Timbuk 3

Looks Like Dark to Me

(CD - Windham Hill Records #10330)

Review by

Looks Like Dark to Me at first glance appears to be nothing more than a stopgap filler EP released in anticipation of Timbuk 3's 1995 High Street Records comeback album, A Hundred Lovers. Pat MacDonald and Barbara K, however, have always been too creative to let any recording opportunity go to waste; this EP is actually among the best work the band has done. Loaded with the same raw, cheeky feel that catapulted Timbuk 3's signature hit "The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades" to the top of the charts in 1986, Looks Like Dark to Me includes a brilliant acoustic version of that track, which amazingly has even more of a sarcastic bite than the original. The disc also includes a few non-LP tracks, a Marshall Tucker-flavored live recording of "Sunshine is Dangerous" and a four-track cassette version of "Looks Like Dark to Me," a sort of answer song to the band's biggest hit. The CD's, best moment, though, is the group's surprisingly excellent take on the Steppenwolf classic "Born to Be Wild." A lesser combo would destroy this veteran of a million bad bar band cover versions, but Timbuk 3 wisely re-casts the song as a dreamy, acoustic neo-psychedelic piece that sounds a bit like Surrealistic Pillow-era Jefferson Airplane. The effect is fascinating; stripped of the its rebel without a clue, testosterone fueled bravado, the tune takes on a wistful melancholy and the narrator emerges as a lonely, embittered failure, longing for his days as "a true nature's child." Overall, Looks Like Dark to Me is much greater than the sum of its parts, and well worth searching out.

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