern music. About as epic as hitting 'demo' on your Bontempi.

Posted by Daremo Sensanome in Santiago de Chile @ 14:37 on May 8 2007

in Vertigo's releases of Gravy Train Mr. Norman Barratt is credited as Norman Barrett, is this an error of Vertigo's productions?
Thanks in advance

Posted by Mike Atkins in Durban, South Africa @ 14:14 on Sep 1 2006

An old, old favourite of mine - I would love to get it on CD or MP3

The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

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