Picks and Pans Review: Hold An Old Friend's Hand

updated 01/23/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/23/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST


Tiff (MCA) is an old hand at the teen rockette business by this time. She trundles through 10 of the 11 songs on this album in workwomanlike fashion, slurring a line here and going a bit off tune there, but basically holding her own. (The 11th tune is a pretty little guitar solo by Grant Geissman, which seems to have strayed onto this record from another studio.) Her duet with composer-singer Chris Farren on Hearts Never Lie has some feeling in it, for instance. The feminists among the young women in Tiffany's audience might want to ponder the fact that her mentor-manager-producer, George Tobin, would co-write and encourage her to sing such a slavishly demeaning tune as I'll Be the Girl: "I'll be the one who's saving all her love for you/ Make you so proud—do anything you want me to/ You won't even look at those other girls/ When you know how good my lovin' feels." Middle-aged male fantasies, anyone? Candi (I.R.S.) offers Tiffany and Debbie Gibson substantial new competition. The Toronto-based group's lead singer, Candy Pennella, is exuberant enough to compare with her slightly younger contemporaries (she is 21 to Tiffany's 17 and Gibson's 18). And while it's not saying a lot to say that she has more soul than Tiffany or Debbie—Margaret Thatcher has more soul than Tiffany or Debbie—Pennella shows a beyond-her-years understanding of rhythmic subtleties. The rest of the band—bassist Nino Milazzo, drummer Paul Russo and keyboardist Rich Imbrogno—offers her a sturdy rock backing, and producer David Shaw called in some effective backup support, notably including guitarist Kathleen Dyson and some tastefully spotted saxophone and trumpet fills. Ex-Jets member Eugene Hunt adds a reasonably gushy duet vocal on Closer Than Ever. While the songs are all along the lines of romantic fantasies, they vary in tempo and tone enough to make the whole album more than listenable. Add this record to the list of very promising debuts.

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