Record Roundup

From the man who used to give Billy Bragg a run for his socialist money while singing ballads like Smokey Robinson, Dr. Robert has avoided the '80s landfill with a smart '90s rebirth. Realms Of Gold is low-key, delicate, and humanist enough to melt the plastic from the "soul" that gave him his first grasp at the ring. (Matt Keppel)

The Goops

Lucky

Reprise/Kinetic

ELEANORA WHITLEDGE, VOCALIST for NYC garage punks the Goops, doesn't pretend to be a vomiting monster like the frontbabes in Babes in Toyland or L7 or a cutesy kindergartner like the ones in Veruca Salt or the Muffs, so she rocks me more. In last year's B-side remake of "Build Me Up Buttercup," she started out absolutely pretty but kept getting louder and higher-pitches until she twisted into a hoarse, powerful sexy Joan Jett snarl. On the new CD she's funnest when yapping "candy stowah" like a tough Laverne and Shirley-via-Debbie Harry bowling-alley chick.

I never really listened to "Build Me Up Buttercup"'s words when late '60s soulsters the Foundations (featuring future NYC garage punk Ivan Julian of the Voidoids!) first did it. But the Goops' version totally connected with me (way more than any of their supposedly more "serious" originals or Alison Krauss's concurrent bluegrass cover of the Foundations' other hit "Baby Now That I've Found You")--especially the line that goes "most of all you never call baby when you say you will." Maybe it just came along at the right time: I first heard it last fall around the time I was losing a potentially close friend after I kept getting anxious and irritated by her repeatedly promising "I'll give you a call tomorrow (or later this afternoon, or Thursday)," then never following thorugh. To me, that sort of thing always seems inconsiderate, but maybe I was just taking her too literally--maybe "call you tomorrow" is no more precise a promise than "I'll be finished in a minute," and maybe my hermit-like lack of social interaction makes me not unlike a foreigner misinterpreting a linguistic idiom.

Anyway, most of 1994's The Goops was about revenge and drunkenness. "Booze Cabana" had Eleanora being slapped around by her alcoholic dad; "The Day I Met Iggy" had her leaving a lasting impression by being pickled by noon. Lucky has healthier production and subject matter (girls wanting boys), and thus less dark, slimy pissed-off shtick, but it moves too much toward powerpop perfunction. What with this band's blatant bar-hack tendencies, lyrics-you-won't-forget are a must. Maybe to be safe they should always cover a few '70s glam classics, like Joan Jett and Girlschool used to. "Hard Candy" is angular like Elastica, "Don't Wanna Be Like You" seems to be aimed at Kurt Cobain, and the boy-sung "Cut The Rug" is an equivalent of Tre Cool's dipshit skiffles on Green Day LPs. But only "Build Me Up Buttercup"s flirtatious old A-side "One Kiss Left" and the fast funkabilly of "You Wish" about passing out in a puddle of puke in the powder room, really work; in the latter, the person covetous of Eleanora's tits, ass, brains, and class in the latter is female, and it scratches like a catfight. (Chuck Eddy)

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