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PALE FOUNTAINS (Buy CDs by this artist)
... from across the kitchen table (UK Virgin) 1984
Pacific Street (UK Virgin) 1984
SHACK
H.M.S. Fable (Laurel / London) 1999

Although they had precious little to say, this Liverpool quartet (notable for the inclusion of hornman Andy Diagram in its lineup) took an incredibly long time to get it out. Overdramatic to the point of absurdity, much of the Fountains' music falls somewhere between fake jazz and soul, with occasional digressions into pop and folk.

Pacific Street has few redeeming qualities other than guitarist Mick Head's soulful crooning and the imaginative use of super-amplified acoustic guitar. The eight weighty songs borrow from a wide variety of stylistic sources, failing to elaborate on any. The only fully developed idea is the pop tune "Reach."

The Fountains manage to pull off more than one good number on their second LP. "Shelter" is a reckless rocker, as is the boisterous "27 Ways to Get Back Home" and the breezy "Jean's Not Happening." Elsewhere, the same indulgences that made Pacific Street intolerable reassert themselves. It's plain to see that acoustic pop/folk was the band's strong suit, not pretentious soul and jazz.

After the Pale Fountains disbanded in the mid-'80s, Mick Head formed the band Shack with his brother John.

[Altricia Gethers]