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NEW KIDS IN TOWN

Thatcher's Pick To Click

June 21, 1987|CRAIG LEE

Band: Thrashing Doves.

Personnel: Ken Foreman, lead vocals, guitar; Brian Foreman, keyboards, harmonica, vocals; Ian Button, bass, guitar, vocals; Kevin Sargent, drums.

History: Brothers Ken and Brian Foreman grew up in London, playing in local garage bands before joining forces with Button to form the Climb, a trio combining electronics with T. Rex-style rock. The group released a single called "Poacher," and wound up touring with the Alarm, Pretenders and Boomtown Rats. Wanting to change directions, the band regrouped with Sargent and re-emerged as Thrashing Doves in '84. The Doves signed with A&M in '85 and released their first single, "Matchstick Flotilla," in June that year, followed by the group's debut album, "Bedrock Vice" (a play on the Flintstones' hometown and "Miami Vice"). In a fluke that publicists dream of, a video of the group's third single, "Beautiful Imbalance," was shown on a British TV program that Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was a guest on. Thatcher said she loved the video and gave it a four out of five rating. Instant notoriety for the Doves ensued, and the band flew into the British Top 50.

Sound: England's prime minister shouldn't be alone in praising Thrashing Doves. The music is a user-friendly blend of '60s 12-string guitar melodies and modern techno-gloss sheen. Foreman's quirky vocals are strained with the slightly cynical, slightly passionate ache associated with the disaffected '80s. A nice humor informs the songs' topical subjects, which range from heroin addicts ("Rochdale House") to Vietnamese boat people ("Matchstick Flotilla") to revolutionaries bombing a trendy department store ("Biba's Basement"). When the even-keel commercial flow of their sound threatens to keep this band in some anonymous mainstream radio grip, these lyrics keep things interesting. Foreman's vocals keep it human.

Shows: Bacchanal (San Diego), Tuesday; Roxy, Friday.

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