The Michigan Daily-Saturday, January 21, 1978-Page 5
Earth, Wind & Fire
still 70s'Soul kings
By PATRICIA FABRIZIO
N O OTHER BAND has singularly represented 70s Soul more than Earth,
Wind and Fire. With a string of albums and hit singles including
"Shining Star" and "Gratitude," Earth, Wind and Fire has done more to ex-
pand the appeal of soul than any other group. Their newest and biggest hit
to date is entitled All in. All, an album that contains the usual blend of fast
soul-rockers and slower ballads.
All in All
Earth Wind & Fire
Most of the songs are good, a few are poor, but the album has a distinctly
unified quality that is hard to miss. This is doubtless due to Maurice White,
the driving musical force behind EW&F, and his influence is felt even.on
those tracks he didn't compose. This unity has a very positive effect, as
it results in a very slick-sounding production. Occasionally, it does get a
little too slick for real soul, but this is a minor flaw, and most of the tracks
on "All in All" constitute a triumph for Earth, Wind And Fire.
The most visible track is "Serpintine Fire," which has been released as
a single and received a great deal of airplay as a result. Fortunately, this
soulful'rocker is well written and produced, and sounds fresh time and time
again. The lyrics and the melody line are varied, and the song is the most
habit-forming on the album.
"FANTASY," by contrast, is the least habit-forming. It's unimaginative
drumming grates on the nerves, as do the deadpan vocals. The lyrics are
ridiculous, reflecting Maurice Whites' infatuation with extraterrestial
imagery, and the rhyme scheme, which includes a made-up word, "fan-
tasii;" I view as a sign of incredibly poor lyric writing. The tedious melody
line only adds to the irritation.
"Jupiter," however, is.a little better. I don't mean to sound like the dolts
on "American Bandstand" who mutter "I give it an '80' because it's got
a good beat and you can dance to it," but it is the beat that carries this song.
White's obcession with astrology surfaces again, resulting in lyrical non-
Rabe's third Viet play disturbs
By JOSHUA PECK
TREAMERS is a document
goings-on at an American
Residensti College udtorium
by David Rabe
Richie ..................... ...... Herbert Ferrer
Billy .......................... James D. McIntyre
Roger ....................... Robert L. Wright
Carlyle.............Mark Dennard McKinney
Cokes......... ............... Edwin Cable
Rooney ........................... Martin Meisner
Directed by Ron Martell
Presented by Greek town Attic Theater
base shortly before several of its resi-
dents are to be shipped off to Vietnam.
Set in 1965, the play allows its charac-
ters (and by extrapolation, all Ameri-
cans) an innocence about the U.S.' in-
tentions and motives. Without specifi-
cally addressing the issue, Streamers
manages to condemn war, most vio-
lently and effectively at that.
After a recording of J. Wm. Fulbright
publicly committing the U.S. to foreign
involvement, the lights come up on a
scene that would have served as the
climax of another play, and indeed,
foreshadows the grisly denouement
of this one. Martin, a young private, is
clamping a blood-soaked towel to his
wrist crying his distress to the seem-
ingly impervious Richie.
Eventually, Martin is led out, and we
meet Richie's roommates: -there is
Billy, nasal, boyish and Midwestern;
and Roger, affable and confident, a
black refugee from the ghetto.
There is unrest in the barracks: Billy
is convinced that Richie's mincing imi-
tation of a homosexual is an indication
of his actual inclinations. Roger doesn't
believe a word of it.'
The unpleasantness snowballs, abet-
ted by the intrusion of Carlyle, a hyper-
active and disturbed acquaintance of
Roger's. He develops a bizarre rapport
with Richie, his attitude a mixture of
sexual attraction and severe disdain.
Herbert Ferrer's portrayal of Richie
started poorly. All of his early lines
were delivered in stiff and unbelievable
fashion, and it looked as if we were in
for a disastrous evening. Felicitously,
1 Ferrer soon found himself, and deftly'
began to unveil the many facets of his
character: his humor, his fear, and
above all his towering insecurity. In all,
a super job.
James D. McIntyre as Billy was, for
the most part, mediocre. Contrary to
the other players, he seemed to have
the most trouble with his emotional,
high-strung moments. In the final
scene, his wrist slashed and bleeding,
he weheels on the assembly ,with his
confession that he had been contem-
plating slaying his assailant. His bleat-
short on insight,
long on heavy-handed confusion
Earth Wind and Fire
sense, and blueprinting seems highly likely as its similarity to "Shining
Star" is unmistakable. As is often true with blueprinting, "Jupiter" falls far
short of the original.
The tune "Magic Mind" is one of the album's best. Clever and effective
lyrics, a nice horn arrangement and high energy all combine to make
"Magic Mind" a worthwhile and lively addition. The intro and fade-out, with.
horn featured as well, are particularly good. The majority'of the horns on the
album Are rather forced, sounding as if EW&F needed another instrument
and horns happened to be available at the time, but in a few spots the horns
are used to their full advantage.
