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HOLLYFAITH (Buy CDs by this artist)
Chameleon (Large Orange) 1991
Purrrr (Epic) 1993

By the time Chameleon came out, Atlanta's Hollyfaith was one of the most beloved acts on the Southern touring circuit, thanks to gritty, oversized guitar riffs, hyperactive rhythms and singer Rob Aldridge's distinctive, Jägermeister-saturated growl. The quartet neatly binds these elements together with seemingly inexhaustible energy, swaggering melodies and a healthy dose of arrogance on the album's woozy "Voodoo Doll," the scrambled, fun "Birdie" and the petulant, sassy "Whatsamatta."

The Hollyfaith buzz reached major labels, and the band signed to Epic, which released the disastrous Purrrr. Aldridge sounds bored instead of dangerously sensual; drummer Jeff Warncke and bassist David Franklin — usually a fiery rhythm section — seem subdued. Even guitarist Kevin Morrison can't bring his normal intensity to the effort. The slightly menacing "Color of Blood" and the swooning power balladry of "Needs" come across well enough, but new versions of "Whatsamatta" and "Voodoo Doll" have little of the spark they displayed on Chameleon. Maybe the band was overwhelmed by commercial pressures, maybe producer Don Fleming steered them wrong. In any case, Purrrr is a big letdown for anyone aware of Hollyfaith's once-riveting presence.

[Katherine Yeske]