October 07, 1991 12:00 PM

God’s Little Monkeys

Rock-video directors love to perch a band on a barren hillside playing without amps or mikes. No one seems to care that most of those bands couldn’t outchirp a cricket without a truckful of electronics and engineers.

God’s Little Monkeys are an exception. Though they don’t have the clout to get a video on TV, their two lead singers have pure, powerful voices. Raised in Yorkshire, England, Jo Swiss and Jon Townend lack even a trace of neurotic self-doubt. As they harmonize and sing duets, their vocals rise assuredly above the quartet’s needle-sharp folk-rock accompaniment.

The Monkeys’ passionate delivery has a clear motivation. They want to attack apathy by way of songs that protest such phenomena as commercialism, meat eating, greed and loss of idealism. “Reynard” draws a parallel between fox hunting, war and sexual politics and asks, “Why do you need to chase a tail?…Is it the thrill of the chase/ Or the bloody bloody faces/ The snap of teeth in delicate places?”

Even when strong British accents make it tough to decipher lyrics, a passionate tone conveys the gist (the lyric sheet doesn’t hurl). The only quibble with this release is that it lacks the a cappella anthems that gave such a kick to the debut disc New Maps of Hell.

It’s safe to say these Monkeys have a different outlook from their simian ancestors, the Monkees, who were “too busy singin’ to put anybody down.” But just as the mop-topped ’60s bubble-gum rockers warned “You’d better get ready/ We may be comin’ to your town,” God’s Little Monkeys will tour the U.S. this winter. Even those who disagree with the band’s politics should feel a surge of adrenaline when these iconoclasts raise their defiant voices. (Alias)

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