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RECORD RACK

Smith Meets Oyl : CHECK LIST * * * * Great Balls of Fire * * * Good Vibrations * * Maybe Baby * Running on Empty :

December 20, 1987|STEVE HOCHMAN

* * * CINDY LEE BERRYHILL. "Who's Gonna Save the World." Rhino. Patti Smith meets Olive Oyl and they get together in Joni Mitchell's bedroom to write songs for Bob Dylan. The music on this thoroughly delightful and thoughtful debut from San Diego singer/songwriter Berryhill is created largely by a core trio of guitarist Berryhill, upright bassist Waygone Rex Wilson and drummer Irene Liberatore, and it ranges from cool beatnik folk ("Whatever Works," "Spe-c-ial Ingredient") to a Yardbirds-like rave-up (the middle break in "She Had Everything") to post-punk stream of consciousness (the sly Patti Smith tribute/parody "Steve on H"). But mostly it's Berryhill's singing and songwriting--topical yet personal, serious yet whimsical, but never winsome nor maudlin--that make the record a winner. And in "Damn, Wish I Was a Man" (with lines like "I'd be sexy with a belly like Jack Nicholson") she skewers the American male ego more effectively--and accurately--than Shere Hite.

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