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September 04, 1968 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 1968-09-04

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r
Page Two

THE MICHiGAf4 DAILY

Wednesday, September 4, 1968

Page Two THE MICHIGA~4 DAILY Wednesday, September 4, 1968

I 00 , 1 . 'i % 1

music

Fine-point

landing for the Airplane

By LITTLE SHERRI FUNN
Aviation Expert
Obviously the latest Jefferson
Airplane album, Crown of Crea-
tion (RCA Victor LSP-4058), is
the best they've ever done.
But that just isn't saying very
much.
I always thought that some-
where beneath all the crap JA
released there must have been
some mature musicians and an
occasional decent songwriter.
And although it's taken three
poor albums for them to find
themselves, the group seems
finally ready to grow up music
cally.
The first Airplane effort, Jef-
ferson Airplane Takes Off, is
nice to look back on as the one
that helped give birth to the
whole San Francisco scene. Al-
though it sounded like it wasn
recorded in a garbage can and
engineered by moles, there was
the unmistakeable sound in it
of a very real facet of Ameri-
can life (i.e., hippy-commie-
creeps) trying to express itself
musically. And, after all, they
were the first to go nation wide.
Then they hit with Surreal-
istic Pillow and the psychedelic-
freak-out-do-your-thing busi-
ness became contemporary. The
album was blessed with a classic
of The Summer of Love in
"White Rabbit" and, unfortun-
ately, little else.
The problem with Pillow was
that it had a tremendous lack
of unity. The songs simply did
not hang together. It hurt them
to be played together. Also,' the

arrangements were very slick,
almost the Al Hirt version of
acid-rock. But it sold a million,
the first of its genre to do so,
which, I suppose, means some-
thing.
The members of Jefferson
Airplane themselves realized
that their first two albums
weren't much, and they pressed
RCA hard to be able to do their

next one completely on their
own.
Result: The Jefferson Air-
plane Party,.or After Bathing
at Baxter's.
Baxter's was the result of sev-
en months of off and on record-
ing, and it will stand forever,
along with Their Satanic Ma-
jesties Request, of course, as
one of the classically overdone

albums. Far, far too much over-
dubbing, re-recording, plain
noise, etc. to make it anything
more than a dull, sterile, gim-
micky offering. It was, with the
exception of one beautiful track,
"rejoyce," an incredibly imma-
ture recording. It sounds as if
they had a good time record-
ing it, but that's about all that
is noteworthy about it.
As the group later said,
"Baxter's was our first real al-
bum. We had a lot to learn."
The eight months between
.Baxter's and Crown of Creation
featured a de-escalation of the
Airplane attack, not totally un-
like Dylan's de-escalation in
John Wesley Hartley. There
seems to have been a general
discarding of some of the myths
surrounding JA's musical sort-
ies and they began to get down
to songs with direction, consc-
iousness, and clarity, just as
Dylan did. (Not that any of
these qualities are absolute vir-
tues in and of themselves, but
they are noticeably lacking and
necessary as components of any
revitalization of today's gener-
ally rancid rock scene.)
Hence, Crown of Creation, and
Grace Slick firmly establishes
herself as a first-rate writer by
virtue of the album's first cut,
"Lather." I think iGrace Slick is
probably a pretty wicked woman
in real life, which allows me to
excuse her slightly affected
wicked singing. Her voice is
warm but her phrasing and em-
phasis are ice-cold, giving birth
to an extremely interesting and

unique sound. But you already
know that from "Somebody to
Love."
The best cuts on the album
are "Triad," written by David
Crosby and "Crown of Creation,"
the title song. "Triad" is inter-
esting because it shows a per-
fect wedding between artist, in
this case Grace, and material.
It's a very effective work.
,"Crown of Creation" is more
along traditional Airplane lines,
but somehow it seems more un-
obtrusive and less obnoxious
than stuff like "You and Me and
Pooneil." It, more than any
other cut on the album, shows
how the group has come to work
with taste. They've simply de-
sisted with a lot of irrelevant
guitar and feedback and the
effect is one of a refreshing
breeze in a stuffy room.
A lyric sheet is enclosed in
the album, which is sort of a
help in befriending it and
Crown of Creation is definitely
the kind of album that you
should get to know, even though
slowly and carefully. After be-
ing deluged with Buddah re-
cords and the slightly higher
class Cream, "Crown of Crea-
tion" hopefully gives promise to
an emergence once again of
reason in rock.
Maybe the kind of atmos-
phere that permits Wheels of
Fire to be the number one
album in the country is disap-
pearing.
* * *
And here's today Beatle
Stumper, all you cats and
chickies: What's the name of
the Fab Foursome's next album?
If you know the answer and
want to show off, or if you
don't know the0answer and
want to find out, call me or
my sister Little Suzy at 764-
0562. We'll tell ya.
REVIEWERS
The Daily needs new review-
ers. There are openings for
qualified people to review art,
theatre, films, books, and
dance. If interested, call Dan
Okrent at 764-0562, or send-
a note addressed to him to
The Daily; 420 Maynard St.

