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Go bey0nd academics- Try Lobster

Claws!, a compilation of tracks by 15 Boston area bands on Throbbing Lobster Records.

Throbbing Lobster Records began at MIT's radio station, WMBR-FM, where local rock and new wave fill the airwaves on weekday mornings. Last year, WMBR disk jockey Chuck Warner decided to start a record company and put out his favorite selections from the tapes Boston bands sent to the station. The result was Nobody Gets on the Guest List!!, the definitive record of the summer of 1984. Warner turned success into a tradition with a second compilation (Let's Breed, released last November), and now Claws! has arrived to seize your ears.

Side one of Claws! is great for creating the illusion that it's 8:30 am on Monday and you're blasting WMBR while brushing your teeth. It will also please those who consider 1966 the ultimate year. All eight bands on side one have mastered the 1960s garage-rock style, complete with clanging guitars, treble harmonies, wailing organ, and thumping rhythms. Despite the historical influence (Capture The Flag's "Looking Through at You" seems to have borrowed a melody from the Monkees), all the songs sound fresh, and you can jump up and down to them.

Alas, the cuts don't match the previous standard of Lobster quality. Not much stands out on a first listen, and the songwriting is often ragged. The contributions of the Prime Movers and the Turbines, two of Boston's finest groups, suffer from undermixed, rushed vocals, and pale next to what they had on Nobody.

There is little to say about side two. It contains another 1960s-style pop song -- "Yellow Brick Road" by New Parts From Old -- and some attempts at novelty songs that don't hit my funnybone. The rest is disappointing, particularly the song by the Underachievers, who sounded like X's bright young understudies on Nobody.

WMBR listeners will enjoy Claws!, but it will never be number one on my party list. I'm keeping my ears open for the next Lobster platter.

Katie Schwarz->