Picks and Pans Review: Transmissions

UPDATED 09/19/1988 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 09/19/1988 at 01:00 AM EDT

Gentlemen Without Weapons

If someone ever decides to resurrect the old Daktari TV series and jazz it up for the New Age era, here is a perfect sound track. Billed by A & M as "the first rock and roll New Age record," this assemblage of computer-driven sounds and animal noises is the product of three nature-loving Brits. Kenny Young competes with a gibbon and a woodpecker for lead vocals, Nick Glennie-Smith is in charge of "programming and piloting Fairlight III" and other machinery, and Vic Coopersmith-Heaven is stuck with the daunting task of "sound-shaping." All three have at one time worked with such noted Homo sapiens as the Stones and Paul McCartney. Young co-wrote the Drifters' hit Under the Boardwalk. Vic and the other lads attempt to integrate dozens of natural sounds with pseudopop-funk melodies while simultaneously raising people's consciousness about the perilous condition of the environment. Actor John Hurt gives a short reading smack dab in the middle of Rain of Terror, describing the legacy of acid rain on the ecosystem, but he is practically drowned out by a menagerie including a peacock, a badger and a choir of termites, though it's impossible to distinguish one creature from another. The liner notes include such eco-trivia as the "Dirty Dozen Pesticides" picked by a group called the Pesticide Action Network as most hazardous to everyone and everything. This is food for thought but other nagging questions remain: Can a humpback whale or a gibbon receive royalties? And would Marlin Perkins have considered Transmissions danceable? (A & M)

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