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November 21, 1970 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 1970-11-21

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Page Two THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Saturday, November 21, 1970

music-
A bit of acting; a bit of song

:,..By J. P. MILLER
In leaving the city of Naga-
saki, Japan, one is left with a
.:.: sense of total beauty. Perched
: -: {on a towering bluff overlooking
the natural harbor's entrance'
is the house of Madame Butter-
Sfly. There, in the 1890's, she was
.. :'brought to live by an American
officer stationed in Japan. When
(. } "*'' ^' he left and returned with an
American wife three years later,
Butterfly sent her child (by
him) to the garden to play and
then killed herself behind a silk
screen.
S.'As one of the few operas taken
S ,. :"from a real event, Puccini did it
justice in his treatment as a
complex love story rather than
an ultra-tragic melodrama.
S'.w:.:.-.Presented last night at Lydia
'.'Mendelssohn Theatre by the
* } .:} "' School of Music and Depart-
f. f ment of Art, it scored heavily
on vocal and sceneric aspects.,
records
The rebirth of the rock group

By RICHARD LEHFELDT
Derek and the Dominas: LAYLA
-and other assorted love songs
(ATCO SD 2-704)
At some point late in 1969,
the definition of the word "hea-
vy" in rock music radically
changed from a term denoting
the highest form of praise to a
disgusted- insult. Sgt. Pepper had
opened up tremendous possibili-
ties ,for studio albums, Cream
had created a new (and warp-
ed) standard of what musical
competence entailed.
The progression from these on
was perhaps an inevitable one-
technical ' virtuosity began to
take precedence over everything
else. Stereo trickery became, for
many groups, an end in itself,
and instrumental mastery be-
came the criterion of excellence
for a live rock group. Ten Years
After became a sensation solely
on the basis of one of the fast-
est (and blandest) guitar hands
in The Business, and Led Zep-
pelin, one of the most boringly
heavy, groups ever to surface,
was. voted, the most popular
group in the world in 1969. Zu-
bin Mehta graciously shared a
TV special with some rock
groups because, in his opinion,
rock musicians had at least ac-
quired 'a competence with their
instruments equivalent to that
of orchestral musicians.
This was the tragedy of the
so-called blues revival; for once
the, essence of blues is reduced
to a simple I-IV-V chord pro-
gression, :it provides the perfect
vehicle -for the ego-tripping, vir-
tuose instrumental soloist (usu-
ally lead guitar). Cream, by their
third album, had become noth-
ing more than three ego-trip-
pers .battling for predominance
in the group. Technical profici-
ency in rock music began more
and more to take the place of
creativity, and rock musicians
lapsed into a lazy self-indul-
gence.
The process became more and
more blatantly disgusting, and
some. groups, notably the Beat-
les, exited hurriedly from the
vicious circle. The "Get Back
movement" evolved out of an
intense disgust with the new
schlock rock, but its solution was
f u n damentally misconstrued.
Rock musicians' forays into sim-
ple acoustics, old rock 'n roll,
folk and country music could-
npt have turned into anything
but a ridiculous posturing. It
was a simple case of dealing
with the symptom (technical
virtuosity) and not the cause (a
general lack of artistic crea-
tivity), and the future of rock
music did not rest with those ar.

tists who chose to escape back
to their "roots." The problem
was never the virtuosity itself,
but what to do with it.
That long-winded introduc-
tion was included mostly to try
to convey to you what an extra-
ordinary and landmark achieve-
ment this new album by Derek
and the Dominos is. Apart from
two or three straight blues num-
bers, which I find to be a bit
self-indulgent, this double-LP
contains some of the most soar-
ing, happy, heavy (in the good
sense) rock 'n roll songs you will
ever have the pleasure to hear.
The five musicians (Eric Clap-
ton, Bobby Whitlock, Jim Gor-
don, Carl Radle and Duane All-
man-a finer set of rock musi-
cians could not be imagined)
perform as if they've been work-
ing together all of their lives,
each of them contributing their
talents to a group effort and
at no point scurrying off into
conceited solo work. Clapton
and Whitlock, who co-wrote
most of the songs, sing beauti-
fully together like two happy
kids who have just discovered
the joys of harmony.
Clapton's guitar work has
never been better; it is tasteful
and controlled, but ebullient and
brilliant at the same time, with
Duane Allman on second guitar
creating a beautiful and intri-
cate counterpoint to Clapton's
lead. Radle and Gordon, on bass
and drums, provide the back-
bone of the group's wallop.
To go into the, particular
songs on the album would ne-
cessitate my rummaging around
in the dictionary for some more
superlatives, and I am sure that
none of them would be able to
convey to you just what this al-
bum is all about. (One cut that
I'll mention just for the sake
of interest is a towering and
haunting version of Jimi Hend-
rix's "Little Wing," which stands
as. an incredibly moving tribute
to the dead songwriter-guitar-
ist).
Quite simply, this record is
the solution (or the beginning of
a solution) to the dead end
which rock music has fallen in-
to-a dead end which many cri-
tics pounced upon as symptoma-
tic of the Death of Rock. The al-
most complete success of this al-
bum makes it tremendously im-
portant in the history of rock

