October 21, 2020

1981-05-02 – Muncie Evening Press

1981 05 02 Muncie_Evening_Press_Sat__May_2__1981_

Who’s ’Face Dances’ is
a great group at its best

By RICK SHEFCHIK
Knight-Ridder Newspapers

(Rating system: 1-3 bad buy; 4-6 marginal;
7-9 good buy; 10 exceptional.)

THE WHO, “Face Dances" (Warner Bros.)
— Pete Townshend‘s revitalization as a song-
writer has more than offset the loss of
drummer Keith Moon. Replacement Kenny
Jones does a good job propelling this great
band. and Townshend has composed a collec-
tibn oi adventurous melodies and sharp lyrics
giving his talented mates something to chew
on. Roger Daitry hasn’t sung with this much
enthusiasm in years, and bassist John
Entwistle has contributed two excellent songs
at his own, his first memorable work since
“My Wife" in 1972. The same could be said oi
this entire album - as Townshend becomes
more and more comfortable in his role as
rock’s emotional historian, the Who are
climbing back to prominence not only as a
performing band, but also as a recording
band. This is intelligent, skillful and joyous
rock music. (9)

JOE ELY, “Musta Notta Gotta Lotta”
(MCA) — If there really is any hope tor sock
‘n' roll country music. this is the guy that’s
gonna do it, but he hasn’t proved his case yet.
The title cut starts the album in fine fashion,
with a Jerry Lee Lewis-type piano boogie.
Afterwards, however, the album hits and
misses with a combination of hali-realized
rockers and unmemorable ballads. Ely has a
trademark sound - a combination oi accor-
dian and peddle steel with a traditional rock
rhythm section — but he doesn't use it to full
advantage often enough. “I Keep Getting
Paid the Same" demonstrates the Texas-born
singer’s greatest strength — real energy and
inspiration — and his greatest weakness — a
tendency to rock out on incomplete ideas or
weak melodies. This is better than “Down on
the Drag," his last album, and it's his best-
produced record, but he still doesn’t have the
necessary killer instinct with a song. (6)

SMOKEY ROBINSON, “Being With You"
(Motown) - When people complain that they
don't make recordsthe way'they used to,

they’re forgetting about Smokey Robinson.
From the opening notes of the title cut, it's
clear that Robinson has lost none oi his gift
for cooing a love song that not only sounds
good, but also makes sense. He is still a pop
music genius, and his only fault now is that
he can't do it as often as he could 15 years
ago, when he was writing hit songs for
everybody on the Motown label as well as his
own group. the Miracles. To fill out this
album, he has gotten some help from the
competent songwriting team of Mike Piccir-
illo and Gary Goatzman. who contribute
songs in styles similar to both Robinson and
Michael Jackson. Nothing else here is as good
as "Being With You,” but that song can stand
with “My Guy," “My Girl,” “Tracks oi My
Tears" or “More Love" among Smokey's
greats. Who else has written something that
good recently? (8)

ELLEN FOLEY, “Spirit of St. Louis”
(Epic) — If the Clash was fronted by a
woman singer, this is what they might sound
like — ABBA. At least, that’s what the
songwriting team at Mick Jones and Joe
Strummer has made Foley’s solo album
sound like. They produced it, wrote most oi
the songs, and the result is a bizarre Euro-
pop experiment that is kind of funny at times,
but not at $7.98. Any band that writes as
much as The Clash does is bound to have
throwaway material, but in this case. that’s
probably what should have been done with it.
(3)

THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZA-
TION (Slash) — This is a soundtrack from a
documentary film on LA. punk bands. It’s
live, filthy, antagonistic, funny and sloppy.
Among the bands ieatured, X can rock, the
Alice Bag Band is horrendous, the Germs
signifith only for the death oi lead singer
Darby Crash, the Circle Jerks overrated, and
Fear is terrific — by far the most abusively
entertaining band since the early days oi the
Fuss or the Mothers of Invention. If you ever
wondered what Paul Anka would sound like it
he hated gays while fronting a punk band,
check out Fear. (7)