Picks and Pans Review: Hard at Play

updated 07/01/1991 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/01/1991 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Huey Lewis and the News

Along with junk bonds, arugula and power ties, Huey Lewis is approaching superannuated status as a remnant of the '80s.

It's not easy suggesting Huey is past his prime, especially when the Bay Area rocker hit the big time so late in his career. But the reality is that Lewis has had one, maybe two decent records sprinkled with catchy riffs and plenty of good time fun. On this sixth album, he and his band come up blank trying to create something as infectious as the tunes that got him to the lop of the heap in the firs I place.

There are traces of the hitmeister behind such car-driving classics as "I Want a New Drug" and "If This Is It." This album's "It Hit Me Like a Hammer" has shoo-bop backup vocals and hummable hooks. The working-stiff anthem "Couple Days Off," with a squad of past and present San Francisco '49ers yelling the title al opportune times, will please fans who like the harder-edge Lewis. The mix, though, is diluted with bland rock—"That's Not Me," for instance. Lewis even tries to throw in cutesy-funny lyrics to break up the monotony on "Best of Me": "Tried to Mary Lou you/ Peggy Sue you/ Right outta my mind."

Lewis said in a recent interview that he didn't feel the pressure of being the hot band of the moment anymore, so he could just go out and play music. Thai's all well and good, but if we're to be convinced that the heart of rock and roll still beats in Huey, he needs to come up with some better material. Otherwise, he threatens to become just old News. (EMI)

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