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November 01, 1977 - Image 17

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Michigan Daily, 1977-11-01
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Page 10-Tuesday; November 1, 1977-The Michigan Daily
Lost in the lingo of stereoland

The Michigan Daily-Tuesda

From operettas

to

'The

By ROD KOSANN
It was not so long ago that I
referred to a fifty dollar Ampex tape
recorder as "my system." This shoe
box size sample of sound gadgetry
filled my tiny dorm room with
endless hours of rhythm, harmony,
crescendos, and any other musical
movements which might be put on
tape. The responsibilities of owning
such a system were by no means
small, and it is difficult to measure
the time required to master the re-
corder's technology. I speedily
gained an expertise which enabled
me to maneuver the straightforward
"run" button, while at the same time
exercising complete control over the
baffling "fast forward." A steady
"buzz" that accompanied the ma-
chine's music was a mystery to all
who beheld it. However, such back-
ground noise added a certain quality
to the sound that no stereo costing
hundreds of dollars could provide,
while also eliminating any possibility.
that nearby glassware might be shat-
tered.
As time passed, my cassette re-
corder became outmoded and incap-
able of satisfying my increasing
musical needs. A more solemn writer
might have viewed this occurrence

as the "end of a musical era." Yet,
the realization struck me that this
was my opportunity to break into the
big time stereo system - compon-
ents et. al. The only question was,
"Where does one begin?" I quickly
discovered that the answer was not
so simple.
I began with my friends, soliciting
advice and opinions. I found myself
overwhelmed with a barrage of
technical terms that would have
forced the heartiest physics major to
take cover. Watts, channels, harmon-
ic distortion, tracking, anti-skate,
belt drive, direct drive, and many
other such terms crashed down on
me in an incoherent jumble causing
me to feel more ignorant than when I
had begun my inquiries. When I
finally gained at least a narrow
understanding of the terminology, I
tried to match the concepts with
product names. I would list some of
the latter here, but space forbids my
doing so since this newspaper itself is
only sixteen pages in length.
The attempts to educate myself on
the intricacies of stereo left me in a
mild state of confusion. I had heard a
few more conflicting opinions than
one might encounter on reading a
composite of Jimmy Carter's policy
statements. Consequently, the advice

I finally followed was that of a hand-
ful of people who said, "Cio listen to
different systems, and pick the best
sound for the best money." After all
my efforts such a statement seemed
anti-climactic, but as I soon discov-
ered it was the soundest judgment of
all. I ventured out to the stereo stores
armed with my decision, and a
couple of friends who knew more
about the technicalities than I did.
From this point on the process be-

came one of listening, bargaining,
and fast talking. In many stores the
banter between buyer and seller
resembles that of a mideastern
bazaar, with the exceptions that the
stakes are slightly higher and a
mideast market won't accept Ann
Arbor or out-of-town checks. How-
ever, the whole key is to listen - until
the best sound you can get sounds no
worse than your money being rung
up on the cash register.

Back-up band ought
to. ditch Patti La Belle

C.J
"

