Permanent Green Light

After the Los Angeles power-pop combo Three O’Clock punched out with 1988’s Vermillion, singer/bassist Michael Quercio joined San Francisco’s Game Theory (with whom he’d previously played and produced numerous tracks). Although he and that group’s Scott Miller meant to form a new group altogether, Miller wound up leading the Loud Family and Quercio opted for…

Sunny Jim Band

This quartet consists of two Brits, a Frenchman and a Dutchman based in Cologne who once contracted (but wound up not going) to tour Iron Curtain countries. They play tight, assured, angular rock’n’roll and reggae, with smart-enough arrangements and some above-average lyrical ideas. Unfortunately, like their melodies, the words are too often half-baked, not quite…

John Otway & Wild Billy Barrett

In his fourth decade of charmingly madcap music-making, the irrepressible nutter of Aylesbury (40 miles northwest of London) shows no signs of slowing down. In willful disregard of commercial realities and without evident concern for anything else that might be transpiring in the world of popular music, Otway continues to follow his own eccentric muse…

Gun Club

Jeffrey Lee Pierce, for all intents and purposes, was the Gun Club. From his days as a peroxided, Debbie Harry-fixated Los Angeles teen-punk, through a lengthy era when he seemed convinced he could channel the spirit of Robert Johnson, to a more recent probe of the seedier side of continental balladry, Pierce — who died…

Sisters of Mercy

The Sisters of Mercy, an originally all-male Leeds group named after a Leonard Cohen song and an order of cut-the-crap Catholic nuns, began by playing what they jokingly called heavy metal, which it sort of was; an odd (but prescient) feat, considering that the band’s “drummer” was Doktor Avalanche, a rhythm generator. Andrew Eldritch has…

Brian Eno

Face it. The complexities and ironies of Brian Eno’s prolific procession along his self-declared uncertainty principle (“oblique strategies”) are unfathomable. Put simply, how did the most obscurely gifted of the glam-clad gang of non-musicians who revolutionized ’70s rock as Roxy Music become, in turn, a bizarrely thrilling rock auteur, the fairy godmother of no wave…

Matthew Sweet

Nebraska native Matthew Sweet played in Oh-OK and Buzz of Delight before launching a career as the great pop hope, a guitarist, singer and songwriter with one foot in the indie-pop demi-ground and the other in the commercially viable land of melodic rock auteurs. Sweet’s solo debut, Inside, was something of a nexus for likeminded…

Hawkwind

Hawkwind’s influence has been extensive, if often indirect and, when acknowledged at all, done so grudgingly. The group’s faults (most notably a chronic tendency towards excess) have generally been over-criticized to the exclusion of its virtues: that gargantuan and impenetrable pre-metal/hardcore drone, those great riffs, that inexorable drive to destinations unknown. Unfashionable in Britain for…

Jolt

Small wonder the Jolt was written off as a Scottish Jam clone. The mod trio of singer-guitarist Robert Collins, bassist Jim Doak and drummer Iain Sheddon had — what a coincidence! — the same label, producer, image, type of name and sound. They even played shows together in Glasgow. The Jolt’s album shows they could…

Psychedelic Furs

The Psychedelic Furs, whose lineup varied substantially around a core of singer Richard Butler, his bassist brother Tim and guitarist John Ashton, came onto the London scene well after the initial punk explosion, but debuted with an album that mixed a drone-laden wall of noise (two guitars, sax and/or keyboards) and an odd adaptation of…

Living Colour

Led by guitarist and chief composer Vernon Reid (also a music critic and co-founder of the Black Rock Coalition, a New York organization of African-American bands), Living Colour promises more than it delivers on Vivid. Because the quartet doesn’t match stupid preconceptions about the kind of music people of color should and shouldn’t play, the…

Police

Though neither bassist/singer Sting nor veteran guitarist Andy Summers would have gone in this direction individually, they became intrinsic to ex-Curved Air drummer Stewart Copeland’s notion of being new wavers in 1977, when it was still pretty new. As a band, the three (Summers having replaced original guitarist Henri Padovani after one single) worked in…

D.O.A.

If the order of election to the punk-rock hall of fame were decided on the basis of unwavering dedication to both the elemental sound and the positive rebel spirit of loud- fast-rules, no band would have a right to stand ahead of Vancouver’s D.O.A. in the induction ceremony. For more than two decades, singer/guitarist Joey…

Residents

What’s a Resident? Epithets abound, but anent actual identities, anyone who knows ain’t talking. Cinéastes transplanted — so the story goes — from Shreveport, Louisiana, to the San Francisco area who also dabble in musical experiments, the foursome (trio? duo?) has woven a remarkable cloak of secrecy. Aside from the avowed purpose of avoiding misleading…

Falco

The late Falco (Johann Hoelcel) was something of a hero in his native Austria; although he sang (in a random pastiche of accented English and German) like an arch, continental smoothie, his shtick was slick, thematically simpleminded chart fare, syncopated and fashionably automated (lots of synth, computerized drums with roto-tom and cymbal overdubs). The best…

Charlie Pickett and the Eggs

These Floridans throw original tunes in with covers of wildly varying notoriety, shake it all up and pour out fiery stuff. That frontman Charlie Pickett’s own tunes often compare favorably to those he chooses to cover makes their scarcity on the live LP disappointing, and using three tunes by the Pirates (during and after Johnny…

Dead or Alive

Dead or Alive’s cross-dressing poseur/leader/singer Pete Burns can claim historical credit in the second Liverpool explosion — he was in a brief but seminal band with Julian Cope and Pete (Wah!) Wylie before founding Nightmares in Wax, the developmental predecessor to Dead or Alive. The early EP finds him searching for meaning and truth while…

Howard Werth

Werth’s checkered career has included singing in lovable British folk-pop deviants Audience, almost joining the Doors as Jim Morrison’s replacement and putting out a single on California indie punk label Dangerhouse, backed by local LA talent (including a Wall of Voodoo member-to-be). Funnily enough, this solo album (Werth issued his prior solo LP in 1975)…

Echo & the Bunnymen

The vanguard foursome — at its late-’78 start, a trio plus Echo the drum machine — emerged from Liverpool’s new wave renaissance with a debut album stunning in its starkness and power. Unlike also-rans with the same idea, Ian McCulloch’s specter-of-Jim Morrison vocals are no mere pilferage; where Morrison would have ordered you on your…

Crowded House

Crowded House, the group New Zealand songwriter/singer/guitarist Neil Finn formed (with bassist Nick Seymour, who happens to be the brother of Hunters and Collectors leader Mark Seymour) after Split Enz, followed the trend toward simplification of that band’s later albums. Despite occasional keyboards (on disc by Finn and producer Mitchell Froom and onstage by ex-Enzman…