music. That's for you intellectu-
als out there. For the rest of
you: none but the most senile
of listeners will fail to get tre-
mendous pleasure out of this re-
cord.
Derek and the Dominos will
make Led Zeppelin sound like
the band that flunked the audi-
tion for your high school prom.
Sly overdrives
Sly & The Family Stone
Greatest Hits, Epic KE 3025
includes "Thank Y o u",
"Stand!", "Dance to The Mu-
sic", "I Want to Take You High-
er." every cut is fine, many are
super. something happening
every moment counts and
though the group has a unique
sound they never overuse their
highpower choral and/or chant
and/or wail vocals or blend of
wahhing and/or plucky instru-
mentals.
the only hang-up? a weaving
thread of overdrive tension. i
wish they would take one tran-
quil lesson from John Sebas-
tian just as he should get hold
of a bit of Sly energy, they do
want totake you higher - they
do take you higher. they just
got to learn to ultimately leave
you between the frantic poles
like Captain Beefheart, mean-
while they are a thin lesson
away and well worth the boom-
erang.
-Berman

To the continuing arguments of
an opera as an involved play
aided by music versus a long
m u s i c a 1 song presentable
through the use of a plot, this
production offered a comprom-
ise. A sensitive story, with ,mall
dramatic pressure and good
costuming, it showed some 'line
voices interpreting roles which
often produced convincing cnar-
acterizations.
Roberta Anderson, a beauti-
ful Butterfly, carried the opera
with her excellent voice and
equally good acting. Filling the
theatre with sentiment and
voice, she scored powerful vocal
achievements. Lynda Pryer as
Suzuki, her servant, played
aside her as a guarding mother-
figure. In the scenes of doubt
the two parlayed between yes
and no regarding Lt. Pinker-
ton's faithfulness, with the best
acting evident.
John Martens, tenor, who at-
tempted Lt. Pinkerton barely
succeeded. With a passable voice,
he sang the opening love scenes
filled with strict navy discipline;
the white uniform did more to
carry the part than his mecha-
nical motions. His voice sound-
ed good until Butterfly appear-
ed and in the beautiful duet be-
tween the two he sustained the
effect and little more. When he
returned in the third act to
claim his son he had not the
nerve to face Butterfly, a fact
gathered from her not appear-
ing rather than, his forced high
notes which were totally lack- "
ing emotion.
The numerous walk-ons sang
much better and conveyed more
in comparison. Butterfly's rela-
tives, especially her uncle, re-
nounced her for being converted
to Christianity in a good blend
of fervor and rousing song. The
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American Consul, Mark Gruett,
was a flawless baritone.
, Hardly sympathetic was the
American wife of Pinkerton who
paraded over to Butterfly, in her
snobbiest two-step, to offer
sympathy. Goro, the broker who
arranged buying the house, was
more effective when being beat-
en by Suzuki than in playing his
role.
Then there were the unplan-
ned incidents which stole scenes
- an anachronistic w r i s t -
watch appeared on the body of
an 18th century servant in Ja-
pan, and Butterfly's son, an
adorable sandy haired boy was
so convincing that the audience
followed him instead of the
principals. Fortunately not dis-
tracting, they even added to
the overall humor.
The orchestra, contrary to
Josef Blatt's obvious intentions
hardly ever got together. Even
his furtive motions failed to do
much. In spite of all, they play-
ed a good tune, and with the ex-
ception of overshadowing a few
voices, which deserved it any-
way, the orchestra was pretty
good.
The set, which was the inside
of Butterfly's house was' perfect
to the last paper screen. Against
the white backdrop, soothing
hues were well used to portray
the long night of waiting and
various changes of mood.
In spite of all faults the pro-
duction moved fairly well, aided
by the obvious enthusiasm of
the performers.

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Saturday, No.+2
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Last film in the trilogy
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All three films in the trilogy - six hours
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Unlike other classics West Side Story'grows younger!

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