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BIBLE (Buy CDs by this artist)
Walking the Ghost Back Home (UK Backs) 1986
Eureka (Chrysalis/Ensign) 1988
The Bible (UK Ensign/Chrysalis) 1989
BOO HEWERDINE AND DARDEN SMITH
Evidence (Chrysalis) 1989

This Cambridge, England-based band includes a jazz drummer on keyboards and Kirsty MacColl's brother Neill on guitar. On Walking the Ghost Back Home, the Bible covers a lot of musical territory, from airy Bruce Hornsby-esque rock ("Graceland") to Traffic-like jazz-rock (the title track) to a U2-ish tribute to Mahalia Jackson ("Mahalia"). One song recalls early Bowie; another almost goes back to the days of dole queue punk. While the whole enterprise is earnest and competent, only "Graceland" and "Mahalia" are truly compelling.

The Steve Earle-produced Eureka is a more focused record. Clean and crisply played, it has pretty moments, but also suffers from a real lack of rhythmic dynamism; the songs tend to plod on too long. The Bible is a compilation that contains all but three of Eureka's tracks and adds five more, including "Graceland" (again) and a version of "Abraham, Martin and John" that — believe it or not — is even more sentimental than Dion's original. Initial quantities of the UK release contained a bonus 12-inch of four acoustic cuts.

Bible vocalist Boo Hewerdine teamed up with Texas singer-songwriter Darden Smith on Evidence, a far more interesting and affecting album than anything the Bible's done to date. The unpretentious Smith (who has also done albums on his own) is a perfect foil for Hewerdine; the vocal excesses Hewerdine indulges in the Bible are checked here, and his voice is instead channeled into arresting harmonies in the bare-bones tunes. A winner.

[Dave Schulps]