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ROBERT DERBY (Buy CDs by this artist)
I'm Normal (Cachalot) 1980

This early one-man album demonstrates what could be done in the pre-tech days by a crafty auteur with two tape decks, a basement and a lot of patience. Far worse-sounding albums have been recorded by rooms full of session pros in 32-track studios. Derby's light rock-pop benefits from skillful arrangements and his multi-instrumental prowess; underdeveloped material and a samey blandness are the record's shortcomings. (Cachalot later repackaged I'm Normal with the similarly solitary Ian North album My Girlfriend's Dead, overstating their achievements by titling the pair Modern Renaissance Men.)

[Ira Robbins]