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January 25, 1981 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-01-25

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ARTS
Sunday, January 25, 1981

The Michigan Daily

Page 5.

taken to their illogical limit, and ten.
tons of damned studio effects Socleverly
used. Yes, it was great, we said through
(at this point) only partially gritted
teeth, before growing up and tiring of
such shiny-smart juvenalia.
THEN BEGAN the long, slow, in-
creasingly ignorable slide frim preten-
ded-grace-or had it been built into the
act from the start?-and Queen became
another lumbering, dying mid-70s rock
monolith.
The Flash Gordon soundtrack that
Queen's four jaded employees have
devised is fairly harmless-well, I liked
the film, and so I could pretty much
withstand the audio portion by creating
mental pictures. But if you haven't seen
the movie, you won't know what the hell
is going on. There aren't really any
songs, just semi-musical accom-
paniment. Voices disembodied from the
film's gaudy camp images jump in and
out without any narrative sense, the
synthesizers rumble in a disorganized
attempt at spaciness, and Freddie
Mercury just squeaks. This LP has
roughly the same emotional impact as
does a pair of pickle tongs wrapped up
and hanging in a supermarket - not
good for much of anything, not par-
ticularly morally objectionable. Just
nothing. D+ (For raving Queenies
only).
Dennis Harvey

olin' Newman-'A-Z' (Beggar's
Banquet-import)-After the incom-
sistently conceived and produced solo
albums of Gilbert and Lewis, it is
reassuring to see that the other two
members of Wire are carrying on the
sojnic exploration of that far-sighted
British group. In fact, Colin Newman's
recently released solo album, A-Z,
could easily be subtitled "Wire's Four-
th Effort." Its musical personnel con-
sists of Newman (Wire's lead singer),
Robert Gotobed (Wire's drummer),
Mike Thorne (Wire's producer and
longtime unofficial fifth member), and
Desmond Simmons (a new member).
In content, A-Z is almost in-
distinguishable from a Wire album.
The surprise is that while still sounding
similar to Wire, it represents a
significant and solid advance from the
somewhat tentative 154. As a matter of
fact, if this were a Wire album, it could
well be an even more complete and
compelling album than their best work
to date, Chairs Missing (typically not
released in the United States).
What's so amazing about this album
is that it is even more psychedelically
twisted than the comparatively dense
154. A-Z operates on deceptively simple
instrum ntation, but you can rest
assured that each sound is manipulated
almost beyond recognition. But this

The Rings-'The Rings' (MCA) - I
have an unpleasant suspicion that this
album, although it's not a particularly
good LP is destined to become popular.
You see, it pretty much,covers the
gamut of popular influences-from
heavy metal to pop-reggae. (Yes kids,
send away now and you will get, free of
charge, this sampler that contains
every facet of modern radio that you
love so much .., in one song.) That's
not necessarily cause for disposal, ex-
cept that The Rings combine these
song styles in only the most unflattering
and unthinking manner.
Perhaps if The Rings had the sense to
settle on developing any one of those in-
fluences in a sensible and consistent
manner, this could have been a much
better album. In particular, the two
pop-reggae tunes make me think that
they could be serious rivals to The
Police if their nasty heavy metal
gestures didn't appear at the last
minute and throw the precious balance
of these tunes right off kilter.
OF COURSE, MY predilections
are already obvious. I suppose
someone could listen to this album and
really enjoy the macho foot-stomper
"This One's for the Girls," but I can't
imagine that they could also then like
the lighter,pop tunes.
And therein lies the fault of the
album. It tries to cover too 'much
ground with too little sense of direction
or cohesion. Most of the stuff sounds
like it's been done before. . . probably
better, too. The Rings end up sounding
like a faceless bar band that has just
graduated from playing other people's
AOR (Album-Oriented Rock) hits and
hasn't quite worked up any original
material. This may be a band with
some kernel of promise, but for now
they promise far much more than they
deliver. C+.
-Mark Digh ton
Queen-'Flash Gordon'
(Elektra)-Queen was, it must be ad-
mitted, sort of a fun band to listen to at
a certain time (preferably while in the
7th-to-10th grades). Once upon a time,
they made a frilly, if terribly
calculated, little bizzaroe of an album
called Sheer Heart Attack. It had mock-
Wagnerian camp eulogies, Cosmo bit-
chery like "Killer Queen," definitively
overproduced guitar gymnastics, and a
couple of rather decent, frenzied rants
(especially "Flick of the Wrist"). It
was neat.
A Night at the Opera was even more
so (including the calculation), utterly
swell in its peon's-epic polish, with the
Fall Of The Empire falsetto choruses
Qte +' '
This spoce
conebute yte pul'ser

