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QUARTERFLASH

Quarterflash
Rating: 9
   The word "masterpiece" comes from the days of artisan guilds, when a journeyman would prepare a piece of work to show that he was capable of being admitted as a master craftsman. I'll use it for Quarterflash in that sense. This record is an impeccable collection of songcraft, performed with confidence and subtlety.
   There are three equal parts that contribute to the beauty of this album. Marv Ross wrote eight songs here, each with a terrific melody based on unique guitar tunings and unconventional chord structures, and lots of hooks. Rindy Ross plays those hooks on saxophone, with a tone that jazz buffs would scorn but that has exactly the polish pop fans love. And she sings in a terrific voice; she's a soprano who sings in the low end of her range, so the purity of tone usually found in pop sopranos like Linda Ronstadt is tempered with a husky expressiveness.
   The rest of the band is competent, I guess - there are enough session cats listed in the thank you section to question who really played here - but the fact that the rhythm section is de-emphasized is actually a plus this time, because the stuff out front is so good. Producer John Boylan takes a lot of the tricks he used for Boston's first album and puts them to work here, too, so that the sound of the album works as well as the performances.
   Another attractive feature is that these are adult love songs - no teenybopper nonsense here, just sensible takes on how relationships are meant to work, and what happens when they fail.
   The big hits were "Harden My Heart" and "Find Another Fool" - both prime examples of what makes this record great - but the highlight is "Williams Avenue," a lengthy cut that explores several moods and sections but never for a second loses its groove or ear-friendly sound.
   Hallelujah, Friday's here!

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