Picks and Pans Review: Feeling Cavalier

UPDATED 05/14/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/14/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT

Ebn-Ozn

Listen to this song: dive-bomber screams and falsetto wails à la David Lee Roth; guitar dishing out power chords like a shovel stoking a furnace; burbling synthesizers; a manic beat. High-tech heavy metal, right? So it sounds; but when you realize you're listening to an ode to a shopping-bag lady ("Oh, gloveless, shattered frailty/The damp wind bites her hands/She shuffles by a restaurant/Towards their garbage cans") instead of the typical heavy-metal paean to potency, you begin to get the gist of Ebn-Ozn's playful genre twisting. Or take I Want Cash, a peppy pogo stick of a tune on a time-honored theme—it dates back to Money (That's What I Want) by Barrett Strong and later the Beatles, and Money Honey by Elvis Presley, 1956. Speaking archly in a voice reminiscent of the Monster Mash, Ebn-Ozn demands "Not trash! hard cash." Then there's Rockin' Robin, the 1958 Bobby Day hit rendered as a slapstick rockabilly romp, with voices distorted by a vocoder (the same gadget that Laurie Anderson uses to make her voice sound like John Huston, the film director). Finally, there are such neo-funk free-for-alls as AEIOU (Sometimes Y) and Pop Art Bop, full of spacy synthesizer effects, tongue-in-cheek raps, bouncing bass lines, prominent percussion and various aural land mines. Ebn-Ozn was hatched two years ago when Ned Liben, an instrumental prestidigitator and studio whiz, was introduced to Robert Rosen, an actor and chameleon-like vocalist who had sung in opera choruses as a kid and starred opposite Karla DeVito in the national tour of The Pirates of Penzance. Like the Detroit duo Was (Not Was), Ebn-Ozn have good ears, ample chops and puckish souls; it's a stimulating combination. (Elektra)

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