Little Barrie

TrackAlbum / Single
Better Call Saul Theme (Extended)Better Call Saul (Season 1)
Surf HellKing Of The Waves
I.5.C.A.Death Express
The DodgeDeath Express
Vulture SwarmDeath Express
After AfterQuatermass Seven
Move On So EasyWe Are Little Barrie
Cash InStand Your Ground
Give Me A MicrophoneNon-Delux NON 002

Little Barrie photo

2015 tour poster image:
Lewis Wharton, Barrie Cadogan, Virgil Howe



Little Barrie playlist


Contributor: Justine Harvey

Little Barrie are the house band of my dreams. A fuzzy mix of blues, psyche and garage rock. A distinctly vintage sound that has morphed and evolved over time.

I first came across singer and guitarist Barrie Cadogan when he was a touring guitarist with Primal Scream. He has played with The The, Spiritualized, Edwyn Collins and both Morrissey and Marr amongst others. But alongside this, since 2000, has been his own band, a trio with Lewis Wharton on bass and from 2007 Virgil Howe on drums.

While the band may be unknown to many, one song will be familiar to anyone who watched Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul. Little Barrie provided the show’s main theme, thirty seconds of twangy surf guitar riffs. Written specifically for the show, it has since been expanded into a full song and sometimes included at the end of the band’s 2017 album Death Express (although not on streaming services, presumably a rights issue connected to the TV show).

Capitalising on this fame, a sampler EP of five of the band’s songs was released by their label Non-Delux in 2021 under the title Introducing Little Barrie: The Band Behind The Theme To Better Call Saul. It doesn’t actually include that theme song but it does highlight a few gems released on the label, mainly from their third and fourth albums. Surf Hell was the opening track on 2011’s King Of Waves and, as the name suggests, it epitomises the surf rock side of their sound. Also included is Pauline, a single from their fourth album Shadow, which has a heavier, sleazier sound and the repeated title refrain that is just the right side of catchy.

Sticking with their Non-Delux output, my next choice is I.5.C.A – Tommy Forrest Mix, released as a single in 2016. Fuzzier and dirtier than what went before, someone with more knowledge of guitars than me would be able to explain it better, but it is a sound I love (hence Little Barrie being the house band of my dreams). The title refers to Interstate 5 California and this song, along with the album Death Express that it later appears on, could be the soundtrack to a 70s road movie.

Around this time I managed to see Little Barrie live, supporting the Brian Jonestown Massacre – a perfect line-up for fans of psychedelic rock. I was looking forward to seeing them again in 2017 when they toured to promote the release of their fifth record Death Express. Tragically, just before the start of the tour, Virgil Howe died suddenly. If this had been the end of Little Barrie, and it did look as if it might be, Death Express would have been a strong place to finish. Scuzzier sounding with darker lyrics than the earlier records, it consists of 19 tracks (20 on versions with that theme tune), a mix of ‘proper’ songs and shorter instrumental interludes – back to the idea of the album as a film soundtrack. The Dodge is my pick of the instrumentals, ninety seconds of heavy riffs and drums.

Death Express is undoubtedly my favourite Little Barrie album and, as is so often the way with compiling these lists, I’ve changed my mind several times on what to include. I’ve finally settled on Vulture Swarm, the band at their most sinister sounding and reminding me of Vanishing Point era Primal Scream.

As it turns out, this was not the end of the Little Barrie story. In 2020, they worked with drummer and producer Malcolm Catto on Quatermass Seven. The intention was to capture a live sound so it has a stripped back feel to it, recorded using analogue technology, but it is also a further move away from the short sharp songs of Little Barrie’s earlier records. After After is a meandering 8+ minutes instrumental that you can really lose yourself in. There is an even longer (and more funk sounding) version on the Quatermass Expansion album that comes in at over 13 minutes that is also worth checking out if you have the time.

Having brought things up to date, I’m doubling back to highlight a few earlier favourites. From their first album We Are Little Barrie, Move On So Easy is an unapologetically retro jam with lyrics – you and me brother, we can take care of each other – that wouldn’t have been out of place in the Summer of Love.

The second record Stand Your Ground has a more southern rock n roll sound, created with an eye on playing live. Lyrically, there is more cynicism creeping, in particular in relation to the music industry – Cash In perhaps being the most obvious example.

In 2022, Non-Delux re-released some of Little Barrie’s earlier singles. My pick is Give Me A Microphone, a bluesy number originally released in 2001, released as the B-side to Don’t Call It the Truth. More upbeat than many of my other selections, and at once one of the band’s earliest and latest releases, seems a good note to end on. Athough I do hope there will be more from Little Barrie in the future.







Virgil Howe (1975–2017)


Little Barrie official website

Little Barrie bandcamp

Little Barrie facebook

Little Barrie at Discogs

Little Barrie biography (Wikipedia)

Having written about topics ranging from baby car seats to housing policy, Justine Harvey now mainly writes about theatre buildings for work or her passion for outdoor swimming. Writing about music has made a nice change. She is on Twitter @seatinthestalls, Instagram @justinefharvey and Bluesky

Justine’s other posts on this site include Beth Orton, Chemical Brothers, Maxïmo Park, Primal Scream, Richmond Fontaine, Wonder Stuff

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