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RAVE-UPS (Buy CDs by this artist)
Class Tramp EP (Fun Stuff) 1984
Town + Country (Fun Stuff) 1985
The Book of Your Regrets (Epic) 1988
Chance (Epic) 1990

At the time they were being touted as the next big thing to erupt from the LA club scene, the Rave-Ups were working in the mailroom and warehouse of A&M Records. Although launched by singer/guitarist Jimmer Podrasky in Pittsburgh, the group on the 1984 EP was a quartet he assembled in California. Class Tramp is a mighty impressive debut: a hook-laden six-song rocking pop collection that reveals Podrasky as an inventive, commercially minded songwriter with a wealth of ideas and a fresh lyrical perspective. Richly multi-tracked guitars, crisp rhythms and easy-to-like vocals buttress original tunes that deftly sidestep power pop and other pigeonholes.

Podrasky and drummer Timothy Jimenez acquired a new bassist and guitarist before recording the refined and ruralized Town + Country, a good (not great) record that gives away some of the EP's '60sish pluck to take an energetic crack at unstylized Southwestern twang and winds up sounding a shade or two less distinguished than before. Pedal-steel master Sneaky Pete Kleinow plays on two tracks. The record still manages a fair amount of variety: "Remember (Newman's Lovesong)" is almost a bluegrass breakdown done as a rock song, while "Positively Lost Me" (one of two songs the band performed on camera for Pretty in Pink; A&M graciously left the tunes off the soundtrack LP) tells of a broken relationship with only a mild country touch. The lighthearted Beach Boys car-song parody of "In My Gremlin" harks back to Class Tramp; Dylan's "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" becomes an uptempo rocker.

The Rave-Ups had legal problems getting off Fun Stuff and couldn't find the record industry's on-ramp for a long while. Three years passed before Epic issued The Book of Your Regrets, a downcast but determined effort. Guitarist Terry Wilson takes a more prominent role here, co-writing most of the material with Podrasky and expanding his instrumental contribution to include mandolin, keyboards and harmonica. While retaining a glimmer of the previous LP's country inflection, this well-produced (by David Leonard) record leans towards the textured, harmony-laden West Coast sound of Translator, Peter Case and Wire Train. Consistently invigorating and remarkably original, The Book of Your Regrets signals the Rave-Ups' unyielding vitality and creative resources.

The uneven Chance (named after Podrasky's infant son, whose photograph appears on the album cover) repaints the previous album's strong western folk-rock sound with a mild '60s psychedelic overcoat and a more optimistic view of life. Despite occasional clunkiness in the writing and performances, Chance has the surging "She Says (Come Around)," the Televisionesque "Hamlet Meets John Doe," the rip-snorting "The Best I Can't" and a few other songs with equally oblique titles to recommend it.

[Ira Robbins]