Otway & Barrett

Deep & Meaningless

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"Okay, let's make this the big one for Otway." Thus spake our hero at the outset of the legendary "Beware of the Flowers ('Cause I'm Sure They're Gonna Get You, Yeah)" and thus spake a nation that hung in tenterhooks awaiting the release of Otway & Barrett's second album, their first since charting with the rambunctious "Really Free," and the disc, all agreed, that would raise a pair of folky-punky rocking misfits out of obscurity and into the arms of a delirious generation.

And so it did -- so long as you ignore the poor promotion, rotten sales, and appalling timing that saw the pair break up, just when they needed to be out on the road. But Deep and Meaningless is nevertheless Otway & Barrett's masterpiece, a lushly produced, superbly stylized and utterly irresistible combination of pop hooks, lunatic anthems and deathless catch phrases. "Beware of the Flowers" (already familiar from the "Really Free" b-side) was only the first , "Oh My Body Is Making Me" was another, while the mutant mangling of the old classic "The Alamo," all blood-drained cries and exploding cannon, remains one of the most gripping pieces of theater ever confined to sound alone.

Elsewhere, the marathon May Day celebration of "Josephine" stands among Otway's most gorgeous ballads ever, while "Place Farm Way" is another of those cute little numbers that recapture Otway's personal past with such winsomeness that everyone can identify with its sentiments. All around, then, Deep and Meaningless is a triumph, with even its bare minimum running time (34 minutes, give or take) failing to spoil the party. Besides, early purchasers were treated to a free bonus single, coupling two tracks from a London show the previous summer, the manic thrum of "Racing Cars" and -- are you ready for another catch phrase? -- the mutant singalong "Down the Road"." And they were worth the price of admission alone.

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