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HOTHOUSE FLOWERS (Buy CDs by this artist)
People (London) 1988
Home (London) 1990

How one feels about Hothouse Flowers depends very much on one's attitude towards (and tolerance for) bombast. The five members of this Dublin group are all talented musicians; vocalist/keyboardist Liam O'Maonlai has a fine voice and sings from the heart. But there's a tendency to bludgeon virtually every song to death, slowly building each up to a gut-wrenching climax, with O'Maonlai singing for his life as the piano pounds and the backing voices wail. To some listeners this may spell S-O-U-L, but others will beg for R-E-L-I-E-F. That said, many Bruce Springsteen and Joe Cocker fans (to name just two popular bombast-kings) will probably find this just what the doctor ordered.

People is the shorter of the two albums, and earns some additional points for the songs "I'm Sorry," (which contains a rare bit of humor) and "Don't Go." Home features guest appearances by Steve Nieve and Daniel Lanois, and contains a version of Johnny Nash's pop-reggae classic "I Can See Clearly Now" that'll blow your socks off.

[Dave Schulps]