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FABULON (Buy CDs by this artist)
All Girls Are Pretty, Volume I (Chrysalis) 1993

Just as not all popular albums are wonderful, not all wonderful albums are popular. Proving the latter point is Fabulon's All Girls Are Pretty, a record that came nowhere near the Top 200 but sounds like a collection of wall-to-wall pop-funk chartbusters. Fabulon (Kevin Macbeth, a veteran of such Miami bands as Reagan's Dream and Sleep of Reason) plays most of the instruments on his studio-intensive debut, relying as much on guitars as synths, drum machines and samples. The songs artfully contrast simple and true romantic crises ("Yesterday I left you/Today I want you back") with unabashedly catchy-sweet melodies and danceable backing tracks, a case in point being the joyous opening number, "In a Mood," which quotes both "Venus" and "My Boyfriend's Back." The allusions don't stop there — "Wonderbus" samples "A Summer Place," "Crazy Little Girl" works in a little "Soul Man" and a rich vein of '70s AM pop (from Chicago to 10cc to the Spinners) runs all through the album. (And that's not counting a cover of the Association's "Cherish.") On the delectable "Say Anything," "A Walk Through the Desert" — indeed on virtually every song here — Fabulon grafts a fan's awareness of classic pop sensibilities onto music that's unmistakably rooted in club culture; besides a deep Princely streak, All Girls Are Pretty owes as much to house music as it does to the Beatles.

An album so titled (and so absolutely fabulous) leaves only one question: When do we get Volume II? Not for a while — Fabulon was dropped by Chrysalis after one try.

[Michael Azerrad]