The Raw And The Cooked

Fine Young Cannibals

I.R.S. Records, 1989

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


The success of the Fine Young Cannibals had to be one of the biggest surprises of 1989. Roland Steele and crew were as far removed from being a rock group as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but they hit the big time with their wonderful song "She Drives Me Crazy," and brought their album The Raw And The Cooked into the blockbuster range.

Too bad the rest of the album doesn't live up to the hype. One song rarely can support a whole album, and this is no exception.


"She Drives Me Crazy," with its synthesized drums, was a great party song - Steele's falsetto delivery which went into a full-fledged roar was perfect for the track. Even the guitar work fits the track - from the jangly jazz riffs to the crunch of the power chords.

Most of the rest of the album falls into a pattern where Fine Young Cannibals sounds like they're trying to be a jazz-rock band of the '50s. "Good Thing" sounds like a throwback to the early days of rock and roll, and is a semi-decent track. "Ever Fallen In Love" is a better example of how Steele et al. could use this style to their advantage.

But the obvious lack of musical direction is obvious. On one track, Steele sounds like Prince with his dick caught in a vice, the next he sounds like he wants to be Tom Jones - cheezits, make up your mind! And those synthesized drums - they have got to go.

The Raw And The Cooked works best when the band tightens up and dares to look at the rock side of their psyche. When they fail to do so, the results are disastrous - "I'm Not The Man I Used To Be" is a weak track following the two radio hits, while "Don't Let It Get You Down" fails from the first note.

Of course, Fine Young Cannibals came from the world of college alternative radio, where this would have probably been considered cool. In the world of pop music, however, something like this can be career suicide. (In fact, this turned out to be the band's last album, as Steele turned to an acting career.)

Another problem is that the album has not aged very well - there was a movie I was watching recently which featured the Fine Young Cannibals as the "house band" - and the music seemed very out of place. Whoops - turns out they were performing tracks from this album, meaning this is not a good sign.

The Raw And The Cooked both defined and killed this band, and while the hits are still great songs, it hardly sets Fine Young Cannibals apart from the rest of the field. This is a good reason why some greatest hits albums are must-owns.

Rating: D+

User Rating: A



© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of I.R.S. Records, and is used for informational purposes only.