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March 15, 1978 - Image 7

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Michigan Daily, 1978-03-15

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The Michigan Daily-Wednesday March 15, 1978-Page 7

by mike taylor
R EMEMBER WHAT PEOPLE used to say about rock'n'roll; "It's just
noise," our parents and the rest of the older generation used to exclaim
with disgust. But now rock is a billion dollar industry, so the complaining has
died down. After all, much of today's "rock" is as staid as Frank Sinatra's
Rock'n'roll songs are now often the themes for television shows, and it's
not uncommon to see fully grown adults scooping up Barry Manilow, Paul
McCartney, and Chicago albums in the very shops that used to sell only
But if mainstream rock is now commonly accepted, new strains in-
variably come under fierce attack. Acid rock in the late sixties and David
Bowie's "glitter rock" a few years later were first greeted by open hostility.
And now, the most recent challenger to repetitive and stagnant rock for-
mats, the New Wave, faces many battles before it, too, becomes acceptable.
To many listeners, "it's just noise."
This column is dedicated to rock artists who dare to try something dif-
ferent. Some fail, but when they succeed they can make magnificent music.
Thanks to them, rock'n'roll is alive and kicking.
* * *
T HE NEW RHYTHM and Blues Quartet, more popularly known as
NRBQ, is a paradox. Though they've been superb noisemakers for over
a decade now, blending rock'n'roll, rhythm and blues, rockabilly, and swing
into their own delightful mix, they're less well known than many of the New
Wave bands that surfaced last year. i
NRBQ's live shows are filled with more spontaneity and fun with those of
anyone else around, and their records, which number six with the newly
released NRBQ At Yankee Stadium, are consistently marvelous.
Yet they have never had real commercial success. Perhaps it's because
NRBQ has never tried for a hit single. They make the music they want to
make, and luckily, it almost always comes out fine.
THE LITTLE band started out ten
years ago as a quintet on Columbia.
After a tremendous debut LP filled;
with zany originals and covers of
tunes by Eddie Cochran, Sun Ra,
and Sonny Terry and Brownie
McGee, and a collaboration with
Carl Perkins, Boppin' the Blues,
NRBQ left Columbia for Buddah.
Guitarist Steve Ferguson, who had
written several great tunes for the
band, was replaced by Al Anderson.
After a third record, Scraps, vocalist
Frank Gadler left, making the quin-
,tet a quartet. The band made
$Workshop, and then went into a long
hibernation. ercurysiv-1-372
Last year, they returned with a new drummer, Tom Ardolino, and a new
record, All Hopped Up, on Red Rooster. Then, a few months ago some folks
from Mercury caught their show and signed them. So, if nothing else, NRBQ
At Yankee Stadium marks the band's return to the major leagues, with all
the promotional push that goes with major label distribution. Maybe this
time they'll make it.
The record's title is a joke, of course. Even if NRBQ ever became stars,
they'd never play a stadium. Their music has to be heard in fairly close
quarters to have maximum effect.
THE CREATIVE forces behind NRBQ are Terry Adams, who plays
piano, organ, and clavinet and sings occasionally, Joseph Spampinato, who
plays bass, acoustic guitar and sings the most, and Al Anderson, who plays a
mean electric guitar and sings quite a bit. All three write, with Adams
usually contributing the faster-paced, most comical tunes, leaving Spam-
pinato to write the softer, more personal numbers. Anderson's contributions
are sparse, but excellent when they come. Ardolino's fierce drumming
sounds swell, and every now and then the Whole Wheat Horns, Keith Spring
on saxophone and Donn Adams on trombone, creep in to add to the fun.
"I Want You Bad" by Adams, and "Green Lights" by Adams and Spam-
pinato, are grand rock'n'roll songs. Anderson's explosive guitar, Adams ad-
ventures at the clavinet, and Spampinato's sensitive, yearning vocals add up
to a couple of winners.
Adams' "Talk to Me' and "Yes, Yes, Yes" are happy tunes sung by
Adams in the first case and Spampinato in the second. "Talk to Me" offers
yet another offbeat NRBQ melody, while "Yes, Yes, Yes" features Spam-
pinato's sweet, soft voice and Adams' amusing piano.
SPAMPINATO'S moments of glory come with "I Love Her, She Loves
Me" and "Just Ain't Fair." The first is an extraordinarily pretty little love
song. The second, a sad tune, is rendered all the more touching by Spam-
pinato's vulnerable voice.
NRBQ ALBUMS always include an eccentric selection of oldies. This
time, they've chosen Johnny Cash's "Get Rhythm," Charles Calhoun's
venerable "Shake, Rattle, and Roll," and Sherlie Matthew's "The Same Old
Thing." Anderson sings lead on all three.
The band gives "Get Rhythm" a powerful treatment, but "Shake, Rat-
tle, and Roll" comes off lackadaisical. "The Same Old Thing" is a hugely
tuneful, honest rhythm and blues classic-one of the best tunes NRBQ has
ever recorded.
Adams' "Ain't No Free" isn't top quality, lacking a substantial melody,
but his "That's Neat, That's Nice" is the album's best cut. A simple tune
backs Adams' delightful lyrics, which are sung by each of the three singers.

