Underneath the black clothes and eyeliner, Flesh for Lulu were no more nor less than a pop/rock band, forever cursed by their post-punk past. Born a dozen years too late, the group were condemned to the corners of the indie scene and the edges of the U.S. charts, virtually neglected by the American rock masses that were their natural audience. At least the U.K. indie kids took them to heart, but Big Fun City deserved so much more than that. Having shaken off their cobwebs on Blue Sisters Swing, Flesh came to NYC (thus the new album's title) to record with producer Craig Leon. A less sympathetic producer would have destroyed this record, either by foisting a thoroughly '80s slickness into the mix, or lazily permitting the group's retro sound to run rampant. Instead, Leon respected the group's vision, creating a modern album that remains a tribute to rock's rich past. A motherlode of riffs are the song's sturdy foundation blocks, mostly mined from a rich R&B vein. The Stones are an obvious influence, although Flesh never plunder directly, instead creating the best riffs Keith Richards never played. Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground also played a major role in the members' youths, while C&W and the blues continued to make welcome appearances. Thus the band touch all the major rock roots before tossing them into their own indie blender. There again, even the Velvets in their heyday would have thought twice about recording "Death Shall Come," a brilliant piece of experimental foreboding that slithers slide guitar against a booming beat, drops surrealistic sound effects into the mix, then shrouds it all in an ominous atmosphere. On the other end of the spectrum were perfect pop rockers like "Baby Hurricane" (a U.K. Top Ten indie hit); the boisterous "Seven Hail Marys" and "Vaguely Human" both slamming rock riffs and anthemic choruses into punk frenzy; and more sedate, but equally upbeat numbers like "Let Go," which showcases some of the guitarists' best work. The rhythm section's own proficiency is evident throughout, pulling off rock-solid, but never tiresome, rhythms regardless of tempo or genre, as impressive on the softer, slower numbers as the pounding rockers, while anchoring the more experimental numbers. Perhaps Flesh were just too adventurous for the rock community, too willing to take chances, too energetic, too pop, too different. Too bad for the rockers for missing out on such a classic record. The CD also included the Blue Sisters Swing EP as an added incentive.
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AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene