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February 15, 1968 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1968-02-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.



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'Boston Sound' Doesn't QuIte Make It

MGM has leaped onto the
psychedelic bandwagon with the
recent -release of three albums,
Orpheus by Orpheus, Ultimate
Spinach by Ultimate Spinach,
and The Eyes of the Beacon
Street Union by, oddly enough,
the Beacon Street Union. These
three offerings constitute what
MGM hopes will become widely
known as the "Boston Sound."

Orpheus' album is important
because it exemplifies to perfec-
tion much of what is horrible
about today's rock scene. The
most exciting thing about this
album is the mistake the manu-
facturer made while applying
the labels. He leads us to believe
there are two side two's.
Alas, unfortunately for us, the
sides are not the same and we
must suffer through nine Or-
pheus selections, each singular-
ly lousy. The melodies on this
album are infinitely forgettable.
They are beefed up with a
strong orchestral background
which has no relevance to any
of the songs. It sounds like the
arrangements were added as an
afterthought when the group
decided their material was rot-
The only decent cut on the
record is the last and longest,
'The Dream." It's too bad that
Orpheus did not discover ear-
lier that smashing people over
the head is not a way to get
through. "Dream" is a very
subtle thing and hence fairly
effective. But the rest of the
tunes are better fitted to a third
rate night club crooner's reper-
toire, sandwiched somewhere
b e t w e e n "Bill Bailey" and
"Moon River" for a snappy in-
terlude. If these guys aren't
over 40, they deserve to be.
Both the Spinach and Union
records are a definite ,cut above
"Orpheus" and they make for
an interesting comparison. Both
groups attempted a similar jour-
ney into creative rock, but it
soon becomes apparent that
while the Union succeeded quite

well, the Spinach dissolved into
a tedious cliche.
The Ultimate Spinach is head-
ed up by Ian Bruce-Douglas,
who wrote and arranged all of
the songs on the album. He also
is the group's featured perform-
er. Bruce-Douglas set forth the
idea in his far-too-extensive lin-
er notes that Spinach was "mind
food." But they just don't make
First of all, it is always well
to be wary of too many pre-
sumptuous liner notes on any
album. A truly creative group
is more likely to stand on its
music than to extoll in mean-
ingless prose about "art form"
and "take your mind on a trip"
and a lot of other outdated and
meaningless garbage. Ultimate
Spinach sounds like a group of
very nice hippies who heard
Country Joe, liked him, and at-
tempted to recreate tne spark of
excitement he imparts on his
music. They fail.
Preceding several Spinach
tunes is this nauseous, echoey
voice talking about "blowing
your mind" and "touching the
sky" and a lot of other things
that might have been nice last
April. But here we are, Febru-
ary, 1968, and you've got to be
new to be good.
Spinach tries a lot of Coun-
try Joe mimicry. They attempt
a variation of the "Section 43"
and "Grace" motif with "Sacri-
fice of the Moon." They try to
match "Superbird" with "Dove
in Hawk's Clothing." Their
"Pamela" is a poor imitation of
Joe's "Colors for Susan." There
is, in short, no creative spark

