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Pop Music Reviews : Swell A Cappella

October 13, 1987|DON HECKMAN

How can you help but like a group that calls itself the Bobs, and whose material bears titles like "My I'm Large," "My Husband Was a Weatherman," "Let Me Be Your Third World Country" and "Cowboy Lips"?

You might even learn to love them a little when you hear them sing Smokey Robinson's "You Really Got a Hold on Me" and Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer," and create an outrageously funny sendup of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love."

The four-member a cappella group from San Francisco has worked various venues in the Southland before, but never more effectively than in Friday night's program at the Wadsworth Theatre.

Describing the Bobs (Janie Scott, Richard Greene, Matthew Stull and Gunnar Madsen) as just another a cappella group, however, would be about as accurate as calling Jesse Jackson just another politician.

Their crazed "Banana Love"--performed with Tarzanesque gusto--may be the silliest pop song since "Abadaba Honeymoon." But the Bobs had no difficulty shifting into the strange, surrealistic "I'm So Large" (with its overtones of Kafka's "Metamorphosis") and the ultimate parody of teen-age love songs, "Valentino's" ("He parks the cars at Valentino's. . . .").

The group's originals, in fact, were so unique that they tended to overshadow the ensemble's remarkable musical skills.

Tossing off difficult half-tone harmonies with a shrug, moving easily from bop-shoo-wahs to vocalized sound effects, singing with a driving rhythmic pulse, and rooted, always, by Greene's remarkable bass voice, the Bobs proved the accuracy of their name's origin--"Best of Breed"--with every note they sang.

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