Picks and Pans Review: Meet John Doe

updated 09/03/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/03/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

John Doe

There is more than a note of irony in the album title. As the leader of the L.A. punk band X, Doe (his legal name) has gotten used to critical raves even as he and ex-wife co-leader Exene Cervenka toil away in commercial anonymity. Now X hasn't released a record for two years, and on this first solo album, Doe finds himself starting the search for attention all over again.

He's off to a strong beginning. Doe seems to fancy himself a pumped-up Eddie Cochran, leaning heavily toward rockabilly while retaining much of the sonic force of his old band. He paces himself well as he starts off with the let's-rumble rocker "Let's Be Mad." Then Doe winds his way to the bluesy-boozy "Dyin' to Get Home," and he shows off his humorous side singing about a lost soul killing a bottle of tequila: "Maybe my dreams will come true/'Cause I'm French kissin' that worm thinkin' of you."

His choices for cover songs are dead-on, from the tear-stained, hankie-wringing Hank Cochran tune "It's Only Love" to the muscular "Knockin' Around" by Butch Hornsby. Exene teams up with Doe as co-writer on the lovely slow-tempo "Take 52," though she doesn't perform on the album. (It might have been nice to hear Cervenka's anomalous harmony style.)

If Doe's voice lacks a certain suppleness, he makes up for it in conviction and sheer strength. This, clearly, is no average Doe. (DGC)

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