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November 16, 1977 - Image 7

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1977-11-16

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The Michigan Daily, Wednesday, November 16, 1977-Page 7

Randy Newman explores new harmonies

<M -'

R ANDY NE W M A N has been,
writirg unusual songs since
1968, whena tune called "Davy the
Fat Boy" appeared on his first LP.
Nine years have passed, and New-
man is still going strong with his
sixth albim, Little C-iminals [War-
ner Bros. BSK 30791. His songs
continuelto cover a wide variety of
topics, bit Little Criminals is easily

Randy Newman's finett collection
Side One opens with the tune
"Short People," which is destined to
become a Newman classic. During a
recent concert in Philadelphia, he in-
troduced it by explaining, "This song
is kind of odd;, it's like I wrote the
beginning of it and the ending part of
it, and like the verse was written by
John Denver, some heavenly choir

l Ji

kind of sound."d
The song begins with the phrase,
"Short people got no reason to live,"
and goes on to explain:
They got little hands
And little eyes
And they walk around
Tellin' great big lies
They got little noses
And tiny little teeth
They wear platform shoes
On their nasty little feet
The "verse" counters with a sympa-
thetic view of the slighted short
people, but the song concludes with,
"Don't want no short people round
NEWMAN'S dry vocals on this
song are complimented by melodic
harmonizing by the Eagles, who
appear throughout most of the al-
bum. On the surface, "Short People"
seems incredibly cruel, but it is so
self-consciously absurd that the cru-
elty disappears while the humor
remains intact.
Not all of Newman's songs are
funny: "Baltimore" is a moving
piece which, from the opening lines

onward, is filled with stark images of
the dying city.
Beat-up little seagull
On a marble stair
Tryin' to find the ocean
Lookin' everywhere
The desperate feeling of the song is
conveyed by the haunting melody
and Newman's sedate piano per-
formance. Although he's never been
acclaimed as a piano great, Newman
interprets his own songs better than
anyone else.
Newman arranges and conducts
the orchestral backing of his songs,
fully displaying his well-rounded
talents. This is most impressive on
tunes like "Baltimore" and "In
Germany Before the War." The
latter is a disturbing journey into the
mind of a child murderer; the
ponderous orchestral arrangement
brings remarkable depth to the eerie
THE MOST accessible tunes on
Little Criminals are those which
exhibit Randy Newman's unusual

brand of humor: "Jolly Coppers on
Parade" narrates the passing of a
police parade, and the melody is
smooth-rolling and arranged with
considerable intricacy. The title cut
is a rocking song about two small--
time hoods arguing over a gas station
hold-up. The song's narrator sees the
planned robbery as the pinnacle of
success: "We've almost made it to
the top."
Randy Newman's innovative song-
writing techniques put him in a class
far above most pop composers, as he
always addresses his songs to an
extremely diverse number of topics.
His previous albums conveyed-that
same quality: Good Old Boys fea-
tured, among others, an Albanian
wedding song and a complex ironic
ode to rednecks. The prominent tune
on Sail Away is "Political Science,"
which brazenly suggests we "drop
the big one" on various countries
because "they don't respect us." Al-
though it often enters the realm of the
bizarre, Newman's humor is inten-

tionally self-ridiculing,, making it
easily appreciated. To some degree,
the humor can also be taken as social
criticism; this is particularly true in
a song like "Rednecks," which si-
multaneously points out the faults of
racists and armchair liberals.
However, for all of his many sides,
Randy Newman can best be appreci-
ated for his ability to entertain. Little
Criminals is an album which
achieves that status from start to fin-
ish, providing a pleasing balance of
well-wrought tunes. It's Randy New-
man's first album in three years, but
it was well worth the wait.
the steam locomotives introduced by
Union Pacific in 1941 were the largest
ever seen on American railroads, says
National Geographic. The combined
weight of the engine and tender was a
million-and-a-quarter pounds and its
length was more than 132 feet. These
engines, called "Big Boys," could pull
freight trains five-and-a-half miles

Pennsylvania Ballet
pleases at Power

(Continued from Page 6)
was appropriate and affecting.
OF THE SHORT numbers the best
were Rialto Ripples, danced by Dane.
LaFontsee, who displayed a wry,
self-effacing style, and Prelude No. 2,
danced by Alba Calzada and David
Kloss in a brief pas de deux.
Grand Pas Espagnol was capably
enough danced, but suffered in being
presented after Rialto, the work
which the audience liked best. After
Rialto's excitement, Grand Pas Es-
pagnol was simply tame, although as
the principal dancers Michelle Lucci
and William DeGregory were affect-
The Pennsylvania Orchestra was
excellent; restrained, accurate, and
well conducted. The ultimate compli-

ment may be paid to the musicians:
they always enhanced the dancers
and no flaws ever detracted from
Too bad the same can't be said for
the set decoration and the costumes.
They were somewhere between un-
imaginative and tacky, with the
exception noted above with respect to
A comment overheard on my
departure was that "the costumes
were corny", and reluctantly I must
concur. In Scotch Symphony the
ensemble dancers wore Tartan plaid
kilts and the woman wore pink outfits
with the same plaid repeated as
Also, in Grand Pas Espagnol the
men wore modified bullfighter's
costumes. The effect was more than
a touch trite.e

