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August 10, 1984 - Image 10

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Michigan Daily, 1984-08-10

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Page 10 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, August 10, 1984
Records--

Bonnie Hayes and the Wild
Combo-Brave New Girl
(Bondage Records)
Bonnie Hayes is a longtime San
Francisco club favorite whose failure
so far to get picked up by a major label
seems bewildering, given the fact that
her songs usually sound like they ought
to be leaping off the FM dial as you
cruise the main drag.
Of course, ought is the key word
here, since most of the girlpop that
makes it to the airwaves these days
seems specially designed to be as blan-
dly devoid of personality as possible
(e.g. Cyndi Lauper, Bananarama,
etc.), while Bonnie Hayes proclaims a
confident if familiar persona-win-
some/spunky/been-around type,
playful enough.to be a definite Girl, but
with those adult depth lines around the
edges.
She and her band, the Wild Combo,
released a medium-to-irresistable LP
of pure happy pop, Good Clean Fun, in
1982 on Slash, but poor marketing
prevented it from finding a wide
audience. The band now has an EP on
the Bondage label, Brave New Girl, and
though the departure from party pop to
a more varied approach has mixed
results, Hayes remains strongly ap-
pealing, and overdue for national ex-
posure.
Although a band-financed venture,
Brave New Girl has unusually
elaborate and clear production values
for a grassroots effort. "Brave New
Girl," "Wild Heart" and "Night
Baseball" are all strong it's-party-time

compositions, flawed only by a lead
guitar that's a bit too hellbent on con-
ventional rock riffing to suit the songs'
light touch. "Maria" is an oddly
touching love/friendship song with a
very gentle Latino touch.
"After Houra" is a smoky piano-
based love song in the quasi-jazz Rickie
Lee Jones category that seems a touch
too wistfully evasive in performance to
cut it-the more bare-bones playing on
Good Clean Fun's "Coverage" worked
better as a sensitivity break. The un-
flawed hit of the EP is "Incom-
municado," a perfectly swell dan-
cefloor song with clever patter lyrics
and excellent production.
The Wild Combo is a terrific live
band, and Bonnie's sense of classic-pop
composition is potentially wonderful.
All they need is a label and producer to
pore her songs down to their A-plus pop
basica. When/if that happens, we'll lose
another regional cult figure and gain a
new FM dance party sex sym-
bol-which is fine, since Bonnie Hayes
and the Wild Combo are a populist pop
band in the best sense.
- Dennis Harvery
Tony Carey - Some Tough
City (MCA)
Tony Carey is some tough dude. Or at
least he'd lead us to believe: with his
long, stringy hair, leather jacket, and
chiseled looks, Carey resembles an Ar-
nold Schwartzeneggar younger sibling
contest winner-and in fact, it could be
that very kind of noteriety that got him
a record contract in the first place.
'Cuz it certainly isn't the music. Sure,

all the instruments are played OK-ly
here-but in terms of the content, Some
Tough City is a dud. And worse than
that-it's a (gasp .) conceptual dud!
Yes, in the tradition of the Alan Par-
sons Project and latter-day Pink Floyd,
Tony Carey has given the tongue-
wagging populace a thematic disc full
of inner-city angst, broken family ties,
and trad love lyrics. I mean, with
Reagan threatening to ascend the
Presidential throne again, what else
should we ruminate about?
Actually, it's kind of encouraging to
see Carey trying to inject his songs with
different emotions and focal points. But
the key word here is trying. Like the
Boss - Bruce Springsteen - Carey
favors a guitar-thickened, low-brow,
songwriter, mode in which to express
his concreted heartaches; yet by
choosing another writer who is, him-
self, stuck in a subjective rut, Carey
gives us second-generation appraisals
of The World without consulting his
heart first.
F'r instance, the smasheroo, "A
Fine, Fine Day," chronicles the coming
home and subsequent wiping out of Un-
cle Sonny, who blows back into town af-
ter a lengthy jail sentence only to get
his just/unjust desserts from the thugs
whom he slighted. Dandy. A good step
or three out of the "Footloose" realm,
but so packed with pretentious
dramatics that the histrionic
bugalooing of "Footloose" begins to
sound refreshingly vapid. Now there's
a bad sign.
There are a few weirdly collective in-
fluences at work in the Carey mystique.
Our scraggly friend sings in a style

reminiscent of the Eagles' Don Henley,
he of "Hotel California" and solo "Dir-
ty Laundry" breathiness, with the
proper amount of phlegmy gruff mixed
in to give the tunes more balls-Nerf
balls.
In other cases, Carey semi-apes the.
intro riff from "Layla" ("First Day of
Summer"), and the synthesizers are
strictly from the noodlers' school (as in
the wimpy triplets a-la Foreigner's
"Waiting For A Girl Like You" in "Tin-
seltown," an impassioned try at being
scathing - but aren't they all? The
drums go boom, there are lots of
deedle-dees played on guitar, and side
two has a couple of prime cases of.
vocoder misuse.
Some Tough City has been packaged
with care. The confusing jacket
graphics become more coherent if one
sees Carey's MTV excursions, which
tie-in neatly with "A Fine, Fine Day"'s
dual-edged tragedies-the most ob-
vious being presented in the tale Carey
warbles about, and the biggest being
that the flaccid Hollywood-isms of
(these, in particular) videos and
albums as autonomous items are
beginning to merge even more
drastically.
It's not necessary to see the "Fine,
Fine Day" video to get any more sense
out of the song than is already laid out
domino-style for the listeners in the
lyrics, but the fact that Carey has seen
to it that the dividing lines blur further
is, to me, disheartening...and pretty
damn unoriginal. Some Tough City is
some boring album.
-Larry Dean

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