If this fourth LP from the Tom Tom Club doesn't do well on the pop charts, it could find a second life as background music on a Jamaican holiday commercial. It's not that the songs aren't good. It's just that listening to their Caribbean party groove is the next best thing to a Club Med trip.
The Tom Toms' driving force is still the husband-and-wife team of ex-Talking Heads bassist Tina Weymouth and drummer Chris Frantz, and while Dark Sneak Love Action isn't the all-night fiesta the group's decade-old debut LP was, it still has enough of a kick to inspire to dance even those who have the rhythm of frying bacon.
Like a good vacation, things start off strong. The first several songs, like "Sunshine and Ecstasy" and a percolating cover of the Hot Chocolate hit, "You Sexy Thing," slide by with a beat that's a bit too lively for reggae and a touch too smooth for disco. Weymouth's breathy vocals add sexiness in the mix, while Frantz's occasional Jerry-Lewis-on-helium background bleats add some cartoon kitsch.
Toward the end of the itinerary, though, the Tom Toms' tunes, with the exception of the bagpipes on "Daddy Come Home," acquire a predictable sameness. Still, Dark Sneak Love Action is a lot cheaper than Club Med, and the threat of sunburn is minimal. (Sire/Reprise)
John Lennon once called his wife-to-be, Yoko Ono, the most famous unknown artist in the world: "Everyone knows who she is, but nobody knows what she does." To many, she'll always be known—rightly or wrongly—as the woman who broke up the Beatles.
The puzzle of Ono the artist may be solved for better or worse with the recent release of Walking on Thin Ice, a compilation of cuts from a six-CD collection of her music entitled Onobox. Many listeners of the sampler alone, which includes bits from Ono's total oeuvre between 1971 and 1985, are likely to find the task daunting.
Her chilling vocals and Lennon's stunning guitar blasts on "Walking on Thin Ice," recorded shortly before he was assassinated in December 1980, and the kicking rhythms of "Kite Song" and "Woman Power" give ample evidence that Ono was definitely ahead of her time. But she fails dismally when she tries to assimilate boogie ("Midsummer New York") or dub reggae ("Don't Be Scared").
The single disc includes a 16-page companion booklet with a collection of photographs and a reprint of a 1973 piece Ono wrote for The New York Times about creativity and the ill-feeling toward her. There are also poems from her book, Grapefruit (1964), suggesting different ways to make sounds and music (for example, "Laugh Piece: Keep laughing a week)." Pretentious twaddle or misunderstood artistry? Walking on Thin Ice will help you make up your own mind. (Ryko-disc)
- Craig Tomashoff,
- Barry Divola.