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January 31, 1980 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-01-31

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The Michigan Daily-Thursday, January 31, 1980-Page 7


SANDWICH 75 cents

By MARK DIGHTON ' always manages to stay on thetOck and)
some inex- roll track. Some may see the Ex-
The new wave has, forsoemx plosions as a disappointing com-
t icable reason, brought a revival of promise, but they're more of a dream
groups fronted by women. Blondie and come true. The whole point behind the
the Patti Smith Group are the most New WiVe from the beginning was to
noticable examples, but they're really give 4l music a kick in the rhythm sec-
little more than the tip of the proverbial tipi, including (and most especially)
iceberg. You won't trap me into any the stuff on the radio. Pearl Harbor and
.theorizing abouwhether or not wome groups like them could do just that. In
in this new phas of rock and roll will ee fact, the Explosions are probably the
accorded any more respect than hey most listenable dance band since the
have been in the past, but it cerainly is early days of the Jackson Five.
ice to hear some female ;ices after The Pretenders, on the other hand,

her songwriting abilities, she possesses
a uniquely gripping voice. Along with a
sort of chillingly fragile nasal quality, it
is also marked by a heart-wrenching
vibratto wider than a warped record.
The overdubbing of several vocal
tracks on some cuts also gives it an
eerie-unforgettable quality. She applies
these qualities quite appropriately to
her loose, almost Joni Mitchell-like
compositions without ever losing an
inherent sense of gut rock and roll.
PEARL E. GATES' voice is no less
distinctive, though in a very different
way. While Chrissie Hynde's voice
plays ambiguously with fragility and
strength, only the latter quality is found
in Ms. Gates' voice. She has a voice that
people used to describe as lusty.
Despite her group's funk underpin-
nings, she doesn't resort to the
demeaning cooing of most female disco
vocalists, but instead goes right for the
throat. Her voice fairly drips self-
confidence, a quality not foreign to her
compositions or stage personality.
She's lucky to have found a group who
can even match her boldness. Theirs is
the first album released in a while that
really merits being described as "hot."
The only fault I can find. in the entire
album is that the group is perhaps a bit
too self-confident, if such a thing is
possible. Instead of the exploratory fun
of the Pretenders, the Explosions fain-
tly smack of smug, unchallenged com-
petence. However, you can't really
fault a band for their professionalism,
unless it leads to glossy slickness,
which the Explosions manage to avoid.
A group as original and demanding as
the Explosions is clearly not one to
dismiss as just another calculated cor-
porate clutch at the New Wave ban-
dwagon (such as The Knack or The
A's). Throughout their funk foundation
and mainstream sound there is an un-
deniable thread of rock and roll in-
tegrity. Even on their slow numbers
they manage to pull together a haun-
tingly pleasing sound, even for someone
like me who hasn't really loved a ballad
since the Velvet Underground's "Pale
Blue Eyes."
ON THE other side of the Explosions'
coin, we have their heavier rock and
roll side. There isn't much to say here

except that the songs are nearly
faultless. They're twice as melodic,
heavy, and danceable as a million
Foreigner - clone cuts. Songs like
"Driving" and "Shut Up and Dance"
are simply the most enjoyable rock and
roll dance tunes aimed at a mainstream
audience in recordable memory.-
So, here we have an excellent
professional record that may bring
dancing back where it belongs - to
rock and roll. Even if Pearl Harbour
and the Explosions doesn't take as
many chances as it might, you can't
fault any group that has so much poten-
tial for bringing danceable rock and roll
with some integrity back to our tur-
ntables and airwaves. However, if my
bias isn't obvious already, I have to
admit that I still slightly prefer the less
fully realized but more alive testing-of-
wings of The Pretenders. Before long,
this group should be able to combine
their diverse influences more fully and
consistently, and find themselves to be
the contenders they deserve to be. But
as for now, if the worst thing you can.
say about an album is that it has two
evangelistically perfect pop tunes and
ten songs that are only great slabs of
new wave rock, then it's difficult to
complain. If you can be satisfied with
that, then pick up The Pretenders.

