Book of Hours

Blaine L. Reininger

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Book of Hours Review

by Ned Raggett

Blaine Reininger's fourth studio solo album is one of the more so-so items in his considerable career -- not quite as misdirected as the troubled Byzantium, but it's an album that most beyond hardcore fans could probably easily skip without too much of a worry. It doesn't help that the opening track, "Zombie Bop," is little more than generic end-of-the-'80s bar band yupfunk -- right down to the miserable/anonymous saxophone solo courtesy of David Sanborn's trash can. Thankfully, "Sainte Therese" is a distinct improvement, though still not ranking near his best, a ballad that calls to mind David Bowie's late-'80s dry gulch, and from there Book of Hours makes its hesitant way. To its strong credit there are moments where the experimentation with late-'80s state of the art turns out all right, suggesting a parallel course to the work of then labelmate Anna Domino -- the lush, moody arrangement of "Letter from Home," and the dreamy psychedelia meets late Japan of "To the Green Door" (with much improved sax work). Elsewhere, things are fair without always being involving, while "Come the Spring" revisits the same follies of "Zombie Bop," making the album a bit of a flawed jewel. Slightly emblematic of the album's neither here nor there state would be the cover of Marty Robbins' classic "El Paso" -- the song survives well enough, but it's delivered in a drowsy, narcotic fashion on the verses, which a more bravura turn on the choruses doesn't quite spike up. LTM's reissue once again shows that a little care never hurts -- five bonus tracks make an appearance, including the two cuts from the previous year's "Bay Bridge" single, a late-'90s selection from a film soundtrack, and both sides of the 1997 "Cosy Little Planet"/"Burnsday" single.

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