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December 02, 1981 - Image 5

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1981-12-02

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ARTS

he Michigaon Daily

Wednesday, Decem

bere 1981 Page 5
Presley bio superficial

By James Clinton
E KING'S palace is furnished with
all the bawdiness of a New Orleans
brothel. The throne is dominated by a
huge crimson bed facing a mounted
television set. Occasionally the King
will get annoyed at what's flickering on
the screen and he'll shoot the set out
with one of his ever present guns. The
couriers surrounding the King are
ignorant rednecks who cater to his
every whim with vigilance and
tenacity.
The cooks prepare the royal meals;
peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
The King's doctors write prescriptions
and the nurses dispatch these
medicationsatsa rate that defies
description. Presiding over all this is
the King himself, a sovereign figure
who has long since relinquished all but
the most superficial control over his
pathetic existence.
This is how Elvis Presley, arguably
the most dynamic cultural force in
American history, passed away his
final years. Albert Goldman's new
biography purports to be the definitive
Elvis book and for the most part it lives
up to that claim. The question seems to
be, do we need such a book? The Elvis
that emerges in these pages is so
disturbed beyond our recognition that
even our sympathy fails to be roused.
As portrayed in this book, Elvis never
develops beyond adolescence, never
emerges from the shadow of a
domineering mother and ineffectual
father. His deterioration is inevitable
as his difficulties lapse into obsession.
He seems to be aided immeasurably by
the assasins he chooses to surround
himself with, from the Colonel to the
lowest echelon of the "Memphis
Mafia." Goldman's scathing indic-
tment of those who controlled Elvis in-
vokes visions of the Howard Hughes of
rock'n'roll.
The problem with this book seems to
lay in the subject himself. Elvis was
shrouded in more myth than perhaps
any entertainer in history. Separating
the truth from the legend is almost an

insurrmountable task and one Goldman
has done admirably. Unfortunately,
once Elvis is stripped of mystique, the
personality that remains is not enough
to justify the enormity of this
depressing manuscript. He comes
across as predictable in a disturbed
sort of way, self absorbed to the point of
boredom, and despite the contradic-
tions in his lifestyle not very enigmatic.
Goldman tires under the weight of
reporting Elvis' decadent pursuits,
gluttonous appetities and inability to
contain his talent or personal life. His
contempt for Elvis is so great that it
colors the entire attitude of the book
and at times seriously blights his objec-
tivity.
Goldman, a liberal, intellectual
Easterner, is frequently on unfamiliar
terrain and can't help but approach the
Presley clan in a condescending way.
Many of Elvis' attitudes were derivitive
of a hillbilly sensibility; he was largely
illiterate, racist, and given to super-
stition. To Goldman all this was in-
dicative of stupidity, and the difficulty
in illuminating such a limited Inind
over the course of six hundred pages is
obvious.
Since penetrating the mind is out of
the question he goes after tle psyche
with a vengence. Accordingtto Gold-
man's long and dreary account, Elvis is
the victim of virtually every existing
psychic disorder. In these sections of
the book a desperate sense of over-
analysis is the result. Attempts to draw
an anology or place responsibility on
Elvis' decline are vague and largely
ineffective. For all his theories, Gold-
man can't quite explain satisfactorily
the erractic nature of Elvis' behavior.
Goldman might have focused in more
detail on Elvis' drug problem rather
than presenting it as merely lurid
evidence of his excessive nature. While
that nature is certainly indicative of ex
treme psychic conflict, that doesn't
vitiate the fact that much of Presley's
bizarre behavior can, be directly at-
tributable to the onslaught of chemicals
he subjected his system to. Elvis' ad-
diction to narcotics foretold his fate
more validly than any singular aspect

of his personality and Goldman's sur-
face treatment of this subject is
perhaps the weakest aspect of the book.
Unfortunately the entire effort of this
work seems to center on the
demystification of the Elvis legend.
This is a very popular book and will
continue to be so for all the wrong
reasons. It is sensationalistic in it's
focus on the fractured sexual par-
ticulars of Elvis, gaudy in its account
of his self indulgent demise, and en-
tirely unfair in it's assesment of his
prodigious talent. By gearing the work
in such a context Goldman negates the
fact that he has researched the interior
of Presley's life with dignity and in-
telligence.
A good biography does more than
assemble facts and asinilate opinions,
it casts a light on the core of the subjec-
ts life, as Goldman himself did in his
brilliantly illuminating biography on
Lenny Bruce. No such light emerges at
the heart of this book, it's all darkness
and bleak despair.

Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones performed at the Pontiac Silverdome Monday night.
.Stones rock Silverdome

THE DAILY
CLASSIFIEDS
ARE A GREAT
WAY TO GET
FAST RESULTS
CALL 764-0557

By Michael Huget
IT DIDN'T MATTER if the sound
inside the Pontiac Silverdome
reminded you of listening to your beat
up "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" 45 on
that old Close 'n' Play that cost $9.95 at
Sears 15 years ago, the point of the con-
cert was to see, more than to hear, the
Rolling Stones. And very few of the ap-
*proximately 75,000 in attendance Mon-
day night seemed to be annoyed by the
atrocious acoustics that notoriously
characterize the Silverdome.
The fans expected perfection; they
expected to see a great rock and roll
show by "the world's greatest rock and
roll band" and they got it-almost.
From the opening number, "Under My
Thumb," to the closing tune, "Satisfac-
0,tion," the Stones gave the crowd a
classic performance: Jagger pranced
and danced unrelentlessly for over two
hours, Keith Richards and Ron Wood
exchanged the now classic guitar licks
flawlessly, and Bill Wyman and Charlie
Watts anchored the steady rhythm sec-
tion. The only real problem was the
muddy interplay between 'Wyman's
bass and Watts' percussion, an acoustic
problem that occasionally rendered
Jagger's vocals or the rhythm guitar
riffs virtually inaudible.
After the fourth song, "Shattered,"
the video screen above the stage was
Records
Billy Idol-'Don't Stop' (Chrysalis)
ILLY IDOL takes "Dance-Oriented
Rock" seriously. Sure, you say,
him and a hundred others: But Idol
takes it seriously like no one else. . . I
mean, he takes the "rock" p'art
seriously. He doesn't treat it like a hor-
se carcass.he has to prop up to look like
Secretariat.
Billy Idol honestly remembers when
rock was the only dance music. He
takes it back to its roots and relishes its
primal good-time danceability. Sure, be
displays a modern sensibility in mixing
up the bass and occasionally dropping
out the guitar to remind us of the beat
(as if we could forget), but his sound
remains the basic rock format-guitar.,
bass, drums, and vocals. Just listen to
his cover of "Mony Mony" (currently
on display nightly at the Rubaiyat) if
you need proof that he can stick close to
the roots and still squeeze every dan-
ceable drop out of it.
Idol has quite easily updated rock and
roll to the new era where dance is king,
and he's done it without changing its
basic sound or spirit much at all. That's
the point.
-Mark Dighton
Funkadelic-'The Electric Spanking
of War Babies' (Warner Brothers)
Surprise! Just when we've come to
expect half of Old Uncle George's stuff
to stink, he pulls two great albums out
in a row.
Well, maybe Trombi-ulation was only
half great. But when my eyes fell upon

turned on so that the patrons in the up-
per tiers could have some proof that the
band on stage was indeed the Rolling
Stones. However, even though the
screen was beneficial to the fans, it was
almost like watching an old grade-B
movie with the soundtrack and the lip
movements out of sync.
The Stones followed a couple of new
tunes, "Neighbors" and "Black
Limousine," with the crowd-pleasing
"Just My Imagination," highlighted by
Ernie Watts saxaphone. The Stones
continued to pay homage to their roots
as they followed with Eddie Cochran's
"Twenty Flight Rock."
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the.
evening was the performance of the old
Stone's classic, "Time Is On My Side,"
a murky ballad featuring Jagger's hur-
tfully tinged vocals. The song still
sounded fresh and intense after almost
twenty years.
Surprisingly, the Stones played quite
a few tunes of the Some Girls album
while ignoring the rest of their mid '70s
output. Only a rousing version of
"Tumbling Dice" was performed from
that era.
"Let It Bleed" and "You Can't
Always Get What You Want," with
Jagger's emotive, if often indolent
vocals, were highlights of the set, even
though the .mostly adolescent crowd
didn't receive them as well as they did
"Little T&A" and "She''s So Cold."

