Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom

Tom Tom Club

Sire, 1989

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


This is where Tom Tom Club started running out of ideas. As their third album, Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom is an affair that is largely hit and miss. The main problem lies with the track list order. For some odd reason, the band decided to frontload all the crap songs first, demanding the listener work hard to find the good stuff deeper into the album. So much for making an album that’s critic-proof. There’s no way a typical impatient music critic was going to be patient to sit through the rest of the album after suffering through three sub-par tracks in a row. The tepid trio of tunes that start off the album simply do not do it justice. “Call Of The Wild” is a failed attempt to be big and brassy, “Kiss Me When I Get Back” is stupid and pointless in the way they repeat the title over and over, and “Wa Wa Dance” shows us just how worn out the cutesy and goofy novelty thing had become. Wa-wa…whatever.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Tom Tom Club doesn’t end the record all that well either. Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz take their turns at the mic, with Tina over-enunciating every word in an embarrassing cover of Velvet Underground’s “Femme Fatale” and Chris finger-snapping his way through an equally painful “She Belongs To Me.” While they are obviously paying homage to their fellow New Yorkers from the artsy Andy Warhol days, Tina is no Nico and Chris Frantz is no Lou Reed.

And now for the good news, which is the center portion of Boom Boom. The first surprise is the fizzy electric guitar on the truly original “I Confess,” where Tina sounds like a cross between Nina Hagen and Yoko Ono. Then there’s “Challenge Of The Love Warriors,” where things take a experimental turn with nothing more than percussion and some sampled heavy breathing (think Laurie Anderson). However, the award for best track has got to go to “Suboceana,” which has a blissed-out and tripped-out vibe that is unlike anything the band had attempted before. Other notable cuts include “Shock The World” and “Little Eva,” both of which go into a heavier alternative direction with some impressive guitar work to add to the slinky feel of both tracks.

What this all adds up to is a middling effort for the album that, coincidentally enough, is at the middle of their catalog. If anything, it should be regarded as a transition album, where the old clearly needed to phase out in order to make room for the new. The question was: how could Tom Tom Club stand on their own and get out from the Talking Heads’ shadow? Could they expand their sound and range any further, or is this as far as they could possibly go? One thing is for sure, they would need to go for broke on their next album. Otherwise, Tom Tom Club would suffer the same fate as Talking Heads. All they could do was put their best foot forward and hope that their evident artistic talents could still deliver the goods.

Rating: C-

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© 2009 Michael R. Smith 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 Sire, and is used for informational purposes only.