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SWIMMING POOL Q'S (Buy CDs by this artist)
The Deep End (DB) 1981
The Swimming Pool Q's (A&M) 1984
Blue Tomorrow (A&M) 1986
The Firing Squad for God EP (DB) 1987
World War Two Point Five (DB/Capitol) 1989
The Big House of Time (DB) 1990
Goes Electric (DB) 1993

When Glenn Phillips met Jeff Calder in 1975, the former, late of Atlanta's Hampton Grease Band, had just released his first solo album and was playing a string of dates in Florida. Calder was assigned to write about him for a local paper. A little over a year later, Calder moved up to Atlanta intent on forming a band and immediately got in touch with Phillips. The two did some writing together and Calder was introduced to a young guitarist named Bob Elsey, who'd learned more than a thing or two from Phillips. Elsey and Calder formed the Swimming Pool Q's and produced an impressive body of work in the '80s. Some of Calder's songs reveled in literary construct, others in the voices of true loose-cannon backwoods Southern characters.

In the meantime, Phillips released nine instrumental albums with his own band. (Calder appeared on 1985's Live, singing their two joint compositions, "Sting Ray" and "Pony to Ride.") With that ensemble making no new inroads after years of touring and the Q's at a virtual standstill, the opportunity was ripe for Calder and Phillips to join forces in a group. The impetus for undertaking an album together was inadvertently provided by Phillips' longtime bassist Bill Rea, who was due to undergo wrist surgery and faced the possibility of not being able to play again. With drummer Bob Andre, the quartet recorded Goes Electric. If this had been a group of unknowns, it would stand as a commendable and solid debut, but, given the two leaders' previous accomplishments, it falls short. Calder's deranged roadside prophets and gamblers feel like they're being kept back a safe distance, while Rea's impeccable fretless playing, always the perfect foil for Phillip's maniac-on-fire guitar, provides too pretty a sheen. Richmond Boston, one of the two singers in the Swimming Pool Q's, and possessor of a most remarkable voice, was at one time married to Rob Gal of the Coolies. In the Q's, Boston evinced an aching yet stately emotional purity that recalled British folkie Sandy Denny but was unmistakably American in tone. Three years after her departure from the group, Boston made her impressive reemergence with the exquisite The Big House of Time, a graceful adult gem that resonates with understated passion and plain old common sense. The original songs (by Boston and Gal, who also produced and played on the album) are consistently fine; well-chosen material by John Hiatt, John Sebastian, Neil Young and former bandmate Calder provide brilliant showcases for Boston's sharp interpretive powers.

[David Fricke / Ira Robbins / Scott Schinder]