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June 29, 1979 - Image 6

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1979-06-29

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Page 6-2Friday, June 29, 1979-TheMichiganD6Ily
In defense of disco madness

Rock and roll people who put disco
down because it's plodding, or banal, or
lifeless, almost always are guilty of not
really listening to it. Besides, much of
the music they love, from Fats Domino
to the Stones to The Clash, is itself
locked firmly into a metranomic beat.
And what is more banal than Little
Richard howling "a wop mop a loo bop,
a long bam boom," or Devo reciting the
McDonald's slogan? Take away the
dumbness, excessiveness, and
repetitiveness from rock and roll and,
well, there ain't nothin' left.
At the risk of sounding like some
overbearing prof, disco simply is sub-
stantially different from rock and roll.
What it does to the listener and how it
is listened to must be evaluated in new
ways. When they are not, the ranks of
cretins chanting the mantra "disco
sucks" grow ever larger.
ROCK AND ROLL is anchored in the
idea that music channeled to the public
at large can create a community of
listeners linked by a common belief:
that the music has an almost tangible
quality helpful in their life struggles of
any size. Disco scorns such sixties-
rooted notions of self-determination
through music, and instead tries to
unlock some essential human drives in
an acceptable manner-"HAVE SEX!"
WORRY! ! !" What disco community
there is is created inside the
discotheque, but any meaningful link-
up is scorned. What is important is a
consummate, self-activated release
through music, not any re-building of
the populace's lifestyle (using music as
building material). Does this sound
cynical? It really shouldn't, because
disco (beside doing many other things,

some good and some bad) has filled a
void for those with no use for the old
notions of music as a socio-political
creative force. Much of rock and roll it-
self is in various ways breaking down,
seemingly dismantling that master
plan for a homogenous pop culture at
the root of the music of Elvis and the
Beatle. Today, rock and roll is
becoming more and more a personal
The Village People expound the
libidinous gospel of "HAVE SEX!"
WORRY! ! !" as loudly and to as many
people as any other disco act. Their
show June 22 in Detroit exhibited the
eagerness of their audience to hear
the good word.
THE PEOPLE are undeniably sweet
guys, but there is something also
naggingly dangerous and authoritarian
in their approach. On stage they act out
various macho roles, and their songs
come across like the most insidiously
enthusiastic advertising-jingles. They
even mount a giant screen behind the
stage that sports all song titles, various
key lines, and miscellaneous helpful in-
formation (roughly, stuff like "join the
Navy," and "go West young man.").
Most overpowering of all, of course, is
the persistence of the rhythm; indeed,
the People could have saved time by
just keeping the drums and congas
going in-between songs, with new tunes
starting when the lyrics changed.
None of this is to say that the
People's manipulative manner is a bad
thing. Elvis knew the impact of a made-
up image long before Warhol and Kiss,
and so has every two-bit rocker who
bares his chest and rubs his crotch. The
Velvet Underground charted out barely
syncopated gargantuan dance rhythms
years ago, exploring the ability to
squeeze the listener into a corner by
way of parlanoid power. Such simple,
rigid rhythms live on in groups such as
Roxy Music, the Ramones, Talking
Heads, and also in disco (I am not
suggesting any connection between
disco and the Velvets, or course).
Fascistic? Heck yes . . . the Village

People absolutely flaunt their
totalitarian ease at imparting the bits
of easy-to-digest info found in songs like
"Y.M.C.A." and "In The Navy"! They
are the most sparkling and sellable
example yet of the disco technique of
force-feeding the listeners
everything they will need, letting them
contribute nothing. And if all this soun-
ds scary, good-it really should. Pop
art can never take full responsibility for
what its effects will be; quite often, at
its best, it toys with some pretty evil
because they come so close to being
dangerously manipulative, then shrug
it all off as comic book-level hokiness.
They laugh right through their macho-
man mystique and beyond the perver-

sity of their ad man pitch, and extend a
hand-a hand which goes out to
everyone, a disco audience of blacks
and whites, but also one of their very
own, made up of heterosexuals and gays.
In the audience last week, it really
seemed to me that people were being
united, bound together in ways rock and
roll has failed to bind. With a few shit-
faced grins and some less-than-nimble
dance steps, the tension of heavy-duty
force seeding is snapped, and they
reveal the basic statement of their
mystique: We just want to be your bud-
Now for me, when it comes to rhyth-
mic wipe-out I would rather listen to
any of the aforementioned rock and roll
bands. But one thing for certain is that
See MUSIC, Page 7

(Robert Zameckis, 1978) 7:30 ONLY
36 hysterical hours in the lives of six high-school students who trek from
New Jersey to Manhattan to crash the Plaza and the Ed Sullivan show in
order to see the Beatles in their first American show. Superbly captures the
insane enthusiasm and jubilant spirits of the early days of Beatlemania; a
fitting film for the 15tftanniversary of the English invasion. vBe prepared for
screaming, hysteria, fainting, fits, seizures, spasmodic convulsions, even
attempted suicides. It merely means these youngsters are really enjoying
themselves"-from Ed Sullivan's address to his ushers, Feb. 9, 1964.
(104 min.)
(Richard Lester, 1964) 9:30 ONLY
Ostensibly a look at an average Beatle day, this film satirizes tv, press agents,
police, all hucksters, Her Majesty's government, and manages to get in about
15 classic early Beatle songs. Its zingy one-liners and almost improvised,
brisk direction by Richard Lester set a new, much-imitated comero style
that, with the music, approaches audio-visual poetry. But the best of all
are the charming performances by the young John, Paul, George, and Ringo.
"Madcap clowning in the Marx Brothers style . . . with such a dazzling use
of camera that it tickles the intellect and electrifies the nerves."-Bosley
Crowther. (90 min.)
Both shows Angell Hall Aud A
Single Feature $1.50, Double $2.50

Daily Photo by MAUREEN O'MALLE
Jango chatters nonchalantly on in one of the many states of dress - and un-
dress - he adapts in his internationally known comedy act. The lewd clown
and his Friends Roadshow appeared Monday and Tuesday nights at Second
The Ann Arbor Film Cooperativ Presents at MLB
(Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones, 1975) 7,8:40, 10:20-MLS
This time the lads of the circus zany their way through a landscape that
vaguely resembles medieval England or, perhaps, Coldwater, Michigan. A
side-splitting visual spoof of chivalry, courtly love, INGMAR BERGMAN,
and the Hollywood epic. Not for lovers of the Tennyson version.

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