4

opO
All
fJ$lroeP~

ahead classic pop. On side two,
Seymour tries his hand at a variety of
related styles, ranging from the "Wooly
Bully"-like R & B cruncher, "Don't
Blow Your Life Away," to the Farfisa
rocker, "We Don't Get Along." There's
even a nasty little bubblegum song,
"Won't Finish Here," that would've
made The Partridge Family blush. The
only song that doesn't quite make it is
Seymour's rendition of "Trying to Get
to You." If he hadn't taken this tune so
seriously and had injected into it a little
more of the breathy melodrama that it
deserves, it could have been a much
better song.
The nicest thing about this album is
that it pleases in a very simple fashion.
It never falls prey to the over-
production characteristics of.The Shoes
and recent Twilley, or the obtrusive in-
tellectualism of Nervus Rex and
Human Sexual Response. The next best
thing about Phil Seymour is that he un-
derstands the absolutely critical im-
portance of handclaps to good pop
music . . . and that's said only half in
jest. A'(for pop enthusiasts).
-Mark Dighton
'Shoes-'Tongue Twister' (Elektra) -
Oh boy, another excellent pop release in
one week! Those cute boys from Zion,
Illinois, The Shoes, have delivered their
third helping of sweet teenage wet
dreams on Tongue Twisters. As before,
their guitars and vocals may be filtered
and overdubbed to the aural consisten-
cy of Twinkie filling, but at least some
of the songs on this album have the bite
to challenge the narrow limitations of
the pop genre, even if they never com-
pletely break out of them.
Besides the fact that any one Shoes'
song contains enough hooks to fuel most
bands for years, The Shoes always
manage to avoid the cold studio
calculation that makes most pop bands
sound as lifeless as a Kraft American
single on a cold plate. Their songs
always sparkle with an unaffected
adolescent energy. And to their tribute;
The Shoes also avoid the holier-than-
thou misanthropy that the new wave
has duped most pop groups into. No,
these boys still like girls and still want
girls to like them back. You may finally
find that quality objectionable in The
Shoes, but they are so damn sincere
about it that it actually sort of . . . uh,
gets to you.
They've included a couple of (thank-
fully ignorable) melancholy tear-
jerkers to remind us, boys and girls,
that it can also hurt to love. But mostly
their music is just a celebration of the
classic pop form (in the vein of The
Raspberries or The Hollies-only
faster), infused with an infectious love
of life and love of love.
Recommended especially for those
folks.who had given up on pop music as
an art form lost to corporate blandness.
-Mark Dighton
Warren Zevon-'Stand in the Fire'
(Asylum)-1976: Warren Zervon
releases his debut album, . Warren
Zevon. Produced by Jackson Browne,
the album features the work of such
"West Coast" artists as Browne, Wad-
die Wachtel, David Lindley, and Glenn
Frey, as well as Lindsey Buckingham
and Stevie Nicks of Fleetwook Mac. It
even has Phil Everly on harmonies! It
gets no commercial respect what-

