"CONTENDERS." Easterhouse. Columbia. These five guys from Manchester, England, are pointedly pro-worker, but they aren't simply interested in being another Brit band waving a vaguely socialist flag. While other pop musicians make anti-Thatcher sounds almost by rote, singer and lyricist Andy Perry goes far beyond that: The favorite target of his intelligently and provokingly stated wrath here is the Labor Party and its failures in solving working-class problems and the Irish troubles. His solution: nothing less than revolutionary communism.
Perry's guitarist brother Ivor has set the sentiments to stirring music comparable in tone and force to U2 and Big Country. Songs like "Get Back to Russia," "1969" and "Out on Your Own" are blasted out with folk-infused guitar-rock passion, and Andy's an expressive vocalist. One thing might cheer up anyone worried about this new Commie menace: While Easterhouse has one of the most powerful new sounds of 1986, its debut album features one of the year's muddiest production jobs.