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Album Review

April 11, 1993|MIKE BOEHM




* * 1/2

Say they'd given ol' D-FENS from "Falling Down" all the free studio time he could use in exchange for putting down that bazooka. The result might have been like the first half of Baerwald's new album. The boy is venting, folks--a process always better accomplished with musical instruments than automatic weapons.

But Lou Reed's cranky-guy-on-a-barstool persona in "New York" and Stan Ridgway's intrusions into the heads of characters on the social fringes wear far better than Baerwald's rantings about an America gone seriously and conspiratorially out of whack.

Luckily, he brings it all back home on what used to be known as Side 2. Instead of writing monologues for the unhinged, Baerwald tones down the frenzy and sings from what is presumably his own troubled-but-sane point of view.

Like Roger Waters' recent work, Baerwald's well-crafted sonics fail to clothe his ambitious lyrical ideas in sufficient pop appeal. But there is something moving in the way he comes around to the original meaning of triage in a concluding bid for personal healing: not a callous writing off of acceptable losses, but an attempt amid horror and scarcity to save those who still have a chance.

New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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