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The Blind Leading The Naked5       
 
Released: 1986

1) Old Mother Reagan  2)  No Killing  3) Faith  4) Breakin' Hearts  5) Special  6) Love & Me Make Three  7) Candlelight Song  8) I Held Her In My Arms  9) Children Of The Revolution  10) Good Friend  11) Heartache  12) Cold Canyon  13) Two People

 

Here the Femmes abandon their sound again and turn dangerously close to 1980s mainstream.  This is such a let down after the first two records that it is extremely hard to appreciate any song here.  There are flashes of their genius spread throughout Gano’s tunes, but overall this is a very weak offering, seemingly scrapping the bottom of their creative barrel.   

 

The opening tune, “Old Mother Reagan,” is a thirty second punk protest song saying that Old Mother Reagan won’t make it to Heaven for what she has done.  It is fast, funny in a dumb way, but ultimately pretty pointless.  No Killing” brings back the subject matter and sound of the second album, although it lacks the intimacy.  It isn’t creepy or heartfelt, and sounds far more polished than the Femmes other two albums.  Gano seems to not have had anything to say, but was just writing a song to order…nevertheless, it is a good tune overall, filled with vocal hooks and a strong melody.  Faith” is a Chicago blues little ditty about religion.  It is as typical as you can get, too long, and pretty generic, although good for a laugh or two.  Not offensive, but hardly groundbreaking.  Breakin’ Hearts” is a pure country song with no crazy bass or religious lyrics to save it.  It is kind of annoying, and is not anything more than filler.  Special” is pretty much 80s mainstream.  This is the first time the Femmes sound like any other New Wave band.  The tune isn’t god awful, but it is far from special. 

 

Love and Me Make Three,” written by the entire band and sung by Brian Ritchie, deals with Judas defying Christ, but is just another generic bluesy number.  Why bother?  Boring and useless.  Candlelight Song” has a trance-like spookiness, but the mood is ruined by the ridiculous background noises.  It had potential, but ends up being childish and lame.  I Held Her in My Arms” is more show tune happiness and one of the better songs on the album.  It has that 80s style and Blues Brother structure, and although very catchy, is nothing like the Femmes.  Children of the Revolution” is even further away from the Femmes as there are actually synthesizers on this cover of Marc Bolan.  There is a reason why many people consider the 80s the worst decade for music and the fact that this song was a minor hit might be proof those people are right.  It is just too slick and has no feeling. 

 

Good Friend” sounds like Elvis Costello, which means the song is pretty decent, but again, it lacks the Femmes bite…like the band was just going through the motions.  Heartache” tries like hell to get that punk, debut feel back.  It isn’t bad at all, but would be little more than filler on that album.  Still, here it is one of the highlights.  Cold Canyon” is a fast paced country tune and rules.  Finally, a classic track that would hold up well with any song on their first albums and definitely owes its vocal style to Dylan.  Two People” is a minute or so of a slow, heartfelt ballad.  It is far too short to really leave much of a mark overall.

 

Based on the first two albums, Brian Ritchie was one of the most innovative bass players of the decade.  Not many bands are as dominated by the bass as the Femmes were, but on this album he is almost silenced and put in the background.  Also, with the added instrumentation, Victor DeLorenzo’s distinctive minimalist drumming cannot be fully appreciated as he is simply drowned out.  Add this together with the fact that Gano’s songwriting was at a low point and you have a very average album from a very talented band.

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