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HAREM SCAREM / RUBBER
LABEL: WEA JAPAN WPCR-10530
OVERALL: AS HAREM SCAREM: 65%
AS RUBBER: 90%

Produced by: Harry Hess & Pete Lesperance
  1. It's Gotta Be
  2. Who-Buddy
  3. Coming Down
  4. Stuck With You
  5. Sunshine
  6. Face It
  7. Trip
  8. Pool Party
  9. Headache
  10. Everybody Else
  11. Enemy (Japan Only)
This album is really very good, but it's surely not what most of the fan base are looking or hoping for and definitely not what they would prefer to hear.
The success of this project will depend on Harem Scarem's fans being as willing to throw off the past and move in a new direction as they are.
Unfortunately I can't see too many old fans wanting to move in the direction on show with this new album.
The band are in that familiar bind of risking their traditional fan base to move in a more commercially friendly direction. How many times did we see bands try grunge? How many times did it work?
I think Harem Scarem have done the right thing in changing their name, because it will mainly be a new audience that will find this album appealing.
Die hard Scarem fans will buy it, listen and maybe even enjoy it. Then talk about how classic the band's first two
albums were and how they wish for another like those....
But you know what? I like it a lot better then Big Bang Theory and the music is amongst the band's most catchy and is really quite an intelligent release. I will be playing it a lot.
But we must get over that and the starting place is the new album Rubber.
While there are parts of the classic Harem Scarem sound in place, this is as awol from their classic sound as they have come so far.
The album is immaculately produced and mixed, but is somewhat rawer than previous efforts.
The wonderful Harry Hess vocals are there of course, but there is much less harmony and overlapping vocal effects and more simple song structures.
The sound is very much a 90's commercial pop/rock style, with several different influences over the songs. But at the base of all these songs is that fuzzy 90's guitar sound and a slight 70's Cheap Trick influence and most of all, a general happy pop rock feel.
Here's the tracks:
From the very intro of It's Gotta Be we can see a new band have emerged. As the guitar chops thru a light weight verse and Harry sings with little gusto you begin to worry. But the chorus is almost entirely opposite to the verse, with a dark & heavy layered chorus that is the closest thing to Big Bang Theory or classic Scarem on this album. Once you get over the shock, this is a hugely catchy song, with a great chorus. It just ain't HS!
Who-Buddy just re-enforces the immergence of Rubber. This track is a happy fast tempo'd sort of surfing tune, complete with jangly guitars and 60's like chorus.
Coming Down is even more awol! This acoustic driven tune sounds like it could have come off any Greatest Surf hits of the 70's album. Once the song gets going it's a little better. Basically a mid tempo acoustic rock ballad. A very country twang there though.
Stuck With You is a very cool track. A more hard edged guitar sound and a good beat. The track is still very very pop, but it at least should be more accepted by fans. Generally a bloody catchy pop rock song.
Sunshine is a psychedelic more hard edged rock song, with only a mild tempo and lots of vocal effects. Very original and cool for that reason.
Face It heads back to the uptempo psychedelic 60's and 70's surfing feel. More jangly guitars and a very pop drum sound.
Aside from the opening rack, Trip is my pick as hit from the album. This track is surprisingly sung by Pete Lesperence and is just brilliant! Yes, it is in the style of the rest of the album, but it's just such a great catchy modern/retro pop song.
Pool Party is a mid paced rock track, with a good chorus and some strong vocals from Harry Hess. The organ makes for an interesting blend of instruments.
Headache is another wonderful track. This is the guys embracing modern sounds, but making it their own. This works really well. The guys borrow from Ska this time around and put a harder edge to it. If it works for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, then why not these guys?
Everybody Else is the band's traditional acoustic ballad. I don't think this one will make it onto too many Best Of lists. It's psychedelic I guess and the vocals don't do anything for me.
Enemy (Japan Only) is an Ok track. The verse is kinda lame, but the chorus is an improvement. Not worth the import price just for the one track.
Best tracks: Trip, Headache, Stuck With You and It's Gotta Be.
BOTTOM LINE: GIVE THIS ALBUM A CAHNCE!
As a band called Rubber, this finely produced modern 90's pop/rock album is as catchy and generally more appealing than anything else on the radio.
This is a very catchy and intelligent modern pop record. The songs are as short, to the point and as catchy as any other Harem Scarem tunes, just in a new style altogether. It will take an open mind to accept this. But if you do, you will be rewarded.
But it as Harem Scarem it is a major disappointment to see the guys farewell their much loved sound.

Tell me this...if the band are so content on changing style and moving to a new arena and the fans so unanimously devoted to their classic sound - why not record under the two names?
The guys are keeping with Harem Scarem for Japan, but moving to Rubber for the rest of the world. Keeping HS for any country is desecrating their back catalogue, so why not record classic rock albums as they are and modern pop rock albums under the new name Rubber?
The guys almost did that with Fiore, why not continue? The guys own their own recording studio, so what's the big deal? Hess and Lesperance have already proved they are prolific writers and great ones at that, so material should not ever be a problem.
What do you think of that?
PRODUCTION: 92%SONGS: 88%VIBE: 75%ATTITUDE: 80%
ESSENTIAL FOR: Open minded Harem Scarem fans...modern commercial pop rock fans.
DISCOGRAPHY:Harem Scarem . Mood Swings . Live And Acoustic . Voice Of Reason . Live In Japan . Believe . Believe Special Edition . Live At The Siren . Big Bang Theory . Best Of . B-Sides Collection . Rubber


10/12/04: Craig Bishop - bisho72@optusnet.com.au
Rating: 90
Even after all these years, as Harem Scarem I would still give this a 90! Shame on you Andrew (hehehe.) HS have never really repeated their sound from album to album and kudos to them for that alone. This is not the direction most fans would have liked them heading in, hence the name change in their home country, but to dismiss it would be criminal. You would still be missing out on some instant HS classics such as: It's Gotta be, Headache, Trip, Stuck With You and the brilliant track Sunshine. If not for the vocal effects in the song this would have been an absolute monster, right up there with my all-time favourites. Generally this album screams Melodic Pop more than Melodic Rock. But who cares? It is still a classy release and often frequents my CD player along with the rest of my HS catalogue.

