This led to the 2001 release of a live and acoustic album entitled Returned Service, with acoustic tracks culled from a number of live shows in different Australian cities. This was his first release outside the Mushroom Records umbrella, and coincided with the full sale of the Mushroom business to Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd by Michael Gudinski - a number of other prominent artists defected from Mushroom at this time including sometime Barker collaborator Paul Kelly. Barker signed to Croxton Records, an imprint co-founded by former Weddings Parties Anything frontman and now solo performer Michael (Mick) Thomas. Barker remains very popular in Brazil (this is not altogether uncommon for Australian artists including Men at Work), and released a Brazil-only 'best of' entitled Sanctuary in 2002. In 2003 he released an album entitled Backyard Six which featured what is perhaps the finest Australian musical evocation of the Bali bombings yet, Plait Your Hair. In 2005, Barker was invited to join a select group of distinguished Australian songwriters to re-do their own songs retrospectively as part of the Liberation Blue Acoustic Series, a group which also includes Stephen Cummings, Chris Bailey, Mark Seymour, Mick Thomas & Joe Camilleri. Since 1997, Barker has also branched out into acting roles including appearances in Blue Heelers, and Pizza, leading up to a starring role opposite Rachel Griffiths in the 1998 Australian film Amy, created by the acclaimed team of David Parker & Nadia Tass.
He also penned and performed a number of songs for the soundtrack, which also featured artists including Ed Kuepper, Lamb and Philip Judd, formerly of Split Enz. In addition to his own recording and touring commitments, he is presently producing young Adelaide rock act Southpaw. He also performed a ‘surprise’ show at the wedding of a long-time fan in suburban Wattle Park, Melbourne in early 2006. A number of things distinguish Barker’s songwriting and creative output:- Firstly, he is something of a “songwriter’s songwriter,’ and has developed a coterie of prominent industry peers with whom he frequently writes, records and performs. These have included Mark Seymour of Hunters & Collectors, the aforementioned Paul Kelly, and most recently You Am I frontman and solo artist Tim Rogers. Secondly, he has a knack for producing one overwhelmingly evocative stand-out lyric per album, which may not necessarily end up as a single, and on at least one occasion (‘Spirit Level’ from his 1989 release) has been a b-side that keeps reappearing as Barker’s sound or musical compatriots develop and change. ‘Miles to Go’ (co-written with Paul Kelly filled this role on the Reptiles’ ‘After the Show.’ ‘Time Bomb’ from his 1st solo release ‘Happy Man’ performed very well in the 1994 Triple J Hottest 100.
And so on, and so it goes… Thirdly, his backing bands have been training grounds for future instrumentalists who have gone onto bigger acts such as Matt Heydon of the Reptiles who went onto join Jimmy Barnes’ band, Marc Scully (also of the Reptiles) who later joined Ratcat, and Tim Henwood of the eponymous ‘Barker’ who later joined the Superjesus and the Androids. Barker now frequently tours in conjunction with Tim Rogers, particularly to UK & EU destinations and was recently touring in Jimmy Barnes' band for the New Zealand 'In the Heat of Night' tour 06/07. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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