Picks and Pans Review: Vegetarians of Love

updated 10/22/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/22/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Bob Geldof

The impresario of the 1985 Live Aid concerts assembles a miniorchestra of acoustic instruments to give his second solo album a warm, Celtic feel. Perky violins and penny whistle sounds flood from the speakers. Unfortunately that isn't always enough to make up for Geldof's writing, which is uneven, and chameleon voice, which often takes on the coloring of other pop stars.

On "A Gospel Song," for instance, Geldof sounds like a mediocre pre-1966 Bob Dylan. Geldof recovers nicely on the punchy rocker "Love or Something," co-written with Eurythmic Dave Stewart. Then he sits down with an acoustic guitar to fire off the understated "The Great Song of Indifference," a rare political tune that doesn't scold but makes its point: "I don't care if the Third World fries/ It's hotter there I'm not surprised/ Baby I can watch whole nations die/ And I don't care at all."

Half of the songs are spotty. How can a composition called "Thinking Voyager 2 Type Things" be anything but ponderous? And you have to check the credits to make sure it's Geldof, and not Mark Knopfler, singing "Walking Back to Happiness."

Is the album a washout? Far from it. But in the past Geldof has shown an ability to set himself apart (try "I Don't Like Mondays" from his Boomtown Rats days). This record is too seldom inspired, too often derivative. (Atlantic)

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