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November 01, 1979 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-11-01

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

The Michiaan Daily-Thursday, November 1, 1979-Page 5

RECORD S

r -- A
By DENNIS HARVEY
Fleetwood Mac's nickname "Big
Mac" is more than just a coy
acknowledgement of their astonishing
financial success. The name has a
slightly cynical ring to it, because in-
deed the group manufactures music the
way MacDonald's produces burgs: For
mass consumption.
Tusk, the new Fleetwood set, is
aimed to please ,o~rrvdlvI and you'll
doubtlessly be listening to it for the next
year whether you like the group or not.
The storm of hype that Warner Bros.
has only begun to let loose on the public
will make it difficult for anyone who is
even mildly interested to resist
plunking down some cash and buying
the thing.
The company's lure is bound to be a
smash success, because the records
have been produced on a level of
shrewd commercialism that matches
the surrounding hype.
Tusk is a pop Double Cheeseburger,
with 'the works. The packaging en-
shrines the actual product in more
elaborate slickery than has been seen
since the advent of the Fun Meal. The
two LPs are buried somewhere in the,
midst of one jacket and no less than
FOUR inner sleeves, all of which have
been tastefully art-deco-rated in clever,
surrealistic collages and photos
designed to keep -the poster -business
hopping for months to come.
Let's face it, one does not put a
Fleetwood Mac record on the stereo in
order to gain meaningful social insights
or have one's consciousness raised.
Over the last twelve years the group
has evolved, through innumerable.
changes in personnel and direction,
from a classic all-male British blues
unit into the ultimate co-ed example of
L.A. musical packaging. Only Mick

Fleetwood and John McVie remain
from the 1967 line-up, and even they
seem background figures In the new
Mac's personality.
Composer-singers Christine McVie,
Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham
have provided virtually all the material
since the 1975 album Fleetwood Mac,
which established the ground rules for
everything the group has done since.
Rumours, released in 1977 after a
typically endless and meticulous
production schedule, took the quintet
into an almost ridiculous sphere of suc-
cess, spawning no less than five 'on-
ster-selling singles and the world's first
bout with Stevie Nicks mania.
RUMOURS remains one of the quin-
tessential if not one of the best discs of
the 1970's, its huge sales a testament to
how well Fleetwood's members
managed to crystallize various elemen-
ts of folk, rock and pop into a seamless,
but soulless. mainstream fusion.
We may hope for more from Fleet-
wood Mac, but we can expect only the
impersonal pleasures of perfectly craf-
ted commercial pop. Rumours says ab-
solutely nothing of importance ("Don't
stop thinking about tomorrow/it will
soon be here" could not pass as a major
statement, folks), but it certainly wmn-
&-i good, with all those catchy little
tunes wrapped up in an unbeatably
sleek production job. The grumbling
minority noted, however, that for all its
aesthetic virtues Rumours was merely
an improved revision of the earlier.
Fleetwood Mac disc.
AFTER WAITING for three years
and enduring innumerable false alarms
about the long-delayed Tusk release
(originally slated for about a year ago),
one may well expect more than just a
four-sided encore presentation of what
the group has done before.
That's exactly what the new set fails
to do. With a single exception, Tusk's
twenty songs are frighteningly content
to retread the now-familiar Rumours
sound. the Mac's are no Beatles, and
the two-album format merely stretches
their abilities rather than opens up new
space for invention and fun.
From the start, the arrangements are
a bit less appealing, the melodies a lit-
tle less catchy than expected. The band
members are trying as hard to please
as ever. But as the four sides drag on
and the key word becomes
"repetition," one is merely given more
time to notice the kinks beneath the
misleadingly smooth surface: the tone

