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* * * * Great Balls of Fire * * * Good Vibrations * * Maybe Baby * Running on Empty : : QUESTING CALL

September 06, 1987|CHRIS WILLMAN

* * * * "INTO THE WOODS." The Call. Elektra. No doubt about it, life is quite a drag for the Call's Michael Been, whose dank metaphors ( woods equals dark night of the soul, river equals tears of God) say it all. But there's a big difference between this Northern Californian's ennui and that of a hundred British bands: It's filled with at least as much compassion as it is self-pity, and he's passionate about finding a way out of his woods rather than intent on delving further into them. For Been, shedding the darkness is nothing less than a real spiritual quest, and in this he's sometimes able to deliver what U2 only skirts--an integration of wispy spiritual yearning with down-to-earth, blues-based grit. Reflecting the intensity of a latent transcendentalist trapped very much in the real world, Been's struggle is the listener's gain.

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