BACK WHEN rock 'n' roll first jolted the industrialized world, "American" was a synonym for raw.
Thirty years later, the Great American Blandout (sponsored by U.S. FM rock radio) forces British bands to tone down their style if they want to enter the American mega-market. That's what Gene Loves Jezebel and Flesh for Lulu have obligingly done.
Not that either Gene's Celtic dance-rock or Flesh's Velvet Underground/Rolling Stones synthesis ever set a new standard of rock inspiration. Still, in planing the edges of their sounds, Gene has lost some of its atmospheric depth and Flesh a bit of its grit.
Both bands have come out ahead, though, in areas appreciated by American corporate-rock taste-makers: song-craft and production values. Gene's new "The House of Dolls" may not have a single track as memorable as its early underground hit, "The Immigrant," but it is the band's most consistent record. Neither side trails off too badly after respective upbeat openers, "Gorgeous" and "Twenty Killer Hurts."
"I Go Crazy," Flesh's chugging, high-gloss soundtrack hit, does somewhat overshadow the rest of "New Flesh," but it too has a respectable inventory of hooks: "Postcards from Paradise," the Kinksy "Sooner or Later" and "Crash" all encourage repeated spins.
GENE LOVES JEZEBEL --
"The House of Dolls" (Geffen GHS 24171).
FLESH FOR LULU --
"Long Live the New Flesh" (Capitol CLT-48217).
Both appear Saturday at Lisner Auditorium.