The Name Above the Title

The Name Above the Title is the extremely disappointing follow-up to Harding’s witty and accomplished 1989 album, Here Comes the Groom. That record, his first American release, showed off the wordy Englishman as a nicer version of the sometimes nasty Elvis Costello. Title, by contrast, seems to play to his weaknesses: a penchant for innocuous pop and for big statements that end up sounding callow. The first single is ”The Person You Are,” a self-pitying lost-love song whose fourth line is ”All is fair in love and war.” Now there’s an original thought. ”The People’s Drug,” Harding’s big social statement, is an adolescent jeremiad against mass culture. ”You don’t get to read the news in USA Today,” Harding sneers. He just sounds arrogant. If you really liked Here Comes the Groom, take the time to dig up Harding’s 1988 U.K. debut, It Happened One Night, available as an import. It’s a wonderful live recording that includes his amusingly vicious assault on the rock-star pretensions surrounding Live Aid. That song or Here Comes the Groom‘s title tune show Harding at his best; nothing here approaches that standard. C-

The Name Above the Title
  • Music