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Paul Cebar & the Milwaukeeans "That Unhinged Thing" Shanachie

August 26, 1993|RANDY LEWIS

Cebar and his six associates from the Land o' Lakes, a favorite in Midwest bars and clubs for the past decade, combine a wide-ranging knowledge of world-beat rhythms with a frequently skewed art-school attitude that suggests nothing so much as a meeting of the Neville Brothers and Talking Heads.

And with the fat licks of a meaty horn section on nearly every tune, that meeting sounds as if it took place in Muscle Shoals, Ala., or Memphis, Tenn.

Although there's the stray social comment here ("You Make Me Feel So"), musically things rarely get far from a party beat. The guiding ethic is explained in that tune, which begins with an outline of a litany of social ills that greet us daily:

I don't know just where to go

Bowling or crazy, Hell or Ohio

We throw it all down, mix it all up

The hat hits the floor and we dance

Dinner and breathing are way down the list

Talking don't stand a chance

The group's debut album opens with the '60s-vintage soul of "Watching You Love," a number with guitar riffs so incessantly bouncy it virtually defies you to remain seated.

Over the course of the other 12 songs, the band glides from its foundation in American roots music (check out the irresistible Cajun-rockabilly beat of "Twice Little Sixteen") through shimmering Afro-pop ("Slither Awhile") and sensual Latin influences ("Lingering") before returning home for a solid dose of funk ("I Love Soul").

Cebar's voice is ideal for this brand of party music--smoky-gritty like Billy Vera one minute, dripping with a Dr. John-like drawl the next. He shares lead singing duties with Robyn Pluer, who sings with a winsomeness reminiscent of Rickie Lee Jones circa "Chuck E.'s in Love."

Check your Angst at the door and give it a spin.

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