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TRACIE (Buy CDs by this artist)
Far From the Hurting Kind (A&M) 1984

Paul Weller discovered Tracie Young in 1982 by announcing a talent hunt in Britain's Smash Hits; he selected the 17-year-old from the hordes that responded and set about fashioning her into a blue-eyed soul singer in a rebirth of the great pre-fab pop tradition of the early '60s. And, not unlike the idol-making of Expresso Bongo (of course you haven't, but you really shoud), the main component lacking was significant — or at least developed — talent. Tracie has improved since her tentative beginnings, but her airy Weller-produced LP is still tepid and tedious; the songs (including four by the impresario and one by Elvis Costello) are rendered indistinguishable by bland arrangements and Young's colorless singing. At its best, a few Motownish tunes show signs of life but never capture more than a fraction of the excitement they aim for. A noble experiment, perhaps, but not a successful one.

[Ira Robbins]