Len Barry – Put Out The Fire

Len Barry - Put Out The Fire

Today’s feature comes courtesy of the man responsible for one of the 60s most well-known (and biggest selling) songs “1-2-3”. Len Barry was not just a singer but also an actor who appeared in film. His career began way back when as a member of the U.S. military he sang as part of the U.S. Coast Guard band and so well received was his performance that he decided that he would try to forge a music career upon his discharge from the military.

A local Philadelphia band called “The Dovells” were looking for a lead singer and Barry (or Leonard Borisoff to give him his real name) was successfully recruited to complete the line-up. The Dovells cut a number of popular singles including the million selling “Bristol Stomp” which received a gold disc. Barry’s tenure with The Dovells lasted all of 3 years but this was in no small part down to his desire to make a name for himself as a solo artist and so in 1964 he released his debut single entitled “Lip Sync”. It was to be his next release in 1965 however that was to turn him in to a global superstar – the aforementioned “1-2-3”. This was a song that seems to have appeared on every 60s compilation ever made – I don’t know whether there were some copyright issues which allowed the track to be endlessly used but it’s one of those dreamy 60s pop numbers that was hugely popular and even become a part of the mod scene for a while (though it’s not a song I particularly like, the flip “Bullseye” is the more impressive track in my opinion).

And so the song I’ve decided to bring you today is a bit later in Barry’s career (it was released in ’69) and is a world away from the bubblegum pop of “1-2-3” This one features the sort of social commentary one would expect from the likes of Curtis Mayfield and features a fantastic musical arrangement, complete with bongos and horn section that sees him move to full-on funky soul mode. What a belter!

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