Elliott Murphy

Party Girls & Broken Poets

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Party Girls & Broken Poets is an elegant album by underground visionary Elliott Murphy. The black-and-white cover on gold and white gives a hint to the music inside. The first portion of the album takes a while to kick in, until the third song, "Dr. Calabash." It's a real grabber that is perhaps the strongest track here. With co-production and bass supplied by ex-Modern Lover Ernie Brooks, the sensibilities are in place, but what's missing from Murphy's music is that little extra edge that early Jonathan Richman contained -- the spark caught from obsession with the Velvet Underground. "Something New" is a perfect example of how the artist can sometimes miss the mark. It's a cute little pop tune, but it doesn't have the magnetism of, say, the Modern Lovers' "Astral Plane" or Johnny Thunder's "In Cold Blood." "Last Call" is a fine song with a wonderful hook. It may be what inspired Murphy's French recording company to call themselves Last Call Records; previously they were New Rose taken from the Damned song of the same name. The title track, "Party Girls and Broken Poets," is nicely insightful, and "Like a Rocket" has its moments as well. Guest appearances by David Johansen and Violent Femmes' Brian Ritchie on "Blues Responsibility" still can't keep it from sounding like John Cougar Mellencamp, and for Elliott Murphy's audience, that's not a plus. On "The Streets of New York," the poet sees "only people." Don't believe it for a moment -- he sees a lot more than people, but it might take a Bob Ezrin or Jack Douglas old-school producer to help him refine that intuition. He's an interesting and prolific artist with a fan base, and this is a worthwhile recording nonetheless.

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