RECORDS IN REVIEW - Pharoah Demo Tape

This is New-Martial Dance-pop. “Red Flag”, “Fight As One”, “Enemy”- The titles speaks volumes. Visions of dancing to this stuff while armed U.S. Marines stand watch come to mind. The songs aren’t necessarily about Military matters, but they have that hut! Two-three-four feel to them. Ironically, this stuff is slick - certainly arranged, produced and recorded on a higher quality level than most demo tapes. But from it, I can only surmise that the band sees everybody as an adversary. Do they drive a tank to their gigs?

 

RECORDS IN REVIEW - JUNE 19, 1985

ALIVE - The Fun Came After Getting Rid Of The Preconceptions

What do you get when you combine a tongue in cheek hardcore band, a straight on rock and roll trio and a glam rock out fit? Why, a typical triple bill at the Dirt Club. Going into clubs with information insufficient to develop preconceptions can be fun. Also fun is having your preconceptions pretzeled. A little of both experience is what I came out with this evening. In the case of Pharoah, my preconceptions weren’t so much pretzeled as flushed down the toilet. From a three-song demo the group sent me, I thought them a band of nuevo wave Reaganauts, the kind of combo John Rambo might check out on his return from rescuing POWs in Vietnam. Ha ha! so much for preconceptions. Guns and glory were probably the last things on these guys’ minds. Instead, they came to rock ‘n’ roll. Cross Echo & The Bunymen in their poppiest turns (e.g. “The Cutter,” “Killing Moon”) with 70's glamsters like the Sweet or the New York Dolls, and you have an idea of Pharoah’s fun gloom. Pharoah doesn’t really sound like the Dolls, but their music has the same level of trashy verve; it’s incidental that the guys are - pardon the pun - dolled up a la Johansen and Thunders of yesteryear. Bands of gents with Vogueish makeup and glittering costumes aren’t that much of a shock- haven’t been since Marc (R.I.P) Bolan did it 13 years ago. Today, of course, you have Hanoi Rocks and Motley Crue donning the same sort of getup. But Pharoah tonight made the most of their androgynous looks in particular lead singer Karl DeKira, who alternated between raising a clenched fist and fluffing his hair. Pharoah’s music (“Red Flag,” “She’s so Kinetic,” “Dark October,” “Enemy") was strong enough to stand on its own - it had no trouble trying to get people to rock. But obviously a group whose players (guitarist Rikk Fabio, basset Dennis Lords, drummer Steve Reigns and keyboardist Scott Archer) look like Diane Lane’s backup band in Ladies and Gentlemen . . . the Fabulous Stains isn’t averse to a little gimmickry. So we got a good bad taste joke about Moses and the Israelites, lots of smoke, a perfectly integrated snatch of Bernard Herrmann’s renowned "Twilight Zone" theme and a rendition of MTV theme topped by a jabe about the cable channels spaciest vee-jay.

 

Paul Bubny