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New Music Reviews 1

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Robert Krajewski

Feb 5, 1984, 11:15:30 PM2/5/84
Some of these records are kind of old, but still noteworthy...

Talking Heads: Speaking in Tongues
[Sire, album]
Talking Heads: ``Making Flippy Floppy'' b/w ``Slippery People''
[Sire, 12" single]
It is hard to say whether the marketplace has finally come around to the
Talking Heads or the other way around. The album is uncharacteristic in
its consolidation of previous Heads approaches. The funk is as heavy as
anything off the previous two studio albums, but the songs are more
structured, like ``More Songs...'' David Byrne has supplied rather
cryptic lyrics; after a few listens, you know he's trying to conjure
some kind of backwoods/inner city fusion of ``roots'' while still trying
to be detached from the subject matter. Even so, it's the most
straightforward album they've done, and ``This Must Be the Place''
finally breaks through any of David Byrne's obsessions.

Dolby's Cube: ``Get Out of My Mix''
[Capitol, 12" single]
An interesting remix of ``Science'' and ``Europa,'' with a very heavy
rhythm/bass section and a dub-influenced mix. I hear it's going down
very well in the hipper black dance clubs.

New Order: ``Confusion''
[Streetwise/Factory, 12" single]
New Order and hip-hopmeister Arthur Baker colloborated on this single
which sounds much better on the dance floor than in the living room.
The exciting, percolating rhythm and New Order's first acid-rock guitar
solo (well, since you-know-what, anyway) are marred by a typically weak
melody (New Order have never grown tired of small, minor interval steps
in their melodies) and noncommital lyrics. This record has four mixes;
the ``Rough Mix'' is the best.

Three O'Clock: Baroque Hoedown
[Frontier, EP]
The Three O'Clock are probably the only ``real'' revivalists on the LA
psychedelic scene. This EP shows a command of the genre, but sometimes
they're so good at it they lose all originality. However, ``As Real As
Real,'' even with the fake British vocal from head honcho Mike Quercio,
is still one of prettier songs to come out of the American independent
scene. (But nothing compares to REM...) Certainly it's the best
engineered indie release of '83...

The Beat: What Is Beat ?
[Go-Feet, album, England]
The Beat: What Is Beat ?
[IRS, album]
It's not clear whether the [English] Beat have broken up, or if they
will simply continue on without Dave Wakling or Ranking Roger. Anyway,
their record companies on both sides of the pond have decided it's time
for a retrospective (and after only three albums and some random
singles). Suffice to say that either collection is a good introduction
to this pop band that has blended rock (even the Velvet Underground can
be heard in ``Save It For Later,'' especially in the remix), ska, modern
reggae 'n' dub, and good ol' American soul into an intelligent and
seamless potpourri. The British collection (pressed in Germany, on a
sub-label [Go-Feet] of a Briish division [Arista] of Hansa !) is mostly a
straight greatest-hits package (with the first copies also incorporating
an extra album of dance mixes). The IRS version has a much different
cover and selection, including some live versions and two random single
single cuts that don't really measure up to the album material.

Bill Nelson: Chimera
[Mercury, EP, England]
Elegant synthpop and stylish guitar, with Yokohiro Takahashio from YMO.
BeBop Deluxe fans should check it out, too. A Bill Nelson sampler
containing a few cuts from this record and his previous two solo albums
is out now on Portrait in America; it's a good place to start if you're
curious and don't want to shell out $11 each for the solo albums.

Jon Hassell: Aka/Darbari/Java :: Magic Realism
[Editions EG, album]
Interesting, but nothing really that different (from Dream Theory).
Even though the components that Hassell creates are interesting in
themselves, it still seems more like an academic exercise than
expression through admittedly very exotic rhythms (from the South
Pacific and other far-away-places and techniques). Also, the same old
ultra-processed trombone sound gets to be monotonous after a while.

Lyres: ``I Really Need You Right Now'' b/w ``Help You Ann''
[Ace of Hearts, single]
A very punk/psyche pair of songs from this Boston band that would sound great
in '66 OR '83. The A-side is a rousing rocker with incredily tremoloed gtr,
while the flip is more subdued, but still energetic.

John Foxx: The Golden Section
[Virgin, album, England]
The former Ultravox lead singer and songwriter finds himself sliding
towards predictable commerciality and also the danger of repeating
himself. The sound is like a sleek version of ``Systems of Romance,''
but nowhere near as exciting. A few of the songs are distinguishably
pretty, but none more than most of the stuff of his previous album,
``The Garden.'' And forget looking for the rarified delights of

Big Country: ``In A Big Country (Pure Mix)'' b/w ``All of Us'' & ``In a
Big Country'' [Phonogram, 12" single, England]
``Fields of Fire (alternative mix)'' b/w ``Angle Park'' &
``Fields of Fire'' [Phonogram, 12" single, England]
The Crossing [Mercury album]
Big Country is a refreshing group with a rousing sound, that is,
unfortunately, still in search of first rate material. However, three
songs, ``In a Big Country,'' ``Fields of Fire,'' and ``Chance,'' manage
to bring across quite clearly the feeling that (I have heard) is more
strongly generated in concert. I especially like the way the 12" mixes
of the first two tunes stretch out (they LEAP out right at you).

The Remains: Diddy Wah Diddy
[Eva, album, France]
The Remains were the best band to come out of Boston in the 60s; they were
opening acts for the Stones and the Beatles, and managed to have one
incredible hit single (``Don't Look Back'') and a mildly successful album on
Epic in 1966. This LP contains the album and some other tracks from the
vaults, as well as liner notes that were almost certainly translated from
French. A must for the r&r connoisseur.

Culture Club: Colour By Numbers
[Epic/Virgin, album]
Boy George & Co. have come out with an album that is much more assured than
``Kissing To Be Clever.'' Their secret weapon is vocalist Helen Terry, a
soul/gospel shouter who must be heard to be beleived. There is less concern in
the lyrics about the ``black boy''/``white boy''-ness and more attention paid
to realising the heavily Motown sound.

U2: Under A Blood Red Sky
[Island, album]
Stunning live versions of the best from War, Boy, and October (plus a new song
and ``11 O'Clock Tick Tock'') make this a great record, and a great buy too,
(it's at the mini-LP price). Highly recommended, awesome, etc.

Various: Slash: The Early Sessions
[Slash, album]
With two songs each by X and the Blasters, the compilation shows the strength
of the American independent scene that is centered in LA. Also included are
the Violent Femmes (now reportedly causing quite a stir in the UK), the Dream
Syndicate, ``Sex Beat'' by the Gun Club, Rank and File, ``New York's All Right
if You Like Saxaphones'' by Fear, and the very early LA punks the Germs with
``In My Eye.''

Beastie Boys: ``Cookie Puss'' b/w ``Beastie Revolution''
[Important, 12" single]
Hardcore meets scratch and dub ! It was only a matter of time, I suppose.
The BBs have quite a sense of humour, scratch mixing Steve Martin (My Real
Name, remember ?) alongside a telephone saga of searching for the elusive
Carvel Delicacy. (There's a censored version included for the easily
offended.) ``Beastie Revolution'' pokes gentle fun at the dub style, and is
interesting in its right.

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