Consumer Guide Album
The Manhattan Transfer: Coming Out [Atlantic, 1976]
As the memory of the way they demean their material onstage fades, I find I can admire and even enjoy their second album. The scatter-shot eclecticism of the first LP has been aimed--especially on side one, which I much prefer--at the kind of novelty tunes, rock and non-rock, that everyone who listened to pre-Beatles radio loved. The anonymity of the oldies Tim Hauser here unearths--it took me weeks to remember that Roy Hamilton (he of "Unchained Melody") came back with "Don't Let Go," I still can't place "Zindy Lou," and even the Motown remake is from Kim Weston--makes a case for the theory that pop music is a delightful but essentially inexpressive industrial product. But the newer songs, several of which are inexpressive only in spite of themselves, destroy the illusion.