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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Zero Living Off Dead Roots

September 30, 1993|STEVE HOCHMAN

The Tuesday appearance at Club Lingerie by Zero--which not only comes from the Grateful Dead's Bay Area home base, but lately has had lyrics provided by Dead wordsmith Robert Hunter--looked as if someone had miniaturized a Dead concert from stadium size to club proportions, right down to the clutch of neo-hippie dancers and the lone "taper" with his high-tech microphones.

Musically too, Zero didn't shy away from Dead territory, though it's hardly a clone. The sextet, made up largely of Bay Area veterans, including saxophonist Martin Fierro and former Starship keyboardist Pete Sears, specializes in a brand of rambling, home-grown pop-jazz that has some measure of Dead-like ebb and flow, though little of the magic.

The recent addition of singer Judge Murphy has given the formerly all-instrumental band new focus. An unaffectedly gruff vocalist somewhat out of the Joe Cocker/David Clayton-Thomas mold, Murphy seemed most at home in blues-based material, a little less so with Hunter's space-age cowboy poetry.

Without establishing an identity of its own, Zero did nothing to disprove the old saying that there's nothing like a Grateful Dead concert, but the show at least provided a reasonable facsimile for the faithful.

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