Pop Music : Johnny Crash Lives Down to Its Promise

Johnny Crash's recent debut album of second-rate, regurgitated AC/DC is banal and pointless. But the Los Angeles-based hard-rock quintet hit the Palace stage on Friday with so much energy and movement--flashing arms, tossed hair, thrust fists, rapidly bobbing heads--that it was easy to overlook the lack of originality and get caught up in the fun.

The effect took about a song and a half to wear thin, though, and all that was left was for the group to live down to the negative promise of the album. It did--and more. "Singer" Vicki James Wright (a guy) apparently can't think of anything more imaginative to do with his voice than bellow raspily, like a cartoon version of AC/DC's late Bon Scott, nor can he think of anything more imaginative to say between songs than sexist tripe and futile exhortations to the justifiably indifferent crowd.

In sharp contrast was second-billed Alice in Chains, the latest major-label find from the ballyhooed Seattle scene. These four young men make music as murky as sludge dredged up from Puget Sound, with imagery as gray as Seattle's skies; this would be the perfect band to do a version of Bloodrock's gloom classic "D.O.A." While lacking the sonic wallop and visual urgency of Seattle leaders Soundgarden, Alice showed true promise without pretense.

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