F.K. Junior

Barfly, Vol. 3

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Barfly is named for a pair of bars in Paris and Los Angeles, and the inspiration for their name comes from the film of the same name, where Mickey Rourke portrayed writer Charles Bukowski, whose life was spent in dive bars, not the upscale designer creations shown in pictures in the CD booklet. And you have to wonder what he'd make of the house music on this CD. Never-ending beats and sometimes disco in a new wrapper, most of it immediately disposable and utterly without inspiration. There are exceptions: G Club's "Guitara G" has something going for it in the digital delay of its guitar work and Bel Amour and Smokin' Jo work up a percussion fest. But for the most part the tracks follow a formula of rushed beats -- heavy on the programmed hi-hat -- and female vocals that fall short of the diva mark which signified the '80s, with plenty of echo. You can dance to it or let it just wash over your head without ever penetrating. And when it turns a bit downbeat, as on Levitation's "More Than Ever People," which tries to be a real song, it's all lost in an attempt at soul, which is true of all three final tracks, which try to chill a little without being downright frigid. After hearing the CD you're hard-pressed to remember any of it, meaning that like the bars it's named for, it's a triumph of style over substance. Bukwoski would probably have trashed it and put a quarter in the jukebox instead -- but of course, he wouldn't have been caught dead in a bar like that to begin with.

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