Review Revue: The Barmy Army - Sharp As a Needle

Review Revue
Levi Fuller

Welcome to Review Revue, where every Thursday I dig through the KEXP stacks to share DJ reviews and comments written on the covers of LPs (and occasionally CDs) in the ’80s and ’90s, when the station was called KCMU, the DJs were volunteers, and people shared their opinions on little white labels instead of the internet.

In 1988 and 1989, it seems, KCMU's DJs were overtaken with Barmy Army fever. There isn't a lot of information out there about this project - and what there is is hard to find due to the prominence of a certain group of cricket fans with the same name - but it seems there was one full-length album and a few singles released by this project, on the On-U Sound label. (We have the full length as well, which has its own intense discussion, but the conversation on this record is a bit more involved.) This is one case where it's probably fine that I can't find much other information, because the KCMU crew were so into this - and so into soccer, apparently - that they did a serious informational deep dive on this project. While still making time to flip each other shit and make weird inside jokes, of course. Internet, welcome to your new primary source for information on Adrian Sherwood's Barmy Army.

"Brilliant!!!! This comes from Adrian Sherwood and hit #2 on the U.K. indie xcharts. Idea of putting stadium chants over a big beat came about first on a Tackhead release, 'The Game.' This is much better. A-side is just incredible. Beware of dead grooves in middle of song. B-side was co-wrote by band player Doug Wimbish, of Tackhead and Fats Comet. Play up eh? Kaiser will give you some info on the soccer chants and commentary."

"And the violence, too."

"Side A, 'Sharp as a Needle,' is the song of the year so far as I'm concerned. As for the promised info: The guy on the front is the best soccer player Scotland has ever had. His name is Kenny Dalglish. He also played for Liverpool F.C. He's shown here holding the European Cup which he won w/Liverpool on a few occasions. There's commentary (radio or T.V. . . .?) on Side A in which his name comes up. The use of chants sung by soccer fans in Britain is tremendously awe-inspiring & also not uncommon. See the old Pink Floyd song 'Fearless' in which the age old soccer chant 'You'll Never Walk Alone,' which also appears here, is used. By the way, A. Maxwell is Adrian Sherwood & he's brilliant."

"I just don't see what the big deal is here . . . <- Blatant plug for my show. Not sorry."

"Clearly, you are A) Joking, B) Baiting me, C) Mute"

"D) Being very silly as usual, Marsh."

"God damn, this bakes!"

"I agree, 'Sharp as a Needle' is brilliant!!! When's the next plane to England? In fact I'll take the SST!"

"The date is 8/27/89, this keeps getting better & better."

"Soccer has become a political tooL. Yech."

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