It’d be tough to overestimate the respect that the Grammy-nominated sound man James “Jimbo” Barton commands among musicians, artists and fellow audio architects. Barton is, after all, the man that The Police hired to record their Synchronicity tour, the post-production specialist behind Enya’s new age smash “Orinoco Flow (Sail Away),” and the main mixer for eight seasons of American Idol / itunes downloads. After three decades in the business, Barton’s still taking on some of the highest-profile projects of his career. 30 Seconds To Mars Unplugged, (achieving MTV performance of the year 2011) Barton has just wrapped up Production on the greatly anticipated Queensryche Album due in late June, and is currently in production on Systemec and Messer albums.
Barton certainly paid his dues. He began his career in Australia, playing in various local bands before music production and recording captured his fancy. He was mentored early on by Bill Armstrong at Armstrong Recording Studios and Roger Savage of Soundfirm Australia. After a thorough education in film scoring, mixing and recording orchestral sections, Barton graduated to the traditional "midnight to dawn" sessions so popular amongst the rock and pop set. He rapidly made a name for himself with local bands Split Enz, Crowded House, Mondo Rock, Hunters and Collectors and Men At Work, Business As Usual album, engineered and mixed by Barton, shot to international success on the strength of its #1 single “Who Can It Be Now”
In the early 80s, Barton moved to London to join Peter Collins' production team, located at Trevor Horn's famous Sarm Studios. Peter Collins honed Barton’s arrangement and writing senses to a fine point on productions for UK acts like Phil Lynnot & Gary Moore, Howard Jones and Voice of the Beehive. Forward-thinking North American acts started taking notice of Collins & Barton’s innovative production and sound approach, and before long he was working with Rush (Power Windows, Hold Your Fire) Billy Squire (Enough is Enough) and Queensrÿche (Operation: Mindcrime and Empire). At the same time, Barton was independently mixing and producing titles for Kate Bush, Enya, David Bowie (“Under Pressure”), Phil Collins, Heartland, Alphaville and many more. Barton became so revered for his engineering abilities that producers would often hire him for "day one" of album projects just so they could benefit from his trademark drum sounds.
Following years of session to session trans-Atlantic travel, Barton relocated to the U.S. and enjoyed continued success. He joined forces oncemore with Queensrÿche to co-produce Promised Land and two songs for the Last Action Hero soundtrack, which also included an orchestral version of Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” produced and engineered by Barton. He reunited with Rush to produce, record & mix the five-times platinum, Grammy Nominated DVD and album “Rush In Rio”. He’s since recorded, mixed, composed strings for or produced countless superstars, including Eric Clapton (Barton engineered his seminal Eric Clapton “Unplugged” album), KISS, George Michael, Matchbox Twenty, Rob Thomas, Mötley Crüe, Metallica, Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, Buckcherry and the Black Eyed Peas. And he shows no signs of letting up. If you’re one of the millions of fans that downloads American Idol recordings from iTunes, you’ve heard Barton’s handiwork. Clearly, Barton is still at the top of his game.