Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl (CD Reissue)

The Barbarians

Rhino, 1994

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


The Barbarians were similar to thousands of local garage bands across The United States that came together for a short time and then disappeared into the musical mists. The sound was raw and the quality of the instrumental playing was average at best, plus they relied on cover songs to get by. The group formed in 1964 on Cape Cod and disbanded in 1968 after issuing one album, in addition to a couple of singles.

What did set them apart from their contemporaries was a classic single which became the title of their only album. “Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl” was a sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek tune that made fun of the criticism of the youth culture’s long hair of the time period – and there were very few groups that had longer hair than The Barbarians. It was a big hit in New England and a middling hit nationally, but it remains a classic relic of the era.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The second thing that allowed the group so stand out was the fact that drummer Victor Moulton, known as Moulty, only had one hand. He had a hook with a stick attached to it which enabled him to play the drums. After the release of their only album, he traveled to New York and cut the autobiographical single, titled “Moulty,” which became a minor hit for The Barbarians. Since the rest of the group was not available, he used members of what would become The Band as his backing group. It is one of the strangest singles in my collection but has an odd appeal. It has been attached to this CD reissue as a bonus track.

The third thing that set the band apart was The T.A.M.I. Show. This was a concert by various artists that was emceed by Jan & Dean and issued as a movie on December 29th, 1964. Some of the performers included Chuck Berry, The Supremes, The Beach Boys, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, and The Rolling Stones. The only unknown artist was The Barbarians, who opened the show.

The album, Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl, remains a difficult listen. After the title song, “What Would The New Breed Say” is really the only other listenable track on the original release. Such covers as “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “House Of The Rising Sun,” and “I Got A Woman” are amateurish. The fact that they would actually choose to play and record “Marie Elena” and Linguica” is testament to their lack of material.

The final thing that the group had going for them, at least for me, was that they were the first group I ever saw perform in concert as a sixteen-year-old, and the word concert is probably an overexaggeration. I was working in the kitchen of a camp on Cape Cod during the summer of 1966 and attended several concerts, but they were my first and so remain a distant but honored memory.

The Barbarians and Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl represent rock music at its most basic. That they were able to rise above the norm for a short period of time is remarkable (though this contained some luck along the way). Still, garage bands represented the foundation of rock ‘n’ roll and for that reason, The Barbarians remain an interesting footnote in music history.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


Great Review! I'll hunt up a copy of their album!

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