Picks and Pans Review: Xyz

updated 09/07/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/07/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Andy Summers

Summers was the lead guitarist for the Police, and for this, his first true solo album, he deserves to go to jail, directly to jail, for a variety of musical crimes. (In previous work away from the Police, he has recorded two instrumental records with Robert Fripp and the sound track to Down and Out In Beverly Hills.) Summers' voice at its best resembles Mark Knopfler's after a dose of laudanum. Most of the time it sounds like the moaning of someone who is clinically depressed and out of cigarettes. Many of the songs, like Love Is the Strangest Way and Nowhere, are dank, singsong affairs. Some are so repetitive—Eyes of a Stranger, for example—that it's tempting to check the needle periodically to be sure it isn't skipping. All the songs are un-absorbing but strange. The high-pitched synthesizer motif central to Scary Voices seems to be an imitation of Woody Woodpecker's trademark cackle, for example. At one point, with the chiming clockwork introduction to Almost There, Summers manages to establish a mood reminiscent of the Police, but he doesn't take it anywhere. All these failures would be more acceptable if XYZ were loaded with great guitar riffs, but Summers' supposed forte is conspicuous by its absence. Even when he does solo on slide guitar on The Change, he keeps returning to the same annoying, buzzing note, like a tongue worrying a toothache. This is a singularly unengaging collection. (MCA)

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