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PARACHUTE CLUB (Buy CDs by this artist)
The Parachute Club (Current/RCA) 1983
At the Feet of the Moon (Current/RCA) 1984
Small Victories (Current/RCA) 1986

On their first LP, this fine Toronto septet — a soulful, low-tech match for labelmates M+M — displays a strong rhythmic consciousness (timbales and congas rather than synth thwack). Boasting a phenomenal singer (Lorraine Segato) and produced on the first LP by M+M/Eno collaborator Daniel Lanois, the Club gets positively inspirational on the joyous "Rise Up," while also addressing specific topics like nuclear war, sexism and hunger with intelligent lyrics and inventive, colorful music. Folk of the '80s, indeed!

At the Feet of the Moon, produced by ex-Materialist Michael Beinhorn, bounces to a funkier beat, with muscular drumming, strong bass and substantial electronic intrusion. (There's a truncated Beinhorn remix of "Rise Up" pasted on the second side — it's out of place but welcome.) Segato's voice, while equally magnificent, gets less prominence; coupled with more functional/less unique music, this record isn't nearly as captivating as its predecessor.

John Oates produced Small Victories, pushing the Parachute Club further towards a slick, unstylish mainstream sound. (Well it works for his band...) While the lyrics still uphold positive social and political values, the music no longer has much to recommend it. The only track worth hearing is "Love and Compassion."

[Ira Robbins]