16/09/04: mike - miketessier2@hotmail.com
Rating: 100
i have to say i m alittle disapointed at the revues i m reading..being a musician myself,i think i have an edge on hearing and especially feeling the music.i seriously have to say that anyone remotly human should read and listen and feel track number 10 "everybody else" if you cannot find common ground of feelings in this song than maybe you ve never felt the real pain of love and what i does to you and how it comes about.try it!!!i m sure you ll get it!!!as for the rest,its a great cd.thanks!!mike

26/04/00: Dan Friml - rubber@email.cz
Rating: 99
OK, this is my review: http://www.angelfire.com/music/dive/index.html
Check it out!!!

31/03/00: Ben Webster - benson@labyrinth.net.au
Rating: 8
This is a strong album from the boys,I think better than BBT and also a natural progression.It didn't grab me from the get go-it took a few spins,it seems like they're having fun with their music now and focus solely on the song and doing whatever fits instead proving themselves,they've already done that.Suffice to say it's a good solid effort with heaps going for it...My personal faves are "It's gotta be" and "Trip",Pete does an awesome job on this tune,I reckon it's Marv3 meets Oasis.Definitely a worthy purchase.

25/01/00: John Sullivan - kzh3@maristb.marist.edu
Rating: 75
The thing is the only other HS album I own is Mood Swings so this is a big departure for me. I'm in the process of getting Voice OF Reason
so I'd like to see how their career led up to Rubber. I don't know - In some respects I think the Marvelous 3 album is actually better but they can't write a good pop ballad
which Harem Scarem can. Everybody Else is the best track followed closely by Its Gotta Be. When fans hate this, they'll go back to the original sound so I'm just gonna wait it out and try to enjoy this
weird album,

14/12/99: Henrik sjogren - Hsjogren@mail.tele.dk
Rating: 99
Harem Scarem are simply one of the bedst melodic bands around,
they have try something new on the last couple of albums (and each of them are great), sometime something new is great.
I still love Mood Swing, but i think its ok to move on, and Rubber is a fine piece of melodic Rock here in the end of 1999, together with Marvelous 3 & Steelhouse Lane best CD of the Year.

27/11/99: sergio(toyman) - toyman@latinmail.com
Rating: 9
rubber...whoooooooaaaa...a very good cd.i`m a true fan, i love all the harem scarem`s cds.altough the sound of this cd is very "pop" i think is great.if you like bbt you love it.the best songs are: ITS GOTTA BE(killer), WHO-BUDDY(like "climb the gate" but with a 60s sound),COMING DOWN (really good acoustic), STUCK WITH YOU (the best song), SUNSHINE (very good), FACE IT(a tipically harem scarem song),POOL PARTY(the voice of reason reminiscence) ENEMY(good).

20/11/99: Mick - Mick_Powell@IBIS.COM
Rating: 4
Unlike most Harem Scarem fans, I've never expected "Mood Swings" the sequel. I expect growth and maturity, neither of which "Rubber" displays. While there are a couple of decent songs, (Sunshine, It's Gotta Be, and The Enemy), overall this is an incredibly week effort. The songwriting is very stripped down and simplistic, (and "borrows" from the Eagles, Cheap Trick, and countless other garden variety bands), the musicianship is non exsistant, and the direction in general is nowhere. Harem Scarem has always managed to keep things interesting with great songwriting, great chops..(PETE!!), and superior production. However, on this album, these strong traits are all missing. Infact, some of the guitar work on this one is just plain bad. "Headache" is a SKA like tune that goes nowhere and has a downright annoying chorus, "Trip" gives Pete his lead vocal debut, and although he has a decent voice, the song is repetitive and too long, and sounds more like a demo than a finished product. Overall, "Rubber" has too many copycat, non memorable moments to avoid being anything more than a reminder of how good Harem Scarem USED to be.

11/11/99: Jeff Alexander - noway@aol.com
Rating: 5
I love Harem Scarem as much as anybody, but with each passing album it becomes more and more clear that they will never recapture the brilliance of "Mood Swings". "Rubber" is not a bad album, but it really isn't a good one.. too many of the songs sound forced and ripped off from Marvelous 3. Every HS CD I have bought has earned heavy rotation in the CD player.. until this one....

29/10/99: Tom Krupa - tkrupa@aol.com
Rating: 9
I am a huge fan of Harem Scarem. I have liked all of their albums and this is no exception. I think they have produced a brilliant piece of powerpop with their trademark catchy choruses. Give it a few spins and I think it will get into your head. Excellent production also this time around. also of note, although the guitar work is not ripping like the early Harem, the drummer and bassist sound better than ever. They really work well together on this cd. It sounds like the band is having fun on this cd. Highly recommended.


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