to the Ultimate Spinach, and
therefore all of the great
amount of money that must
have been spent on producing
this album was wasted.
The best for last. "The Eyes
of the Beacon Street Union" is
a very kinetic and exciting piece
of recording and shows what
can be done with a fresh look at
rock. Easily the most readily
recognizable facet of this album
is its constant and sometimes
maddening use of stereo speak-
er switch. For the duration of
the album, sound ricochets from
speaker to speaker with no ap-
parent reason or effect intended.
It simply is a very neat gim-
mick, and one that was never
so fully exploited before. If
you're beyond the ''Hey, it's
coming out of that speaker now"
stage, however, the album is still
worth listening to.
The Union has developed an
effect all their own, contrasted
with the Spinach and Orpheus,
who have achieved nothing ori-
ginal. The Union relies on very
short, sharp musical phrases to
punctuate the air and create in-
terest in the listener. They do
a wide variety of songs, some
the r own and some not.
The first cut, "My Love Is,"
sets the tone for the whole
album. It has an unusual, tight,
and lively sound. Freshness is a
good word for this group.
On the first side, they do re-
makes of the Kinks', old tune,
"Beautiful Delilah," and the
traditional "Sportin' Life," set-
ting up a good-timey feeling in
the listener before beginning to
explore the real possibilities of
the group.
"Four Hundred and Five" is
an excellent instrumental aimed
at those of us who .are becoming
a little tired of the whining high
E strings on most of the guitar
breaks now recorded. Instead of
knocking us over with earsplit-
ting noise, Union creeps up be-
hind us and administers a cool
rapier to our eardrums.
The second side, much deeper
than the first, features a hymn
to paranoia, "South End Inci-
dent," a little urban philosophy,
"Speed Kills," and some talk'
about second comings, "The
Prophet." Only this album of
the three, is a satisfying exper-
ience. And as the Beacon Street
Union says in "Mystic Mourn-
ing," "experience will teach it
to you."

IT SEEMS we've heard that
song before...

Pop Composer Plugs ASCAP,

Almost everyone running and
singing and dancing (and abso-
lutely everyone bumping and
grinding and slinking) give in-
spired performances for MUSKET
last night. But, while the cast is
first-rate, the musical material,
"Sweet Charity," is third-rate.
There are many great things
about the production, first of
which must come Connie Avshar-
ian (Charity Hope Valentine).
She is the most professional part
of a professional musical. She is
magnificent. The taxi-dancers,
when they take the stage, literally
take over the theatre. And much
of the music is good. The show
stoppers merit special praise:
"The Rhythm of Life" at the be-
ginning of Act Two, and "Big
Spender" in Act One.
"Sweet Charity" is the story of
a "girl who wants to be loved,"
and who tries very, very hard at
it. There is no traditional plot;
rather, there are little adventures.
If all these adventures built to-
gether to create some emotional
tension (rising tension, not floun
derings), the musical would suc-
ceed without plot. As it is "Sweet
Charity", even with an unusual
ending, iS sentimental and banal.
Danute Miskinis' choreography
is living and original. She gave
the chorus more than enough to
work with, and it is to her credit
that everyone works with it so
well. The "Rich Man's Frug" ear-
ly in the first act sets the tone
for the dance routines. It comes
immediately after a song-exposi-
tion, "Charity's Soliloquy," that
can use such forceful choreo-
graphic treatment.
Bruce Fisher's musical direction,
like Bruce Fisher's musical direc-
tion always seems to be, is MUS-
KET's strongest asset. The or-
chestra has its moments of drown-
ing out some weak voices on stage
(and some other moments of
merely jolting the audience), but
these moments are infrequent.
Rusti Hansher and Lucy Beck-
er (the supporting leads) are de-
lightful to watch, even in a few
rather incongruous costumes and
situations. Miss Hansher's facial
expressions, and Miss Becker's
body movements (even more in-
teresting than it sounds) are ex-
amples of the extra touches
MUSKET is able to add to liven
up "Sweet Charity."
Perhaps because they had to
play against Miss Avsharian, the
male leads never came off as well.
Neither Bill Moore (as the dash-
ing stereotyped movie star) nor
Herbert Karpicke (as the meek
would-be gas station attendant)
can sing very well. And for "Sweet
Charity" to succeed at all, it must
succeed on its music. Their weak
voices are a detriment.
Robert Chapel (as Herman, the
ballroom maanger) has little to
do until the very last scene. He
should have more to do. So should
Jim Hosbein, who carries off sev-
eral cameo roles with wit and
The directors of MUSKET
(Howard Travis and Henrietta
Kleinpell), with more attention to
the obvious faults in the musical
plot, could have done more to
overcomethese weaknesses.rThe
electric sign did much to under-
cut the tear-jerking slop. It
should have been used more. Ad-
ditionally, the chorus girls should
have, been used more - after all,
they are the ones (Shelley Bron-
man, Roselee Nolish, Deborah

Berkson) who are- amazingly easy
to pay attention to.
MUSKET is sold out, and has
been for a while. It almost de-
serves it.

