The ALBUM -- "Pearl Harbor and the Explosions," Warner Bros. (BSK 3404).; The SHOW -- At the Cellar Door, March 22 at 8 and 10:30.
If new wave had its own American Bandstand, Pearl Harbor and the Explosions' self-titled debut album would get a 9 1/2; The songs have a good beat and you can dance to them. Performing at the Cellar Door on Saturday, March 22, the group will offer a rock-pop-disco amalgam that guarantees a high energy show.
Only their name is punkish; it's a nod to the lively lead vocalist, 22-year-old Pearl E. Gates. This dynamo conquered the San Francisco rock scene just over a year ago after spending three years in a cabaret act called Leila and the Snakes. Pearl abandoned nightclub shtick and striptease in favor of rock'n'roll when she hooked up with the Stench brothers -- John on drums, Hilary on bass -- and guitarist Peter Bilt. The foursome shares credit for composing the album's varied songs, but Pearl grabs the spotlight on stage with her strutting and whirling brand of funk.
The Bay area first jumped on Pearl Harbor and the Explosions when their well-crafted commuter cut, "Drivin'," hit the radio airwaves there. Soon the group landed a contract and recorded the LP with "Drivin'" as opening track. The song is an upbeat rocker with pretty harmony vocals that's been heard around the Beltway lately on a few local stations.
Throughout the album, there's no need to sit still for the lyrics. In fact, that's the last word on "Shut Up and Dance": Here it come, he gonna try to put the
word in edgewise, He gonna make you take the big ride, Shout it to him now . . . shut up and
Unlike those new wave groups specializing in paranoid, angry feelings, Pearl Harbor has a light touch. A good-natured send-off, "Don't Come Back," echoes the Ronettes style of the '50s with the Explosions chiming in on "walk, walk, walk." Other cuts employ a Latin beat and whistles, disco hoots and racing percussion behind Pearl's street-smart vocals.
Still, you can't help wondering what would happen if they took a crack at introspection. Even when Pearl reveals a hurt, plaintive self on "So Much For Love," the lyrics never delve far below the surface: I got the true contemporary attitude I got the modern understanding That anyone is free to come and go just
as they choose. So much for love.
So far Pearl's having too much fun dancing to acknowledge any serious suffering.