Tangerine Dream: Mood music
By DOUG HELLER All three play a multitude of pianos, the sound stops dead, dully suspended strumming, accompanied by bleati
HE AMOUNT OF intricate plan- synthesizers, sequencers and tape in air. An organ's melodic theme creeps horns and bass organs, xylopho
T ning, knowledge, and production systems, a list of which would lengthen in, building lushly with violins, flutes, trills, and vocal choruses.
that went into Tangerine Dream's new, this article by six paragraphs. changing beats, electronic effects, and All sounds are synthesized (save1
live double-album, Encore, belies the All of the material on the album is interspersed audience cheers. guitar), but a person could hear1
fact that onl three people are new and original, performed during The second selection, "Monolight," product without ever questioning1
generthatn yth repeole . aere their North American Tour during is the most orchestrated, without all the true source.
generating the music. Tangerine caifn tird nni L& P a innino haTa6 LEn r

.i t

Tangerine Dream
Virgin PZG 35014
Dream is one of those groups you may
have heard of, but don't really know
what they sound like. The sound and the
band are both worth checking out.
The group is into intriguing electronic
mood music, touching on jazz and
classical. At times they sound like a full
orchestra with overlapping melodic
lines. It is of ten bubbly, surreal, and
far-reaching space-type music similar
to Fripp & Eno, Cluster, and a few other
German groups. There are no vocals,
although a synthesized chorus is used.
THIS IS definitely not what your
average college freshman would con-
sider Saturday night rock and roll. It's
more like something you'd listen to at
three or four in the morning, studying,
playing chess, or taking a bath.
The musical technology they have at
their disposal is as vast as the skills
they possess in technique, theory, and
composition. Edgar Froese plays
guitars, Chris Franke plays electronic
percussion, and Peter Baumann does
all the mixing (the sound quality is per-
fect for any recording, live or studio).

spring of iy. e acc lpay, y g g
show must hove been interesting; the
audience appreciates it, and the album
jacket notes a computer engineer and a
Laserium live laserist "for visual sup-
EACH SIDE IS essentially a com-
plete piece. The music all flows
together like ripples in water, although
three of the songs are listed as being
comprised of several parts. The titles
seem to be purposely ambiguous and
open to interpretation.
"Cherokee Lane" starts the album
with the whoosh of a jet landing that
leaves the speakers shaking. Suddenly

llP-Uw rCT nolbb 11. e1gnnnllg fasb
a strong piano solo, and a basic march-
like synthesized percussion theme.
Other instruments filter in: cymbals,
gongs, and strings. It seems tinged with
the influence of Clockwork Orange
(citrus?) or 2001.
lead guitar (including some standard
licks) and screaming sirens over a
smoothly textured patternrof sound.
The last side, "Desert Dream," is
reminiscent of a scary movie soun-
dtrack that breaks into a quiet guitar

t ese guys mae e erms ana ar ssb
that specialize in "electronic wizardry"
seem dull. Encore is really good mellow
listening, enjoyable during any mood,
surprisingly well constructed, and per-
formed with unique talent. It's very
easy to like.
After seven years of performing and
with nine albums of such extremely
high-quality music, one would think
Tangerine Dream to be a bigger seller.
Exposure must be the problem, so the
only suggestion is to give them a listen.