T Winner,






It is hard to be a popular song
writer and not. get along with
This is the only plausible rea-
son why an audience of music
students with an average age of
less than 25 and a middle-aged
man who composed pop songs
before the audience was born hit
it off so well last night.
The songwriter was Gerald
Marks, who composed a number
of pop numbers like "All of Me,"
"You're the One," and "I Can't
Write the Words," and who
scored many Ziegfield Follies pro-
ductions in the thirties.
Marks was at the Music School
to speak on "The Story of Rag-
time, Tin Pan Alley and the Var-
sity Show," but what that
amounted to was half an hour of
reminiscences on composing and
half an hour of PR for the Amer-
ican Society of Composers, Auth-
ors, and Publishers (ASCAP). I
suppose this was' only fair, as
ASCAP was sponsoring his ap-
pearance in the first place.
Marks spent most of the even-
ing trying to prove to 'his Audi-
ence how "with it" he and ASCAP
are. His prepared talk was pep-
pered with such phrases as "it's
been my bag for over 30 years,"
and herlisted ASCAP members
from Irving Berlin to Rodgersz
and Hammerstein to Joan Baez to,
The Doors in an unashamed ef-
fort to induce young talent to
join the association.
Now ASCAP is a pretty decent
organization, as such things go,
and it seems a pitygthey had to
choose this way to gain publicity.9
If I hadn't had faith in them;
when I went into the Recital Hall
last night, I'd have come away
feeling they were really out of it1
for using Marks as they did -
because it made him seem some-1
what pathetic. Which he isn't
really, not by himself.-
What we see is Marks, inter-]
spersing his talk with tunes1
banged out on the piano and de-

livered in faultless songwriters'
What we hear is a ragtime
beat that still swings - possibly
because the Beatles brought it
back last summer with "When
I'm 64."
What we laugh at is a quote
Drug Incidents
NEW YORK (CPS) - Charges
of non-cooperation by university
administrations and "Gestapo-
like" police tactics were aired here
last week as two New York legis-
lative committees began investi-
gating the use of drugs on campus.
The investigations grew out of
a Jan. 17 raid at the State Uni-
versity of New York at Stony
Brook in which 21 students were
arrested on various drug charges.
The Joint Legislative Committee
op Crime heard Suffolk Police
Commissioner John Barry testify
that school officials at Stony'
Brook had not been informed of
te impending raid because they
had refused to cooperate with the
police in the past.
I Stony Brook President John
To11 denied the charges, and ex-
plained how each example of non-
cooperation was in fact an example
of attempts to work with the po-
lice officials.
Especially at issue was an in-
cident that took place in March
when the police received an anony-
mous tip that a"pot party" was
taking place on the campus. Pres-
ident Toll testified that the in-
an associate dean.
cident was an attempt to frame
Commissioner Barry claimed that
the administration had warned
students at the alleged party that
the raid was to take place. Re-
futing Barry's testimony step by
step, Toll claimed that "I know
I can never catch up with the im-
pression that was given" by the
claims against the university.

from a contemporary article on
ragtime calling it "a wave of vul-
gar, filthy and suggestive music."
But what we feel - after the
fun has worn off and the com-
mercial message has sunk in - is
too young and too old at the same
It's not that a man like Marks
doesn't come across as a berson.
It's just that - well, we don't
agree that Irving Berlin was the
best thing that ever happened to
popular music.

r . happens
in "The
to you...
3 wouldn't
Swant to
a talk
YE about it
Or'gna stage play by C SCOTT FORBES Written for the screen anddulected by PETER COLUINSONG4
Mats. Sc & Wed. $1.50; Eves. & Sun. $1.75


Photographed by
Thomas R. Copi



-Ramparts Magazine
-San Francisco Chronicle
--Stewart Klein, WNEW-TV
-Time Magazine
-Stanley Kauffman, New American Review
--Judith Crist, NBC-TV Today Show

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