Picks and Pans Review: Outside Inside
On their eighth album these seven guys from San Francisco have taken the slippery path right down the you-know-whats. They come out the other end with plenty of synthesizers but none of their former disarming (and often charming) satirical bite. The group seems lost without it. This album is a blurry mush of derivative kitsch, noise posing as novelty and attempts to update genres better left alone. The lushly layered opener, She's a Beauty, for instance, is pop shlock that could have come from some dropouts of the Foreigner-Toto school. (Four members of Toto, in fact, sit in on the LP.) Then there's No, Not Again, which couldn't be a more apt name for a song that conjures up the ghost of the early-70s scrap metal band Deep Purple. Sheer cacophony is supplied by a sham of Captain Beefheart's inimitable style in Wild Women of Wongo that is boringly lewd rather than erotic. The Monkey Time, sung by lead singer Fee Waybill with Martha Davis of the Motels, is a quasi-funk number made downright annoying by an insipid call-and-response in the middle and by the fact that it comes so close to really getting off the ground but doesn't until the last 15 seconds. The only semi-saving grace is an Earth, Wind & Fire clone, Tip of My Tongue, which can't help but be inviting and danceable, even if the protagonist whimpers, "No matter what my lips say, you are still the only one." The group's classic tunes have always been mediocre songs dressed up in amusing verbal concoctions. Without any like them, Outside Inside seems wrongside out.
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