Inside the mansion that is my CD collection, there are many rooms. Artists reside in each room along with their collected works. The dimensions of each room varies depending on the size of the music catalog it accommodates. Over the years, the Happy Medium Song of the Day has opened the doors wide on artists like Wire Train, Slade and Lloyd Cole; and spent days delving deep into every corner of their rooms. Two years ago I began an alphabetically organized tour of my mansion full of music. This variation of my writing exercise was designed to be a modest workout for simply spotlighting a particular song—and provide a diversion for those days when writing a more extensive narrative proved too elusive or time consuming. The daunting tour began with Ireland’s A House, and came to an abrupt halt after only advancing one door down to Brooklyn’s Action Painters. So with a renewed effort to try and publish a small sample of writing in a timeframe more closely aligned with the project’s zealous “song of the day” title, it’s time to resume the tour.
Next door to the Action Painters, is a room filled with four, hard to find recordings by the multi-talented, multi-instruemntalist Barry Adamson. I first encountered Adamson playing bass in Magazine, the British post-punk band fronted by ex-Buzzcock, Howard Devoto. Adamson was a self-taught musician who created a signature sound that embellished and elevated the music of every band he played with, including Magazine from 1977 to 1981; the first two albums by Visage in 1980 and 1982; and four albums with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds from ’82-’86. In 1987 he provided music for the Derek Jarman film, The Last of England. It would not be his last soundtrack. Over the next 15 years Adamson leant his talents to seven other films, including: Allison Anders’ Gas, Food, Lodging; Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers; and David Lynch’s Lost Highway.
The first solo album by Barry Adamson that I managed to acquire was actually his third release. Oedipus Schmoedipus is a tantalizing mix of jazz, rock, soul, electronica, dub and funk interlaced with with a shadowy film noir vibe that takes its cues from an obvious infatuation with the likes of John Barry, Pete Rugolo, Elmer Bernstein, Ennio Morricone, and Lalo Schifrin. Most of the tracks on the album are instrumentals that would be right at home in a soundtrack for a spy or detective film. The rest of the songs feature guest vocals by Nick Cave and Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker interlaced with snippets of “found audio" sampled from a variety of strange sources.
On their second album, Pink Floyd set the controls for the heart of the sun. On Oedipus Schmoedipus, Barry Adamson sets his sights a little lower with the voluptuously funky opening track entitled “Set the Controls For the Heart of the Pelvis.” I think it's the perfect song to blast away the doldrums of a dreary, waterlogged weekend and jumpstart the month that's supposed to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb—which, of course, makes it a perfect choice for the Happy Medium Song of the Day. (Please use the comments box to share your thoughts.)