The band never let up even as the
concert was coming to a close. They
finished with crowd-favorites "Honky
Tonk Woman," "Brown Sugar," "Start
Me Up," and "Jumping Jack Flash."
"Satisfaction" was the only encore.
Although sharp, none of these songs
were especially clean, yet they were
still striking and not overbearing.
The Stone's inspired professionalism
and Jagger's natural rapport with the
audience served to enhance their image
as the "greatest rock and roll band."
Jagger's hyperactive dancing and
reciprocal action and reaction with the
crowd, along with Ron Wood's boyish
bouncing (contrasted with Richards'
macho strut and Wyman's demure
stance) up and down the stage, brought
the band closer to the audience. Jagger,
Wood, and Richards were never self-
indulgent or arrogant in performance,
but they still believe in keeping some
distance between themselves and the
crowd, as was apparent when Jagger
sang from a cherry picker over the
crowd during "Jumping Jack Flash."
The stage-flanked with massive
scrims of modernist pastel paintings of
cars, guitars, and records-was enor-
mous: large wings were constructed on
both sides of the stage so that Jagger
and Co. could roam freely. And after
the final number, spectators were
treated to an impressive fireworks
display.
The crowd got what it wanted: a look,
for many their first, at the Rolling
Stones. They were a hard-working band
playing like they had something to
prove. They lived up to, even. sur-
passed, many people's expectations.
But I have to question the choice of
locations. The atmosphere of the
Silverdome is such that it is not con-
ducive to an intimate concert. It is hard
to become captivated with any band in
that tin can. If the concert were
anywhere else, for instance, Joe Louis
Arena (or the Second Chance), it could
have been the concert of the year. In-
stead, it gave me a headache.

Z INDIVIDUAL THEATRES
5t$,Ave of ."tA"Y 7614-700
UNCUT, UNEDITED
FULL % HOUR ADDED
Including "THE
HAPPY ENDING"
musical CLIMAXI
MARTIN SCORESE'S
ROBERT LIA
DE NIRO MINNELLI
DAILY-7:30 (PG) WED.-1, 4, 7:30
With this entire ad
S1 50 ne ticket only $1.50
mon. wed, thurs. eve.
good thru 12/3/81 "M"

IS THIS
WHAT YOUR
KISSES
TASTE LIKE?
Ifvou smoke cigarettes,
you taste like one.
Your clothes and hair
can smell stale and
unpleasant, too.
You don't notice it, but
people close to you do.
Especially if they don't
smoke.
And non-smokers
are the best people to
love. They live
longer.
AMERICAN
CANCER SOCIETY

A Foot-Stomping &
Joyous Revue of
Song & Dance
Dec. 3, 4, 5
8:00 P.M.
St. Mary's Student Chapel
331 Thompson Street
Dec. 3, 4 .........$4.00 Students
$5.00 Non-Students
Dec. 5 ... Gala Dessert Buffet
Benefit Night
$12.50 advance
$15.00 at door
Ticket Reservations: 663-0557

7th SMASH WEEKI
mhe endi
Reutenant6 Woman
MERYL STREEP

i

another P-Funk LP so quick (not to
mention the unmentionable album put:
out by a Clinton-less Funkadelic), I just
knew that this was gonna be a sad one.
But I've never been so happy to be
proved so wrong. This is easily the
solidest album from anyone in the P-
Funk pantheon in god-knows ages. This
one is certifiably nonstop, while at the
same time a work of almost shocking
subtlety. I just couldn't begin to do
justice to wonders like the reggaesque
Third-World anthem "Shockwaves,"
the quintessentially self-descriptive
"Funk Gets Stronger," the single-
mindedly percussive "Brettino's Boun-
ce," and so on and so forth.
Even the obligatory scatological
exercise is relatively danceable and
funny this time wround.
As usual, Uncle jam wants
you .. . but this time around he's gonna
get ya.
-Mark Digh ton

DAILY-7:00, 9:25 (R)
WED.-1:00, 3:25, 7:00, 9:25

This space contributed as a
public service

I-

The University Choral Union
and The University Orchestra
Donald Bryant, conductor
Susan Belling, soprano Joseph Evans, tenor
Melanie Sonnenberg, contralto Michael Burt, bass
Bejun Mehta, boy soprano

Dec. 4,5,6
Fri., Sat. at 8:30,
Sun. at2:30
Hill Auditorium

fO~l PEST! VJL
Wednesday, December 2 at 8:00
Power Center
Tickets at $9.00, $8.00, $7.00, $5.00

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