CD tting
MOWN

.I

CeoffrtekxJ
Memorex

By MARK BEYER
Patti La Belle has gone solo with
her new album, entitled Patti La
Belle, dumping previous partners
Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx who
assisted her on the Nightbirds album,
from which sprang the hit Lady
Marmalade and LaBelle's career.
For this new spotlight album,
LaBelle has chosen a new producer,
David Rubinson & Friends, Inc. In
reviewing this album I feel safe in
saying that Rubinson (& friends)
have but one clear objective: give the
people what they'll buy. Put in
familiar rhythms and instrumenta-
tions that contain no surprise to'
record buyers and which they have
bought before.
The opening cut of the album is
typical of the whole. The song is an
upbeat African-rooted tempo pushed
through sophisticated electronics.
This attains funkiness while being
laced heavily with rafts of synthe-
sized strings. Patti herself energeti-
cally belts out simpleton lyrics that
are repetitive and unmoving. The
workload on this cut and most others
on the album is carried by the
back-up band, who remain anony-
mous on the album cover. Joy to have
your Love will likely be a hit.
The next song, Funky Music is one
of the best songs on the album, due
totally to the band. It opens with
some really fine scatty guitar play-
ing, buildipg up to a well-produced
mass via gradual additions of assort-
ed percussions. Then as a fitting
frosting, a splendid raft of horns
blooms into the piece. The Patti
LaBelle starts singing and the song
goes downhill. This is one of her least
offensive vocals albeit, and she
retains some dignity in her pliable
repetitions of the song title. -
Band three is Since I Don't Have
You a melody which rotates around a
romantic piano theme that bears an
immediate similarity to the heavy-
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handed theme melody from the film,
Gone With the Wind. The piano fades
into LaBelle's wailing lyrics of a
tragic. love lost. The whole song is
about as moving as a bowl of warm
water.
Side one ends with a peppy little
ditty, rather tritely titled, Dan Swit
Me. The song musically as well as
lyrically bumps and grinds along
pleasantly enough, but once again
shows little innovation, with the
exception of some fine Dixieland
clarinet at the end.
Side Two Band one: You Are My
Friend. This is supposed to be a senti-
mental gut-twister but fails. The
lyrics are nice but are not believable
either sung or written. Musically, the
number is full of night club piano and
too many drippy strings.
The next tuen, You Can't Judge a
Book by the Cover is another of the
few good songs on this album. It's a
good, fast, and really well-played
funky piece reminiscent of prime
Earth, Wind, & Fire., The vocals
again lack, but the saxophone is
superb. Following is I Think About
You another good song. The song just
sounds happy. It's played in a happy
spirit, and sung with a joyful smile.
It's nothing new, but it sounds really
nice.
Next is Do I Stand a Chance. This is
a delicate piece, a "breath-catcher"
on an otherwise fiercely rapid album.
It is handled well. LaBelle is.much
more endearing singing a soft love
song as opposed to screaming out an
angry loud one. She can show power
and emotion without all the aggres-
sion. Unfortunately, this number
goes on too long, and by the end is
over-produced and tiresome. The
album ends with a fitting, You Go
Your Way [And I'll Go Mine].
This piece can boast good guitars,
sax, and jingly piano, but the lyrics
again prove to be boring and repeti-
tive. By the end of this song and this
album, I was pretty much willing to
go my own way and let Patti LaBelle
go hers.
Musically, the album is fine, and
the musicians are all proficient. The
lyrics are all base however, and sung
unconvincingly by the album's name-
sake. The album is virtually all funky
rhythm and blues, with casual Afric-
can overtones. Patti LaBelle is an
okay example of this form, but there
are many current artists who per-
form in this style far more effective-
ly. Patti Laaelle is a hack who relies
totally on tried-and-true commercial
formulas to fatten her bank account.
If I was her band, I'd dump Patti and
shop around for a more capable and
creative vocalist to carry their own
precise and enjoyable playing.

