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S.D. Musicians Pin Stardom Hopes on Records

December 29, 1987|THOMAS K. ARNOLD

SAN DIEGO — Every year, a handful of San Diego pop musicians venture into the studio to record their original material.

Some do all the work themselves, and hope they will recover at least a portion of their production and distribution costs through sales to local fans.

Others are getting much wider exposure thanks to the support of nationally distributed record labels and varying amounts of radio airplay around the country.

And a fortunate few, like the Beat Farmers, Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper, and Robert Vaughn and the Shadows, seem destined for stardom, with their albums and singles climbing the national popularity charts and their videos being broadcast on MTV.

Los Angeles Times Wednesday December 30, 1987 Home Edition Metro Part 2 Page 2 Column 3 Metro Desk 5 inches; 174 words Type of Material: Correction
Diseases reported to the Los Angeles County Department of Health:
October October Year to Year to Date Date 1987 1986 1987 1986 Intestinal Infections Amebiasis 25 26 356 375 Campylobacteriosis 96 90 973 950 Giardiasis 128 159 1,167 1,300 Salmonellosis 167 161 1,494 1,263 Shigellosis 214 229 1,144 1,244 Childhood diseases Mumps 1 6 46 54 Measles 6 7 28 50 German measles 1 1 38 33 Whooping cough 6 7 45 33 Scarlet fever 22 10 340 305 Venereal diseases Gonorrhea 2,507 4,780 31,989 39,990 Penicillin-resistant gonorrhea 63 138 1,312 614 Syphilis 305 348 3,456 2,018 Other infectious diseases Hepatitis A* 105 135 985 949 Hepatitis B** 62 95 794 1,023 Meningococcal infections*** 10 3 288 87 Tuberculosis 113 104 1,259 1,177
* Hepatitis A is spread by fecal-contaminated water or food or by contact with another infected person.
** Hepatitis B is spread by contaminated blood or unsterile needles.
*** Meningococcal infections can cause spinal meningitis and blood poisoning.
Source: L. A. County Department of Health Services
Research: Tracy Thomas / Los Angeles Times
This table appeared incorrectly in Tuesday's editions of The Times. The year identification labels on the first two data columns were reversed. This is the correct version.

So here is The Times' annual wrap-up of albums and extended-play (EP) records issued in 1987 by local pop artists. You're most likely to find them all at independent record stores:

- The Beat Farmers' "The Pursuit of Happiness": The third album by San Diego's leading "American roots" band fared even better on Billboard's rock album charts than their first two. And that's welcome news to anyone who still mourns the passing of Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Beat Farmers' musical mentors.

This album is full of gritty, stripped-down rock 'n' roll songs that are laced with both the passion of traditional country-Western and the fervor of 1950s rockabilly. Outstanding cuts include singer-guitarist Jerry Raney's infectious "Dark Light"; the anthem-like "Hollywood Hills," with newest Beat Farmer Joey Harris on vocals; and drummer "Country" Dick Montana's whiskey-throated interpretation of Johnny Cash's classic "Big River."

Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper's "Bo-Day-Shus!": After four years of limited success, talkin' bluesman Mojo Nixon and his washboard-strummin' sidekick, Skid Roper, finally hit the national charts last summer with their third album on Enigma Records.

As they did on earlier outings, Mojo and Skid twist the basic blues structure several degrees toward mayhem. They aim an arsenal of acoustic instruments--including a banjo, a harmonica and something called a "sonic luv jug"--and Nixon's fiery, angst-ridden vocal preachings at what they perceive as the evils of modern society.

"Elvis Is Everywhere" is an indictment of the crass commercialism that has tarnished the King's legacy; "I'm Gonna Dig Up Howlin' Wolf" bemoans the lack of emotion and passion in much of today's popular music.

- Robert Vaughn and the Shadows' "Love and War": Like their Island Records label mates U2, Robert Vaughn and the Shadows see themselves as the social conscience of rock 'n' roll. On their debut album, they lash out at everything from right-wing death squads in Latin America to warmongers in the Middle East. Their lyrics are both empathic and defiant; their music, dramatic and hauntingly melodic. A single, "Justice," made it onto Billboard's Hot 100 chart, and the album continues to get heavy airplay, and rave reviews, all over the country.

Rosie Flores' "Rosie Flores": Many San Diegans remember Rosie Flores as the singer of hard-rock bar band Rosie and the Screamers. But on her Reprise Records debut, Flores emerges as a talented country-Western songstress with a voice as honeyed as Emmylou Harris and a writing style firmly rooted in traditional country.

The songs on this record range from faithful renditions of such time-honored standards as Thelma Blackmon's "I Gotta Know" and Freddie Hart's "Lovin' in Vain" to originals like "Midnight to Moonlight," a plaintive ballad that features a guest appearance by accordionist David Hidalgo of Los Lobos.

- Cindy Lee Berryhill's "Who's Gonna Save the World?": This folk singer, a Ramona native, has been writing unusual songs about unusual subjects from the time she penned her first tune, a maudlin ode to dinosaurs, when she was 10.

And on Berryhill's first Rhino Records album, there's not a single ordinary love song to be found, despite her girlish voice and Pollyanna appearance. "Steve on H" is about a friend hooked on heroin, and "Damn, I Wish I Was a Man" strikes a whimsical chord for sexual equality. Noting that Berryhill's songs are "personal, political, funny and feminist," one Los Angeles reviewer labeled Berryhill a cross between Dolly Parton and Patti Smith.

- Private Domain's "Private Domain": After nearly a decade of plying the local Top 40 nightclub circuit as Bratz, this veteran local rock band changed its name to Private Domain and switched to originals.

This year, they put out their first album on Chameleon Records and promptly scored a national hit with the single "Absolute Perfection," a catchy reggae-rocker that is also included on the soundtrack to the movie "Back to the Beach." Sharing vocals with Paul Shaffer on that cut is Pato Banton of white-reggae band UB40.

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