The Barbarians: Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl
With their appearances on the Nuggets compilation and the T.A.M.I. Show, The Barbarians are one of the
best-remembered garage bands of the '60s. Not that it's easy to forget the sight of a one-handed drummer,
complete with hook, driving his band through a garage-punk number in the company of the day's biggest
British Invasion, soul, and surf stars. Moulty was hardly self-conscious about his handicap; on the tiny hit
single immortalized on Nuggets (titled, logically enough, "Moulty"), he tells the story of the triumph over
his loss in no uncertain melodramatic terms. The band also managed a somewhat bigger hit single, the
British Invasion-inspired novelty "Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl."
--Richie Unterberger, All-Music Guide
Formed in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in 1963, The Barbarians got their big break in 1964, when they scored a slot on the T.A.M.I. Show.
The band's barbaric, nonconformist image was a big part of their appeal. They grew their hair longer than most of their contemporaries and wore leather sandals instead of Beatle boots. And then there was their drummer Moulty, who had a hook for a left hand.
Deciding to capitalize on Moulty's disability, The Barbarians' producer, Doug Morris, talked our hook handed hero into recording this "autobiographical" soliloquy in early '66 using Dylan's group, The Hawks (aka The Band), as accompanists. The song's simple message - never give up no matter what the odds - was sincere enough, and it tugged enough heart strings to become a minor hit. But the single was an embarrassment for the group. Moulty was so furious when he found out that the track had been released that he flew straight to New York and chased the president of Laurie Records around his office, breaking copies of the single over his head. Not surprisingly, the band parted company with the label soon afterwards.|
--Richard Patterson, The Band guestbook, April 2001
The song "Moulty" from the 1966 Barbarians single "Moulty"/"I'll Keep On Seeing You"
(Laurie 3326) was added to the songs from the original LP
CD re-release of this Barbarians album. In interviews with members of the Barbarians,
they claim that the Hawks (minus the departed Levon Helm) played on the track "Moulty".
This has later been confirmed by the Barbarians' one-handed drummer
Victor "Moulty" Moulton, through his friend, artist and producer
(who in 1998 released the compilation
Boston Rock and Roll Anthology #20 on his own label Varulven Records, with
two previously unreleased tracks credited to Moulty & the Barbarians.)
Here's an excerpt from an interview Viglione did with Moulton for the July '98 issue
of Discoveries magazine:
Discoveries: Did the Band - then known as the Hawks - play on 'Moulty' as
rumored in the liner notes to the Nuggets compilation?
(Nuggets - Original Artifacts From The First Psychedelic Era
(1965-1968), Elektra 7E-2006 1972, two LP set, includes 'Moulty'.)
Moulty: That's more than just a rumor. A lot of the Hawks - the Bob Dylan
band - backed me up on 'Moulty.' I stayed in New York with my manager and road
manager to try the 'Moulty' thing. I sent the rest of the band back to Boston. We
were just going to try this thing, so we brought in Dylan's band, and we put it
together. Just to try it. But it worked well, so they kept it. But as soon as the kids
started yelling for 'Moulty' we had to learn the song.
Discoveries: How many songs did the musicians from the Band play on?
Moulty: Just 'Moulty.' They were great to work with. The harp player was
an older gentlemen, a real professional. We had a great session. It went very
smoothly because of Doug Morris. I did my thing, rearranged the words, did my
talking, making it real.
There's a unique little story about 'Moulty.' When that song came out, the
reaction we got was odd and unexpected. When we'd play that song, it would do
something to a lot of these kids out there. We noticed kids by the droves would
come up crying and broken down. Some of the words in the song hit them hard.
They would come and say things to me: 'I
wouldn't have made it through such-and-such a time if it wasn't for that
song.' They would hug me and break down and cry.
The words to the song are true. I didn't make that up. All young people - all
people - are hurting inside, and we have fears and hurts and things we try to
overcome. Sometimes we try to cover them up, but they are there. A lot of people
would tell me, 'If it wasn't for that song I wouldn't have made it through my senior
year,' or 'I would have committed suicide.' They weren't afraid to break down
about it. So I understood it was a little more than a rock 'n' roll song for these kids.
I hit these kids in the heart. And it still goes on today. I didn't realize that would
happen. I didn't even want them to release the thing.
Discoveries: Was your anger about 'Moulty' based on the fact that the Band
played on it rather the Barbarians themselves?
Moulty: No. I made a deal with them that if I didn't want it released, they
wouldn't release it. I said, 'No.' Then they released it behind my back. We were
mad. But to our surprise, it charted.
*: CD bonus track
- Are You A Boy or Are You A Girl
- Mr. Tambourine Man
- House of the Rising Sun
- Marie Elena
- Memphis, Tennessee
- What the New Breed Say
- Take it or Leave it
- I'll Keep On Seeing You
- Susy Q
- I've Got a Woman
(only members of the Band listed)
The Barbarians - Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl? - 1966 - One Way Records 17965 (CD reissue)
AMG Rating: 4 (out of 9)
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