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GRACE POOL (Buy CDs by this artist)
Grace Pool (Reprise) 1988
Where We Live (Reprise) 1990

Prior to forming the suavely commercial Grace Pool with singer Elly Brown, New York guitarist Bob Riley was the drummer/keyboardist in Rage to Live (Brown guested on the band's first album) and also played in the Love of Life Orchestra. Produced with deft touches of synthesizer ambience and quiet grandeur by Steve Nye (whose work with Japan is duly noted in his efforts here), the quintet's debut is an attractive-going-on-glib haute pop record with catchy songs, fine harmonies and intricately subtle arrangements.

Riley and Brown are the only original Pool-mates in the reconstituted quartet (drummer Frank Vilardi is on the album but not in the band); Riley produced the folkier second album with less sonic flair than Nye. While the sensitively poetic lyrics are easy to overlook in favor of the sweeping melodies, Where We Live just isn't as striking or memorable as the debut.

[Ira Robbins]