Ed Kuepper

Everybody's Got To

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It doesn't happen often, but every now and then bowing to the marketplace can really help an artist. A case in point is Everybody's Got To, the sole major-label effort by former Laughing Clown Ed Kuepper. Though the Australian guitarist's old group was responsible for some memorable avant-jazzy moments, this set of tight, polished alt-rock was his best outing of the '80s, and is perhaps his finest album ever. Kuepper's production -- focusing on booming drums and layered guitars -- was perfectly in step with the times, and it's little wonder that Capitol agreed to release the album in the U.S. (At first listen, it's not incredibly dissimilar from the then-current sound of Kuepper's countrymen, Midnight Oil.) But Kuepper also wrote a batch of great songs that could withstand, and in fact prosper from, such glossy treatment. The title track and "Burned My Fingers" set his alienated musings on love gone wrong to insistent, folk-based melodies, while "Not a Soul Around" even flirts with a dance beat, and like several other tunes, features horns punching out the main riff. Rebecca Hancock's prominent backing vocals add further sweetening throughout, and even at its most adventurous (the moody, menacing closer "No Skin off Your Nose"), the album never sinks into the murk that sometimes clouded the Clowns' work. Anyone wanting to explore Kuepper's substantial and often superb back catalog will find Everybody's Got To the perfect place to start.

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