The Blow Monkeys

Whoops! There Goes the Neighbourhood

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Despite the success of 1987's Dirty Dancing soundtrack, which included the Blow Monkeys' single "You Don't Own Me," the band lost their American record deal by the time Whoops! There Goes the Neighborhood came out two years later. The States didn't miss much, though, as the album unfortunately chronicled the group's downward slide. By this time, the Blow Monkeys' sound and stance were both becoming somewhat stale: despite help from a batch of high-profile producers, including Stephen Hague and Julian Mendelsohn, too much of Whoops! falls into the slick, soulless rut that dominated chart pop in the late '80s. The vibrant blue-eyed soul of past hits like "Digging Your Scene" turned coldly mechanical on tunes like "It Pays to Belong" and "Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love," and attempts to emulate the new jack swing beginning to percolate across the Atlantic fall well short of the mark. Meanwhile, flamboyant frontman Dr. Robert's left-wing views veer close to Paul Weller-style humorlessness on this batch of lyrics. "Sweet Talking Rapist at Home" is a predictable bashing of a loutish boyfriend and "Squaresville" (which does feature an authentic drummer and some nicely free-form sax work) is that all-too-common occurrence in music: a conformist indictment of conformity. "The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name," on the other hand, surprises by not exploring the homosexual connotations of the phrase -- it's just a simple, bluesy love song in the musical mode of "Cash," off the group's previous album. On the plus side, the churning groove of "This Is Your Life" is hard to resist despite the programmed rhythms, and hearing Dr. Robert's suave, Bowie-by-way-of-Martin Fry tenor atop a full complement of strings and horns is still a pleasure. But it's one that's in increasingly short supply in this neighborhood.

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