Blond ex-Playboy bunny with quirky vocal delivery fronts rock band? Sound familiar? No, it's not Blondie, it's the West Coast version: Missing Persons. This group compensates for Blondie's lack of discipline with a professional sheen coming from, of all people, Frank Zappa. Three of the musicians -- drummer Terry Bozzio, guitarist Warren Cuccurullo and bassist Patrick O'Hearn -- toured with Zappa. But in this group they don't play difficult music, but accessible pop with satiny new-wave textures courtesy of producer Ken Scott. The mix is a little different, though: terse, British synthesizer strains perked up with chunky, power-pop American guitar.
The band surrounds lead singer Dale Bozzio with insistent beats and catchy melodies. She responds in a high-pitched voice halfway between Debbie Harry cool and Wendy Williams hot, with little squeaks and squeals at the end of many lines. On weak material, that voice doesn't grab, but on the band's best songs it refuses to let go. On "Destination Unknown" and the catchy "Words," two hits carried over from the best-selling Missing Persons LP, and on the edgy "U.S. Drag" and "Walkin' in L.A.," the sound is bright and punchy -- and promising. ON RECORD, ON STAGE THE ALBUM MISSING PERSONS -- Spring Sessions M (Capitol ST-12228). THE SHOW MISSING PERSONS, Thursday at 9 at the Wax Museum.