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January 26, 1972 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 1972-01-26

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Page Two

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Wednesday, January 26, 1912

Page Two THE MICHIGAN DAILY Wednesday, January 26, 1972

Rock: And

where have

you come

By HERB BOWIE
It being the beginning of a
new year, this seems an appro-
priate time for me to express a
few thoughts that, up until now,
I haven't had a chance to. So,
under the guise of summing up
the state of rock at' the begin-
ning of '72, I'll proceed to empty
my head of a lot of leftover
thoughts from '71.
Before we find out where we
are, it seems like a good idea to
trace how we got here. In oth-
er words, a brief history of rock
seems in order. This history
won't be so much an account of
the development of rock music,
as it will the story of how rock
'n roll music became trans-
formed into the rock culture.
In the beginning there was
music - pop. music, not Art.
You didn't expect profound in-
sights from records, far from it
The lyrics were either so trivial
as to be ignorable or composed
from stock emotions that any
listener could immediately, un-
thinkingly identify with. Neither
did you expect virtuosity, orgasm,
or redemption of your immortal
soul. What you wanted was re-
lease from all those concerns.
Turn on your radio or, better
yet, amass a pile of records atop
your record player, and you
couldn't hear your parents, your
teachers, or any of that. Nothing
but glorious music.
Significantly, the great god
then wasn't a particular per-
former, but the radio. If you had
a hit one week, you could expect
screaming fans' adulation; If
you didn't follow it up, nobody
remembered your name the next
week. The thing you bought, a
single, not an album, was spe-
cifically designed to simulate
the experience of listening to
the radio, except that you didn't
have to put up with a DJ or
ads. Because it was cheap, you
could afford to throw it out as
soon as it wore out, which was
generally about as soon as it
faded from the airwaves. The
most important thing about the
single, though, was that it rep-
resented a specific song, not an
artist. That is' when you listen
to an album, you hear a lot of
songs related only by virtue of
their performance by the same
artist, which naturally focuses
the attention on the performer
rather than the work. Buy a
single, though, and you get a
specific song, the person who
made it being only of incidental
performance, if any. So that
when you decide to listen to a
lot of music you hear certain
songs because you like them all,
not because the same guy did
them.
Then came Elvis Presley -
important because he was the
first, big rock star. Wihen -You
heard "Hound Dog" you weren't
listening to "Hound Dog" - you
were listening to Elvis.. It wasn't
Presley's record you bought, it
was a little piece of Elvis him-
self. And when you saw one of
his innumerable movies, you
were getting a bigger chunk of
him. Of course, there wasn't
much to him - he was stud,
pure and simple. Thus was born
the first great rock equation,
namely ROCK equals BALLS.
Then came the Beatles, the
'biggest rock stars of all. Not the
Beatles but John, George, Paul
and Ringo. You didn't only buy
their records, watch them on
TV; see their movies, but, if you
were as crazy as me, anyway,

you actually bought Beatle
cards. Beatlemania!
It was the Beatles' fate, how-
ever, to transcend mere . star-
dom. Presley's charm was main-
ly that he was Presley: y6u
could imitate'him to a certain
extent, but, unless you could af-
ford extensive bodlyalteratins,
you couldn't actally be him.
On the other hand, there
nothing intrinsically exciting
about the Beatles, as was evi-
denced by the wide differences
within the group:cute Paul,
witty John. tacitur; deog a
shy Ringo. No, whatthe Beatles
offered was not personality or
looks. but a lifestyle At first
the only evidence of the-unify-.
in lifestyle 1in the Beatles was
their hair. which. of course, yu
ene id ow vurself (if only your
ff*&tfl! parents would let you!)
Then, when the move A Hard'
Day's Night came out, there was
something more , a whole
mode of behavior really nothing
but the spirit of 6ck 'n roll
lifted out of its musical con-
text. Now it became evident that
you could ignore some of so-
ciety's dictates and forget every-
day concerns 'even when. you
weren't listening to the music.
Thus the Beatles, the Einsteins
of rock, made: the 'secondgreat
enuation ROCK equals LTFE.
STYLE, and a culture was born.
So, just as the perforner had
come to dominate the music be-
fore, the culture no dominated
both the' artist and his work.
The music. instead of merely be-
ing something eciting to listen
to. now assumed a ritul aspect.
Which means that the content,
at times, became, less important
than the nackaging. That is. as
long as the music obeyed cer-
tain rules it didn't have to be
particularly good. There fol-
lowed the two great rule-makers.
The first was Dylan who had
two important effects on rock.
First of all, he introduced mean-
ingful lyrics. Formerly lyrics
were just' something to "sing.
With Dylan, they Were some-
thing to say. And, although his
best work was intensely person-
al, be became known for saying
socio-political ' statements. 'So,
ROCK equals. COMMUNICA-
TION and ROCK equals SO
CIO-POLITICAL CONSCIOUS-
NESS.
Then there was' Cream (there
were others but Cream was the
most influential,) who :became
known for virtuosity. ROCK
equals SOLOS.
Now Dylan and Cream
wouldn't have had such vast in-
fluence had it not been for the
ritual nature 'of. rock music. Pre-
Beatles, the. fads ithey started
would have .died out' as soon as
their imitators proved unpopu-
lar. With the advent of the rock
culture, though, the fads they
Program Information 4416
TODAY
at
1-3-5-7-9 P.M.
"AN ABSOLUTELY:
STUNNING FILM!I
A TOPNOTCH
THRILLER!
-JUDITH CRIST
i NEW YORK MAGAZINE