THERE ARE THREE slow love ballads on All in All. The best of these,
"Love's Holiday," is another one of the album's standouts'and far and away
the best lyrically. Lead singer White's treatment of the song is sensual and
complete, the instrumentation is good and never overpowering, and the
lyrics represent a level of sensitivity last heard in Smokey Robinson's im-
mortal love songs. "Love's Holiday" is one of the albums longer cuts, but the
length (6:04) is just right to allow for proper exploration of the material.
Another slow song, "I'll Write a Song for You," is one of the two com-
positions on the album White did not co-author, and is sung by Philip Bailey
who shares the vocal duties with White. Bailey's vocal prowess is staggering
in both range and power, and he uses both to their full advantage on "I'll
Write a Song." Sadly, the lyrics on this piece are self-conscious and ob-
scurity is the result. But though this brings the overall quality down a bit, it
is still a fine song.
The last of the slow songs is "Be Ever Wonderful." For the sparseness of
the lyrics, the song is excessively long and one becomes completely sick of it
when it ends. It's an affirmative end to the album, but that's about the best
thing one can say. The theme, ably stated by the title, is an overworked one.
The slowness reminds me of a lullabye, and suffers from being one of the
most out-of-character tunes on the album.
THERE IS ONE instrumental on All in All. "Runnin' " has vocals, but
they are free form jazz vocals, with the voices used as instruments. The en-
tire song is very jazzy, containing the finest instrumental solo - on horn -
on the album, as well as some experimentation, with slowed-down tapes and
a midsong break with studio noises, people talking, etc. "Runnin' " is
a prime example of the genius of the EW&F songwriters.
Intermittent "interludes," have become a trademark of EW&F al-
bums. These pieces are short, instrumental snatches that lend relief and
variety: a unique innovation. There are three interludes oh All in All.
"In the Marketplace" is a reggae piece by White, one that serves better
of as an interlude than as a full song. White is a little uncomfortable with
reggae, but it is still a fine piece.
The other two are both called "Brazilian Rhyme," and are the two other
non-White pieces. The first is a lot like "Runnin' " in vocals and overall
feel. The second is a much slower and altered version of the same piece, with
some electronic experimentation. Though a little inaccessible, it makes a
fine break in the 'action, which is exactly what interludes are supposed
When All in All is heard straight through, one is very impressed, and it is
only when the songs are considered separately that the weaknesses are ap-
parent. Earth, Wind and Fire have created an album, not a set of songs. With
All in All, Earth, Wind and Fire retain their status as the kings of 70's soul.
FROM St. John's Arena
in Columbus, Ohio
By OWEN GLEIBERMAN
OCCASIONALLY there comes along
a film that tries to delve beneath
the commercial gloss of most major
productions, and expose some aspect of
brutal, human "reality." Such a film is
Short Eyes, a story of hardened prison
inmates and their outward display of
hatred toward a meek, submissive
child-molester. Unfortunately, though
this particular attempt at realistic
drama functions effectively as a chroni-
cle of inner-city prison ills, its contrived
set-ups and intentionally earthy style
contribute to a confusion of intent, as
well as a message that rings as falsely
as the commercial films from which it
superficially appears to deviate.
Although it makes successful probes
into the nature of prison's society-with-
in-a-society - the complex set of racial
rivalries and kinships which permeate
the prisoners' daily lives - the film's
attempts to go beyond what is essen-
tially a gruesome slice-of-life are too
conventionally dramatic to comple-
ment the harshly realistic atmosphere
it strives to affect. Unlike a film such as
Taxi Driver, where every moment
seems to build toward its apocalyptic
finish, Short Eyes' superimposition of a
phoney narrative flow results only in
The film is taken from a play by,
Miguel Pinero, and suffers drastically
from its obvious status as theater and
not film. I have seen relatively few such
transferences succeed, but those that
do - A Man For All Seasons, for one -
generally try their utmost to in-
corporate filmic elements such as out-
door sequences and action breaks,
thereby overcoming a script weighted
down with dialogue. Either that, or the
acting and dialogue are so supremely
powerful that any overtly stagey direc-
tion can be overlooked.
NOT SO with Short Eyes, whose
pointed, "heavy" script utterly chokes
off any sense of lifelike atmosphere.
Maybe one can accept this as necessary
convention on stage, but during a film
that ensu es entirely within the lifeless
confines of a prison's walls the viewer
soon begins to feel as trapped and suf-
focated as the prisoners. If this was at
all director Robert Young's intention,
his plan backfired royally.
On top of this, the major thematic ele-
ments are driven home with a pointed
gusto at odds with the comparatively
subtle (albeit commercial) effects most
Hollywood directors have mastered.
Prison life is presented as existing
within the transcendent lines of racial
culture; Blacks, Puerto Ricans and
Whites all cluster separately and de-
pend on their own kind for survival, to
the extent that we accept this as an in-
contravertable fact of life behind bars.
