Pearl Harbor and the Explosions came out of San Francisco’s early new wave scene, but their lone album consists of bouncy little pop tunes suitable for FM radio: watered-down soul and funk overtones topped off by Pearl E. Gates’ theatrical vocal posturings. Danceably forgettable.
Harbour (dropping her Gates and adopting the British spelling) hit her stride as a solo artist on Don’t Follow Me, I’m Lost Too, a headlong plunge into rockabilly and similarly ancient styles. Smothered by producer Mickey Gallagher in waves of flutter echo, Pearl wails like a demon, obviously happy to have a sympathetic setting. “Fujiyama Mama” and “At the Dentist” rock wildly with old-fashioned panache; “Heaven Is Gonna Be Empty” takes a more countryfied, though equally quaint, approach. This one’s a memorable instant party.
A belated follow-up produced by Richard Gottehrer employs 20 musicians — from Ellie Greenwich to Chris Spedding to Masa Hiro Kajiura — for more fun in the old world. Harbour starts off by covering the Rocky Fellers’ 1963 chestnut, “Killer Joe,” and then launches into a program of girl-group soundalikes that quiver with melodic conviction and shake with appropriate, cliché-free backing. Sounding uncannily in spots like Kirsty MacColl, Pearls Galore! is a winning collection of tunes by a talented, adaptable vocalist.
Here Comes Trouble, which returns a long-unheard Harbour to action, boasts onetime Dead Kennedy East Bay Ray on lead guitar.