Pretty Poison

  • Pretty Poison
  • Laced EP (Svengali) 1983 
  • Catch Me I'm Falling (Virgin) 1988 

You’ve got to hand it to these hardy Camden, New Jersey natives. Pretty Poison, probably the first group ever to cover a Tuxedomoon composition (which they did on a flexidisc included with one of several rare self-released singles), kept going through the ’80s without recognition long enough to somehow wind up scoring an honest-to-god Top 10 soundtrack single in 1987.

The 12-inch Laced EP shows off all of the band’s strengths, from the massed percussion of “Let Freedom Ring” to the catchy electro-pop of “Expiration.” Keyboardist Whey Cooler (ouch) leads the varied synth-dance-rhythm-rock, providing solid support for big-voiced singer Jade Starling. More resourceful than inventive, Pretty Poison stakes a strong case for national exposure.

“Catch Me I’m Falling,” recorded for a quickly forgotten Jon Cryer film called Hiding Out, did the trick — a bouncy, insistent dance hit with stuttering production that clicked, thanks to numerous soundalikes polluting the airwaves around the same time. Caught off guard by their runaway success, it took PP a while to pull an album together, using an assortment of producers. Indeed, a few of the songs (including “Let Freedom Ring” and “Nighttime”) on Catch Me I’m Falling are remakes of old indie releases, a sign of material shortage. In any case, the album of predictable, utilitarian high-tech dancercise is no better or worse than the single that induced it.

[Ira Robbins]