series rather anemic

Celtic mus,
IT MAY NOT BE heresy, but it isn't
ballads - at least not Irish and Scot-
tish ballads like the record jacket says.
F Picture this situation: you are at a
folk concert, perhaps at a coffee house.
Let's say the Ark. There's supposed to
be a couple of musicians there to per-
form ballads from Ireland and
Scotland. You sit sipping tea and rap-
ping with your good friends, waiting for
the artists to make their appearance -
typically that would be in blue jeans
and with a couple of drinks (at least) al-
ready under their belts, to get the
creative juices flowing. Suddenly a
couple of workmen wheel out a Stein-
The Meeting of the Waters
James McCracken, tenor
John Atkins, piano
I' Angel S-3 7306

ic lacking
displeasing, but certainly not Celtic
Cracken and Atkins performing
arrangements, for Piano and tenor, of
several traditional ballads from the
northern British Isles. (Actually, many
of the songs are not really ballads, but
ditties or love songs). Some of the
arrangements are by Atkins, and most
are pretty good, considering the
limitations of the performing medium.
However, in "Kishmul's Galley", we
want to hear harp and fiddle and
drums. Instead we hear piano. For
"Scotland the Brave," definitely drums
and pipes. Instead we hear piano. "The
Garden Where the Praties (potatoes)
Grow" needs concertina, fiddle, and tin
whistle. Instead we hear piano. And
always an operatic tenor who, unfor-
tunately, sounds a bit stuffy.
Operatic singing is a very highly
stylized art form, and an operatic
singer, especially McCracken, sounds
very artificial singing folk music. It is
something along the lines of a record I
once heard of Al Hirt - outstanding in
the jazz field - playing the Haydn
trumpet concerto. Or imagine a Kabuki
singer - even the best in Japan -
doing "Donna e Mobile." It just doesn't
fit. James McCracken would probably
sound all right on Mozart or Schubert -
although I would prefer Pavarotti. For
Celtic folk music, though, I prefer The

COUNT DRACULA has survived
garlic, silver crosses and stakes
through the heart, but can he survive a
PBS production? The Count can rise
above even movies like Son of Teen-age
Dracula, but can he make it through a
meticulously detailed reconstruction of
the Bram Stoker novel?
If you've been following the first two
parts of Dracula, presented as part of
channel 56's "Great Performances,"
you've probably already made up your
mind. If you haven't, the final, climac-
tic episode is scheduled for this week.
This production stars Louis Jordan as
the count, "Terrifying, but strangely
The authors, you see, have read
somewhere that Dracula's popularity
stems from the sexual overtones of the
Dracula myth: creeping into virgins'
bedrooms and all that. So, they've
decided to put it all out in the open.
They hire the "strangely beautiful"
Jordan, have the Count's lovely victims
moan in ecstasy as he sucks their blood,
and make his wives into a trio of
bisexuals. As Lucy, the vampire's first
English victim, dies, she is transfor-
med into a sort of Mae West with fangs.
IN SHORT, Dracula doesn't know
where it's going. It wanders from
meticulously dull Victorian parlour
scenes and arty picture postcard
photography to bloody occult rituals
shot in negative, or superimposed on
something else. The opening of each
episode is a shot of the top of a dusty
coffin engraved with the word,
"Dracula." The ending is a close-up in
negative of the Count's quivering lips.
The acting is schitsophrenic. Jordan

