Australian May Join Zappa
By Tony Wright
Bakery's brilliant vocalist Barry Leef is rehearsing with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention and will probably return to the United States with Zappa as the new Mothers' lead vocalist.
This must rank as the most amazing coup of any Australian rock musician. But it also leaves Bakery – which was becoming known as one of the brightest bands on Australia's rock music horizon – in search of a singer to step into Barry's shoes.
This will be an unenviable task – Barry's voice has power, quality and perception rarely found.
The big break came for Barry two and a half weeks ago when Bakery did a spot at Sydney's Chequers Disco.
This was the night after the band had shared the bill with Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs and Band of Light at a sensational concert at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney.
Bakery's four members – Barry, guitarist Peter Walker, bassist Phil Lawson and drummer Hank Davis, were still riding high from the wild scene at the Capitol the night before, so they were really getting it on at Chequers.
Fate walks strange paths and Mr. Frank Zappa chose to walk into the disco just as Bakery moved into a set of three numbers by Zappa and the Mothers.
Normally, this would be incredibly embarrassing to any group in the world – Zappa doesn't appear to be the sort of person who would enjoy seeing some other band playing HIS music. But the bizarre maestro sat through the whole performance and then went backstage to introduce himself.
He just came up, stuck out his hand and said – "Hi, I'm Frank Zappa, I was knocked out by your set," Barry told me.
"We all just about passed out."
Zappa didn't leave it there. He arranged to see Bakery again and invited the group to his concerts as his guest.
When the news of this leaked out, Sydney started buzzing with all sorts of rumours Baker was returning to the States under Super Freak's wing was the most popular.
But Zappa was most interested in Barry Leef's amazing voice.
He arranged an audition for Barry with the Mothers of Invention in Sydney last week then, out of the blue, asked if he would come to Melbourne and rehearse with the Mothers in preparation for a return concert in Sydney next Sunday night (July 8).
Barry didn't hesitate – he jumped at the chance.
If Zappa is completely happy with Barry's performance, he will join the Mothers of Invention as lead vocalist and return to Los Angeles with the band.
An album featuring Barry's voice is likely to be arranged by Zappa and there is a tour of Britain and Europe coming up for the Mothers in about a month.
The move comes as a blow to Bakery, which was just getting it all together with its new lineup. Barry's last performance with the band was in Canberra last Thursday night at a concert featuring Thorpe and the Aztecs.
Bakery virtually stole the show with its incredibly powerful and sculptured music and visually exciting stage act.
The four boys climaxed their frenzied performance by smashing cymbals, throwing mike stands off the stage and overturning the entire drum kit.
The next morning, Barry flew to Melbourne to begin his new career with Zappa and the Mothers.
But he has no illusions about joining the world's most famous experimental rock band. "If Zappa can hire me as spontaneously as he did, he wouldn't have a second thought about firing me just as fast if I didn't come up to his standards," he said.
"I'll try as hard as I can – the music is the most complicated and advanced that I have seen, but I'm going to put everything I've got into trying to reach Frank's standards," he said. Barry has an added advantage – a large slice of Bakery's music during the last few months has been Frank Zappa material.
To hear Bakery belt out its version of "Road Ladies" gives an audience an idea of Barry's sensational vocal capabilities – he has a range of several octaves and every note is perfectly controlled.
The chance to join Zappa and the Mothers is merely a dream for most rock musicians, but it is stark reality for Barry. The other three members of Bakery must be disappointed in losing the best lead vocalist in Australia, but they all urged him to go ahead and take up the unique opportunity.
Read by OCR software. If you spot errors, let me know afka (at) afka.net