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The Firm

Mean Business

RS: Not Rated

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Sh, don't tell Paul Rodgers – he thinks Spinal Tap should open on the Firm's next tour. Jimmy Page isn't letting on; he hasn't had this much fun since "Percy" Plant was still a rookie.

Unfortunately, this joke – rock's smartest guitarist and producer teamed with its most foolish rooster – has backfired all over Page's reputation. The Firm, a so-called supergroup of Swan Song alumni, has lost whatever balance it once possessed. The first album had some stuff that was neat, in a guilty-pleasure kind of way, because Page came up with sexy parts and textures for "Radioactive" and "Midnight Moonlight." On Mean Business, Jimmy never even threatens to cut through Rodgers' wallowing narcissism. Even the production has been cleaned up, into an approximation of Ghost in the Machine-period Police on downers.

This record is rarely as bad as "All the Kings Horses," Rodgers' mindless rewrite of "All Along the Watchtower," or "Cadillac," in which this latter-day dinosaur develops what sounds like a cranky belly. But it's never as fun as The Firm, assuming that was your idea of fun. No wonder Page is said to be reuniting Led Zeppelin. He knows Mean Business is a Page to forget. (RS 470)


DAVITT SIGERSON





(Posted: Mar 27, 1986)

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