Soul Asylum are too smart to be heavy metal, too dumb to get enough good songs together to put out a great album, too sexy to ever be without fans, and too great live to ever be forgotten. The Minneapolis foursome may be the last great rock ‘n’ roll touring band: their records have gotten better, but they’re never anything to write home about–the stage will always be their primary piece of work. Dave Pirner and Dan Murphy’s trademarked dual vocals and the head-over-heels rhythm section of Karl Mueller and Grant Young are simply thrilling to watch; when the song’s right–my all-time favorite is Murphy’s “Cartoon,” but I’ll take the new “Spinnin'” or “Easy Street”–you feel like they should be made a national monument or something. Their new album is called Soul Asylum and the Horse They Rode In On; like their last, there’s a celebrity producer (Steve Jordan, Keith Richards’s sidekick on Talk Is Cheap). It’s recorded live and sounds it, which is fine; the band’s recorded clarity is always improving, but as usual there’s way too many guitar assaults and not enough melodies to hang ’em on. Still, “We 3” and the above-mentioned “Spinnin'” are Pirner’s finest moments yet, and there’s something admirable about their hard-fought, six-year evolution; it’s not easy being the fourth-best band from Minneapolis. The very cool Run Westy Run opens. Saturday, 7:30 PM, Cabaret Metro, 3730 N. Clark. 549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Daniel Corrigan.