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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Boston's Cavedogs Deliver Youthful Enthusiasm

October 13, 1990|STEVE HOCHMAN

There will always be power-pop. It came up in the '60s, came back in the '70s and '80s, and bands like Boston's Cavedogs are keeping it going in the '90s. It's survived prog-rock, disco, punk, synth-pop and rap. . . . it'll probably survive a nuclear holocaust right there with the cockroaches.

Spending Thursday evening with the Cavedogs at Club Lingerie was far more pleasant than a night with cockroaches. The trio offered boisterous enthusiasm (guitarist Todd Spahr was a bundle of energy), fine youthful harmonies (all three are capable lead vocalists) and catchy, upbeat tunes (though the best might have been a relatively straight rock version of "What's New, Pussycat?").

But it's hardly the cross of the Beatles and the Who that some have proclaimed--more like a mix of Badfinger and the Jam. That's not bad company to keep, but a bit short of godhead. An oft-made comparison to contemporaries the Smithereens is appropriate (and not just for Spahr's chin whiskers a la Smithereen Pat DiNizio). But the 'Dogs lack the 'Reens knack for that killer radio song.

And is it guts or innocence that made the band, um, borrow the riff from the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows" for its own "Bed of Nails" and then encore with "Tomorrow Never Knows" itself? And what does it say when one audience member dryly remarked, "It's the Monkees," halfway through the show, only to hear the band conclude the evening with Mike Nesmith's "Joanne"?

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