This issue is likely one of the last ones I read at my parents’ house (though nothing in it possesses any familiarity)—I would have been just a few weeks away from embarking on my graduate studies in the Land of Lincoln. I have no idea when Dad let the subscription lapse, but it probably didn’t continue too much longer.
The format had changed somewhat while I was in college: Recordings of Special Merit were no more after March 1984, and there are seemingly fewer featured reviews overall. It’s still a pleasure for me to take a trip back in time, though.
On the equipment side, there’s a lengthy “special report” on Japanese audio technology, as well as something on “How to Buy a Receiver.” The centennial of Franz Liszt’s death was 7/31/86, and SR raises a glass in tribute by identifying some of their favorite recordings of Liszt’s work.
Our reviewers this month are Chris Albertson, Phyl Garland, Alanna Nash, Mark Peel, Peter Reilly, and Steve Simels. Joel Vance had left the building by this point, and I didn’t find anything with Reilly’s name on it in this issue,either.
Best of the Month
–Reba McEntire, Whoever’s in New England (AN) “…(I)t’s certain that McEntire…has not only revived the woman-to-woman genre, but that she has also confirmed her place alongside Wynette and Wells as one of the formost woman singers in the history of country music.”
–Stan Ridgway, The Big Heat (MP) “A bizarre collision of styles, but it works…(o)ne of the real finds of 1986.” Songs from Ridgway’s follow-up LP Mosquitos have gotten play here a couple of times, but I’ve not taken time for The Big Heat; that’s about to change.
–The Cult, Love (MP) “Everything else recedes before the awesome display of heavy-metal firepower by guitarist William Duffy.”
–The Rolling Stones, Dirty Work (Louis Meredith). “…sounds more like temp work.”
–James Williams, Progress Report (CA) “This is not just another jazz album. We will remember this one long after the fusioneers have synthesized their last notes…”
Selected Other LPs Reviewed
–Hüsker Dü, Candy Apple Grey (SS) “The counterpoint between Mould’s anthems of confusion…and Hart’s pop tunes…make for one of the neatest sweet-and-sour experiences since Lennon and McCartney.”
–Jermaine Jackson, Precious Moments (PG) “(Michael’s) brother Jermaine not only possesses more substantial musical gifts but is a better singer.”
–Judas Priest, Turbo (MP)
–The Moody Blues, The Other Side of Life (MP) “There ought to be a warning about the mushbrain lyrics, but it’s fun.”
–The Rave-Ups, Town and Country (AN) “If you can imagine the kind of music a band made up of Pete Townshend, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Brian Wilson, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins might make, then you have an idea of what to expect from the Rave-Ups.” The band plays “Positively Lost Me,” the lead track on Town and Country, in a scene in the movie Pretty in Pink (lead Rave-Up Jimmer Podrasky was seeing Molly Ringwald’s sister at the time; they eventually had a kid whose name graced the band’s third and final album). You have to go looking for this album, but it’s good.
–The Swimming Pool Q’s, Blue Tomorrow (MP) “(Their) savvy feel for Eighties pop rhythms…combined with an old-fashioned acoustic sensibility and applied to material that evokes bands like the Byrds, the old Jefferson Airplane, and even Peter, Paul and Mary, make the Swimming Pool Q’s one of the most original bands in pop.” I was thinking their previous album (self-titled and their major-label debut) had been a Best of the Month, but I’m not finding any evidence of that right now.
–The Violent Femmes, The Naked Leading the Blind (SS)
–Dwight Yoakam, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. (AN) “But Yoakam…may also have been too cool for Nashville in the late Seventies, so now he’s come through the same door that Emmylou Harris did a decade ago—winning the hip, pop California audience with a music of intense, hardscrabble purity.”
–Jeannie and Jimmy Cheatham, Midnight Mama (CA) “All in all, this album is a joy from beginning to end, a wonderful reminder of a time when groups like Louis Jordan’s Tympany Five….stirred a whole lot of fun into a rhythmic jazz blend.”
–Paula Hatcher, Rise and Shine! (CA)
–Kazumi Watanabe, Mobo Splash (CA) “Watanabe himself is both adept and creative, but there is still something cold and metallic about it all.”