started became institutions, so
that solos and relevance have
now become important in them-
selves, irrespective of the quality
of particular works.
So where does all this leave us
today?:Mainly in the middle of
standing .yations- after crappy
coneer~ts:At the recent Airplane
caicert, for example, the head-
l.iers performed a mediocre sett
1 it.ot an ehthusiastic reception
because they're an institution.
rl tofer example is the' appear-
anec of 'Catfish at the Quicksil-
vetnce'tt last term. -They
. en'J any good, but, because
khey obeyed all the rules, that
didni matter. They sang 'rele-
Sant songs, they had a drum
'010, they told the audience to
-6kie, so the audience accept-
ed then and demanded an en-
core (another part of the ritual.),
Or, for that matter, take the
recent John Sinclair Freedom
'Rally. iver 15,000 people wvent
=.d waited for John (as in John,
George, Paul, and Ringo) be-
pcayse he's an institution.
r hbe rock culture has had de-
pressmig effects in the recording
-eld e eas well. People drool when
Dylan releases his George Jack-
son single, even though it's not
a very good song, just because
Dylan; and especially Dylan as a
social critic, is an institution.
And I have a sneaky feeling that
people buy Lennon records for
similar reasons.
The major effect of the rock
culture on, the recording field
hasn't been felt yet, though.
Enough good, established rock
stars have escaped the ravages
of hard drugs and premature
senility to provide us with a
steady flow of good music.
. The discouraging part is that
there aren't any good new
groups. Where are the Bands,
the Buffalo Springfields, the
Creams, of yesteryear? Pumping
gas, probably, a fact that can be
attributed to the stranglehold
the 'rock culture has on the con-
cert circuit. Before a group can
land a recording contract, it
generally has to prove its popu-
larity at live appearances. A
brief glance at the cream of the
last decade should be enough to
convince you that most groups
got themselves together at live

appearances before recording.
Both the Stones and the Yard-
birds (who spawned Eric Clap-
ton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck)
paid their dues at the Crawdad-
dy Club, among others; the
Beatles played a lot of gigs be-
fore Epstein discovered them,
and Dylan gained reknown as a
New York folkie before record-
ing.
Today, the scene's changed
somewhat. Clubs have gone out
of vogue, largely because the
size and number of concerts giv-
en by established rock luminar-
ies makes frequent access to
known performers relatively
easy - who wants to see some
amateurish locals if you can go
see the Jefferson Airplane at
Crisler Arena? And, if a group
does get to play at the bottom of
a bill headed by a big star, all
the audience wants is a ritual
rock show, not originality.
The situation we have, then,
is a large number of established
performers that often produce
great music and a paucity of
up-and-coming newcomers. All
of which is reflected by the fol-
lowing list of my personal fa-
vorites of '71.
Best Album of the Year:
Sticky Fingers, by the Rolling
Stones. The Stones, through
self-parody (as in "Monkey
Man") and a general lack ' of
pretentiousness, have never be-
come the cultural heroes they
could have. Which is o.k. by me,
because they're the Rolling
Stones, and they're great. Pre-
sumably because of the disaster
at Altamont, thy've backed off
from the themes of violence
they'd been developing so su-
perbly on Beggars Banquet and
Let it Bleed, leaving them with
somewhat of a thematic vacuum.
Add to that a lack of the mu-
WEDNESDAY NIGHT
CHARLIE
CHAPLI N
SHORT
COMEDIES
Made between 1912 and
1921 during the cinema's
greatest comedy era. See
Chaplin's immortal tramp
character dance through
life at 7:00 or 9:00 p.m.
ARCHITECTURE
AUDITORIUM
75c