of cynical self-interest in Lindsay
Buckingham's lyrics, the gooey sen-
timent of Christine McVie's, and the
weightless pseudo-mysticism of Stevie
Nicks. All the nasty little flaws that
Rumours' clean Top 40 sound managed
to disguise rise to the surface on Tusk,
whose tracks aren't quite so crisp or at-
tractive.
THE SOLE.exception in this rather
dismal harvest of musical catchiness is
"Tusk," the title cut. Here, things for
once get a little adventurous. Over the
roar of a crowd and Mick Fleetwood's
only arresting drumwork (a kind of
mock jungle beat), Buckingham and
Nicks rasp out deliberately ambiguous,
vaguely embittered lyrics: "Why don't
.you tell me what's going on/why won't
you tell me who's on the phone/Don't
say that you love me/just tell me that
you want me."
Then the U.S.C. Trojan Marching
Band unexpectedly half-buries the tune
in brass, a pounding drum solo disrupts
things entirely, and the number even-
tually fades away into an intriguingly
confused oblivion. The precise purpose
of the song may be obscure or non-
existent, but there's a refreshing
imagination and a surprising
willingness to take chances at work
here.
THIS TRACK aside, Tusk takes
pitifully few risks. Its predictability
leaves the listener restless, too free to
dissect the failings of the group's
current leading figures.
Lindsay Buckingham is clearly the
new guiding force behind Mac; he
provides nearly half of the material on
the LP, and is given special
acknowledgement in the producing
credits. But as a producer, he doesn't.
provide the binding vision that the
diverse members and styles need. As a
result, Tusk is just an uninspired collec-
tion of songs; they don't lead to each
other smoothly or add up to any kind of
whole unit.'
Buckingham's own songs are a mixed
bag, divided between draggy slower
tracks and variable upbeat tunes. When
he attempts to wax emotional, as on
"Walk a Thin Line," the lyrics are so
banal and the pace so sluggish that the
song contradicts its title. The expan-
siveness of four full sides allows him to
indulge in more playfulness than usual
on his upbeat compositions. The
problem is that Buckingham's sense of
fun seems strained, even when it works.
"What Makes You Think You're the
One" and "I Know I'm Not Wrong"
manage to bluff their way through by

sheer ear-banging force, with their
clanging percussion effects and pseudo-
spontaneous whoops and howls in the
background.
UNFORTUNATELY, even these suf-
ficiently jolly cuts bear a slight but
suspicious resemblance to the standard
ELO sound, a comparison that makes
clearer the ordinary commercial intent
of Buckingham's rather forced high
spirits. Most of his other rockers
merely fall apart, cracking on the rocks
of mediocre writing.9
Stevie Nicks' decline is less im-
mediately apparent. Her big number,
"Sisters of the Moon," opens with a tan-
talizingly snaky drumbeat, but we soon
become aware that it's the same old
Nicks, milking the same old woman-of-
mystery image. Two years' absence
and a serious rival in the form of
Deborah Harry have robbed Nicks'
sultry child-woman act of most of its in-
tial intrigue.
Her compositions on Tusk are
typically attractive but less fruitful
retreads of-territory already covered in
her mostinspired moments, "Dreams"
and "Rhiannon." Only the new
"Beautiful Child" has enough silky
guile in its arrangement to avoid pain-
ful familiarity. By merely giving us
more of the same sleight-of-hand act
she's been peddling for' five years,
Nicks finally reveals what lies under
her carefully nurtured surface aura -
nothing. She's just a tease, another pop
posture, a slightly less menacing
graduate of the Grace Slick school of
vocal growls and facial scowls. .
THE REAL loser on Tusk, however,
is Christine McVie. Her rather soppy
ballads were never among the
highlights of the Mac bag of tricks,
although sometimes there was enough
facile prettiness written into the
melodies (as in Rumours' rather

Fleetwood Mac

touching "Songbird") to overcome the
sentimental excess of the lyrics. On the
new set she too often sinks in her own
sea of wet banality, providing Tusk
with its low point when, on side three,
her dismally drippy "Brown Eyes" is
followed by her almost equally inert
"Never Make Me Cry." McVie's
routine vocals, usually well-guarded by
better material and arrangements, are
mercilessly exposed.
There are mildly interesting things
on Tusk from time to time: a few pretty
choral effects, and one or two other nice
touches. But tlese bits are just extra
sauce on a largely stale Big Mac.
Though Tusk is as well-crafted as any
of the recent Mac LPs, it never reaches
the level of cool exhilaration that "'You
Make Loving Fun," "Dreams," "Go
Your Own Way" or "The Chain"
achieved on Rumours.
Though they can't seem to come up
with tunes of the same strength, the
group stubbornly sticks to their light-
weight ideas and petty emotions. In-
deed, of all the.Mac-recorded songs sin-
ce the 1975 arrival of the

Buckingham/Nicks team, only Nicks'
overlooked "Landslide" on Fleetwood
Mac seemed to strike a chord of
something deeper than Top 40 emotion.
Tusk is easily among the ten most
eagerly awaited albums of the decade,
at least in terms of public interest, yet
it's arguably less inventive than any of
the others that might be put in that
class. Fleetwood Mac plays things safe
again, but this time they haven't
satisfied a Big Mac attack.
DANCE JAZZ
Nov. 3-Dec.15.
BEG. 2-3:00
INT. 3-4:00
ADVANCED 8 AFRICAN
also offered
CALL 668-7731
evenings
DANCE SPACE
621 E. William
$28 for 7 wk. session

