2007   APRIL 18   #108

Freddie Barrett - It's Impossible/A Kiss In The Dark

Freddie Barrett - It's Impossible (3:19)
Freddie Barrett - A Kiss In The Dark (2:36)

Who is Freddie Barrett? I found this private pressing single many years ago at a flea market and bought it on the strength of the artist's name that is credited as 'The Many Voices Of Freddie Barrett'. I hoped it might be a comedy outing similar to British impressionist Billy Howard's King Of The Cops single or the Poster People album by American voice artist Paul Frees. But it was in a category all of its own. These 'voices' appear only on one side of the single and to be honest there are only two of them. Freddie attempts a cover of the Perry Como classic with dubious results and it becomes all-too-apparent that it is a knowingly bad cover when the other voice kicks in reprimanding him for singing so badly and that his fans will kill him when they hear it. Fans? Are they kidding! As if this wasn't bad enough for no apparent reason the second voice starts off slowed down like Barry White on dope and then gradually speeds up until it almost resembles one of David Seville's chipmunks.

It's not altogether clear what the point of this song was. Whether it tied in with a sketch or routine by Freddie is anyone's guess. There are no obvious clues. The 'many voices' name suggests that he thought he was some kind of impressionist but it's not obvious who the voices are supposed to be.

The flip side sees Freddie croaking his way though a 1940s-style swinging jazz number. He keeps yelling 'who loves you baby' like he'd watched too many episodes of Kojak, or maybe it was an attempt at one of his so-called voices either way it's pretty weird!

After many years of research I still haven't been able to uncover anything about the mysterious Mr Barrett. Here in Britain there was the head of a liquor store chain with that name but it can't be him. The only clue is that the B-side is published by LWT music and LWT can only be London Weekend Television. So it's possible that he appeared as a comedian/impressionist on one of their talent shows. If anyone knows anything about the mysterious Mr B I'd be very interested to hear.

- Contributed by: David Noades

Images: Record

Media: 7" Single
Label: Barrettone
Catalog: BAR 001
Credits: Producer Tony Palmer
Date: 1970s


I received a message from Freddie Barrett's granddaughter Jo and she confirmed that the guy who made the record is the same Freddie Barrett who owned the Barrett's Liquor Mart chain:

'Freddie Barrett was my grandfather. I must say, I was very surprised to find your page about that record, because I had been under the impression that it was a private record, with just a few copies made, all owned by members of my family. However, my Dad says that it could well have been for public sale, but he does not really remember.

Freddie Barrett did indeed own Barrett's Liquor mart. Back in the 1970s he was somewhat well known in London for singing his own radio adverts - I have found people quoting his "Barrett's, Barrett's. Come to Barrett's. Barrett's Liquor Maaaaaart!" on online forums and even in the Sunday Times earlier this year! If you're interested in the article, here's the link, although he's only mentioned in one short paragraph.

The record, however, was not used in his ads. I wasn't actually born at the time, but I asked Dad about it, and he says not. As I said, I was not aware that anyone outside of the family knew of the existence of that record. I was under the impression that the recording had been a present from another member of the family as a joke on his insisting on singing (quite badly, I'm told) in his adverts, although no one in the family seems to quite remember the true origins of that record now, so I could well be wrong.

""Barrettone Records" and "The Many Voices of Freddie Barrett" are the sort of touches that sound just like his sense of humour. I'm not sure it meant anything more than an inside joke, probably referencing his radio adverts. And as for the recordings themselves, I think he had a great deal of fun making them, and I think that's why he did it.

My grandfather died in 2003. The business, Barrett's Liquor mart, has not closed, but all the shops are long gone. It still has an office in Chiswick, and the family also run a restaurant nearby called Carvosso's at 210 Chiswick High Road, London.

Yours, Jo Barrett'