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BALANCING ACT (Buy CDs by this artist)
New Campfire Songs EP (Type A) 1986 (Primitive Man) 1987
Curtains (IRS) 1988
Three Squares and a Roof (Primitive Man) 1988

This semi-electric LA rock quartet is earnest enough on its Peter Case-produced debut EP but, with the exception of "Wonderful World Tonight," a likable and evocative update of the "Goin' Up the Country" ethos, none of these half dozen New Campfire Songs is likely to show up alongside "Blowin' in the Wind" at the next weenie roast. Give the Balancing Act credit for a unique blend of acoustic and electric elements, though. Also, they've got a melodica, and they know how to use it!

Three Squares and a Roof is a lot less precious and more interesting than the EP. The playing and production are better, the material vastly improved, revealing songs that cover substantial lyrical territory, nearly all of it previously uncharted. The Three Squares CD also contains New Campfire Songs.

Deftly produced by Andy Gill, Curtains could be a sampler of classic '60s and '70s harmony vocal styles. Echoes of the Beatles, Hollies and especially Crosby, Stills and Nash abound, as well as the Bee Gees (on a cover of Funkadelic's "Can You Get to That," no less!), the Monkees and jazzers Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. Gill's adventurous high-tech production not only keeps the album from sounding too retro, but helps put some punch into material which occasionally leans towards wimpiness.

[Dave Schulps]