Face to Face

  • Face to Face (Boston)
  • Face to Face (Epic) 1984 
  • Confrontation (Epic) 1985 
  • One Big Day (Mercury) 1988 

Depending on where your needle drops on Face to Face’s first record, the Boston quintet (unrelated to the California punk-pop band that took the same name in the ’90s) is either a fascinating blend of hip-hop and rock’n’roll or a noxious pre-fab MTV creation. Four producers worked on the album, yielding both the annoying hit single “10-9-8” and a gripping piece of political consciousness, “Under the Gun,” on which Arthur Baker (who produced both tracks) drum-programs and scratch-mixes the band into an exciting new realm. (A subsequent 12-inch further elaborates on “Under the Gun” — 15 minutes’ worth — with two remixes.)

Confrontation was mostly co-produced by Baker and Ed Stasium. Except for the increasing number of ballads, the band rocks enthusiastically, leaning into the rhythmic material. Singer Laurie Sargent remains a strong presence, but the routine presentation and sound make this Confrontation too radio-ready to be interesting.

Why Anton Fier would be needed to produce an album that sounds like a tasteful countryfied cross between Scandal and the Motels is a mystery, but that’s the story on One Big Day. In a further misuse of talent, Syd Straw and Bernie Worrell contribute to the tunefully bland proceedings.

[Ira Robbins]

See also: Morphine