Join
the
Arts
Page

100 Hutchins Hall
Law School
"M s9 Nov.21& 03
6:30,B8:15,10:00

I,

,,

By GILLIAN BOLLING
The rise of Nicolette Larson in the
field of popular music parallels the
familiar story of the dancer who steps
out of the chorus line and becomes a
star. Last year, after singing back-up
vocals for Neil Young, The Doobie
Brothers and others, Larson came out
with her solo debut album, Nicolette.
This year she follows her first siue-
cessful album with another, entitled In
The Nick of Time.
Larson doesn't write most of the
songs on this album, in fact she only
collaborated on the writing of In The
Nick of Time's title cut. To Larson's
credit, the other songs are written by a
diverse assortment of authors, and thus
she avoids falling prey to the problem
or redundant material.
THE GREAT VARIETY of music
desplayed on the album is one of its
Strangest points. Larson's voice has a
beautifully clear range that adapts
easily to the myriad of styles and
presented on In The Nick of Time. She
sings a couple of fun honky-tonk tunes
such as l"Daddy' by Bobby Troup and
"Dancin' Jones" by Jerry Lieber, and
also brings new life to a 1965 Supreme's
song, "Back in My Arms." On "Rio de
Janeiro Blues," which features an
arrangement by the Memphis Horns,
Larson shows an instinctive feel for
jazz as well.
The rest of the album features
rhythm and blues, and some fine rock
and roll, but is noticeably missing the
country flavor present on many of the

cuts from her first album. In a recent
interview for Rolling Stone, Larson
justifies this shift, saying, "I'm not a
country singer. Through the first album
and tour, I got into rock and roll more."
Nicolette Larson's voice is sweet,
strong and possesses an infinitely
listenably quality. Her albums grow on
the listener as they become more
familiar. Of course, the album contains
the usual few songs about broken hear-
ts, but hersincerity brings a singular
freshness to this popular theme. Her
lighter delivery is appropriate in
bringing a whimsical note to a funny,
song called "Trouble," Which features
these lyrics:
"Now you're so fat your shoes don't fit on your
feet,
you got trouble
And its tailor-made
Oh, mama, lay your head down inĀ°the shade
LARSON WEAVES her vocals around
those of The Doobie Brothers' lead
vocalist, Michael McDonald, on "Let
Me Go Love," a song he authored,
demonstrating how beautifully her
voice blends with that of another. It will
be a shame if in her well-deserved
recognition as a solo vocalist, she does
less back-up singing, since her voice
always adds such a highly complimen-
tary dimension to those she accom-
pames.
With such a fine second album as In
the Nick of Time, Nicolette Larson need
not worry about having to step back in-
to the "chorus line." She is a singer
with a great voice and vast expressive
talents of a genuine star.

is more than just an ordinary paper. TUET
It comes complete with all the inside P
info on University Affairs. From ad- LITERING
ministrative decisions to fraternity HTC4lIIN
antics you can count on the Daily to S1'10G
keep you informed. LOADhia,
)trnING,
LOU WG,

POETRY READING

NOON LUNCHEON
Homemade Soup 8
Sandwich 75C

with
Jacqueline Moore
Abu Baker and
Lo Banislako
Reading from their works.
Thursday, Nov. 1
7:30 p.m.

Michelle Russell
Organizer and Activist:
"Arts and Politics"
Friday, Nov. 2
802 Monroe (corner of Oakland)

I

KGUILD HOUSE,

a

The Ann Arbor Film CoopersitV Presents at Aud. A: $1.50
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 1
HENRY V
(Laurence Olivier, 1944) 8 only-AUD. A
A film that inspired war-torn England to rally against the Nazis. The action
begins in a 16th century London theater bnd then shifts to the fields of France,
where Henry and his troops fight the Battle of Agincourt. From that point on,
the film is a magnificent landscape for the adaptation of one of Shakespeare's
greatest histories. With ROBERT NEWTON, LEO GLENN.
Tomorrow: Animation night with VINTAGE ANIMATION: THE EARLY
WORKS, THE ANIMATION OF MAX FLEISHER, and ANIMATION OF SUZAN
PITT at MLB.

I

m

The University of Michigan
Alumni Association
in cooperation with
The School of Music
present

aali~iiiBIhlesl

~it,

..-
. --

P(ouiiJ

L

In Joint Concert With The

I

i

Lon
Jewel

U-M Dept. of
Theatre & prama
SHOWCASE
PRODUCTION
TONIGHT
AT 8:00

Wis~consin 8ingers
NOV. 2, 1979 8:00 p.m.
POWER CENTER

J

I
~4I

f

., PITCHER NIGHT
1 .00 off

I Ll

I nvtac ni ito ninmhim for

IV]

I

By Wole
Soyinka

Thurs. Nov. 1

El

14

I

r.

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