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January 08, 1978 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1978-01-08

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The Michigan Daily-Sunday, January 8, 1978-Page 5

Folk p tpoU
S01 out
KEN BLOOM was tired. He'd beeni up late the night before, recording a disco
balalaika part for a vodka commercial in Chicago.
But fatigue wasn't part of his act, so he played a high-energy show instead for
the Friday evening crowd at the Ark.- Unfortunately, the crowd was subdued.
When faced with a sleepy audience, Bloom just gets crazier. Flailing his arms,
mugging, and mouthing off, he looks like a Lily Tomlin character gone beserk on
guitar, bagpipes, or some autoharp-like instrument. But the sounds that come out
are exquisite.
SITTING UNDER THE LIGHTS in his wrinkled, white dress shirt, his black
hair looking neat but resistant to training, Bloom hardly looks like an ex-session
man for Linda Ronstadt, The Monkees and Carol King, or like a former co-
musician with three of The Eagles. But he swears he's done it all.
Bloom's musical roots are exotic. He played clarinet and sax "on the Bar Mit-
zvah circuit" for awhile, he says, as he launches into "Makin' Whoopee." He also
worked in a country band, "Buffalo Crotch," singing numbers like "I've Got a
Lunchbox Full of Broken Hearts." Rock-soul was his focus in other years, as
evidenced by his rendition of a James Brown hit on dulcimer Friday night.
"I love jazz, traditional, rock, and all kinds of stuff," says Bloom, "but im-
provised music has always been my main interest."
IN HIS ECLECTIC WANDERINGS, Bloom has picked up some strange in-
struments for improvising. Zither, a Bavarian cross between autoharp and guitar,
is particularly suited for jazz, he says. Presently, he is perfecting a solid-bodied
variety with electric guitar hardware.
Amplified Northumbrian bagpipes will be his next creation, with dials and
controls built into the bellows. They too will be in stereo.

,ri graces Ark
Admitting that the electric pipes are unconventional, Bloom replies, "After
you've played an instrument for awhile, you start wanting to get more from it,
BLOOM'S BEEN PLAYING the coffeehouse circuit for only four years, though
he started performing professionally at age 16. Rumors of his musicianship and
stage presence are reaching all corners of the folk scene - folkies can't believe
this mild-mannered multi-instrumentalist is bringing old cocktail lounge favorites
like "La Paloma" to the folk clubs.
But on Friday night, Bloom graced the Ark with artful schlock, plus blues
songs, Irish and English fiddle tunes, and Ukranian ballads (in the native tongue,
no less).
Bloom was not always a full-time musician extraordinare. He needed only one
more semester to graduate from law school when he decided to make the big break
to music.
"I'D ALREADY PAID TUITION on my last semester in law," he says, "so I
asked for a refund, and got it. I took the money and ran. It was enough to set me up
in L.A., pay the rent, and eat." Soon after, he began working for Screen Gems as a
demo man.
"A drummer and I would go into the studio with all our instruments, and tape
and retape a potential hit till it sounded like an orchestra."
He also worked with Linda Ronstadt, along with Glenn Frey, Randy Meisner
and Don Henley, soon-to-be the Eagles.
Now the Eagles and Ronstadt have their gold records, and Bloom's finishing
his first album for the Flying Fish label. Is Bloom looking for gold record success?
"I don't hate money," he says. "I'd love to play to a large audience, and I think
the electric zither will help. It's really versatile."
"Still, I'm doing what I want to do. Life has been good to me. I can do quite well
playing for commercials, and in studios, and in places like the Ark."

