According to the tape insert: "One of our signatures is a reciprocal feeding with the audience." That may be, but most of the performances herein don't feature any trace of an audience at all, or end with only a smattering of applause. Were these live tunes cut during a sound check or were the fans too busy collecting the cans to show up at the gigs?
It's commendable that this band plays as well as it does to what often sounds like an empty club. Mr. Lee is a pleasant enough lead vocalist, but one who rarely tests the limits of his Eric Clapton style of crooning. He could really use a Bobby Whitlocklike counterpoint, somebody who'll throw in the odd harmony here and there and add some gasoline to the fire. The vocals almost seem like an afterthought, what with the assembled 14 songs averaging more than seven minutes each and being padded with the sort of jamming that you'd thought punk killed off eons ago. Why turn in a pointless cover of "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" and compound the mistake by playing the thing for 15 minutes and 23 seconds? Life's too short for all this soup-stretching.
The most fetching originals lg&b have to offer are the slow ones, like "She Was a Fine Girl," "These Days" and, especially, "Angel Still," which sounds like "Heaven," a great, unappreciated Stones track from Tattoo You. Like the Stones, the members of lg&b are pretty advanced in people years, so it's unlikely they'll be changing the way they approach their music. But it might be wise to diversify and try to pull in more of the youngsters. After all, lg&b's gonna need a lot more aluminum if it wants to put out a boxed set someday. Call 1-602-717-1783.
The latest heavy-, speed- or death-metal refugee from California to relocate to Phoenix is San Luis Obispo's Intrinsic. This quintet sent in a second- or third-generation tape containing seven songs from an upcoming album, with some good ol' tape hiss thrown in, as well. Because of that, it's hard to decipher whether the double bass drum pedaling at the top of "Up for the Slam" is the work of a well-programmed drum machine or two incredibly fast feet. Regardless, it sounds like a Smith-Corona typewriter magnified ten million times (i.e.: mucho menacing). Intrinsic's vocalist has an impressive wail, one that's able to make words like "war," "run" and "of" amazingly multisyllabic.
Plus, he throws down some passable motor-mouth raps over the band's speed-metal mix. In marked contrast to the other six songs here is "Try My Luck," which starts out with chorus-drenched guitars--like something off of Roxy Music's Avalon--before it turns into an Aerosmithish rock ballad, right down to the block harmonies. Intrinsic has signed with Metal Mania/Teichiku Records (a division of Panasonic) for its next recording, and with major distribution plans under way, audiences can judge for themselves if, like the old Panasonic catch phrase, this band is, indeed, "just slightly ahead of our time." Call 225-0231.
Like the above aggregation liars, gods & beggars, the Scottsdale group isotopes insists on writing its name in lower-case letters. All this trait does is ensure that your band's name will never appear at the beginning of any sentence. This quartet's (see?) five-song demo, Separated by Shadows, sounds like Toad the Wet Sprocket with keyboards. Fortunately, Thaddeus Rose's keyboard sounds are mainly understated, rarely overwhelming the guitars. Everything about isotopes, from the band's playing to the production to the cover art, belies a sense of slickness and professionalism above all else. It's easy to envision isotopes opening for a national act suited to its style of sheen pop. Those of you who are moved by cracking voices, breaking hearts and the all-important sound of things falling apart are encouraged to look elsewhere. How's this for professionalism--here's the band's attorney's number: 240-2963.
Folkie duo Strum & Hum has what no other Tapes in the Mail act has had thus far--its own theme song: "Our nerves are rattled/And we love stage fright/Can we strum and hum tonight?" Not exactly "Hey, hey, we're the Monkees," but it's less than 20 seconds, and it ends with the comforting sound of breaking glass. Guest vocalist Monica Rivas doesn't get her own theme song on the combo's Slick & Smooth cassette, but she does provide lovely third harmonies throughout. Strum & Hum's tongue-in-cheek lyrics and campy vibratos can get to be a bit cute--if not downright annoying--stuck somewhere between coffee-house fare and cabaret. No number.