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FACE TO FACE (BOSTON) (Buy CDs by this artist)
Face to Face (Epic) 1984
Confrontation (Epic) 1985
One Big Day (Mercury) 1988

Depending on where your needle drops on Face to Face's first record, the Boston quintet (unrelated to the California punk-pop band that took the same name in the '90s) is either a fascinating blend of hip-hop and rock'n'roll or a noxious pre-fab MTV creation. Four producers worked on the album, yielding both the annoying hit single "10-9-8" and a gripping piece of political consciousness, "Under the Gun," on which Arthur Baker (who produced both tracks) drum-programs and scratch-mixes the band into an exciting new realm. (A subsequent 12-inch further elaborates on "Under the Gun" — 15 minutes' worth — with two remixes.)

Confrontation was mostly co-produced by Baker and Ed Stasium. Except for the increasing number of ballads, the band rocks enthusiastically, leaning into the rhythmic material. Singer Laurie Sargent remains a strong presence, but the routine presentation and sound make this Confrontation too radio-ready to be interesting.

Why Anton Fier would be needed to produce an album that sounds like a tasteful countryfied cross between Scandal and the Motels is a mystery, but that's the story on One Big Day. In a further misuse of talent, Syd Straw and Bernie Worrell contribute to the tunefully bland proceedings.

[Ira Robbins]
   See also Twinemen