By ANNE SHARP musicals to come. Rodgers and Ham- Musical comedy in the Unite
The strongest influence on early merstein followed with many successes win, Porter, Berlin, and Rodger
American musical comedy circa 1900 which are classic today: South Pacific,
came from across the Atlan- The King and I, and The Sound of the new genres of Hair, Jesus
tic-naturally, since Broadway at that Music, to name a few..'A ChorusLine.'
time was swarming with immigrants. Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick
Young European composers such as Loewe adapted My Fair Lady (1956)
Victor Herbert (Naughty Marietta, The from George Bernard Shaw's stage been filmed three times, once in a silent anoth
Red Mill), Rudolf Friml (Rose Marie), play Pygmalion. Lady's score version. Cabaret, as we now know it, been i
and Sigmund Romberg (Desert Song) gracefully reproduces the cadence of underwent several incarnations from mass.
wrote operettas for U.S. audiences in Shaw's original dialogue. Unfor- novel to stage play to filmed stage play A (
the flighty Viennese style which tunately, Audrey Hepburn was chosen to musical and to film again. Applause, this c<
requires the full orchestration, musical to lip-synch Eliza Doolittle, the female A Little Night Music, Sweet Charity and simpl
dialogue and overtrained voices found lead, opposite .ex Harrison in the film Promises, Promises! are all based on actua
in such 19th century standards as Die version. Julie Andrews, the original screenplays. music
Fledermaus and Pirates of Penzance. Eliza, deserved the role after her spec- Hair (1968), the "tribal love-rock this si
These premusicals are sugary, refined tacular performance on stage. musical," is adventerous theatre. It
and definitely not for the proletariat. In Conventional musicals from roughly features an onstage band, audience Als
Naughy Marittta, a typical Victor Her- 1955 to 61, and even into the early 70s, participation (dancing onstage with ac- way i
bert romp, pulses leap madly, charac- slick, cosmopolitan, dealing with tors), shockingly frank presentation of totall
ters feel passions they've ne'er felt current events and everyday situations. the hippie counterculture, and a scan- birds
before, and a disguised French coun- The Pajama Game (1954) and How to daslous nude scene which lasted less devas
tess knows her true love by the fact that than 30 seconds. Selections from Hair, Don't
he can sin "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life." recorded by various artists, became ex- with ti
Meanwhile, a more native form of'tremely popular on AM radio stations. Bubb
musical emerged from the mainstream, The original cast album of Jesus Christ new v
of American culture, nourished on min- ;. Superstar, a rock opera which played combi
strel shows, local burlesques and on Broadway. was an instant best with i
ragtime piano. By the early 20s, Friml seller. Day by Day, from Godspell, bers.
and Herbert were competing with the
likes of young Cole Porter, George Ger-o 0
shwin and Irving Berlin. Like their
pseudo-Viennese contemporaries, these
new composers wrote about romantic
love. Their scores were brash and jaz-
zy, and complemented by witty,
sophisticated stories peppered with g re e
"in" slang and pretty ingenues.
Here I should mention a phenomenon AP photo By JEFFREY SELBST worst
not purely American: the show tune
turned popular song. To be sure, selec- Someone witty remarked recently gem
tions from the more "straight" that the album of Olivia Newton- trpe
musicals-"Indian Love Call" from John's Greatest Hits would be a slim Neve
Rose Marie, for instance-were one indeed. I contend that, while not t
there may not be many good songs in beaut
show tunes often seemed to have been such collection, there would certainly sch
written directly for dance bands and be a number of hits. And why? And i
radiocrooners. Because that pale, lovely voice sells becau
The lyrics of these musicals belie the records. It's only a shame that said hits o
current conception of carefree, in- pale, lovely voice doesn't sing songs hgoo
nocent pre-Hitlerian days. Cole Por- that have intelligent music or inter- deejai
ter's "Dancing in the Dark" expresses esting lyrics. Coj
curent of existential puzzleent der- Well, such album has issued itself I wi
walrntzngxitendalpler e're forth. Entitled ONJ, it contains such much
waltzing in the wonder of why were AP Photo dogs as Please Mr. Please (ecch), I inclus
here/Time flys by, were here/AndHnstyLvYu(wr)IfYu Ml
gone . . ."). In Anything Goes Ethel Leonard Bernstein (top) and Richard Honestly Love You (worse), If You Mello
Merman, of all people, belts out& Rodgers (bottom) are two composers Love Me Let Me Know (perhaps she.
"Some get a kick from cocaine/I'm who have had quite an effect on Ameri-
sure that if I took even one sniff that can musical comedy.
would bore me terrifically too/Yet I get
a kick out of you." Succeed in Business (1962) depict the
In general, the Depression was a bad white-collar workaday world. Such
period for musical comedy. Flo "formula" musicals often employ novel
Ziegfeld, producer of extravagant staging and production effects; in
revues featuring the music of both Pajama Game, a businessman sings a
more traditional and contemporary duet with his own dictaphone-recorded
composers, died, and with him the voice.
Follies and.George White's Scandals. In 1960, a little off-Broadway produc-
The movie musical too, may have usur- tion called The Fantasticks
ped the stage musical's audience. Many foreshadowed new trends in musicals.
Broadway shows and their stars were With a mere cast of eight, no props or
transplanted to Hollywood; Marx scenery, and the accompaniment of a
Brothers and Fred Astaire vehicles are piano, harp, percussion and bass viol,
cases in point. The Fantasticks became the longest-
Oklahoma! (1943) was an exciting running musical in American theatre
event for theatregoers. Composer history. Free from the sentimental,
Richard Rodgers and author/lyricist world-weary parody of Porter and
Oscar Hammerstein II created a Rodgers and Hammerstein's numbing
vibrant synthesis of dramatic yet conventions, the play expresses subtle
modern music, ballet, broad humor ideas and genuine emotion. On larger
middle-class sentimentality, and a scale, there was Fiddler on the Roof,
fairly believable plot which won critical which realistically depicted the
and popular acclaim, as well as the dissolution of a Jewish community in
Pulitzer prize for drama. Oklahoma Czarist Russia. Man of La Mancha suc-
was a direct descendant of Show Boat cessfully adapted Don Quixote's
(1927) ,also written by Oscar Hammer- esoteric message to the stage with its
stein, with lyrics by Jerome Kern. But theme song, The Impossible Dream.
whereas Show Boat, which integrated The book-turned-musical-turned-film Jean-Luc PC
elaborate production with a serious phenomenon has become common in
dramatic plot, was unique in its time, recent years, although Show Boat, Jean-Luc Ponty, a prime mover in current ja
Oklahoma set.thestage for many orgnally a novel b Edna Ferber ha' contributor to the Ann Arbor musicscene. He app

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