Full of sincerity from tasteful and famous musicians in the pop record business, the Bangles’ Doll Revolution is custom-made for the Oxygen Channel, where the edgiest thing found is—maybe—reruns of Scruples. It’s the sound of gals wise and experienced in life much like those you see on TV comfort shows: attractively husky ladies perched on sofas discussing relationships and the unintentional cruelties and ignorances of men that doom them.
“Tear Off Your Own Head” leaps off the disc, but prob’ly made leadoff because it’s the only number showing signs of life. The rest—”The Rain Song,” “Single by Choice,” and “I Will Take Care of You,” for instance—are trudging pop sopping wet with sentiment for a slightly embarrassing midlife crisis. They used to walk like Egyptians, but now the Bangles limp like candidates for bunion surgery. Oh, the pain.
Remember “Going Down to Liverpool”? Now there was a snappy tune—written by Kimberly Rew, and lifted by the Bangles to good purpose. On the new Katrina & the Waves box, it sounds better than anything on Doll Revolution. Which is perhaps a little unfair, since it’s from lighter days; who knows, now maybe Katrina Leskanich needs her feet scraped, too.
But there was no introspection from Katrina in the early ’80s, and what saccharine quality the Waves had was more than offset by a belting voice and tough r&b licks. The Waves wanted you to get up and get down with it—a DVD of a live-performance, pre-MTV “Walking on Sunshine” fame, underlines this. Rew takes center stage for the funky complaint “Don’t Take Her Out of My World”; “Brown Eyed Son” and the Wes Cravenly “Maniac House” follow and constitute the band’s most walloping tunes, recordings that never made the cut for the U.S. part of the catalog. Children are seen diddy-bopping around the stage, and the performance destroys anything Hilary Duff turned in for tube this year.