sical subtlety evinced on the
afore-mentioned albums and you
have a throwback to the pre-
Beggars Banquet days of "Satis-
faction," "As Tears Go By," and
the like. Which is just fine,
'cause they never made a better
album than this before Beggars
Banquet. In other words, it's a
practically uninterrupted stream
of great, trivial music.
Best Non-Album of the Year:
Dylan Sings Crosby (Bing, not
David,) by Bob Dylan. The ques-
tion is, can he keep it up?
BS Award of the Year: John.
Lennon. John keeps saying he
wants to destroy the myth of
"Jonn Beatle," while at the same
time he's trying 'desperately to
create the myth of John Dylan.
"Just gimme some truth," huh,
John? How about some good
music in the bargain?.
Other Goodies:
Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy
by the Who. A couple of years
ago, when the Who found itself
slipping into semi-obscurity, the
group's producer came up with
the idea of a rock opera. Great
gimmick, huh? The Who
thought so too, so they penned
Tommy. The album, although
not that hot, was successful be-
yond the group's wildest expec-
tations. The idea of a rock opera,
that had started as a crass pro-
motional gimmick, was actually
taken seriously and even imi-
tated. Which is o.k. with the

from
Who: as Townshend says, "De-
ceit, Lies, Cheating! That's what
Rock is all about." Nevertheless,
the group was afraid that their
new-found American audience
might have forgotten the group's
true essence -- a long string of
knock-out singles. So, here they
are. With songs about masturba-
tion, 'deaf, dumb and blind pin-
ball wizards and Boris the Spi-
der, how can you lose? Sheer
pleasure from beginning to end.
Who's Next, by the Who.
More Who magic.
Bark, by the Jefferson Air-
plane. Everybody complains that
this album doesn't sound like
the Airplane, which is true, I
guess, but who cares? As a mat-
ter of fact, what I like about it
is its diversity. You have an a
capella song and you have an
instrumental; you have good,
perceptive lyrics in Slick's
See ROCK, Page 8

OPENS WEDNESDAY
lonnie elder's
CEREMONIES IN
DARK OLD MEN
Mendelssohn Theatre-January 26-29-8 P.M.
Box Office opens Monday at 12:30 P.M.
U UNIVERSITY PLAYERS -
Special Matinee, Friday, All seats $1.00
s
"NEVER GIVE A INCH" was the motto
of the Stampers of Oregon .and live it they didl
PaUl#NEW NiaN HEARR FonD
EE REIlMK-MiCHaEl.S8RR nJI

4

i
i

i

Announcing a Conference
on
WOMEN & RELIGION
from the perspective
of Women's Liberation
Feb. 18-20
Jewish, Block, & Non-Western
Women Participants Needed to
help run Workshops
ALL INVITED-
if interested please calf764-7442

ON

1

I oyetme aGrd rbon1

I

TODAY AT
1-3-5
7-9 P.M.

. ICHG

GP
DIAL
665-6290

11

Join The Daily Ad Staff

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1 Administrative Vice President

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EVOLUTION NOW
A LECTURE ON HUMAN POTENTIAL DEVELOPMENT
BY
DR. JEAN HOUSTO
author of Varieties of Psychedelic:.Experience
director of the Foundation for MirdResearh,, N'Y "
FREE TO THE PUBLIC
THURSDAY, JANUARY 27, 4 P.M f
Angell Hall, Auditorium A
Sponsored by Ann Arbor Community Coalition, University Activi-
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Religious Affairs.

from the folk music
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brary of Congress
"an evening of Joe
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.he sings some of
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N.Y. Times

4

Sign up
by 5:00,

3M Michigan Union
Friday, January 28th

SUN.-
CHRISTOPHER
DeLOACH
NEXT WEEK
HEDY WEST

THIS WEEK
* The Carnal Kitchen
Fine Food Cocktails Dinner
r& -

Human Rights Party Fund-Raiser
Johnny Got H1is Gun
International Critics Prize
Special Grand Jury Prize
at the
1971 Cannes Film Festival
Thursday, January 27
7& 9 P.M
Fifth Forum Theater
$2 Advance Admission

WED.-
HOOT
with
PAM OSTERGREN
Bring your
instrument
SOc

Mn Trrimhn'c

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