Biography All Music Guide
Group Members: Steve Barton
All Music Guide:
Inspired by the Beatles, the four-piece Translator featured two singer/songwriter/guitarists (Steve Barton and Bob Darlington) and a sound that spanned Merseybeat and stripped-down rock to psychedelia. Larry Dekker on bass and Dave Scheff on drums completed the lineup, a constant during the band's initial seven-year run, as well as for their sporadic, post-breakup reunion appearances. Formed in Los Angeles in 1979, Translator relocated to San Francisco where they were signed to Howie Klein's independent label, 415 Records, on the strength of the demo tape they sent to college radio station KUSF; the loose and rambling yet laconic "Everywhere That I'm Not" remained the band's signature tune.
The song was featured on Translator's debut album Heartbeats and Triggers (415/Columbia, 1982), which was produced by David Kahne and became an underground and college radio hit, though its 1983 follow-up, the Kahne-produced No Time Like Now, didn't fare as well. Breaking away from a tight new wave formula and finding a simpatico producer in Ed Stasium, the band created a lush third album simply titled Translator (1985).
As the decade wore on, they increasingly explored psychedelia, and live shows became three-hour affairs filled with traditional San Francisco rock-style jamming. Evening of the Harvest (1986) was the sound of a mature band and their most realized statement to date, as it fused rock with the band's increasingly nuanced side. And yet, it signaled their end. That year Columbia issued Everywhere That I'm Not: A Retrospective; two more CD retrospectives Translation (Oglio, 1995) and Everywhere That We Were: The Best of Translator (Columbia Legacy, 1996) followed, and the band took some brief shots at reuniting in 1993 and in 1995. In 1996, ten years after their official breakup, the band was paid its highest compliment when Beatles fans mistook their take of the instrumental "Cry for a Shadow" for a new recording by the Fab Four from the Anthology sessions (in fact it was an old Translator B-side). Translator continued to reunite on occasion, and Barton also worked as a solo recording artist. In 2006 Translator appeared at the annual SXSW festival in Austin, TX, where their tight, stripped-down rock of the '80s sounded right in line with the 21st century's back-to-basics rock.