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Classic of the Week

The Jim Carroll Band "Catholic Boy" (1980) Atco

March 18, 1993|JOHN PENNER

Except maybe for Joy Division, the New Wave didn't get much darker than Jim Carroll. A heroin addict from the time he was 13, he used his anxiety and paranoia to fuel a riveting, incisive and horrific batch of prose and poetry before adding swagger and electric guitars to come with this, his first experiment with rock. Drawing on the fury of the punks, he wrote songs that defined the isolation of the era, the anguish rooted in the failure of the past and the fear of the decade to follow--all tempered with gallows humor ("It's too late/To fall in love with Sharon Tate"). His slashing melodies are irresistible, particularly "City Drops Into the Night," "Wicked Gravity" and his best, gloomiest song, "People Who Died." Carroll would cut two more records before abandoning music to return to the written word. But it never got better, or more desperate, than this.

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