Smart Barker

Smart Barker is the reincarnation of the Philadelphia-based rock band Milton and the Devils Party, which had a brief shining moment of modest popularity and then faded into obscurity. The name of the band didn’t help matters—but that’s a long story.

MDP/Smart Barker was founded by Daniel Robinson and Mark Graybill at the beginning of the 21st century.  Over the years, they have been joined in music-making by Martin Evans, Bob Falgie, Pat Manley, Tommy Traddles, and other great musicians.

Robinson and Graybill  first began making music together in the 1990s as the duo Burton Ernie. In 2002 Robinson and Graybill formed Milton and the Devils Party, teaming up with drummer Martin Evans and guitarist Pat Manley. The quartet released their debut album, What Is All This Sweet Work Worth?, produced by Harris London, in 2004. In 2006 the New Jersey-based label, FDR, released an expanded and remixed version of the first album. Thereabouts, MDP downsized to a three-piece band, with the departure of Evans and then of Manley, who continued contributing on a part-time basis, and with the addition of drummer-vocalist Bob Falgie. During the next decade, Falgie, Graybill, and Robinson performed frequently in Philadelphia, New York City, and adjacent regions; they made two albums as MDP in Philadelphia with producer Brian McTear—How Wicked We’ve Become, released in 2017 on the Philadelphia-based label Transit of Venus, and You Must Contribute, Brain!, recorded in 2008 but not released until 2013 when the band independently released it with the help of a Kickstarter campaign. Shortly thereafter, the trio decided to drop the “Milton and the Devils Party” moniker for a number of reasons, chief among them, the inscrutability and/or pomposity of the name and the impression it gave, just or unjust, that the group was a band of power-pop intellectual poseurs or of heavy-metal Satan worshippers, or both. The truth is in there, as it were. With Falgie becoming increasingly involved in other projects, Graybill and Robinson rebranded the band as “Smart Barker,” refusing, after the previous band-name debacle, to explain the significance of the new name other than its assonance and potential association with Robinson’s childhood idol Bob Barker or with Graybill’s dog. Wishing to make a record of their live sound, Falgie, Robinson, and Graybill recorded TRIUMVIRATE as a power-trio in Falgie’s basement with some vocals overdubbed in Robinson’s home studio. Falgie left the group in 2017, leaving TRIUMVIRATE as document of what Smart Barker / MDP sounded like live during the Falgie era.

In 2016, rejuvenated by a new song written by Robinson and Manley, “I’m Gonna Do It,” featured in the 2017 film Leaving Virginville, Smart Barker re-released its MDP catalog under the new name and on its new label, Milton Music. But the group also released several new recordings—live tracks performed by Falgie, Graybill, and Robinson, some tasteful covers produced by Robinson with Graybill and other musicians, and some remixes/edits of older tunes. Smart Barker ended the otherwise traumatic year with its first holiday single, also its first instrumental and first Graybill-penned track, “Los Pantalones de Navidad.” In 2017, in addition to TRIUMVIRATE, Smart Barker released a new version of “To Jane” (originally from WIATSWW), with a new vocal and remix, backed with another Graybill instrumental composition “Going to Grasmere.” Graybill and Robinson, continuing on as Smart Barker, are, at the time of this writing, concluded their fifteenth year with a Christmas extended-play single featuring covers of “We Need a Little Christmas,” the theme from The Incredible Hulk, and Nick Cave’s “(Are You) The One That I’ve Been Waiting For?” along with a tribute to Tommy Keene, who died late in 2017, a cover of his “Places That Are Gone,” and “The Diamond Store,” one of Robinson’s older tunes written in 1987. The duo currently are recording an album of new songs, Oh, Let Us Dream A Trade, with their eyes on a release in 2018.

For a selection of singles and best-of tracks see this playlist on Soundcloud.

Smart Barker is currently recording an album of new songs, Oh, Let Us Dream A Trade, for release in 2018. Future plans include an album of non-album and unreleased songs entitled Is Ambrosia Anybody’s Favorite Band? and an album of 70s-era covers called Songs Before Star Wars.

 

Albums

What Is All This Sweet Work Worth?

