By the time Quantum Jump came to record their second album a full three years had elapsed, during which time guitarist Mark Warner had jumped ship and leader Rupert Hine had exorcised his passion for jazz-rock and funk. Warner was never fully replaced, although violist and guitarist Geoffrey Richardson joined his old ex-Caravan colleague John G. Perry as an auxiliary member, while Simon Jeffes added some characteristically wry arrangements for his Penguin Cafe String Ensemble (as they were credited on the sleeve). In every way, Barracuda is a superior album to the band's debut. No longer is there the sense of a band building songs around borrowed styles. And perhaps most striking of all is Hine's newly discovered sense of how the recording studio could be used as an instrument in itself, thus launching himself on what would prove to be a highly lucrative career as a producer. Barracuda is a sumptuously layered and beautifully recorded album that -- a superabundance of clavichord apart -- gives few clues as to its age. Everything comes together on the majestic "Love Crossed (Like Vines in Her Eyes)." If Quantum Jump could have mustered a few more songs that fused melody, surging momentum, and lushly detailed arrangements as well as this, they might have become a force to be reckoned with. Songs like "Blue Mountain" and "Europe on a Dollar a Day" (with vocal interjections by Elkie Brooks), while less ambitious, also boast a breezy charm far removed from the participants' art rock grounding. Unfortunately, the album ends weakly with the interminable talking blues of "Neighbours," with Hine essaying a frankly comic Deep South accent ("Well, we dressed up so fahn") and getting all hot under the collar about "limbo ladies." Lyrics throughout err on the side of quirkiness, but it's worth remarking that Barracuda marked the first full collaboration between Hine and Jeannette Obstoj, with whom he would continue to write for the next two decades. The only non-Obstoj track, "Starbright Park," is credited to Martin Hall, who also contributed lyrics to Peter Gabriel's first solo album.
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AllMusic Review by Christopher Evans