Victor Moulton, better-known in rock circles and to record collectors as the legendary Moulty of the Barbarians, is an enigmatic figure whose appearance on the Nuggets vinyl and CD compilations only added to his mystique. The Barbarians formed on Cape Cod, MA, in the early '60s, were touted as America's Rolling Stones, and with appearances on TV's Shindig, as well as in the film The T.A.M.I. Show with the Stones, the Supremes, Lesley Gore, Chuck Berry, James Brown, and others, they could have been just that. Under the aegis of record producer/music executive Doug Morris, the band had a couple of songs to go along with their image and sound. After their 1965 release on Laurie, the album originally entitled The Barbarians (now on CD as Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl?), along with the follow-up autobiographical hit "Moulty" (included on the CD re-releases of the album debut), the group switched to Mercury to record a still unreleased album and then disbanded. The single "Moulty" was essentially Moulton in New York with members of Bob Dylan's band the Hawks, and Doug Morris at the helm again. The song was written by Morris, Eliot Greenberg, Barbara Baer, and Robert Schwartz, and was released without the consent of the band, a fact that may have led to the defection to Mercury. The Nuggets compilation hinted that it may have been some of the musicians from Levon & the Hawks performing with Moulty and, indeed, Moulton verified this in 1995 on the Boston-area program Visual Radio-Television, show number 18. The rumors of business conflict and allegations of battles with the record executive(s) over the release of the single "Moulty" only added to the legend, especially after the single charted and met with great audience response. The song was about the loss of Moulton's hand through an accident with a pipe bomb in 1959 at the age of 14, which resulted in a prosthetic hand. The metallic claw resembling Captain Hook from Peter Pan was certainly a striking image for a rebellious rock and roller, and the fact that Moulty is a truly great drummer and front man brought punk credibility to the group years after their initial fame. What was missing on the first album, though, was solid original music beyond the singles, something that changed when Moulton brought a new version of the Barbarians into Intermedia Studios on Boylston Street in Boston, circa 1973. This is the facility where Aerosmith cut "Dream On" with producer Adrian Barber and where Jonathan Edwards' "Sunshine (Go Away)" was recorded, and the five-song tape showed something that was missing on the original collector's item vinyl LP: a depth in the songwriting department. Moulton's second wife, Chris Moulton, performs piano with him on the tracks, which include a cover of Gary "U.S." Bonds' "Seven Day Weekend," as well as originals"Boogie Rock," "Only in My World," "Rock and Roll Man," and a fifth title that Moulton refuses to release for personal reasons, "Three Strange Men." "Rock and Roll Man" and "Only in My World" were released on U.S. Anthology 2/Boston Rock & Roll Anthology, Vol. 20, along with music by Harriet Schock, Third Rail, and Jonzun Crew guitarist Tony "Rock" Cownas. In 2002, Moulty has added the four above referenced tracks to his own personal copies of the Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl? album.
After the early '70s recordings, sightings of Moulton and the other Barbarians were rare. During the new wave of the mid-'70s, Moulton wrote the A-side of a single for the band Cat's Ass. In an exclusive interview on March 20, 2002, Moulton told All Media Guide "The song "Mexico" was written for my friend Bruce Silver (to perform)." Silver passed away in 1999 in a freak boating accident while on vacation with his wife, and the single was one of the few appearances of a new Moulty song on record during the '70s. In the 1990s, a new version of the Barbarians began performing in New England, son Tory Moulton from his first marriage, and Eric Moulton, his son by Chris, are joined on-stage by twin brothers Ken Olson and Karl Olson. They performed at the Cape Cod Melody Tent in Hyannis in 1995, as well as at the Wonderland Ballroom in Revere, MA, circa 1996. The Wonderland Ballroom show was videotaped for Visual Radio-Television, as was the re-mastering session of the 1973 demo tape. The final gig of the reconstituted Barbarians was at the end of the '90s on the Waterfront of Plymouth, MA.
Searches on the Internet bring up different compilations, including a Time/Life 20 Great Hits of the 60s package and the Rhino four-CD Nuggets box, along with the re-release of the first album on One Way and Sundazed. Interesting articles, like Jan Hoiberg's Norwegian website for the Band, can also be found, that site referencing the information regarding the "Moulty" single, the transcript of his 1995 television interview first published in the July 1998 issue of Discoveries Magazine, and other information gathered by fans.
"Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl" remains influential throughout the years, whether Flo & Eddie, the former Turtles, would go into a quick rendition during their opening for Alice Cooper on the Billion Dollar Babies '70s tour or transsexual Jayne County deciding to release it on her 1995 album Let Your Backbone Flip with the Electric Chairs, giving the title question new meaning. Bands such as the Dogs have also given it a whirl, as well as Peter Wolf of the J. Geils Band in the sessions for his early-'90s third solo CD, his first on MCA, Up to No Good. That came out as the B-side of his CD single and is now highly collectible itself, more poignant when the world is reminded that the Hallucinations, Wolf's group prior to the J. Geils Band, used to open for the Barbarians. The fact that Aerosmith guitarist Brad Whitford roadied for the Barbarians just to be able to get in to see them play should say it all. On March 21, 2002, Moulton laughingly told AMG that he is "too old" to perform, but that's never true for an eternal teenager and Boston rock & roll pioneer. He drops in frequently on Ed Bowen and George Denham's Yesterday's Memories Saturday night radio program, broadcast on WATD FM in Marshfield, MA, and simulcast on the Internet at www.rockingoldies.com, and those veteran jocks, no doubt, will bring him out of retirement to add to the legend when the time is right. Victor Moulton is a rock & roll pioneer whose efforts paved the way for New England artists like the J. Geils Band, Aerosmith, the Cars, and so many others. The respect for his work among musicians is great. ~ Joe Viglione, Rovi