Rigoletto, one of the most popular operas ever written, will be performed by
the University of Michigan School of Music Opera Theater Thursday, November 17
through Sunday, November 20 at 8:30 p.m. Verdi's opera is most entertaining
because of its crazy storyline and marvelous music. Music director Gustave Meier
and stage director Ralph Herbert will preside.
The opera is based on Victor Hugo's drama Le Roi s'amuse. The play was ban-
ned in Paris from 1832 to 1882 because it was considered immoral and politically
undesirable. Piave, Rigoletto's librettist, had to alter the story so that it too would
not be considered offensive. The result was one of the finest comic operas ever
THE STORY CONCERNS a hunchbacked court jester, Rigoletto, who con-
vinces a duke to have an illicit affair with the wife of one of his counts. After a
complex but amusing mix-up, the duke is found to be having relations with Rigo-
letto's treasured daughter Gilda.
The plot's confusion is complemented by the music's simplicity and universal
appeal. Hummable, satisfying melodies, familiar even to non-opera-goers, spark
the work.
Verdi himself conceded that Rigoletto's musical format was "revolutionary"
in that it incorporated traditional elements in an exciting new way. Instead of
alternating coloratura arias with recitatives (dramatic soliloquies with spoken
dialogues), Verdi deemphasized the aria and increased importance of the scene as
a larger unit. This gave the composer more freedom to mold the music to the wor-
ds and shift between contrasting musical and dramatic effects.
IN FACT, the husband of one of the original cast sopranos asked if he could
compose an aria for his wife to be included in the opera. The composer replied, "I
imagined Rigoletto almost without arias and without finales, just an unbroken
string of duets; because this form satisfied me."
Rigoletto will be performed in its original Italian form. An English translation
would not only lose meaning but also most of the charm and character Verdi so
painstakingly achieved.

Lighting Designer
Costume Designer.
Applications available at UAC
office 2nd floor Michigan Union

Set Designer
Tech. Director
Stage Manager
All other staff positions
For more information
call 763-1107



Now taking applications for its
Spring Extravaganza!!
We need excellent people for:

----- --


The U-M Men's
Glee Club



Area punk bands hit Second Chance

T _..l_. L9.. .

(Continued from Page 6)
greeted them ecstatically when they
took the stge. The Rendezvous Band
worked through two hours of original,
material in the mode of the MC5. The
musical, style of the two bands is
strikingly similar as Fred continues
the tradition of high energy rock and
searing guitar he produced with Rob
Tyner and Wayne Kramer and the
other boys in the Five.
Though the music is based on the
"New k Wave" principle of three
chords or less, its originality lies in
the chords used and Sonic's lead-
guitar technique.
Morgan plays the rhythm guitar
line made up of lots of minor chords,
which one doesn't see too much in the
"New Wave", while Smith coaxes
feedback out of his Rickenbacker,
then attacks it with lightning-quick
scales. Yes, Fred is back to his old
tricks and sounding better than ever.
AND SO DOES the entire band.
High volume is the ,trademark of
Sonic's Rendezvous Band, and many
members of the audience wandered
up to the speaker stacks to receive a
rush from the intensified decibels
coming out of the P.A. system.
The old albums of the MC5 and the
Stooges have been re-issued in
England where the two bands are
enjoying renewed popularity (and
sales) in the wake of the punk rock
scene. And is the MC5 an influence on
these new punkers? "Certainly,"
according to Fred "Sonic" Smith.
"This 'New Wave' is the most
important musical development
since the revolutionary high energy
time of the sixties.
"Kids today don't want to listen to
Bob Denver and Fleetwood Mac.
That music doesn't relate to young
kids," Sonic explains. "So there was
a need and desire, among musicians
to play the rock people like to hear."
"IT'S IMPORTANCE is that it
meets the young spirit. This makes
the Ramones very important. They
have been put down by the critics for
their simplicity and humor. But I

think the Ramones are the Great
Saviors of rock.
"I've always been a New Wave
person," Fred continued. "I never
tried to copy anyone, except for the
first Chuck Berry licks. I had enough
ideas myself that I didn't have to
take them from anyone. I had no
interest in copying."
"New ideas always keep popping
up while' you're playing on the
stage," said Sonic about songwriting
inspiration. "There are millions of
ideas. I take the new field of ideas
and make them into songs."
Sonic and the rest of the Rendez
vous Band plan to take their collec-
tive musical ideas to the recording
studio by the end of the month. They
will record six tracks out of which a

single will be produced,'most likely
containing City Slang - and. Electro-
fonic Tonic. From there, the record
companies will be approached and
the Rendezvous Band will sign with
the best deal. "This New Wave thing
is now big bucks so we're just going
to wait on the label who offers us the

most,"- asserts Fred Brooks, the
manager of the Rendezvous Band.
With a record label behind them,
Sonic's Rendezvous Band will have
the impetus to gain national exposure
and put Detroit back in the public eye
as the home of high energy hard rock
and roll.

Saturday, NOV. 19 at S:00 pm
Hill Aud., 'lix@ Hill box NOV 9

Schlanderer on South University
1113 S. University, Ann Arbor, MI
Hours: 9:30 A.M. to 5:30 P.M.


of our,
ill be ii




When you order our shrimp dinner, you get no less than
14 delicious shrimp, each one deep fried and served with our
elaborate salad bar, Hearthstone toast, and butter. After all,
we don't skimp on our shrimp.


U i~171 r/I I t\\ ZIA

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