September 08, 1986 12:00 PM

Guadalcanal Diary

If the songs of Guadalcanal Diary ever made it to Name That Tune, even an expert on progressive rock might run into trouble identifying them. Sometimes the band’s music sounds like the folk rock of REM, other times like the country rock of Jason and the Scorchers. But rarely if ever does this quartet develop a strong enough style to sound just like, well, Guadalcanal Diary. The band’s 1984 debut album, Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man, included two memorable cuts: the manically energetic Watusi Rodeo and a live version of Kumbayah that’s campy in two senses—it’s a send-up that sounds as if it were recorded while toasting marshmallows around a fire. But Jamboree lacks that LP’s energy. Some of the songs cover unusual topics: Michael Rockefeller laments the disappearance of the anthropologist off the coast of New Guinea in 1961. I See Moe describes the horror of seeing a face in the mirror that resembles Curly and Larry’s companion. Unfortunately, Guadalcanal’s restrained rock accompaniment never matches the quirkiness of the lyrics. Like the band’s name, taken from a book about the World War II South Pacific battle, those lyrics have an exotic sound. But that quality is lacking in the music of Jamboree. (Elektra)

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