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PRETTY POISON (Buy CDs by this artist)
Laced EP (Svengali) 1983
Catch Me I'm Falling (Virgin) 1988

You've got to hand it to these hardy Camden, New Jersey natives. Pretty Poison, probably the first group ever to cover a Tuxedomoon composition (which they did on a flexidisc included with one of several rare self-released singles), kept going through the '80s without recognition long enough to somehow wind up scoring an honest-to-god Top 10 soundtrack single in 1987.

The 12-inch Laced EP shows off all of the band's strengths, from the massed percussion of "Let Freedom Ring" to the catchy electro-pop of "Expiration." Keyboardist Whey Cooler (ouch) leads the varied synth-dance-rhythm-rock, providing solid support for big-voiced singer Jade Starling. More resourceful than inventive, Pretty Poison stakes a strong case for national exposure.

"Catch Me I'm Falling," recorded for a quickly forgotten Jon Cryer film called Hiding Out, did the trick — a bouncy, insistent dance hit with stuttering production that clicked, thanks to numerous soundalikes polluting the airwaves around the same time. Caught off guard by their runaway success, it took PP a while to pull an album together, using an assortment of producers. Indeed, a few of the songs (including "Let Freedom Ring" and "Nighttime") on Catch Me I'm Falling are remakes of old indie releases, a sign of material shortage. In any case, the album of predictable, utilitarian high-tech dancercise is no better or worse than the single that induced it.

[Ira Robbins]