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March 25, 1978 - Image 5

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Michigan Daily, 1978-03-25

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The Michigan Daily-Saturday, March 25, 1978-Page 5

'The Rutles':


ass the audition,
W HAT WAS IT that made the Beatles such an incomparable group, a
musical phenomenon whose success will most likely never even be ap-
proached? The answer, even beyond the extraordinary number of immortal
Beatle ballads, lies in the vast cultural mythology that the foursome carried
with them through their career, a mythology integral to their legendary
station in show business history. It is this folklore, the multitude of anec-
dotes and images surrounding the Beatles, that forms the basis for The
Rutles, a parody of the Beatle years consisting of an album of fourteen
original Rutle songs and a television special aired last Wednesday night.
The Rutles are the brainchild of Monty Python's Eric Idle. It was after
hosting NBC's Saturday Night Live, in which he did a short parody of A Hard
Day's Night, that Idle decided to create a whole show around the idea, and he
was able to get it produced on American network television through the
diligence of Saturday Night producer Lorne Michaels. Idle wrote and co-
directed (with Gary Weis) the special, and Neil Innes, Monty Python's
musical handyman and former member of the Bonzo Dog Band, wrote the
.music and lyrics to the imitation Bea tle songs. Idle and Innes also played the
McCartney and Lennon characters in the show, named here Dirk McQuickly
and Ron Nasty (the other two Rutles are Stig O'Hara and Barry Wom).
ALL IN ALL, THE show was a reasonably humorous account of the
Rutles' journey from Liverpool obscurity to legendary fame, although Idle's
absurdist Pythonish humor ("The Rutles . . . a legend that .will last a lun-
chtime") often didn't mesh with a pointedly satirical version of the Beatles'
story. The humor sprung essentially from slightly altered recreations of
famous Beatle anecdotes - the Maharishi fiasco, the business with the self-
indulgent Apple boutique - that already have their humorous sides. On the
show, Rutle Ron Nasty hold his "bed-in" for peace in a running shower, Stig,
the "quiet one," literally never speaks, and Barry's (a/k/a Ringo) lifelong

DUE TO THE Vietnam Teach-In
that has been going on all week,
it's not uncommon to turn on the radio
and go through a little deja-vu, while
listening to "Magic Carpet Ride" or
"L.A. Woman". A person that comes to
mind when I go back and think of those
times is John Sinclair.
Sinclair has been partly, if not totally
responsible for many events and ac-
tivities that have occurred here in Ann
Arbor and the Detroit area over the
past two decades. Looking back, we
find him involved in the Artist
Workshop of Detroit, selling books on
Plum Street, publishing the Fifth
Estate, Guerilla, The Ann Arbor Sun,
The Detroit Sun, and other
publications, as well as being involved
with the Grande Ballroom, the MC-5,
Mitch Ryder, The Rainbow Peoples
Party, Rainbow Multi-Media, The Ann
Arbor Jazz and Blues Festival, The
Rainbow Room in the Shelby Hotel,
Strata Productions, Allied Artist, and
most recently, the Composers Concept
Series being held in the Old Paradise
Theatre Orchestra Hall in downtown
The Paradise Theatre was the
showcase for jazz in Detroit from 1945
to 1952. In its hey-day the theatre
brought in such acts as Earl Hines,
Billy Eckstine, Lucky Milendor, Count
Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, and, above all,
the Bird, Charlie Parker. The Paradise
was originally called the Orchestra
Hall, home of the Detroit Symphony
Orchestra from 1919 to 1939. By 1942 its
acoustic excellence had been
recognized and it became the Paradise
Theatre, a vaudeville hall similar to the
Apollo Theatre in New York. Since 1952
the Hall has gone through several
phases, first as a church for the
Reverend Cotton and later as a home
for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra
recording sessions. Its recent resurrec-
tion is due to Save Orchestra Hall Inc.,
a non-profit organizatin led by sym-
phony musicians and concerned
citizens of the Detroit area.

