The Blow Monkeys

Springtime for the World

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Give the Blow Monkeys credit for not running aground on the rocks of house music; it would have been all too easy for stylish frontman Dr. Robert to follow his fellow dapper U.K. socialist Paul Weller along the same club-hopping path that helped sink Weller's Style Council. With that said, however, the final Blow Monkeys album had problems of its own, as the group's usual lush blue-eyed soul was weakened on Springtime for the World with some unnecessary audio collages and exotic worldbeat touches. "La Passionara," which set Spanish guitar to a very familiar hip-hop breakbeat, is the best example, but the near-instrumental "Be Not Afraid," with its wailing ethnic vocal, is another head-scratcher. Such digressions are set into stronger relief by the title track, one of the group's best-ever singles. Atop an appropriately huge and busy sonic backdrop -- including gospel-ish singers, orchestration, and pounding drums -- Dr. Robert croons a paean to a better day, offering one of his frequent messages of solidarity with gay listeners -- "Just because you swing a different way/Doesn't mean that we're like night and day" -- and singing it all like he means it. That concluded the Blow Monkeys' career, save for assorted best-ofs, and Dr. Robert would follow Weller into the solo arena, while also playing bass with him occasionally.

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