Rage to Live

  • Rage to Live
  • Rage to Live (Bar/None) 1986 
  • Blame the Victims (Bar/None) 1990 
  • Jonathan Borofsky/Ed Tomney
  • The Radical Songbirds of Islam [tape] (ROIR) 1987 

The dissolution of New York’s Individuals produced a number of positive developments. Doug and Janet Wygal formed a group (under their family name) which later included ex-dB Gene Holder; Glenn Morrow launched Bar/None Records (which brought out fine records by They Might Be Giants and others) and formed Rage to Live with ex-Necessaries leader Ed Tomney. Morrow’s limited voice proves no serious impediment to enjoyment of the first album’s well-written, exuberantly played melodies. Almost a sampler of New York/Hoboken styles, Morrow’s songs lean from mild soul to twangy cow-pop to a Marshall Crenshaw-like gossamer; the quartet plays ’em clean and sweet.

A crude and careless electric cover of Crosby, Stills and Nash’s “Suite Judy Blue Eyes” sets the general energy level but not the quality range for Blame the Victims, another fine set built on conscientious variety. With a few nods to the first record’s polite pop, Rage to Live plays it a little harder and rougher this time. Besides the gently alluring “Deep Blue Sea,” the countryish “Divorcee” and the Dylanesque “Again & Again,” there’s gritty Gang of Four-ish funk (“Sexy #’79”), taut garage rock (“Fireman”), parodic Led Zeppelin quotes (“Joker’s Punch”) and richly tuneful heartland rock (“My Heroine”). The CD includes eight songs from the first album.

Tomney’s side project with conceptual artist Jonathan Borofsky, which involves computer-directed tape manipulation of Borofsky’s vocals, is an intriguing but ultimately tedious ambient experiment that sounds like a cellist practicing random notes.

[Ira Robbins]

See also: Grace Pool, Individuals, Necessaries