Order
Your
Subscription
Today
'764-0558

ii l ...._I _,._. M II _ Yrgli l rl Ir II{Sl111111

OPENING WEEK at
TONIGHT-and every WEDNESDAY
A HOOT-
an evening of endless musical variety' -
come do your thing and/or sing-a-long.

1421 Hill Std
8:30 P.M,

I.,

THURSDAY, FRIDAY, and SATURDAY-
BOB WHITE-
all time favorite, returns from his tour of the East Coast to sing
Ballads, Children's Songs, Love Songs, Blues, Contemporary and
traditional Folk music, playing guitar, banjo, and autoharr.

A crowning creationl

LERE'S Directed by
Q Stephen Porter
h Adapted by
Richard
Wilbur
4 A delightful satiric romp
OCTOBER 1-13
A contemporary approach to
Shakespea res
Directed by Ellis Rabb " Music by Conrad Susa

Now, a timely resurrection of Alban Berg

By GERALD PARKS
Opera in the twentieth century
occupies a position apart from
that of music in general. The
three most popular and prolific
opera composers of our time-
Puccini, Menotti and Britten-
have kept the form alive and
added new roles to the repertoire,
but none of these composers really
belongs to the mainstream of
modern music. The major com-
posers of the last 50 years have
either not written opera at all
(Webern) or have written very
little (Schoenberg, Stravinsky,
Bartok, Prokofiev) and, though
important as musical documents,
their works have not had notable
success on the stage.
Only the operas of Alban Berg
seem able to hold an audience.
Wozzeck has long been success-
ful on the stages of Europe and
America, and Lulu, his second
opera, though less often perform-
ed, has proved its viability. In
spite of its fragmentary state (on-
ly the first two acts were com-
pleted before Berg's death in
1935), Lulu deserves a hearing.
Infrequent performance and the
unavailability of an adequate re-
cording, however, previously made
this almost impossible. Now the
recent and excellent recording by
Deutsche Grammophon renders it
possible.
The libretto is based on two
plays by Frank Wedekind, an
Austrian dramatist of the late
nineteenth century. Berg himself
adapted these plays, and this is
important because the libretto is
no mere occasion for the music,

but the music is the inevitable
expression of the story. Tho-
roughly psychological, the music
expresses every nuance in the text;
in this respect, Berg's operatic
technique is similar to that of
Richard Strauss in Salome.
The plot concerns a woman,
whose name is uncertain, but
whose supposed father calls her
Lulu. Raised by a Dr. Schoen,
Lulu is more than a orphan; she
is, as the prologue announces, a
serpent-a woman of pure sexual-
ity and innocent evil. Deadly to
all who know her, shrinking not
from Lesbianism or incest, she has
no conscience or cognizance of
evil. Lulu treats everyone with
the same cold and masterful air.
Berg's opera is a symptom of
the spiritual vacuum which de-
veloped in Germany in the '30's,
and of the breakdown of con-
science which soon became acute
-Eichmann is the spiritual equal
of Lulu. In sensing this vacuum
in the soul, Berg was not alone.
The same feeling inhabits Brecht
and Weill's brilliant work The
Seven Deadly Sins. To some these
works seem related in another
way, because they are both ex-
pressionistic. Whatever this means,
it can only be used to describe the
literary aspect of these works,
and its unquestionable that for
his opera Berg chose material that
is both expressionistic and has
great contemporary relevance.
Onto this material Berg fused
a musical technique that is most
suited to express his meaning. The
opera is completely 12-tone; at
first it sounds like a series of

isolated and unrelated events.
These events,:however, are organ-
ized into large cyclical structures
which are almost impossible to
hear and further obscured by the
fragmentary condition of the
work.
Another difficulty for the list-
ener is the fact that no arias exist
in the conventional sense. Speech-
es are short and the few long ones
are mostly spoken. At times the
singing approaches the traditional
manner, but Berg makes extensive
use of Sprechstimme, a technique,
developed by Schoenberg, midway
between speaking and singing.
Though less lyrical and more
dissonant, thin and dramatic the
surface sound of the music fur-
thermore owes something to Wag-
ner and Strauss. Berg's originality
consisted in his ability to create,
out of 12-tone musical ideas,
music of great expressiveness, even

of romantic color. He transcends
the esoteric nature of his ideas
and transforms them into beauty.
In their important new record-
ing, the work of the Deutsche
Grammophon engineers is superb,
as usual. Karl Boehm leads the
orchestra in a clear and subtle
performance, and the singing of
Evelyn Lear as Lulu and Dietrich
Fischer-Dieskau as Dr. Schoen
communicate both depth of char-
acterization and beauty of execu-
tion. One could hardly hope for a
better supporting cast.
We are indeed fortunate to have
at last a fully adequate recording
'of Lulu, and one only wishes that
D.G.G. will undertake the record-
ing of several other 20th century
masterpieces that have long lain
neglected, such as Schoenberg's
Moses und Aaron or Prokofiev's
The Flaming Angel. That would
indeed be an abundance of riches.

q

+ ',OCTOBER 15-27
The comedy-fantasy by a master of modern theatre.
By Sean O'Casey
Directed by Jack O'Brien -Music by Bob James

FOR FUN AND
PROFIT-
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