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WILD SWANS (Buy CDs by this artist)
The Peel Sessions EP (UK Strange Fruit) 1986
Bringing Home the Ashes (Sire/Reprise) 1988
Space Flower (Sire/Reprise) 1990

Led by onetime Teardrop Explodes organist Paul Simpson, Liverpool's Wild Swans had already existed, broken up (leaving a Zoo single and a posthumously released 1982 radio broadcast), spent four years in limbo and then reformed by the time of its first album. Behind Simpson's splendid deep voice, the trio plays derivative suave-pop on Bringing Home the Ashes, artfully mixing up a blend of the The, the Smiths, Echo & the Bunnymen, Aztec Camera and others that's enticing — but unsatisfying.

With producer Ian Broudie playing guitar and organ and two guests from the Icicle Works (guitarist Ian McNabb and drummer Chris Sharrock), Simpson and stalwart bassist Joe Fearon turn mildly psychedelic on Space Flower. Flavorfully titled songs like "Vanilla Melange," "Chocolate Bubblegum," "Tangerine Temple" and "Melting Blue Delicious" aren't nearly as colorful as they sound, but Broudie helps give the neo-retro rock-pop a handsomely textured identity the Wild Swans — evidently destined for very modest cultural significance — can call their own.

[Ira Robbins]