and Sue Kaufman program
JOHN REINHARD Assoc. for Women's Concerns,
Reading from their works U-M Affirmative Action
Thurs. Jan. 31 -7:30 P..- "Women's Concerns at
REFRESHMENTSte n of Michigan
No admission charge the UNIV.
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George Roy Hill's 1969
One of the most popular films of all times, this is a very special romantic
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at the turn ot the century. Winner of five Academy Awards. With KATHERINE
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(Peter Brook, 1953)6:-ADA
SIR LAWRENCE OLIVIER is Captain MacHeath, rogue, adventurer, lover, in this
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hangman's noose and more than one would-be bride. With STANELY HOLLO-
(Ingmar Bergman, 1975) THE MAGIC FLUTE 9:3--AUD. A
An adaptation of Mozart's opera which is luscious and enjoyable. Mozart's
*score accompanied by a Swedish version of the lyrics, supplies the backbone
of this tale of love, magic and quest as it follows a pair of starcrossed lovers
and an impish little man whose greatest desire is to find a wife. "A blissful
present, sensuous, luxuriant."-NEW YORKER. 35 mm

the interminable rule of crotch-rock
groups like. Bad Company and
Foreigner during the seventies. It is
especially pleasant to hear more
women involved in rock and roll when
they are as talented as Chrissie Hynde
,#f the Pretenders and Pearl E. Gates of
Pearl Harbour and the Explosions.
Besides their unique vocal styles,
each of these women is also responsible
for a majority of the songwriting
credits for their respective groups.
Chrissie Hynde is a former American
rock writer transplanted to Britain,
where she helped form the Pretenders.
Pearl E. Gates was a dancer in another
group from San Francisco, the Tubes,
before founding the Explosions. Her
tage presence (and attire) will not
soon be forgotten by those who wit-
nessed her with the Explosions when
they opened for Talking Heads at
Masonic Auditorium this past Novem-
ASIDE FROM their rather obvious
girl-group and '60's pop influences,
though, neither of these groups sounds
particularly new wave-ish. The Preten-
ders falls closest to that genre in their
diverse mixture of uncompromising,
hook-oriented rock and roll and subtle
Phil Spectorish wall-of-sound produc-
tion. On the other hand, Pearl Harbor
and the Explosions employs a more
separated funk-oriented sound, much
like the aforementioned Heads. Its cool,
solid but sparse production and main-
stream pacing occasionally borders on
Fleetwood Macism, but somehow.
Join Arts
The Michigan Daily is (still) looking
for arts staff writers. The only
prerequisites are a specific interest in
writing and a general interest in the ar-
ts: theatre, dance, film, visual arts, all,
forms of music, and whatever else
comes to mind. Beyond the standard
reviews, arts-orientedi features are
If you're interested, stop by the
Student Publications Bldg. at 420
Maynard (right behind LSA) any after-
noon after 2:00 and ask for the arts
editor. /4ring along a sample of your
writing. Length isn't important; we just
want something representative of your
style and interests.

aresomething close to '60's pop purists.
Their first single, a cover version of an
old Kinks' song from that era, "Stop
Your Sobbing," was a mesmerizingly
perfect reminder of the by-gone era of
echo chambers and multi-tracked har-
monies. Their next single, "Kid," made
Nick Lowe (who had produced the first)
instantly sorry he had turned down the
chance to produce their album. Not
only was this particular tune self-
penned, but it was also one of the pret-
tiest little pieces of rock and roll heard
in ages.
SO, WITH these singles behind them,
I anxiously awaited their album. I
probably should not have expected so
much from them, though. The B-sides
of their singles pointed out that even
these fast, catchy new wave songs
would pale (perhaps unfairly, but un-
deniably) next to their A-sides. The
album is no different. Most of the songs
are intelligent, dynamic, intriguing
pieces of punky (is it safe to use that
term yet?) rock and roll and slower,
mysterious ballads that are unfor-
tunately quickly forgotten when the
multi-tracked acoustic guitars of "Stop
Your Sobbing" or "Kid" appear.
Still, the album as a whole manages
to work. Its saving grace is, obviously,
the talents of Chrissie Hynde. Beyond

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