Picks and Pans Review: The Corporate World

updated 08/28/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/28/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Gail Ann Dorsey

There's no disputing taste. But when it comes to the bloody British, there's no comprehending it either. Dorsey, a native Philadelphian who moved to London in 1983, has been absolutely lionessed by the rock press in her adopted country.

Granted, she is something of an anomaly: a black woman who plays rough-and-tumble electric guitar and bass and writes in a straightforward pop-rock style. But between the time The Corporate World, her debut, was released to fulsome praise in England last year and the time the album made it over here, something must have been lost in the translation. Or maybe Dorsey's music just doesn't travel well. Though smartly produced by session bass player Nathan East, the songs on The Corporate World lack resolution and focus. Dorsey sprinkles a few nice melodic phrases onto the tracks, but taken as a whole, none are very exciting. As a matter of fact, only the pop-up pop of "Just Another Dream" and the blue-rinsed ballad "So Hard to Let You Go" hold together in a satisfying fashion all the way from beginning to end. Even stellar help like Eric Clapton, Anne Dudley, Steve Ferrone and Jerry Hey can't punch up these compositions.

Dorsey's voice is in no wise extraordinary, though it is used to best effect on slower, sadder songs like "If Only You." What Dorsey resembles most is a bland cross between Joan Armatrading and Brenda Russell. Surely that's nothing to write home about, unless, apparently, you happen to live in a very rainy climate. Hey, maybe Dorsey will be a smash in Portland. (Sire/Reprise)

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