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Record Review

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Great pop songs are often lost like missed phrases in a loud bar. But while their chance to impact may be short, their shelf-life can be long, a fact you realize when listening to this album. That Every Word works so well is a testament to the sympathetic touch of the bands involved, but it's an even better testimony to the compositional genius of Let's Active singer/guitarist Mitch Easter and his shifting set of proteges.

Renowned more for his production work on the first two R.E.M. albums and a bevy of other records during the '80s, this tribute brings out the sophistication of Easter's pop arrangements. The products brim with embedded hooks, rich sonic ambitions and the influence of '60s acts like the Zombies, Beatles and Byrds.

Every Word starts appropriately with a fine, reverent cover of Active's signature song, "Every Word Means No," by Bill Lloyd. Going forward, there's far more to laud here than to disparage. Among the highlights are Easter-buddy Don Dixon's cover of "Horizon," Tommy Womack's shuffling, harmonica-fueled "Make Up With Me" (with accompaniment by drummer Will Rigby of the dBs), up-and-comer Spike Priggen's take on "Last Chance Town," and Velvet Crush singer Paul Chastain's gentle, sonorous version on "Flags For Everything."

Great liner notes, terrific, under-exposed musicians and 75 minutes of well-written pop music make Every Word a fine reflection of Let's Active's forgotten treasures.

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