Live Lo
Night After Night
Nils Lofgren
A&M SP707
aren't worth the vinyl. Who wan-
ts to hear a bunch of sloppily performed
hits with applause thrown in here and
there? Every now and then, however, a
live album comes along that does what
a live album should. By containing ex-
panded versions of songs superior to the
original studio tracks, the record shows
that the artist can be a dynamic stage
Luckily, Nils Lofgren's Night After
Night is such a live album. The double
set collects many superlative Versions
of former Grin leader Lofgren's best
songs. The lesser numbers, from
Lofgren's recent solo work, show that
Lofgren could have had a great single
album had he only exercised a little
more restraint.
Lofgren -is relaxed on all the tunes,
but he still manages to conjure up the
necessary intensity on certain songs.
It's a powerful album, filled with a
buoyant;vibrant, live atmosphere,
Lofgren puts so much into each song
that it's hard to believe he was able to
do concerts like this "night after
THE BAND supplement's Lofgren's

fgren LI
vocals and lead guitar with energy to
spare. Lofgren's brother Tom provides
good guitar and organ, as well as back-
ground vocals. Wornell "Sonic Prince"
Jones contributes a solid bass, as well
as background vocals. David Plat-
shon's drumming is consistent, and
Rev. Patrick Henderson (who used to
play with Leon Russell) lends tremen-
dous piano, organ, and background vo-
Lofgren and David Briggs have done
a marvelous production job, as each of
the instrumentalists can be heard dis-
tinctly. This gives the album more dep-
th than most live albums, or even Lof-
gren's recent solo albums.
Although Lofgren has made one good
solo LP since Grin disbanded, Nils Lof-
gren, his last two have been plagued by
production problems and an apparently
declining songwriting ability on the
part of Lofgren.
Tough," "It's Not a Crime," and "In-
cidentally ... It's Over" lose the cum-
bersome production of the original ver-
sions, coming off as good rockers. Not
much can be done, however, for "Code
of the Road" or "I Came to Dance." In
fact, the expanded versions of these two
songs (both last .about nine minutes)
are hard to listen to all the way through.
The live versions of old Grin songs
and tunes from Nils Lofgren are breath-
taking, however. The record opens with.
a shot% "Take You To The Movies," a

hits the mark

soft, comic way to begin the album.
When Lofgren comes in on electric
guitar on "Back It Up," the album ex-
plodes. This tune is Lofgren-at his live
best. On Nils Lofgren, the song is over
in two minutes. Here, Lofgren plays it
for over three times that length, fully
exploring each facet of the delightful
rocker. Filled with exciting and varied
instrumental breaks, the song ends
with as much punch as it began.
"KEITH DON'T GO," another ex-
cellent tune from Lofgren's first solo ef-
fort, starts with an interesting guitar
progression that turns into a fuller, and

This is a write-away letter
I've got to mail it today
Straight to my main inspirer/
Says'urgent from the U.S.A."
It's got my heart inside it/
The postage in my soul
Contains a message fronmillions/
Says "Keith don't go"
"I'm going to calm things down for
just a second - but we'll get back to
rock'n'roll soon enough," says Lofgren
as he begins "Like Rain," a gutsy Grin
tune. Starting as a bluesy ballad, pun-
ctuated by a scorching guitar solo, it de-
velops into a melodic ballad, and then
into'a fine rocker.
A highlight is-Lofgren's striking
treatment of the Carold King-Gerry
Coffin song made famous in the mid-
sixties by the Byrds, "Goin' Back." Al-
most twice as long as the Nils Lofgren
version, Lofgren for the first time taps
the musical potential of this superb
number. His piano playing is lovely.
"Beggars Day" and "Moon Tears,"
two great Grin rockers, are performed
with incredible verse. The former is
reminiscent of the rough rock'n'roll of
pre-Frampton Comes Alive days. The
latter is a frenetic piano tune featuring
tight playing by all the band members.
With live records as good as Night Af-
ter Night so unusual, this is quite a find.
I can't think of a better introduction to
Lofgren's lively music.

Daily Photo by JOHN KNOX

Ken Bloom



1 979

For consideration as 1978-79 offerings, Course Mort'
proposals for Fall 1978 AND Winter 1979 must be
completed and submitted by the deadline: FEBRUARY.
6, 1978.
2501 LS&A Building
(Info and applications available now)

more developed version of the original
song. Lofgren's message to Rolling
Stone Keith Richard seems ironic in
light of Richard's current cocaine