j azzing
A FEW WEEKS ago I went to see
John Sinclair during his "Revisions"
show on WCBN FM, featured every
Saturday night from 11:00-3:00. Usually
he has a thematic show prepared, and
that week he was featuring the live
recordings of Dizzy Gilespie and The
Paradise Theatre Orchestra.
We delved into his past in order to
clarify his present whereabouts. When
asked why it has taken him so long to
put together a jazz series in Detroit, he
replied, "We had a hard time trying to
do anything (before) just because it
was politically so offensive". Apparen-
tly the Renaissance scene in Detroit has
worked to Sinclair's advantage; he
feels free to explain the evolution of city
politics that has permitted the Com-
posers Concept Series to come about:
"Everyone remembers how terrible
it used to be, how totally hard it was to
do anything. Now the city is eager for
things to happen culturally . . . the
newspapers, even the TV stations are
eager for something to happen ... you
have a whole turnover from the red-
neck, hard, industrialist, money grub-
bing, caucasians power structure that
you had 15 years ago to a power struc-
ture led by somebody whose favorite
artist is Dizzy Gilespie and Billie
Holiday and Charlie Parker, who's a
brilliant politician, a strategist"
(Coleman Young)

it up in
THE COMPOSERS Concept Series
has attracted Dizzy Gilespie and Mc-
Coy Tyner and this Easter Sunday will
be featuring Donald Byrd and The
Paradise Theatre Orchestra along with
the Hasting Street Experience. One of
the fundamental ideas of the Com-
posers Concept Series has been to bring
in a national act, preferably with roots
in Detroit, along with the best local jazz
The February 19th McCoy Tyner per-
formance began with the Paradise
Theatre Orchestra, featuring Ron
English and Lyman Woodard. English
has played with such notables as the
Four Tops, Nancy Wilson, Martha
Reeves, and Gladys Knight and the
Pips. He is the co-founder of the Allied
Artist Association, Inc., a Michigan
non-profit arts development and
presentation organization founded in
1972. Along with English was pianist
-Lyman Woodard, a long-time Detroit
jazz musician who has also played and
recorded with Martha and the Van-
dellas and Dennis Coffey.

THE HASTING Street Experience
will be presenting vintage jazz from its
original Detroit home. Sinclair defines
the band: "That's a group that's
orgnized to maintain the Hasting Street
tradition (40's), to keep it alive.. .Has,
ting Street isn't even there, it's now the
Chrysler Freeway."
Sinclair sees the Hasting Street days
as a "dynamic era" for Detroit and sin-
ce the destruction of Hasting Street, hle
notes, "The black community has gone
through hell."
SO AS YOU can see, there is aW
historical perspective taken in thl
Composers Concept Series. The season
will finish with Yusef Lateef on April:
Sinclair reiterates: "We're trying to,
integrate the past to what's happening
now . . it's just the idea of having
people conscious of their cultural
heritage, because it enriches their ex-
perience of today."
It seems only appropriate to end with
Sinclair's own words: "It just gets hip
per all the time."

The Graduate Program in Urban and Regional Planning
at the University cf Iowa offers a Masters of Arts Degree
to prepare students for positions on local, state, and
federal government. For information about program and
policy analysis, call (319) 353-5001.


Van Halen powerful

The Rutles

dream is to open a hairdressing salon. All very enjoyable stuff, but not exac-
tly the kind of biting parody that sticks with you.
The songs, however, are another story, for most of the Innes com-
positions have an elliptical style of satire that wasn't present amidst the
show's'zany antics. The album The Rutles is one of the most sophisticated
pieces of musical parody I've ever heard, as well as musically quite en-
joyable in its own right. Initially, the songs seem to fall on the thin line bet-
ween clever parody and outright imitation, but it's quickly obvious that In-
nes is utterly (though subtly) tongue-in-cheek. The obliqueness of the satire
(as well as the expert musicianship) is really what makes The Rutles such a
fine piece of work.,
I was at first a bit disappointed by the words, because they aren't vicious
parodies of Beatle lyrics that are juicy for satire, i.e., a take-off on "Penny
Lane" with nothing but wretched childhood memories. Instead, Innes recap-
tures the spirit in which the songs were conceived - in the Beatles' case, this
is generally an appealing, clever innocence - then gives that spirit a twist so
that you laugh at the excesses of flip jargon and gobbledygook imagery.
When Ron Nasty (sung by Innes, who does a dynamite Lennon imitation)
sings lyrics like
Stars are in the sky above
People rise andfall in love
Natural ly
Les he natural
he pokes fun at the naivete of the conception, yet also creates a wistful elegy
fora lost era's simple optimism.
MUSICALLY, The Rutles consists primarily of parodies of individual
songs, with several numbers devoted to encompassing whole categories of
the Beatles' output. "Living in Hope," sung by Barry. clowns around with
the image of Ringo as the downtrodden hick who happened to make it big,
and is now just "Feelin' like a cowboy, And lookin' like a slob, but living in
hope." "Hold My Hand," an ingenious musical composite of "I Want to Hold
Your Hand," "She Loves You," "All My Loving," and "Please Please Me,"
captures the early Beatles sound with remarkable accuracy, complete with
driving rhythm guitar, crashing cymbals, and plenty of "ooh-ooh-oohs" in
the background.
"With a Girl Like You," essentially a carbon copy of "If I Fell," opens
with the lines "Shoot me down in flames if I should tell a lie," just the kind of
cheekiness that, though there isn't an exact analogue in any Beatles song, is
so discreetly out of kilter with the musical setting that it creates an infec-
tious, if irreverent, style of humor.
By far the album's most outstanding cut is "Cheese and Onions," which
has elements from "A Day in the Life," but primarily pokes fun at the John
Lennon-"Imagine" genre. "Cheese and 'Onions"is a beautifully Len-
nonesque number, with steady piano chords, rich, flowing orchestral
background, and a set of lyrics so pretentiously meaningless that Lennon
himself couldn't have gotten more pointedly obscure:
Man and Machine
Keep yourself clean
Or be a has b)en
Like the )inosaur
Man and device
for everything nice'
Youd better think twxice
At least once more
Innes' Lennon imitation is so perfect, that just his Liverpudlian pronoun-
ciation of "oh no" (something like uho-no) deserves some kind of award.
The Rutles is such an appealing album because it was conceived with
such obvious affection for its subject. It has the authenticity parody of this
sort requires, but keeps a veritable distance from its target. In "Doubleback
Alley," Rutle Dirk says he gets happy memories "if I flog my memory." If
that's true, then it's obvious Innes gave his a good flogging.

