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RECORD RACK

Midwestern Hoodoo : * * * * Great Balls of Fire * * * Good Vibrations * * Maybe Baby * Running on Empty :

December 06, 1987|STEVE HOCHMAN and Check List and **** Great Balls of Fire and *** Good Vibrations ** Maybe Baby * Running on Empty

*** THE RAINMAKERS. "Tornado." PolyGram. This Kansas City, Mo., quartet's debut album last year established it as an effective cross between the social consciousness of John Cougar Mellencamp and the pure rock-out shake of the Georgia Satellites. The follow-up is more accomplished musically without being glossy, more finely pointed in its messages without being pedantic. The record starts with the overproduced "Snakedance," but quickly gets going with a series of catchy, dynamic rockers incorporating Dylanesque quipmanship, folk-rock ("Small Circles" and "Rainmaker"), Midwestern hoodoo ("Tornado of Love" and "The Lakeview Man") and British Invasion melodicism ("No Romance"). Singer-songwriter Bob Walkenhorst's characters are generally the same kind of small-town folk as in Mellencamp's world, but aren't as stereotyped. He gives no answers, and doesn't really ask a lot of questions--just makes thorough observations.

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