Elvis Costello, Suzanne Vega Producer Makes Own Album

You will search your medicine cabinet in vain for Dopamine

'cos it's a chemical in your brain; but a quick glance at your

CD collection will reveal lots of albums produced by Mitchell

Froom -- Suzanne Vega, Los Lobos, Crowded House, Paul

McCartney,

and Elvis Costello, among others. Now, calling home a few birds

to roost, the producer has his own album, featuring collaborations

with some of the artists he's helped along so ably.

A short (at just over 30 minutes), strange experiment,

Dopamine

features music by Froom and friends with vocal parts written

by the guests -- yet the contributions will likely appeal mostly

to the completists among you who Have To Have Everything by

one

or the other of the guest stars.

David Hidalgo (Los Lobos), for instance, supplies a vocal

so disguised you might miss it altogether in a kind of

ethnological forgery, "Tastes Good." It's Ofra without the

Haza, more notable for employing an Indian banjo.

Lisa Germano is similarly invisible but for a bit of

hum-dingery on her contribution. Louie Perez, another Lobo,

mumbles over a slappy-drum tune, while Jerry Stahl snuffles

through some tape effects and trumpet.

There are more substantial efforts here, fortunately.

Mrs. Froom, aka Suzanne Vega, in the album's strongest

(and most radio-friendly) title work, stretches out

across a thumping, echoing backing track. Almost a song,

it fades out to the refrain, "It's what you want in a chemical."

Soul Coughing's M. Doughty gives a noir Barry Adamson-cum-

Tom Waits

performance on the otherwise goofy "The Bunny." More

distinctively,

Mark Eitzel stamps a moody jazzy melody with a vocal almost

as forlorn as the accompanying double-bass, while Sheryl

Crow gets to screech along to the circusy "Monkey Mind";

trainspotter's alert -- try to find the Pet Sounds sample!

Cibo Matto's Miho Hatori (accompanying Froom's young

daughter on "doorslam") adds her wonderful, truly exotic

voice to a languid tropical piece, "Wave." And the great

Ron Sexsmith hams it up to get down and dirgey on a fine

piano tune, "Overcast."

Instrumental contributions from Steve Donnelly,

on the aptly titled, "Noodletown," and violinist

Mark Feldman, who presides over a twisted tango, round out,

as they say, the set.

To be sure, it's not intended to be an all-star game, but

to expose Froom's own musical palette. Yet Dopamine is

not the pop masterpiece you might yearn for from a man

whose musical credits would be longer than this review.

File under credibly strange music: once you get over the

surprise, it's not surprising anymore.