plays Dracula like Ricardo Mantalban
in a Cordoba car commercial. This
might have worked as a means of
building suspense (could this noble man
be . . gasp.. . undead?), except that at
every sight of blood, a dead fly, or a
pretty girl, his image is superimposed,
lips a-quivering and yes glowing evilly.
Lucy, as previously mentioned,
overacts a bit, but the rest of the main
characters, Mina, her sister, Jonathan,
Mina's husband, and Lucy's two
suitors, are uniformly bland. The only
enjoyable performance is that of Frank
Finlay, as the good doctor Van Helsing,
an expert on vampires. He distributes
garlic and ominous lines with just
enough tongue-in-theek to remind us
that Dracula can be fun, too.
THE BELA LUGOSI movie didn't
follow the book's plot any more than it
had to, but it remains one of the scariest
movies ever made. It wasn't slickly
made, and probably paid as little atten-
tion to deep inner meanings as its
audience did; nevertheless, it had gut
feeling. What's missing from Dracula is
the prickling at the back of the neck,
and the chill to the bone.
Send description/price to:
Library Director
Maharishi International
Fairfield, Iowa 52556
V\\ J

way grand, and two gentlemen appear
in tux and tails to perform for the
rather incredulous audience.
Sounds incongruous, doesn't it?
That's the appropriate description of.
tenor James McCracken's new album,
The Meeting of the Waters. In-
congruous. Here we have a pretty good
operatic tenor and an excellent pianist
(John Atkins) performing Irish and
Scottish ballads in a style that is
somewhere between Schubert Lieder
and Mozart Arias. Not entirely

Jazz notes
A RCHIE SHEPP, a bearer of the
Coltrane legacy, and Barry Harris,
a Detroit jazzman most of his life, will
be appearing at Rackham Auditorium
March 17 and 18 for two shows each
night s part of Eclipse Jazz.
Shepp started out as a saxophonist in
Coltrane's quartet, but since the 60's
has changed musically and oc-
cupationally. He has incorporated
African elements into his music, played
with bebop masters such as Philly Joe
Jones and Hank Mobley, and recently
been a college professor at the Univer-
sity of Massachusetts.
Harris, a direct disciple of Bud
Powell, continues in the tradition of
straight bebop piano. He was the focal
point of the Detroit jazz scene during
the 50's.
Shepp will be playing with his quar-
tet; Harris will be with his trio. Tickets
are on sale at the Michigan Union box


7 days.

VIETNAM AND AMERICA- University Course 314
17 MARCH-4 APRIL 1978
An undergraduate mini-course on the Vietnam War, the anti-war movement,
and the implications of both for American society past and present. Offered
in conjunction with the Teach-In "What War? What Now?" March 20-24, fea-
turing such speakers as David Dellinger (of the Chicago 7), Eqbol Ahmed,
Ngo Vinh Long and original members of SDS at the University of Michigan;
also the film HEARTS AND MINDS. Instructors: Profs. Buzz Alexander, Liam
Hunt, and Norman Owen.
First Class Meeting
Friday 17 March 1978 Further Information
4-6 p.m.. 1429 Mason Hall History Dept., 3609 Haven Hall
March 15 and 16 at 7:30 PM at
7627 Haven Hall (Seventh Floor Lounge)
We will describe the General Program, the Honors Pro-,
gram, teacher preparation, and other offerings, as well as
procedures and requirements. Refreshments will be

Friends of the Earth-Washtenaw Presents:
a film documentary
Michigan Union Ballroom
Wednesday, March 15-7:30 PM
No Admission
offered to student free to travel starting in June on 8 to 10
week minimum trip in Pick-up Camper to Seattle via Yellow-
stone and Tetons.
At Seattle we board ship with camper and travel Inland
Passage, with stop in route, to Shagway and on to Fair-
banks and dawn Alaskan Highway. Only clothing and person-
al spending money required. All other expenses paid.
Write, in brief, personal information including outdoor
interests and camping experiences if any. Include phone num-
ber. Will call for meeting and more detailed plans. Reply
Box 13 Michigan Daily.

with our own special touch
and introducing:
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at the
Ba el Factory
130 South University
"Expert in
Tray Catering"

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