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SIMON F (Buy CDs by this artist)
Gun (Chrysalis) 1986
Never Never Land (Reprise) 1987
F MACHINE
Here Comes the 21st Century (Reprise) 1989

Singing keyboardist Simon F was half of a mid-'80s British flop-in-the-pan called Intaferon; ex-partner Simon G is one of the guitarists on his first solo album. Gun takes its best shot right at the start, leading off with a histrionic version of the Hoodoo Gurus' indestructible "I Want You Back" complete with a blinding Steve Stevens solo, and heads downhill from there. Despite an annoying synthesizer squeal, the mock-Bowie pop of "Baby Pain" isn't bad; everything else on this half-baked, unoriginal synth-dance LP is.

Never Never Land begins with "New York Girl," which blends ticking sequencers, surging guitar chords and a wall of backing vocals: the resemblance to Billy Idol's early records is unmistakable. But so is the marked difference in vocalists. Elsewhere, Simon fails to lay a glove on funk, botches the Beach Boys allusion on "American Dream," makes assorted absurd lyrical assertions and generally bores his way through two sides of an insipid attempt to squeeze talent out of recording studio walls.

Corralling a guitarist, drummer and keyboard player, Simon then formed F Machine and set about imitating his Idol in earnest. On Here Comes the 21st Century (the cover of which charmingly pictures a dozen infamous murderers, from Hitler to David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz: is there a rock'n'roll message here?) he assembles an overproduced collection of riffs learned from Rebel Yell, this asshole nonchalantly endorses rape and drug abuse, complains about "Too Many White People" ("Gonna get a gun, gonna kill me some / Won't that be a lot of fun") and sings lines like "I want to raise my fist / To my sexy terrorist / Escape from Czechoslovakia / Make love in the back of her daddy's car" as if such wanton stupidity actually meant something.

[Ira Robbins]