While part of me feels somewhat silly including a humourous song in a list like this, I feel as though I would be doing myself a disservice if I was to deny a song a placing in this list due to its content and style. So, this is how we end up with Baterz placing in this list with his track ‘The Armed Hold-Up Song’.
I’m not quite sure how I came across Baterz, to be honest. However, what I do know is that my first exposure to him came by way of the track ‘Target’s Air Conditioner‘. I was drawn to this song due to the fact that I too had spent many times in Adelaide’s Target department store, making use of their brilliant air conditioning system on a hot summer day, pretending to be looking to at items I had no intention to buy, just so I could remain cool. I was enthralled by his ability to casually produce a song that was so inane, yet relatable, with the affability and humour employed by other musicians to come after him, such as Melbourne’s The Bedroom Philosopher.
Baterz, or Barnaby Charles Ward as he was known to his parents, was born in Canberra in 1969. In the late ’80s, he formed the group The Bedridden with a number of musicians in Canberra, who soon moved to Adelaide, where they would remain. The Bedridden saw a brief breakup in the mid ’90s, which is when Baterz began a solo career. His first few releases were that of a lo-fi, humourous indie folk, and were well-recieved. As he went on, he became much more confident in his solo work, and began to release many brilliant tracks, such as 2001’s ‘The Armed Hold-Up Song’.
Sadly, Baterz passed away in 2002. Having been a haemophiliac, he contracted HIV in the mid ’80s during a contaminated blood transfusion. While Australia, and his adopted Adelaide, lost a brilliant musician when he passed, his music has gone on to be loved by countless Australian musicians, such as the legendary Tex Perkins, who covered a Baterz track for a tribute album a few years back.
But let’s go back to ‘The Armed Hold-Up Song’. On paper, it’s ridiculous. It is nothing but the story of a man who initiates an armed hold-up, peppered with the dialogue that would ensue in the situation. Rather than being written as a simple folky track with lyrics layered on top, it actually features some surprisingly decent guitar word by Baterz, with the lyrics feeling rather appropriate to the song, rather than forced out in a very apparent attempt to be funny.
Personally, I find something very enjoyable about the lyric “Don’t fuck with me, I’m a dangerous psycho, unpredictable as weather.” The delivery of the line seems to echo the type of music that Baterz would make. Everything he made was completely unpredictable, and released in such a way that one may wonder about his mindset, especially when the song’s topics are explored deeper.
All in all though, ‘The Armed Hold-Up Song’ remains, in my mind, one of the greatest songs released by Baterz, and frankly, it’s a damn shame we will never hear any more of the fantastic music that he made during his lifetime.