Yet Short Eyes simply does not know
when to stop, as it drags this insight in
time and again, not for consistency's
sake but to keep us acutely informed of
the inescapable way of things.
The' film begins with some nicely-
crafted sequences, as we are intro-
duced to the characters and the abys-
mal grittiness of their daily routines.
The multi-character format and insti-
tutional setting recall One Flew Over
the Cuckoo's Nest, a comparison fur-
ther accentuated by a talented cast of
supporting performers who convincing-
ly evoke the street-wise and sometimes
depraved souls existing behind a
IT IS WHEN the character of Clark
Davis (they call him Short Eyes -
prison lingo for child-molester) is in-
troduced that the story begins to go
haywire. Having now exposed its major
moral dilemma, Short Eyes proceeds to
reel off its events in such a confused
state - many events seem just tossed
in to be "stunning" or "powerful" -
that we can't quite decide with whom to
At one point the film asks that we ac-
cept the law of survival-of-the-fittest,
implied by the outward heartlessness of
so many of the characters, then to un-
derstand the plight of the emotionally-
fragmented child-molester (well-
played by Bruce Davison), and finally
to positively acknowledge the prison-
ers' universal antipathy toward him.
Short Eyes strews these sentiments
about without a twinge, but provides us
with no coherent moral center on which
to tack our emotional responses. When
Short Eyes reveals his sordid past to
Juan (Jose Perez), a slight variation on
the obligatory lone sympathizer, one is
not quite sure of how to react to the des-
perate,' yet repellant confession. The
film makes no moral commitment, but
carries this and many other scenes off
with a pointed display of dramatics ap-
propriate only to profound social com-
ment. There's none here.
Like Cuckoo's Nest, Short Eyes uses
contrived situations, i.e., the guard's
eight-year-old daughter was previously
molested, to reach a disturbing climax.
However Cuckoo's Nest has its aspect
of psychological battle on top of the
physical, so that its slightly-contrived
climax functioned as a catharsis built
steadily from the first, minor antagon-
ism. In -Short Eyes, when the floor
leaders carry out a grotesque plan of
avengeful anger, outright physical re-
pulsion is the sole reaction that's been
left to us: there's simply no psychologi-
cal or moral resolution in the incredibly
atrocious climax, thus the scene is
strangely hollow despite the extriemity
of its violence.
What Short Eyes lacks is not the ab-
sence of an author's conviction, but the
ability of its various elements to
coalesce from the outset. Perhaps an
even more deeply unsatisfying work
results from attempts to move beyond
convention and stereotype without
filling that space with genuine insight.
ing, spasmodic delivery was a poor sub-
stitute for true vocal control.
Ron Martell's direction is astute and
meticulous. The blocking is graceful
(save for a military policeman booting
a bed into the first row), and Martell's
sprinkling of comic touches, (e.g.,
Richie ejaculating a bottle of bleach)
helped the script through some of its
more tedious moments.
For sheer technique, Robert L.
Wright as Roger topped all of his col-
leagues. His stage presence was over-
whelming, and never once did his
energy or concentration flag.
Mark Dennard McKinney's Carlyle is
a mixed bag. Throughout the play, Mc-
Kinney stutters out the beginning of his
words. Whether it is a deliberate at-
tempt by actor and director to point up
the character's trying turmoil, or an
idea blundered into, I cannot say, but it
is incessantly grating.
An advantage of McKinney's vocal
style is that it drives the audience to a
high level of irritation, and consequent-
ly excitement and suspense. The actor
deserves credit, certainly, for doing a
riling and upsetting job. His insane mo-
ments are entirely credible.
Edwin Cable and Martin Meisner as
aging, alcoholic sergeants are identical
at first, both tottering about the stage in
a state of mindless inebriation. The dif-
ferences in their characters soon
emerge, as Meisner takes the role of
emcee to Cable's war stories.
Cable is especially effective in his
final scene, heartbreakingly unaware
that his friend is gone. Permanently.
Richie and Roger persuade the old man
that they are unhappy because Richie is
"queer," a story designed, to subdue
Cable's questions about his friends
whereabouts. The humor of the mono-
logue that follows points up the misery
of the actual situation perfectly.
For all the play's violence, no man is
culpable. War is. Or rather, more di-
rectly, the impending necessity to kill
or be killed is the villain. What dif-
ference does it make if a few men die at
an army base in Virginia if they'd. be
shipped home in a box soon after any-
way? The criminal is the society that
tolerates murder, so long as it is in the
name of Valor. This is where Streamers
leads us, sometimes gently, sometimes
stridently. It is too persuasive to be
The University of Michigan
Professional Theatre Program
presents from Detroit
or e k t o w nt
Jan.19, 20 8pm,
Residential College Theatre
PTP Ticket Office, Mendelssohn Theatre Lobby
Mon. -Fri. loam - 1p m 2-5pm
For information, cal i i)764-04 SO
All Seats $3 r pup.
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