Picks and Pans Review: Casual Gods

updated 03/21/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/21/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

Jerry Harrison

Remember the oversize suit jacket that Talking Heads front man David Byrne wore in the film Stop Making Sense? Director Jonathan Demme's stark lighting made Byrne's gangly frame, encased in that tentlike garment, cast a large shadow over the other band members. The technique was effective symbolically, underscoring Byrne's formidable presence in the group, but it was perhaps unfair to his ultratalented supporting cast. Keyboardist/guitarist Jerry Harrison's funky second solo album is indicative of how the other Heads swell with creativity too. Rev It Up is typical, with Alex Weir's guitar and Arlene Holmes's soulful background vocal generating a slinky feel that primes all the limbs for shakin'. The elusiveness of finding the perfect mate is a constant theme, as in Are You Running? "Let me put my arms around you/ And remember how it used to be.../ Is it really over or is it about to begin?" The lively reggae tune A Perfect Lie, enhanced by Bernie Worrell's bass synthesizer fills, could induce Byrne to tap Harrison's Rastafarian rhythmic reserves on the next Heads album. Harrison does the lead vocals and his voice often sounds like an enthused Lou Reed, while his songwriting style mimics Roxy Music in spots. Basically, though, he reflects his influences only sparingly. This is not a grab bag of hits; Byrne is more adept at that kind of thing. Casual Gods is still much more than just a token solo effort. It is a major step for a gifted musician. (Sire)

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