Good as Gold (1983) ***
A couple of years and a label change later, the Rockers re-emerge as a totally different sounding band. No longer even remotely resembling Strummer & Jones, what we hear instead is a collection of smooth, professionally polished power-pop songs with a dark edge. The opener, "China," must've come as a shock to former fans when laying needle to disc in '83: what's this, a rousing, bright, shimmering pop song that sparkles like China and shines like Japan? A deserved hit, but I'm obliged to say, far and away the best song on this 36 minute, 10 song platter. The rest of the album shifts into less commercial waters: what I shall refer to as the genre of 'dark pop', with nearly every tune building its melody around a series of minor-chord progressions, giving this series of mostly anthemic rockers a slightly gothic feel. Vaguely resembling October era U2 with its glidingly echoing guitar tones and vaguely political existentialist anthemic quality, this is mostly a solid, enjoyable early '80s rock album, if only occasionally exceptional. Except for the attempted dancefloor annoyance, "'Til It All Falls Down," on which they may have aimed at the Talking Heads but bullseyed the Fixx. Yuch. "Running Away From You," unsettlingly resembles "White Wedding," though the resemblance to Billy Idol may or may not be coincidental (both came out the same year, and anyway, it's only the bassline intro where the similarities are noticable). Aside from "China," "Fanfare for Metropolis," is the only other song that rises above the level of merely good to exceptionally good (that is, makes the mixtape as a song I actively want to seek out and hear again): a starry-eyed small-town boy's awestruck paean to the Big City lights. Other than those two songs, there's little to get excited about here, but aside from "Til It All Falls Down," little reason to turn it off for, either. A fairly good little early '80s rock album, and rarely has a three-star rating been more mathematically appropriate.