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September 23, 1977 - Image 7

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1977-09-23

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, September 23, 1977-Page 7


Prairie League disc lacks variety


1 g
For some reason, there seems to te
much more in the way of artistic activ-
ity going on in Ann Arbor this year than
in years past. I base this judgment on
empirical data; obviously no one counts
the number of concerts and plays and
divides by three or anything silly like
that, but I have worked with the Daily's
Arts and Living section for a number of
years, and the paper tries to monitor
these things fairly closely, for obvious
Of course, in certain areas, events
have markedly decreased. The Music
School, for example, used to have a
regular performing group composed of
four of the school's professors, known
as the Stanley Quartet. I was only able
to hear one or two of their concerts
before they disbanded - but I have
vivid memories of a performance of the
Brahms Piano Quartet in G min. which
I will cherish forever. Since then have
arisen the Faculty Chamber Concerts
(one of which is to be performed Sun-
day, 4 p.m., at Rackham Aud.), so I
suppose the net loss is nil. But I have
heard nothing of late of the Contem-
porary Directions concerts (unfor-
tunately) or the Wind Ensemble (fortu-
nately). I love wind chamber music,
but I had the misfortune of hearing one
of the latter group's ill-prepared pre-
sentations and swore them off forever.
In the area of film, the offerings have
lessened notably in the last few years.
The old stalwart film societies carry on
- Cinema Guild (which has been
around since, I think, 1948), Cinema II,
the Ann Arbor Film Co-op, and the UAC
films, which seemed to have dropped
their former name Mediatrics.
i There was a time, a few years ago,
when one could choose literally from at
least two or three films nightly, and
sometimes six or seven on weekends.
Now there seems to be only one film
most nights (from Cinema Guild) and
the other aforementioned groups op-
erate mainly on'weekends. Well, this is
the 1970's, and ends must be Inet. The
halcyon days were fun, though.
Qn the whole, though, I think the
number of events one may attend has
gone up. The University Musical So
eiety is presenting just as many of-
ferings as ever; Ann Arbor Civic Thea-
ter,,while no longer requiring the use of
Mendelssohn Theater, is still quite ac-
tive - and the number of road acts
coming through town is on the up-and-
A friend of mine remarked the other
40y, as I was $nuLig this over with
him, that it oughtn't really to matter to
me; I have classes and a great deal of
schoolwork, and I can't attend more
than an event a week, if that - why
should I care?
I really don't know, except to say that
a booming cultural life is essential to
the vitality of a community, even if one
hasn't the time to attend everything, or
even a small part. This is, I think, what
the planners of downtown Detroit's fu-
ture fail to realize. While RenCen is
pleasant enough, to draw convention-
eers and suburbanites to the city, one
must have something for them to do on-
ce they get there. Just the existence of a
nightlife makes a city a more pleasant
and exciting place to live whether dr not
one is personally involved.
** *
Trash certainly doesn't pull the
crowds it used to, I .guess. A corres-
pondent tells me that, at a recent show-
itg of the 'venerable paean to Bad
Taste, the film Pink Flamingos, there
was an audience of somewhat less than
fifty. Fifty people! For a film of this di-
mension and importance! I was shock-
She pointed out that, at the beginning
of the term, perhaps not too many stu-
dents knew that it was being shown.

t s
Still, I remember when the film was fir-
st shown in Ann Arbor four years ago,
word-of-mouth excitement ran high,
and while its initial showing wasn't a
sellout, all subsequent showings were
The film is the story of a feud between
Connie and Raymond Marble on one
side, and the redoubtable Divine on the
other, each vying for the title of the
"Filthiest Person Alive."In it, a num-
ber of incidental perversions are per-
formed, en route to the assumption of
this honor.
The perversions were responsible for
Flamingos' original notoriety, and yet
they are actually a drag on, the tail of
this kite - its point was never in what
was shown, but rather how the film was
Proceeding on the assumption that a)
some movies are so bad that you ac-
tually enjoy them, being forced to
giggle attheir inept inanities, and b) a
laugh is a laugh whether derived from
intentional or unintentional junk, can-
not one make a film that is SO BAD,
deliberately, that one laughs?
In Pink Flamingos, the script is stiff,
the acting wooden, the editing choppy,
the print quality cheap, the costuming
ridiculous - in short, just like all those
'50s grade-Z flicks that you've laughed
at for years. The result is hilarious.
In fact, I recall predicting that
Divine, the transvestite hero/heroine
(who prefers to be referred to as
"shim"), would turn out, actually, to be
a fine actor, should he/she pursue a
serious career.
I was right. Divine is played by a Roy
Brocksmith, whose Broadway credits
include Joseph Papp's short-lived The
Leaf People in 1975 (for which he
received fine notices); more recently,
the much acclaimed Papp production of
the Brecht-Weill Threepenny Opera, in
which he performed the role of the Bal-
lad-singer, who sings the famous open-
ing number Mack the Knife (Moritat).
Vindication is sweet.

