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Pop Music Review : Rca Records Showcases Three Acts

August 29, 1985|RICHARD CROMELIN

Singing live to pre-recorded instrumental tracks might be an economical way to introduce performers from distant parts, but on Tuesday at the Palace the format was a mixed blessing for the three acts showcased by RCA Records.

The music often seemed thin and disembodied, and even when the sound was full, the experience seemed half-baked and artificial. It was especially disconcerting when a track suddenly began its fade and the singer didn't.

On Five Star's first song, even the vocals appeared to be mimed, suggesting that we were in for an evening of "Puttin' on the Hits"-style lip-syncing. Even after Deniece Pearson's switch to the live mike brought some vitality and immediacy to the music, the quintet seemed restricted by the format.

The English family vocal group was promising, but it has a long way to go before it makes good on a challenge to the memory of the Jackson 5. The two boys and two girls behind Deniece offered energetic, non-stop calisthenics, but there was nothing close to electrifying in the choreography. Songs like "All Fall Down" and "Hide and Seek" are bright, ornate little teen trifles that stick with you like nursery rhymes, and could form the foundation of a thriving career.

Boston's 9.9 is a female vocal trio that was discovered by singer Richard (Dimples) Fields and now has a hit single with "All of Me for All of You." The three singers work in a more traditional, gospel-influenced soul style, sparked by brassy lead vocals and steely harmonies. On stage, they were into strutting their stuff, a tactic that would have been more effective if they'd worn something more flattering than glittery leotards that made them look like cut-rate Playboy bunnies.

Nona Hendryx also did a lot of fanny wiggling, especially for someone with so many political and feminist elements in her music. She was the only performer who seemed apologetic about the pre-recorded setup, promising that she'll be back soon with a band. The New Yorker did have a bassist and guitarist on stage going through the motions as she unveiled some new material. It'll be nice to hear these rousing hybrids of anthem-rock and R&B delivered at full strength with full band--which is really the way it should be.

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