SongWIATSWW cover copys by Daniel Armstrong Robinson; “Give You The Creeps” and “Been Here All Along” by Pat Manley and Daniel Armstrong Robinson; “To Jane” by Daniel Armstrong Robinson and P. B. Shelley

© 2017 Full Frontal Publishing ASCAP

“Just Like Heaven” by Smith, Gallup, Thompson, Tolhurst, Williams | UNIVERSAL MUSIC MGB SONGS OBO “FICTION SONGS, LTD.” “Till The End Of the Day” by Ray Davies | UNICHAPPELL MUSIC, INC. OBO DAVRAY MUSIC LTD

℗ 2017 Milton Music / Daniel Armstrong Robinson

Engineered and produced by Harris London

Performed by Martin Evans, drums; Mark Graybill, electric guitar; Daniel Robinson, lead vocals, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, some electric guitar; Pat Manley, electric and acoustic guitar, backing vocals.

Re-released 3/7/17

For more see here.

 

How Wicked We’ve Become

HWWB coverSongs by Daniel Armstrong Robinson; “Muse of Mundanity” by Pat Manley and Daniel Armstrong Robinson; “The Gods Have Given Up On Immortality” by Dan Albergotti and Daniel Armstrong Robinson.

© 2016 Full Frontal Publishing ASCAP  ℗ 2016 Milton Music

Produced by Brian McTear

Engineered by Brian McTear and Amy Morrissey at Miner Street Recordings, Philadelphia

Mastered by Paul Hammond and Paul Sinclair at Fat City Studios, Blue Bell, PA

Performed by Bob Falgie, drums, backing vocals; Mark Graybill, electric guitar; Daniel Robinson, lead vocals, bass guitar, acoustic guitar. Accompanied by Brian Christinzio, piano, organ, Crumar synthesizer, glockenspiel; Sean Gardner, tenor saxophone; Pat Manley, electric and acoustic guitar; Brian McTear, vocals, percussion; Morgan Terrinoni, electric guitar.

Re-released 4/7/16

For more see here.

 

You Must Contribute, Brain!

ymcb-coverSongs by Daniel Armstrong Robinson; “Brain!” by Daniel Armstrong Robinson and Robert Southey.

© 2016 Full Frontal Publishing ASCAP  ℗ 2016 Milton Music

Produced by Brian McTear

Engineered by Brian McTear and Amy Morrissey at Miner Street Recordings, Philadelphia

Mastered by Paul Hammond and Paul Sinclair at Fat City Studios, Blue Bell, PA

Performed by Bob Falgie, drums, backing vocals; Mark Graybill, electric guitar; Daniel Robinson, lead vocals, semi-acoustic upright bass, bass guitar, acoustic guitar. Accompanied by Brian Christinzio, piano, Rhodes electric piano, string arrangements and conducting; Jay Davidson, tenor and baritone saxophones; Stephanie Davis, backing vocals; Sean Gardner, tenor saxophone; Nate Gonzales, piano, Hammond organ, Rhodes electric piano; Eliza Hardy, backing vocals; Elizabeth Kaderabeck, violins; Mary Lattimore, harp; Brian McTear, backing vocals; Anthony Pirollo, cellos; Sarah Margaret Robinson, synthesizer.

Re-released 7/4/16

For more see here.

 

TRIUMVIRATE

Triumvirate cover 2 smallSongs by Daniel Armstrong Robinson. “Brain!” by Daniel Armstrong Robinson and Robert Southey. “The Gods Have Given up on Immortality” by Dan Albergotti and Daniel Armstrong Robinson. © 2017 Full Frontal Publishing ASCAP

“Truth Hits Everybody” by Sting (EMI Blackwood Music obo Magnetic Publishing Ltd)
“We Belong Together” by Robert Carr, johnny Mitchell, Hy Weiss (Embassy Music Corp obo Maureen Music, EMI Longitude Music Co.)

© 2017 Full Frontal Publishing ASCAP  ℗ 2017 Milton Music

Produced by Nosnibor

Recorded in Bob’s Basement by Dr. John Walcot

Mixed and mastered by Daniel Robinson

Performed by Bob Falgie, drums, backing vocals; Mark Graybill, electric guitar; Daniel Robinson, lead vocals, bass guitar.

Released 8/4/17

For more see here.

 

 

Singles

I’m Gonna Do It

igdi-singleSong by Pat Manley and Daniel Armstrong Robinson

© 2016 Full Frontal Publishing ASCAP  ℗ 2016 Milton Music

Produced by Nosnibor

Performed by Mark Graybill, lead electric guitar; Pat Manley, vocals, electric guitar; Daniel Robinson, vocals, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards; Tommy Traddles, drums.