'Wodehouse Playhouse'a bit of English fun

T HE WORKS of P.G. Wodehouse are
an acquired taste. Sme might even
find his stories rather silly, considering
they concern lords who play golf, and
have nieces who envariably get en-
gaged to A and B before realising they
were made for C, forgetting that their
uncle hates C because he thinks C tried
to steal his prize pig and instead prefers
that his niece marry B, although B isn't
really B, he's D in disguise, trying to
steal some valuable papers the lord
picked up by mistake. Silly? Well, of
For some mysterious reason, the
United States is practically the only
English-speaking country in the world
never to have run a television series
based on the stories of Wodehouse. Un-
til now. Wodehouse Playhouse can be
seen every Saturday night at 8:00 on
Channel 56.
Actually, the reasons for such a
series' conspicuous absence aren't that
mysterious. For one thing, the humor is
British, whatever'that means, and
Americans aren't traditionally sup-

posed to be capable of understanding it.
For another, in this decade of Comedy-
with-a-message, what 'American
wants to watch a comedy set around the
turn of the century in a mythical
English never-never land of lords and
flappers? Does anyone care whether
the heroine, who looks and talks like she
had a perpetual cold, as well as snort-
ing a lot, marries the hero, whose face
resembles that of a dead mackeral?

Who can sit through a show where the
laugh-track explodes at the following
"Rollo, elope with me!"
"Elope with you? What about your
"You don't want to elope with her, do
IN FACT, Wodehouse doesn't adapt
at all well to television. Despite valiant
attempts to use outdoor settings as
much as possible, the sequences are
static, like one-act plays set in the
drawing room. People walk on camera,
deliver their lines, and walk off again,
just in time for the next character to do
the same. The lines themselves are
pure Wodehouse, and as such, sound
absurd emenating from the mouths of
normal human beings: "Oh, I say, it's
terribly boring here. This place makes
the House of Usher seem like Folies
The cast, however, isn't at all com-
prised of normal people. Through
almost supernatural casting, the
characters look and sound exactly like
people out of Wodehouse. The

aforementioned snorter is Pauline
Collins, who plays all the dippy Wode-
house heroines. The mackeral is John
Alderton. With these two, one can
almost believe that the course of true
love can be altered by the outcome of a
single golf match.
I say again, this is Wodehouse. You
either take it with all its faults and bask
all bumps-a-daisy in its giddy ridicu-
lousness, or you change the channel to
something like The Bob Newhart Show.
Quite a choice, old chumps.

(for the benefit of t
Care Action Center
' of Education)
of fine art prints
featuring the works of Chagoll, Dal
v Gauguin. Van Gogh, Breughel, C
Frankenthaler, Homer, Klee, Mir
Magritte, Picasso, Rembrandt, F
Toulouse-Lautrec, Wyeth, andc
over 1200 different prints

the Child


prints &drawings
january 6-29

i, Matisse,
o, Monet,



jan.6, 7-9

Tu.4-Fr. ,1-6
Weekends. 12- 6
764 - 3234

Denver d
I Want to Live1
John Denver
RCA A../4, 12521.
A FEW YEARS BACK, when ev-
eryone was buying Winnebagos
and munching granola, John Denver
came into vogue with "Rocky Mountain
High," which became the virtual an-
them of the back-to-nature generation.
Now, Denver has come with a very un-
exceptional album entitled I Want to
Live. Predictably, it covers the same
theme as all of his post-"high" mate-
rial: nature. Denver is stuck in neutral.
Nothing is horrendous on this album,
but it's nothing new.
Thp Q .,lkim' z hit cinciiP "Ho n'. I

0 A


oes it agair
tamer than its predecessor, if that,'s;
possible. "Ripplin' Waters," another;
non-original, is a fine song in all ways,
using good images and a strong melody
The title track is Denver's attempt at
social commentary, and the trouble is
he doesn't know how to go about it. The
result comes off sounding like
something fresh out of Sesame Street.
The final song, "Druthers," finishes the

1, literally
album on an optimistic note by putting
Denver where he is most comfortable,
as a country boy.
This is a good reflection of the album
as a whole; when Denver does what he
does best, the music comes off as
relaxed and artistic. When he forces too
much "Ah, Nature!" upon us, the result
is contrived, and lacks the "natural"
beauty his songs try to reflect.


Ever E:~ZEACHi


for UAC Musket's

~" FAST Ncv N

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