by alan rubenfeld
O NE OF THE great American music fads of the seventies has been
reggae music. Reggae became an overnight hype in the U.S., as
numerous record companies moved into Jamaica, hunting down this in-
triguing sound. But by the end of 1976 the bubble burst as it became evident
that reggae did not offer much financial potential in this country. Rolling
Stone aptly chronicalized the demise of reggae, as it designated Stones
drummer Charlie Watts as "reggae musician of the year." Charlie Watts
plays about as much reggae as Bob Marley performs be-bop.
Fortunately, Island still offers first-rate reggae recordings for
American listeners. Although each record plays on the recurring social
thematic patterns, each artist presents his concepts of social injustice,
inequality, and the Rastafarian vision of returning to Africa with varying
amounts of emotional tension.
The fiery sounds of Burning Spear Live showcase the sentiment that this
group is now considered the hottest band in Jamaica. Although musical
purists might consider their technique ragged and sloppy, Burning Spear
simply mesmerizes the listener with their loose, disjointed aural attack.
Their approach to music is so different than American methods that it is im-
possible to judge it by our traditional standards of quality. American per-
cussionists have tried for years to copy the styles of Jamaican drummers,
but to no avail.
BURNING SPEAR is tough. Their message is aimed at Jamaicans -
take control, remember your roots, and resist oppression. The band attacks
the audience with their driving rhythm and sharp instrumental lines,
registering a human power rarely heard in America or Europe.
Burning Spear's roots/nationalism message i typified in "Slavery
Days" as Winston Rodney, behind his pulsating ban , yells at his ganja in-
fested audience, "Do you remember the days of slavery" Songs like this and
"Marcus Garvey" need no lyrical explanations. Burning Spear Live is not
music for the masses, nor does it pretend to be. What the record shows is a
driving musical force that defiantly dissolves European technique for a
unique African rhythmic-melodic vitality. Burning Spear Live conveys the
swelling sentiment that the group is undoubtedly the best loved band in
Compared to Burning Spear, Max Romeo's approach to reggae is a little
more subdued. Romeo is a thirty-one-year-old singer who has been making
records in Jamaica for the past ten years. His most recent album Recon-
struction, is the latest in his long career. His soft but forceful tenor voice
sings music with a meaning.
Romeo deals with reconciliation, as his lyrics deal with the search for
social harmony that presently eludes his native country.
Romeo sings not in defiance, but in hope - a wish of a better existence
for the poor and impoverished of Jamaica. "Let's Live Together," "Give to
Get," and the title cut, "Reconstruction," demonstrate his desire for a bet-
ter future. Romeo's small cult in America will surely grow if the singer hires
a touring band that is equal to his vocal prowess.
Third World's 96 degrees in the Shade is the best reggae album released
in America in the past year. The group takes their Jamaican energy and
successfully couples it with a more "American" toned-down production to
forge a sound quite powerful but accessible to this country's listening tastes.
The band places emphasis on a total group sound instead of focusing on only
a single aspect of the music. The four part harmonies are quite soft, but the
energy and fury in the music's lyrics cut through all the vocal pleasantres.
The recording, unlike many other reggae albums, is of impeccable quality,
and it is a joy to hear this music presented in a well engineered record.
Third World is quite emphatic in their political viewpoints. In a sense,
they recognize their social responsibility. They, along with other reggae
groups, are the sole voices that the people of many underdeveloped nations
identify with on the airwaves. Third World spreads the musical message of
millions throughout the Western world. The fury of the band's music hits
home in "1865," as they sing:
,%one f,,,lsufer and sou,,.,,meinsurn
But I kno rlit one ,lay umy pefopl# rill irn
Is sure as theu st shines ray up jn inthe AY
Tod(ay 1 stand here a rirti. The trudth is 1'I /ret~r die.
Perhaps a literary must for all reggae enthusiasts is Stephen Davis and
Peter Simon's book Reggae Bloodlines. Published late last year, Reggae
Bloodlines is simply the most thorough documentation of Jamaican native
music form. Going beyond the studio and the concert hall, the book in-
vestigates the emergence of a cultural and political power that comes from
the heart of the country. Davis and Simon traverse Jamaica and admirably
read the pulse of the people, showing how reggae is a function of the heart
and spirit of a turbulent Jamaica. Filled with numerous photographs,
Reggae Bloodlines shows an informative picture of a young country in the
midst of forging a cultural identity of its own.
The Michigan Doily-Wednesday, March 22, 1978-Page 5
MeL ean wows Manchester
By JEFFREY SELBST
T HE AURA SURROUNDING the
Black Sheep Repertory Theater in
Manchester is something right out of
the late sixties. Or maybe the early six-
ties as well. At any rate, I was won-
dering where that decade had gone un-
til I attended the Don McLean concert
last Sunday night.
The theater itself is small and in-
timate; the crowd consisted of left-over
hippies and the curious. I imagine
many there had only known McLean
through his two most famous songs the
(if you'll excuse the expression) chart-
busting "American Pie" of several
years ago, and the somewhat goopy
"American Pie", as I imagine
everyone knows, is that long involved
thing with pseudo-meaningful lyrics
Prime Time.. The song was trite, long,
and largely very dull. A shame.
THE WARMUP ACT was Connie
Huber, a member of the Black Sheep
Repertory's "Smile" group. (I was told.
by a member of the company - I
gather it's sort of a traveling show.)
She is a very pleasant, amusing, talex-
ted woman who has obviously studied
Joni Mitchell rather carefully.