Rarely does an extraordinary live re-
cording appear from ,the ranks of an
average studio band. Pure Prairie
League's newest effort, Takin' The
State is no exception.
Ever since the Bustin' Out album,
made famous by the immortal Amie,
Pure Prairie's music has steadily slid
into monotony. The loss of Craig Fuller
may account for most of their troubles.
Fuller and the League produced dy-
namic leads and steady vocals with a
range of soothing to hard-driving. Ful-
ler's departure came at the zenith of the
band's creativity, directly after Bustin
Out. Partially as a result of their sepa-
ration, both the band and Fuller have
fallen into mediocre musical straits.
The album was recorded this past
summer during five separate concerts
across the east and midwest. As many
live albums do, Takin' The Stage suf-
fers from engineering and circumstan-
tial difficulties. Distracting crowd noise
disturbs the entrance to nearly every
song. A Detroit columnist recently
made an interesting observation about
I always figure when an audience ap-
plauds the first few bars of an artist's
music, they really are applauding
themselves for recognizing the song
and disturbing the rest of us who want
to enjoy every note.
If so, Pure Prairie League certainly

played to very vain audiences. Luckily,
the notes obscured by the self-applaud-
ers weren't much to miss.
The actual recording of the album is
barely above average. Volume levels
often erase instrumental support, over-
emphasizing vocals which should be un-
deremphasized. Musical mistakes nor-
mally edited in the studio are also dis-
couraging to hear, although one can't
place much blame on the mechanics for
they only work with the quality of sound
the band produces.
So now how does one account for Pure
Prairie League's troubles? It is disil-
lusioning to see a group of capable
musicians lose creativity, but this hap-
pens constantly, and to every type of
musical artist.
Raw creativity is the basis of fine
music. Creativity cannot emerge from
restful minds, approaching their con-
structions with indifference. It must
come from a troubled mind, troubled
not emotionally, but by the strain of
perceiving infinite possibility, and
molding it into expression. Without
opening the mind to endless conbina-
tion and novelty, fresh creation is
stifled, and in its place comes a dis-

guised, restatement of a previous or
even stolen effort. The musical mind
bogged by comfort does not search in-
tensely for the new, rather conveniently
extracts memories in camouflage,
rationalizing the work as creativity.
Once creative people stagnate as suc-
cess' grip becomes more and more pro-
found. Success, however is not the only
demon. Countless other causes, most
due to human frailties can weaken or
destroy the creative mind. Obviously
these forces are not beyond an indi-
vidual's control and the powre of a per-
son's creative energies may overcome
the easy idleness of comfort. So far
Pure Prairie League's energies have
not exceeded their comfort.
Pure Prairie's music has regressed
into very basic themes. Two thirds of
the material contained in Takin The
Stage might just as well have been one
song for the amount of variation pro-
vided. Like a recurring dream, similar

guitar arrangement fill out similar
beats. Slower attempts are plagued bl
weak vocals. Pure Prairie League des-
perately needs a singer, and the need
aches as they struggle through thei:
classic, Amie. The lyrics sung are dull
with few exceptions. The same api
proaches to male-female relationships
used for years, along with sentimental
appeals about traveling and homeland'
can no longer excite anyone who intent
ly searches lyrical content for mess-
ages. The band is missing its potential
and it shows everywhere in their sound,
Their endeavor does contain somb
promise, however in small proportion
to the whole. John -David Call's steel
pedal and banjo are enthusiastic. His
solos provide some relief. One song ero-
titled I'll fix your flat tire, Merle is a funi
tribute to country and Western star,
Merle Haggard. These successes;
though few, hold hope for the League'
future. g



A frank and humorous portrait of the coming-of-age of a
young French boy. The film follows him through the various
initiations into adulthood at the hands of two Roue brothers
and confusingly beguiling young mother. In color and in French
-English subtitles.


7:00 b 4:13



announces a lecture by
Prof. Stanley Fish
Department of English
The John Hopkins University
TUESDAY, SEPT. 27-4:40 p.m.
Rackham Amphitheatre


Ui iUiiiio

Regular Meetings
218 North Division St.
Corner of Catherine and Division
7:30 p.m.-Citizens for Gay
Human Rights
(2nd and 4th
Sundays only)
8 p.m.-Showings of
experimental films
(2nd and 4th Mondays
8 p.m. -Carl Jung discussion
7:30 p.m.-Open meditation
class (taught by
Stern Morgan)




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SAT. 4 P.M. to 10 P.M.; SUN. 11:30 A.M . to 8 P.M.

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