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$25 GUIDE

U2--ambition And Power

March 22, 1987|ROBERT HILBURN

A survey of what records I'd buy each month on a $25 budget. Discounts are available, but the assumption is that an album costs $8, a 12-inch single $4 and seven-inch single $2.

March albums:

U2's "The Joshua Tree" (Island)--Remarkably, this Irish band, for all its critical acclaim and audience devotion, has never had a Top 10 album in this country. The closest the band came was No. 12--a position reached by both 1983's "War" and 1984's "The Unforgettable Fire." The fact that this LP should easily push U2 across that sales barrier is likely to be the least of its accomplishments. "The Joshua Tree" is a work of great power, ambition, humility and insistence. Despite frequent moments of darkness in the music, these songs seek to uplift and inspire. At its core, U2 is asking nothing more unreasonable--yet also apparently nothing more painfully unreachable--than that man live up to his highest ideals. An album of rare, immense force. CD available now.

K.D. Lang & the Reclines' "Angel With a Lariat" (Sire)--The word on this Canadian singer is that she is at her best live, where her arty, aggressive cowgirl/punk sensibilities add to the vitality of her multidirectional country music assault. But the record's a delight too. Lang can sing with the bluesy soulfulness of Patsy Cline and with rollicking good cheer on hard-stomping country songs that sound like novelties now, but were as welcome at a country show in the '40s as a Hank Williams ballad. Lang comes on so strong, in both concept and execution, that much of the staid country music Establishment may think they are being invaded by the sister of a Beastie Boy. CD due: April 20.

The Bhundu Boys' "Shabini" (Discafrique import)--The choice for the third spot on this month's schedule was between this playful, warm-spirited album by a band from Zimbabwe that sings in the Shona language, and Firehose, the local group that is carrying on the legacy of the Minutemen--a Los Angeles band so instilled with its own brand of hard-edged, arresting rock that it could well have been working in another language as far as most mainstream pop fans are concerned. "Shabini" gets the nod this month because it is a timely way to pursue the lively, embracing rhythms of Southern African that were highlighted by Paul Simon's recent "Graceland" tour. Firehose will be in the May guide. No CD available.

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