W HEN I FIRST heard the rock
group Van Halen's hard rock ver-
sion of the Kinks' classic "You Really
Got Me," I was astounded. How could a

VanIi itlelt
U rrnr i,,, r.l i~h : f-

'70s band make an old tune sound so
good? "You'Really Got Me" isn't the
only tune on their debut album Van
Halen (and what a debut album it is!)
that sounds like this. Practically the en-
tire album contains good, thunderous,
bone-crushing rock.
"Runnin' With The Devil'" begins this
killer disc (sounds like a movie title)
with slow but heavy rock and
beautifully accentuated bass lines. The
only thing that detracts from this tune's
quality is bassist Michael Anthony's
shriekingsand yelling. It adds nothing to
the song.
Fromghere, creative lead guitarist
Edward Van Halen explodes into a
wicked solo called "Eruption" that
seems to stop right in the middle where
you don't expect it to. But milliseconds
later, he continues his ripping solo. The
break doesn't benefit the solo at all. It
interrupts its momentum.
THEN, THE powerful and intense
"You Really Got Me" comes along. It
sounds best with the volume turned up
- especially the beginning. This is the
song that opened people's eyes to this
surging band. The good thing is that
there are more tunes similar to it in in-
tensity on the LP.
One of them is "Aint Talking' 'Bout
Love," which begins with some nice
guitar work and has a smooth, driving
"Jamie's Cryin' " begins the flip side
and has a bouncy rhythm with
dominant bass lines. It's really a cute
little tune with heavy guitar work. One
noticeable flaw is near the middle when
drummer Alex Van Halen forgets what
he's doing for a second but gets right
back into it soon after.
"Atomic Punk" is Van Halen's view
of the punk movement. It talks about a
"punk" who is the nocturnal ruler of the
streets and, because nobody will listen
to what his generation has to say, he
resorts to the threat of violence. It
'begins with a grating guitar sound then
launches into a typical fast punk

THE BASS dominates again in "Lit-
tle Dreamer." This isn't the worst tune
on the album but it isn't far from it.
There isn't a lot to "Dreamer" except
for Edward Van Halen's screeching
solo in the middle and even that isn't up
to par.
The group takes to the folk guitar at
the beginning of "Ice Cream Man" but
goes right back to the hard stuff shortly
after. The flashy lead guitar practically
saves "Ice Cream Man" from being
"On Fire" provides a great and fit-
ting finale to this scorching LP with
some scorching rock that gets the
adrenalin flowing. They bring it all
together for the last one.
Side one and "On Fire" really tell the
Van Halen story. This is one good heavy
metal album from one good heavy
metal band and they are deservedly
receiving extensive FM airplay. I saw
them in concert recently and they were
simply devastating. As an FM 104 DJ
predicted, "You'll be hearing a lot
more from this band."

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 enroute, to Shagway and on to Fair-
banks and down 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.'

Now Only

it" __ - A JIk~ ,!I i4W''

~ .. a. .

Lessons at
3141/2 S. State
CALL 995-4242
for schedule
and registration

MEMOREX Recording Tape
Reproduction so true it can shatter glass.

f1,9s E d4 a+ r c n ta :..r w .

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