September 17, 1984 12:00 PM

Bobby & the Midnites

This album is like a soufflé full of exotic ingredients that falls flat in the oven. The group is made up of Bobby Cochran and sometime Grateful Dead member Bob Weir on vocals and guitars, bassist Kenny Gradney, drummer Bill Cobham and Dave Garland on keyboards and sax. Garland at least gets in some good licks on the horn, but what is Cobham doing in this lounge-lizard act? A virtuoso jazz-fusion percussionist, he twiddles his sticks, vainly trying to fill in around plodding tempos. Weir and Cochran, formerly with Steppenwolf and the Flying Burrito Brothers, together wouldn’t make one decent lead singer; Weir especially belabors Marvin Gaye’s hit Ain’t That Peculiar. Another track, (I Want to Live in) America, begins bravely enough with a Springsteen-like synthesizer riff but degenerates into California shlock rock. The band is joined by such gifted musicians as guitarists Steve Cropper, the Stray Cats’ Brian Setzer and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, who played with Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers. Baxter is also the album producer. The only bright spot on the LP is Lifeline, which was written by nonband members, as are half the cuts. The composers of the songs might not have been so generous with their material had they known what Bobby and his boys would do to it. (Columbia)

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