AIR TIGHT

There's no stopping The Reds® this time around.  After getting burned by an A&M Records deal, these Philadelphia boys have redirected their musical priorities and now have emerged with their punchiest album to date.  They may have been able to slog it out during a two-year dry spell, but one wouldn't guess that they were survivors by glancing at the title of their third album.  It's called Fatal Slide, a negative reflection on their abilities considering the power of the material concealed within and their potential to blow their American new music counterparts out of the water.

Their minds may be in Europe, but they do manage to pull off some moments of pure innovative genius, especially in the album's most experimental selection, "Mr. Z."  Throughout the song, a mutated Jaws-like riff from bassist Jim Peters, clashes with the reverberative trumpet-work of Asbury Jukes member Louis Parent.  All this is topped by the banshee wails of lead guitarist/singer Rick Shaffer, which doubles as the albums's most distinguishing trademark.

Side one may reflect the reckless abandon of the group's abilities, but the flip arguably has the air of being targeted towards major airplay stations.  Likely contenders for hit singles could be "Do What You Want" or "Gone Too Far."  Nothing wrong with that, but are the big boys going to listen?  The divergent beats of Tommy Geddes, with the gliding eerie ivory work of Bruce Cohen, especially on "Slippin' So Tight" and "You Don't Know," could ease some of these doubts.

It all adds up to the fact that The Reds® have a good enough formula to grab the aloof ears of radio programmers, who seem to have it fixed in their minds that the new music revolution begins with The Boomtown Rats, and ends with U2.  To stave off further acts of cultural genocide, all they have to do is look in their own back yard.

— Gene Kosowan, Air Tight, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada