Picks and Pans Review: Bangin'

updated 07/20/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/20/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The Outfield

You couldn't place these three guys in left, center and right at, say, Wrigley Field; they're Cockney lads from East London who had never even been to a baseball game until last year. (They chose a baseball name to be perverse, fulfilling the inexorable logic of the rock 'n' roll business.) You could, however, place them somewhere in a continuum including the Police, Dire Straits and the old Men at Work, and they would be perfectly at home. Lead singer-bassist Tony Lewis has a cool, always slightly reined-in voice. Drummer Alan "Plug" Jackman knows how to keep the band charged up without becoming overbearing. Guitarist John Spinks usually plays with a bright, clear tone and writes the band's songs. He acknowledges that he is not a philosopher: "We're not a political band," he has said. "We're not trying to put across any deep ideas about changing the world. You enjoy these songs or you don't. You can put these songs on while you're driving. They make you feel good. What more can you ask?" So maybe this isn't the way Eugene O'Neill got started. Spinks does have a sense of melody, and his songs are laid out with plenty of attractive background riffs. The band lapses only rarely into a muddy, too-heavy rock style, and the pace changes enough for variety's sake. This, the group's second album, confirms that the Outfield belongs in the pop-music big leagues. (Columbia)

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