The Ultimate A To Z Of Album Reviews By Gary Steel – L

Gary Steel is slowly compiling all his album reviews in one place. This is a work in progress, or what we call a “live document”. Today is the letter ‘L’.



Lip Service – Lip Service (CBS)

1980/Evening Post

The debut by locals Lip Service is probably the best-produced New Zealand album in some time. Unfortunately, the quality of songwriting fails to transcend the worthy production. This album’s a borderline case, which is inevitable; not everything in music can be neatly divided into good and bad. 5/5


Little River Band – First Under The Wire (Capitol)

1979/Evening Post

Australia’s Little River Band have become regulars on the charts and First Under The Wire is ample evidence of the band’s talent for writing nifty radio-orientated rock tunes, and producing stylish, sophisticated albums.

While winning no awards for originality or imagination, LRB’s latest is an immaculate vocals-dominated pop album. Try the single ‘Lonesome Loser’ or the jazzy ‘By My Side’ for size. 6/10


The Long Ryders – State Of Our Union (Island)

It seems somehow sad that a US cow rock revival band would find it necessary to record their second album in England. They have ended up with a typical English production: clean and brittle and lacking grit.

Not contrived, but rather uninspired, State Of Our Union seems to be weakly searching for something to bind it all together with some purpose. The only time it even hints at getting interesting is when it sticks in a few novelty horns by none other than Snake Davis & His Longhorns. Who? Correct.

Over a decade ago, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band noted that ‘The Circle Will Be Unbroken’. If this is true, then perhaps The Long Ryders are an illustration of a full circle manoeuvre back to the pallid posturings of Grateful Dead offshoot The Riders Of The Purple Sage. 5/10


Lene Lovich – Flex (Stiff)

1980/In Touch

That’s Lay-na Lu-vich to you, toot. Betcha didn’t know that, didja? The image, the music, the name: Equi-vocal to the gimmick. Vocally, she’s Patti Smith MkII, but more stylised, more warbly and wacky. She (and her band, whoever they may be) uses a mock-gothic approach to lock’n’loll, from the overdramatic choruses to the macho Cossack-wearing back-up choruses.

For all the contrivances – the aforementioned image and redundant, pretentious stylisations – Flex utilises enough variety of rhythmic and creative devices to make the damn thing heartily enjoyable, as insubstantial and playfully deluding as it may be (maybe).

The first side definitely has the upper hand, with winners like ‘Bird Song’, ‘Angels’ and ‘The Night’. By the time the disc is flipped, Lovich begins to sound tedious. She goes for effect all the way; effect without sincere and serious intent.

She’s just another mildly talented subversive diversion. Enjoy her while she’s still hip. 6/10


Low Profile – The Cutting Edge (Jayrem) 12-inch single

1986/Wellington City

Low Profile could teach Peking Man a thing or two about the Art of Funk. ‘The Cutting Edge’ has a groove that moves and contrasting riffs that biff the senses back and forth. It’s an immaculately recorded and played and edited cauldron of swirling, whirling polyrhythmic funk, with smooth, integrated vocals. The B-side is a long remixed version, with some of the tricks that treatment entails. 7/10

Low Profile – Elephunk In My Soup (Jayrem)


Another Jayrem product with a stunning, funny video. ‘Elephunk’ is the followup to last year’s Quiet Streets, but this time Low Profile are slimmed to a nucleus of bassist Phil Bowering and drummer Steve Garden, and the 12” is a minor, playful romp through modern-day King Crimson/Talking Heads territory. Not bad! 7/10

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