Dog Detachment



  1. Barriers
  2. White Flag
  3. I will be there
  4. Beat the Drum
  5. Secrets
  6. Heartwheels and Mindmills
  7. Subhuman
  8. Monochrome Man
  9. I come running
  10. Love will come

Recorded at Universal Studios except 'I come running' recorded at RPM Studios


  • Brian Armstrong: vocals, guitar
  • Terry Armstrong: bass, vocals
  • Alan Armstrong: drums

  • Sharon and Anne Armstrong: backing vocals

Release information:

16 October 1989, Teal Trutone

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After the relative commercial success of "Fathoms of Fire", one thought that Dog Detachment would build on this and go on to bigger and greater things. Sadly this did not happen and it was no fault of the music they made. "Barriers", their 3rd album seemed to sneak out of the record companies back door without so much as a peep about it on the radio or in the press. It is criminal that this album was ignored, if anything it was a more accessable album then either of it's two predecessors.

The anger of "The Last Laugh" and the broodiness of "Fathoms of Fire" had subsided, but this is definitely not at the expense of great tunes. There is still an edge to Brian Armstrong's angst filled vocals, there are still the great guitar riffs and an overall maturity to this album that should have made people sit up and listen. The anthemic "Beat the Drum", the pop sensibilities of "Heartwheels and Mindmills", the harsher "Secrets", and the big sound of "Love will Come" all combine to create an album of balanced diversity.

A political element filters into the lyrics. 'United stand, divided fall, let's start standing one and all' from "Beat the Drum" alludes to the ironic motto of the country Ex Unitas Vires (Unity is Strength).

Other strong tunes are the pacey and dramatic "Monochrome Man" and "I come Running" both being upbeat with some great riffs.

Dog Detachment have always made great music, all three of their albums are worth owning and that is a tribute to their ability to combine anger, angst and unrequited love with melodic, guitar driven tunes. If you like "The Last Laugh" or "Fathoms of Fire", there is no reason why you shouldn't love this album. Why didn't the record company and radio have faith in this. On "White Flag", Dog Detachment ask 'Where did we go wrong ?', a fair question as they produced a worthy follow up to the brilliant "Fathoms". I don't think they did anything wrong. It's ironic that an album containing the lyric 'Give me the white flag' turned out to be the last from this great underrated group.

The good news is that there is a possibility of a retrospective CD release of Dog Detachment material in the new year. Hopefully they get the recognition they deserved.
-- John Samson, October 2000

To my taste, 'Barriers' is a better album than Dog Detachment's excellent 'Fathoms of Fire' (Reviewed in the SA Rock Digest #109). "To my taste" means not only more up tempo rock songs but more substance to the lyrics as well. The lyrics are intelligent, cleverly written, and the rhymes flow effortlessly. 'Fathoms of Fire' is excellent; 'Barriers' is great. And I don't use the word "great" lightly. This one strikes a chord in me.

On 'Barrier's', Dog Detachment forsakes the ambiguity of the previous album (by "ambiguity" I mean a statement of two meanings, not a statement that is unclear). 'Barriers' is clearly about the changing times in South Africa during the mid-Eighties, and the struggle for freedom. Also, to me, it is clearly about the world in the year 2001 and beyond.

'Barriers' begins with a bang, with a song titled 'Barriers'. This song accuses those in the way of progress of crying "crocodile tears" and of claiming the problems are not their fault, while "...the mountains and the rivers all scream your guilt...." Like the rest of the album, this is powerful and timeless music that still resonates, and could apply to other peoples in other lands.

The rock anthem 'White Flag' is a plea for an end to violence and war. "Give me a white flag...." Nice background thrushes, too.

'I Will Be There' promises: "I will be there to catch you when you fall." A love song if any song on 'Barriers' is one. Though there are more traditional love songs here, too. 'I Come Running' is one, with the refrain, "Love is blind". At times rock is, and should be, about love, no?

The unavoidably infectious thumping tune 'Beat the Drum' is one of the songs on this album with overtly political lyrics (but one without specific names, places, times, etc.) is one of several that you will later enjoy without playing the album. It lodges in the brain, pleasantly. "Beat the drum, Africa, beat the drum if you can/ Say what's on your mind when no one really seems to give a damn...."

'Monochrome Man' -- a song about society, along the lines of 'Mr. Jones' or 'Nowhere Man', as well one that is overtly political. It sings of not wishing to " in slavery...." and "Don't make me a monochrome man...."

The dirge-like in pace, but not depressing, 'Love Will Come' closes the album. A sober and thoughtful finish.

There are other songs on the album equally melodic and smartly written, but those mentioned stand out by virtue of some musical hook or lyrical cleverness that makes them noteworthy.

All in all, 'Barriers' is a wonderful set of songs. As on 'Fathoms of Fire', Dog Detachment has the 80s sound, which still sounds great to me. Additionally, the lyrics are still relevant for all nations today, not just South Africa -- however you interpret the lyrics.

Musically, this album is fine rock, and when one listens closely to the well-crafted lyrics, a powerful and intense rock album emerges.

While 'Barriers' is partly of its place and time lyrically and musically, it also has the timeless rock quality of Dog Detachment's 'Fathoms of Fire'. Both are rock albums for thinking people everywhere.
-- Kurt Shoemaker, June 2001


Info and cover scan supplied by John Samson, April 2000. Additional info from Martin Probert, May 2000.

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