Rhyming slang

It is a misfortune perhaps unique in the whole of popular music. Barry Crocker was an Australian pop crooner in the early 1970s: something in the style of Tom Jones or Englebert Humperdinck. He must have sold truckloads of records, because it is a rare op-shop in Australia which does not have several of his LPs. He is up there with James Last and Nana Mouskouri.

This means, of course, that Barry Crocker is now hopelessly daggy, a fossil, a man whose record covers could be used to define “uncool”.

barry-crocker-lp

They don’t make satin shirts like the used to …

But that is true of lots of singers of yesteryear. No, Barry Crocker’s singular curse is that his name was used as rhyming slang for “shocker”, and the term stuck. You will hear a sports commentator say of a football player “He’s having an absolute Barry Crocker. Can’t do anything right!” The expression is entrenched, used by people too young to get the connection. Like a “Dorothy Dixer”, (which is an unchallenging question asked by a sycophantic journalist at a press conference), the “Barry Crocker”, meaning dreadful performance, is just part of the Australian vernacular.

All a bit unfair, really. As this track, a single he released in 1973, attests, Baz could sing.

0160-crocker-aA piece of trivia: one of the singers on backing vocals is Olivia Newton-John. In the 1970s, it was considered hilariously funny to call her Olivia Neutron-Bomb. Unlike the Barry Crocker, that joke has  not lasted.

  • Artist: Barry Crocker
  • Single title: Suzie Darlin’
  • Format: 7”, 45 rpm
  • Label: Festival
  • Manufactured in: Australia
  • Catalogue number: FK 5087
  • Year: 1973

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