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MUSIC SPEAKS VOLUMES AS DRAMARAMA DRUMS UP PLENTY OF LIVE, POP POWER

When stumped for original material, look to your forebearers for inspiration.

In no other musical genre as pop music does that advice seem to carry such weight. Case in point, Tuesday night's Dramarama-The Real People double bill.Both bands are able, but both also (at least on vinyl) borrow heavily from that which has come before. Live, however, the night's headliner proved capable of covering new ground.

L.A.'s Dramarama, made up of transplanted New Jersey natives, has improved significantly with each vinyl release, adding elements as widely disparate as psychedelia, funk and blues into its power pop, which in itself blends influences from both West Coast and East Coast power pop pioneers (such as the Plimsouls and the dB's, respectively).

But live the band has flourished even more, and may actually do its influences justice. For instance, you'd be hard-pressed to find a band so confident in its music it would use four guitarists during one song.

That's what Dramarama did for a sharp rendition of its psychedelically droning "Stuck in Wonderamaland," the title track of its 1989 release. While singer John Easdale and an additional member picked up for the tour-strummed acoustics, guitarists Peter Wood and Mark Englert added electrical muscle for the powerful riff-rock number.

Also helping the band's power considerably was former Blondie member Clem Burke on drums, which benefitted bassist Chris Carter correspondingly.

For the most part, the band stuck with its able pop, which in places recalls the terrific Soul Asylum, especially with Easdale's weary vocal rasp on "Train Going Backwards," the insidiously catchy "I've Got Spies" and the jangly "Until the Next Time."

The near-capacity DV8 crowd seemed to appreciate the energy, drawing inspiration for wild dancing during the college radio hits "Haven't Got a Clue" and "What Are We Gonna Do?"

Though it seemed a little hypocritical of the band to parody '70s album-rock radio stations with its "Classic Rot" (since some of its rock inspirations seem to come from some of those self-same bands), for the most part Dramarama didn't take itself too seriously (like Easdale's earnest "I'm not a protest singer" in the latter number) and let its music do the talking - and the music spoke volumes.

In comparison, Liverpool's The Real People played earnestly but to little effect (for this critic's tastes anyway). Drawing its cues from the current Liverpool craze (aping the Beatles, as fellow Fab Four the La's do quite heavily), the band also adds percussive touches that are more typical of the nearly phased-out Manchester "rave" movement.

Typical of its set was "Up to You," which was replete with a "la-la" chorus swiped directly from the original British invasion. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but after a while that approach got tiresome, and the band had little else with which to recommend it.

Worst in its 60-minute set were the monotonous "Too Late" and the overly long "What You Want," both of which suggest that when the Real People stop pilfering Beatles material they'll try psychedelia. Not the wisest of choices, guys.