great. He's still hanging out with th'e
same musicians, which hasn't helped
his reputation as a concert performer,
but his reputation as a songwriter has
grown by leaps and bounds.
AND FINALLY, in 1981, Zevon
releases Stand In The Fire, which was
recorded live at the Roxy in L.A., and
which has to be one of the best live
albums I've heard in a while.
Zevon takes the best of his usually
excellent songs, and sings them with a
passion he never seemed to find in the
studio. "Exciteable Boy" almost soun-
ds autobiographical, with Zevon

soever, but Linda Ronstadt eventually
records four of its eleven tracks herself.
1978: Zevon releases Exciteable Boy,
one of that year's best efforts. The
album gets into the Top 100, the single,
"Werewolves of London," gets some
airplay, and I start blurting out, "Ahh-
ooooo, werewolves of London," from
time to time. Occasionally, I still do. .
1980: Zevon releases Bad Luck Streak
In Dancing School. It's OK, but not

singing like he actually was the boy
who raped his date for the Junior Prom.
"Mohammed's Radio" has the
desperate sound that it needed in the
studio, but which, again, Zevon couldn't
capture.
The two new compositions, "The Sin"
and the title track, both live up to
Zevon's previous- musical and lyrical
(especially lyrical) standards.
"Lawyers, Guns And Money" gets
some much-needed rough edges added
to it in order to make it sound more like
the plea for help that it is. And in
"Werewolves Of London," Zevon
manages to weave Jackson Browne,
James Taylor and movie director Brian
DePalma into the already macabre
narrative.
Free of his studio surroundings,
Zevon sounds like his best ever. The
songs are still sharp as a razor, his new
band sounds alive and ready to play,
and Zevon sings with the reckless
abandon that he's always hinted at, but
never before reached. On Stand In The
Fire, he's finally gotten there.
-A lexander Kuhne

hR" AL 5OUNDTP.ACK MUSC BY QUEEN

Phil Seymour- Phil Seymour'
(Boardwalk)-Surprise! Phil Seymour,
late of the Dwight Twilley Band, has
returned with an album that is destined
to replace him in the pantheon of
modern pop stars, right where he
always belonged. The reason this is
such a surprise is that the name half of
the band, Dwight Twilley, hasn't
released a good album since their first
flash success, Sincerely, the album that
contained the hit "I'm On Fire," a song
that practically defined and delimited
the good pop singles of the first half of
the seventies.
Phil Seymour is close to the level of
that album. With the help of Dwight
Twillet's guitarist and a few songs pen-
ned by Twilley himself, this album is
nonstop pop brilliance. Each song is a
gem. One of Twilley's two compositions
still shows him to be a better songwriter
than Seymour, but what counts is that
Twilley probably couldn't have recor-

JANUARY 30, 31, and FEBRUARY 1
Fri., Sat. 8 p.m.-Sun. 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
POWER CENTER
Tickets at PTP-Michigan League
Mona-Fri. 10-1, 2-5
764-0450

sonic reorganization is not done in an
obligatory fashion. Each sound is
manufactured to provide just the
correct degree of melody, etherality,
and balance to each composition.
- In contrast to its psychedelic
predecessors, though, this album is
worlds away from love and sunshine.
Through stark images of mangled
bodies and social conspiracies, A-Z
carries forward the bleak vision of the
future pioneered by Wire. Essential to
the force of this vision is an avoidance
of the overused cliches and noncommit-
tal mechanization of tNewman's less
imaginative colleagues. When artists
like Gary Numan and Ultravox bemoan
the increasing mechanization of our
lives it smacks heavily of the hunter
getting captured by the game. But
Newman's work remains engagingly
humane and high-spirited . . which
makes it all that much more im-
pressive. I can't promise you that you'll
want to remember this album once
you've heard it, but I can promise you
that you won't forget it. A +.
-Mark Dighton
Thanks to Schoolkids'
Records for providing some
of the albums used in today's
reviews.

ded this song with all of the
unapologetic enthusiasm and naivete of
this album.
SIDE ONE IS pretty much straight-

Vincent Price
as
Oscar Wilde
in
DifVe rsons

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