In their independent days, the Silos were a critics' favorite, famous only for being voted best new American band of 1987 by Rolling Stone. Now, in what has become a familiar pattern, they've signed with a major label. But what does the pattern mean? Are the labels rewarding the bands for their artistic virtue, or are the bands making deals with the devil?
The Silos' story so far sounds like virtue rewarded. RCA really may think that America's taste is changing, that bands who don't sell now will sell in years to come. It teamed the Silos with Peter Moore, the producer who'd found such a pure, uncomplicated sound for the Cowboy Junkies' albums. And the result is equally simple and equally pure, something like classic rock & roll seen in a dusty rear-view mirror.
There's a girl song (''Caroline'') and a road song (''I'm Over You,'' in which the singer drives down the highway to forget a lost love). There are echoes of familiar guitar and piano riffs, gently recalling styles that range from folk to punk. Best of all, there are directness and honesty. The songs are like little portraits of everyday life. Somebody looks at photos of a green-eyed former love; current lovers each quietly pledge that the other always is, to quote the song's title, ''the only story I tell.''
This last tune is a countrified duet, underscored by the simple sound of organ, bass, and brushes swishing softly on the skin of a drum. The variety of sounds and styles on this album suggests an exalted ancestor, nothing less than the Band's Music From Big Pink. The Silos' music is far more plain; if Music From Big Pink were a full-color canvas, The Silos would be a pencil sketch. That could be another reason why the album succeeds. The Silos don't seem to have any major ambition; they just clear a little corner of land, and quietly grow what they please. B+