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Music Reviews

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August 25, 1993

The Happy Club

Bob GeldofBob Geldof, The Happy Club (Polydor 1992) -- Irish pop-rocker Bob Geldof returns from a three-year hiatus with this message-laden serving of ear-candy.

The Happy Club is pop with a twist. Geldof, best known in this country for his efforts on behalf of Band Aid and Live Aid, is no stranger to American radio, having previously charted with the Boomtown Rats.

The Happy Club was recorded during a ten-day period, and the infectious studio energy shows. The sound is driven by guitars, bass, keyboard and drums, with well-placed visits from the string section, the squeezebox, and Karl Wallinger (from World Party) on assorted instruments.

The catchy title track has summertime single written all over it, as does the bouncy, semi-nonsense "Attitude Chicken." On the more serious side, "Down on Me" features a heavier, chuggin' sound, and "The Soft Soil" features a Van Morrison-type celtic sound.

However, the raw energy from the studio fizzles on the overtly political "Roads of Germany" and on the spoken poem "The House at the Top of the World."

Mr. Geldof's a well-trained popmeister, with an eye on the bigger picture. It's interesting to note his observation that "Europe is very wealthy, very armed, and very tribal." The Happy Club is pop for the thinking man -- Sting without all the anguish.

Robin ZanderRobin Zander, Robin Zander (Interscope 1993) -- Robin Zander, a founding member of Cheap Trick, makes his solo debut with this Jimmy Iovine-produced effort.

Robin is clearly an old studio hand, and is ready to bridge from arena rock to a mellower, more accessible sound. While Robin's pop vision may be more mainstream than Geldof's, the result is a disk that avoids the clinkers while serving up a satisfying and smoothly-textured pop sound.

Highlights on the album include "Show Me Heaven," a slower ballad with Stevie Nicks on backup vocals, an uptempo cover of Nilsson's "Jump Into The Fire, and the friendly "Time Will Let You Know," with a sound that harkens to recent George Harrison.

The clear choice for a single is "Boy (I'm So In Love With You"), a duet with Christiana Amphlett of the Divinyls that throws a passing nod towards Iggy Pop & Kate Pierson's "Candy."

Cheap Trick never died -- they just mellowed out a bit. If Robin hooked up with Petty/Harrison/Lynne at the boards (ala the Traveling Wilburys), he might release a monster album. Keep an eye on Mr. Zander.

Glenn FreyGlenn Frey, Live (MCA 1993) -- Admit it. The Eagles were great. Sometimes you want to hear Frey and Henley so bad it hurts. Inside. They were that good.

While Live doesn't scale those Olympian heights, it shows that Glenn is still a crowd-pleaser. Backed by a ten-piece band, Live was recorded in front of Dublin audience in July 1992 (but not released until July 1993 -- see below).

The disk features a number of old Eagles favorites, including "New Kid in Town," "Lyin' Eyes," and "Desperado," while also mixing in a fair batch of Glenn's solo efforts, including "Strange Weather," "Smuggler's Blues," and "True Love." If you need a fix of the Eagles, get Live. It's as close as you'll come.

The Rest of the Story -- Here's a confusing matter. Live was recorded in July 1992, but wasn't released until July 1993. Why did it take a whole year to get from concert hall to the record store?

To satisfy my curiosity, I called MCA publicity in Los Angeles. The friendly voice told me that "You know, it just takes time. You can't release these things overnight. Plus, there are marketing decisions. You don't understand."

That's right. I don't understand. By the time this disk hit the stores, this performance was ancient history. For all we know, Glenn might even be playing with a new band. It doesn't really matter why it took so long to reach the stores. I was just wondering.

Sticky Silver Labels -- We all hate those damned sticky silver labels (called "dogbones") on CD cases. Here's two tips for removing them (neither vetted by the EPA nor any other authority).

The homeopathic solution is to use the label itself to remove any remaining material. That is, as soon as you peel off the dogbone, tamp it (sticky side down) against the residue on the CD case and lift up. Most of the leftover adhesive will be removed.

The "better-living-through-chemicals" solution is to use rubber cement thinner (available at most hobby shops). The active ingredient is one of the components of gasoline, so use the thinner only in a well-ventilated space, and avoid all sparks and flames. However, it does work. Might affect the genepool, but at least it won't destroy your CD cases.

-- Randy Krbechek

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