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NAKED PREY (Buy CDs by this artist)
Naked Prey (Down There/Enigma) 1984
Under the Blue Marlin (Frontier) 1986
40 Miles From Nowhere (Frontier) 1987
Kill the Messenger (Fundamental) 1990

Van Christian was at one time Green on Red's drummer; back home in Tucson, Arizona, he switched to vocals and guitar and formed Naked Prey. The quartet plays rough-edged country rock with similarities to Green on Red (as well as Dream Syndicate and others in the California/Arizona axis). Although the seven-song debut's powerful sound is strictly modern, some of David Seger's sociopathic guitar solos recall acid-drenched summer of love shows at the Fillmore. An unassuming, occasionally exciting record.

With a new drummer, label and producer (Paul B. Cutler), Naked Prey revved up their folk-distorto-rock on Under the Blue Marlin. Christian's colorful singing and Seger's guitar work remain the group's virtues, as Prey's songs don't make much of an impression. (A Stooges cover is both helpful and indicative of the band's own failings.)

The same problem plagues the thematically linked 40 Miles From Nowhere: despite killer guitar (including slide) and relentless energy, unimaginative melodies and lyrics derail the effort. (Christian's deteriorating voice is another trouble spot.) Still, a pair of covers — Jagger/Richards' "Silver Train" and a funereal version of "Wichita Lineman" (get the drift?) — proves what these boys might do with substantial material. Live in Tucson was recorded in 1988.

[Ira Robbins]