Her voice sounds like Mitchell's - it
is high and supple. Listening to Huber
perform original compositions seemed
like watching the aspiring Mitchell in
the days when she was coming up
through the coffeehouse-campus cir-
Huber was in.tears at the end of her
forty-five minute set. The audience ap-
plauded and applauded. She was called
back for an encore (certainly deser-
vedly) but the poor thing was un-
prepared. I could have predicted the
outcome. Having prepared no encore,
she performed Mitchell's "A Big Yellow
Her compositions were, on the whole,
pleasant, though rather monotonous
and largely conventional for the folkie-
style. But she shows promise, and once
she allows herself the freedom from the
self-imposed rigidity of her image, she
will go places.
The concert was, then, a rousing suc-
cess. And very nostalgic too. McLean
and the archly repetitive chorus con-
taining the nonsensical lines "drove my
Chevy to the levee but the levee was
dry." It acts almost as a kind of man-
tra. And that's not really any kind of
introduction to a talented and sensitive
song writer and performer.
THE SHOW was teriffic. McLean
peformed these two, as well as some
fine numbers from what may be his
most balanced and artistic album,
He opened with a pair of rousing
numbers, one, something of a paean to
the cowboy. I don't remember the name
of it, but I do recall that it was delivered
with near-insufferable arrogance. Oh,
goody, I thought to myself. One of
these. The second number was
"Lovesick Blues"; another enjoyable
number, but once again performed with
that half-smirk, half-sneer on his face
that made me enjoy it rather less.
That is, until I figured out what he
was up to - Play-acting! And what a
fine job he does. McLean is no ordinary
performer. He attempts (and largely
succeeds) in the creation of an entire
emotional atmosphere about his music.
It is a ploy often used by the less-
talented to cover for inferior material
or bad delivery. McLean, however, is
one of the few who really uses this
technique to enlarge the scope, of his
music. And I - naive creature that I
am - believe that he actually does live
each piece as he sings it. It is a stunning
job to hear and watch.
HE PERFORMED one of my
favorite novelty numbers. "On the
Amazon." This piece was written in the
twenties and is simply a silly song, with
lyrics like "On the Amazon/The
prophylactics prowl/On the Amazon/
The hypodermics howl." McLean per-
formed it with eclat.
Where he really shines is in the per-
formance of ballads. McLean sang
MARX BROS. IN
(At 7:00 &1000)
Groucho as the great African
Hunter and Harpo winning at
bridge with 200 aces.
Rufus T. Firefly and his three co-
horts in an acute, satirical por-
trayal of the fall and rise of
Thurs: CITIZEN KANE (FREE AT 8)
OLD ARCH. AUD.
$1.50 Each $2.50 Both
"Wonderful Baby" and "You Have
Lived", both from Homeless Brother,
and conducted the audience in a
singalong, round style, of a psalm,
made famous by Pete Seeger, con-
taining the famous lines "By the waters
of Babylon/We lay down and wept for
ye, Zion/We remember thee, Zion."
He was less successful when he sang
the title number from his latest LP,
with GRETA GARBO and MELVYN DOUGLAS
Garbo's first attempt at comedy, this film has become a Hollywood classic. As
a Russian agent sent to Paris, Garbo succumbs to champagne and romance
encouraged by Douglas' advances. Ernst Lubitsch has succeeded in directing
one of the most sophisticated comedies in film history. (1939,
Wednesday, March 22, 7:00 & 9:00, at MLB 3
DAILY EARLY BIRD MATINEES -- Adults $1.25
DISCOUNT IS FOR SHOWS STARTING BEFORE 1:30
MON. thru SAT. 10 A.M. til 1:3 P.M. SUN. & HOLS. 12 Noon tI 1:30 P.M.
EVENING ADMISSIONS AFTER 5:00, $3.50 ADULTS
Monday-Saturday 1:30-5:00, Admission $2.50 Adult and Students
Sundays and Holidays 1:30 to Close, $3.50 Adults, $2.50 Students
Sunday-Thursday Evenings Student & Senior Citizen Discounts
Children 12 And Under, Admissions $1.25
1. Tickets sold no sooner than 30 minutes
prior to showtime.
2. No tickets sold later than 15 minutes
EMANUEL L. WOLF Presents
TOMMY LEE JONES
R _u 7:00,9:30
ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE
BEST ACTOR-JOHN TRAVOLTA
qp . 9:00
NOMINATED FOR 5 ACADEMY AWARDS
NOMINATED FOR 11 ACADEMY AWARDS
BEST ACTRESS-ANNE BANCROFT
BEST ACTRESS-SHIRLEY MacLAINE
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS-LESLIE BROWNE
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR-MIKHAIL BARYSHNIKOV
Adventu res rJt.
THE SOLO DANCE Repertory Co-
Jpany will debut this Friday and
Saturday night at the new Dance
building. Their premier performance of
modern dance solos will feature works
designed by each of three members of
the Company: Elizabeth Bergmann's
"Portrait," Gay Delanghe's "Pre-
Classic," and Susannah' Payton-
Delanghe will also present the first
performance of "Two Dances . . . in
memory of Edgat Varese." Tickets are
available at the Dance department and
at the door.
I kIVERSITY cGIUSICAL GSOCIETY presen
with the Festival Chorus
25 virtuoso musicians play without a conductor
for this concert in the Chamber Arts Series.
The Ensemble will be joined by the Festival
Chorus, Donald Bryant conducting. Tickets are
$7 to $3 at Burton Tower. Weekdays 9-4:30,
Sat. 9-12. 665-3717.
Ballet Music from "Idomeneo," K. 366
Serenata Notturno, K. 239...........Mozart
Three Coronation Anthems..........Handel
Adagio for Clarinet and Strings....... Wagner
Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat,
K. 297-b......................... Mozart
Saturday, March 25 at 8:3Q
THE BKEAD AND
TOGETHER wo TnE
WORD OF MOUTH
AVE. MAR 15
Mendelssohn Theatre/Sunday March 26, 2 & 8p.m.