Picks and Pans Review: The Big Heat

updated 05/12/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/12/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Stan Ridgway

For Stan Ridgway life is like an old detective movie, full of furtive con men and tough dames who hide their daily crimes in the gray mist of the city. The Big Heat, Ridgway's first solo album, sizzles with the stories of such characters set to music. In Drive She Said, Ridgway takes on the persona of a cab driver who finds himself speeding a lady bank robber to safe escape. In the title song, Ridgway plays a detective in 1992 tracking down a missing man as bystanders tell him, "You gotta watch the ones who always keep their hands clean." Other songs on the album give sharp, snapshot images of a sleazy peep show, a menacing construction crew and a two-bit traveling salesman. Ridgway, who contributed a song to Lost in the Stars, the recent album tribute to composer Kurt Weill, seems at times to emulate Weill's jazz-inspired melodies. His crisp, quirky voice and meticulous delivery of every syllable also give his songs the feeling of cabaret music from Weill's era, updated with a rock beat. In 1983 Ridgway won young fans with his nicely goofy Mexican Radio video, made with his former band, Wall of Voodoo. The Big Heat should now win him warm regards from adult audiences. This is mature music, short on sentimentality, long on imagination and style. (I.R.S.)

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