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POP AND JAZZ CAPSULES

Local Scene's Cruzados Perform At The Palace

December 30, 1985|RICHARD CROMELIN

"Why can't Cruzados get a record deal?" was a familiar cry around town for years, so let's not complain that once Cruzados did get signed, they made an album that was sort of, well, commercial. Nothing wrong with trying to keep the record deal.

On the other hand, it doesn't seem fair that X gets raked over the coals for trying out a few heavy-metal riffs while Cruzados remains respectable while dishing out sounds that would revive an Eagles fan, along with such people-pleasin' frills as stage fog and taped symphonic song introductions.

At the Palace on Friday, though, the local-scene veterans also brought some substance and flavor into the mainstream with them, preserving some of their eccentricities (like the feedback finale) and personalized touches as they courted the masses. Tito Larriva anchored things with his distinctive vocal style--he always sounds as if he's pushing it to the point of strain just to stay in front of the instrumental attack.

The songs ranged from the slight ("Motorcycle Girl") to the super ("Hanging Out in California," "Just Like Roses"), and most of them ended with dramatic, loosely structured guitar workouts between Larriva and new Cruzado Marshall Rohner. With his red haystack hair and bleached complexion, Rohner looks like a refugee from Duran Duran, and the contrast with his earthier-looking bandmates added an extra touch of entertainment.

The second-billed Red Devils have left their rockabilly phase and now can't decide whether to be like the old Heart, or the new Heart, or Joan Jett or what. Singer-bassist Emmy Lee has star quality, and her vocals rang truest when the material was in touch with country roots.

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