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Pop Music Reviews : Voice Farm Goes Over the Top at Roxy

If the San Francisco beat poets of yore went Vegas with a futuristic disco show choreographed by Bob Fosse, it couldn’t have been much bigger, cooler or weirder than what Voice Farm did at the Roxy on Monday.

Voice Farm is the band that played Judy Jetson’s prom, the band that Devo refused to evolve into, the winner of the talent show at Laurie Anderson’s grade school. Performing near the corner of 1962 and 1999, the San Francisco trio (visually backed by the eight-member dance/performance troupe Oblong Rhonda) was Baghdad by the Bay’s answer to the B-52’s and Deee-Lite as it made its way through material mostly drawn from its new album, “Bigger, Cooler, Weirder.”

The show climaxed with an encore number during which the dancers--with men and women alike clad in Maidenform bras and Jockey briefs--reveled through a simulated orgy. The dominant theme of the group was carried in the song titles “Free Love” (a current dance-club hit) and “Hey Free Thinker,” and on the “Free Pee-wee Herman” T-shirts the dancers wore at show’s end.

The show was over-the-top by design, camp by nature: More often than not, the music revolved around electro-disco keyboards accented by space-surf guitar, while singer-lyricist Charly Brown occasionally let his rich voice drop into a pseudo-croon.

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Yet, almost miraculously, Voice Farm transcended the novelty angle through sheer elan--several songs would have worked fine without any of the theatrical trappings. But then Voice Farm would have been just another cool, weird band, instead of this prime entertainment. The next logical step: Give them a cable TV special, live from Jesse Helms’ living room. . . .


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