Charm Offensive

by

comment

Pity the long-suffering powerpop fan. Do a Web search on the name “Steve Barton” and 9 out of 10 links will net you a veteran stage actor (he played Count von Krolock in Tanz der Vampire) who died in 2001. This Steve Barton, however, is very much alive and kicking, although you’d be forgiven if you’d counted him among the undead. His early ’80s San Fran combo Translator enjoyed a bona fide chart hit with minor chord jangler “Everywhere That I’m Not,” but dissolved after four albums, leaving Barton to wander the wilderness from 1986-99 before resurfacing with Boy Who Rode His Bike Around the World.

Six years on, the follow-up platter’s got everything that’s great about powerpop: 12-string chimes and meaty Pete Townshendesque riffs, soaring vocal harmonies and handclap choruses, raveups and reveries. “When You’re Gone” issues forth on a bedspring of Byrdsian guitar and thrumming bass, while the tuff-as-nails “Kiss This” sounds like a bastard offspring of “Dirty Water” and “What I Like About You.” A dash of Star Club-period Beatles and a dollop of early Dwight Twilley informs the hopped-up “Bertha Jane,” and speaking of the Fab Four, Barton reworks “She’s Leaving Home” as a Buzzcockian thrasher. Plus you gotta love a guy who starts a song off with the lines, “I wanna be your monument/Crawl between your dreams and your legs” (“Monument”). Powerpop’s always had a reputation — undeserved — for being wimpy. Born-and-bred rockers like Barton put the lie to that. (Contact Sleepless via sbmusics@aol.com.)

Fred Mills writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.