Released 5/17/16

 

Heathen Eden (live)

heathen-eden-coverSong by Daniel Armstrong Robinson

© 2016 Full Frontal Publishing ASCAP  ℗ 2016 Milton Music

Produced by Nosnibor

Performed by Bob Falgie, drums, backing vocal; Mark Graybill, electric guitar; Daniel Robinson, lead vocal, bass.

Released 6/8/16

 

Truth Hits Everybody (live)

truth-hits-coverSong by Sting

©  EMI Blackwood Music Inc obo Magnetic Publishing Ltd  ℗ 2016 Milton Music

Produced by Nosnibor

Performed by Bob Falgie, drums, backing vocal; Mark Graybill, electric guitar; Daniel Robinson, lead vocal, bass.

Released 6/8/16

 

I Miss My Friends

i-miss-my-friendsSong by Daniel Armstrong Robinson

© 2016 Full Frontal Publishing ASCAP  ℗ 2016 Milton Music

Produced by Brian McTear

Performed by Bob Falgie, drums, backing vocals; Mark Graybill, electric guitar; Daniel Robinson, lead vocals, bass guitar. Accompanied by Jay Davidson, tenor and baritone saxophones; Stephanie Davis, backing vocals; Nate Gonzales, Hammond organ, Rhodes electric piano.

Released 6/15/16

 

Reformation (remix)

reformation-remix-coverSong by Daniel Armstrong Robinson

© 2016 Full Frontal Publishing ASCAP  ℗ 2016 Milton Music

Original recording produced by Brian McTear

Remix by Daniel Robinson

Performed by Bob Falgie, drums, backing vocals; Mark Graybill, electric guitar; Daniel Robinson, lead vocals, bass guitar, acoustic guitar. Accompanied by Brian Christinzio, piano, organ; Morgan Terrinoni, lead electric guitar.

Released 6/27/16

 

Perfect Day

perfect-daySong by Lou Reed

© EMI Blackwood Music Inc. o.b.o Oakfield Avenue Music Ltd.  ℗ 2016 Milton Music

Produced by Nosnibor

Performed by Mark Graybill, lead guitar; Barry Cornwall, piano; Daniel Robinson, vocals, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards; Sarah Margaret Robinson, backing vocals; Tommy Traddles, drums.

Released 6/28/16

 

Coward of the Conscience (single edit)

coward-cover-2Song by Daniel Armstrong Robinson

© 2016 Full Frontal Publishing ASCAP ℗ 2016 Milton Music

Produced by Brian McTear

Performed by Bob Falgie, drums, backing vocals; Mark Graybill, electric guitar; Pat Manley, electric and acoustic guitar; Brian McTear, backing vocals; Daniel Robinson, lead vocals, bass guitar.

Released 7/4/16

 

My Head Is Bowed (live)

my-head-is-bowed-liveSong by Daniel Armstrong Robinson

© 2016 Full Frontal Publishing ASCAP  ℗ 2016 Milton Music

Produced by Nosnibor

Performed by Bob Falgie, drums, backing vocal; Mark Graybill, electric guitar; Daniel Robinson, lead vocal, bass.

Released 11/24/16

 

Los Pantalones de Navidad

los-pantalones-coverSong by Mark Graybill

© 2016 Full Frontal Publishing ASCAP  ℗ 2016 Milton Music

Produced by Nosnibor

Performed by Mark Graybill, lead electric guitar; Daniel Robinson, bass guitar, rhythm electric guitar, Farfisa, sleigh bells; Tommy Traddles, drums.

Released 12/22/16

 

 

To Jane (2017 version) b/w Going to Grasmere

To Jane cover small“To Jane” by Daniel Armstrong Robinson (adapted from lyrics by Percy Bysshe Shelley)

“Going to Grasmere” by Mark Graybill

© 2017 Full Frontal Publishing ASCAP ℗ 2017 Milton Music

Produced by Nosnibor

Original recording of “To Jane” by Harris London

Performed by Mark Graybill, lead electric guitar; Daniel Robinson, bass guitar, percussion programming, keyboards; Tommy Traddles, drums.

Released 10/04/17

 

Milton horns ovalMILTON MUSIC

2 comments on “Smart Barker

  1. Zeeshan says:

    Loving their sound!
    – Zeeshan

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