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February 08, 1981 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-02-08

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Sunday, February 8, 1981

Page 5

Busboys
The Busboys - "Minimum Wage
Rock & Roll" (Arista) - It's right there
in the middle of the first side of the
Busboys' debut album, Minimum Wage
Rock and Roll, right at the end of a
funky, rocking little tune that san-
dwiches its vocals between wonderful
rubberbandy dollops of music. Sud-
denly, the whole shebang somes to a
dead halt while Brian O'Neal slyly
muses, "I bet you never heard music
like this by spades."
It came to me right then, that sensual
warmth of euphoric recognition that
accompanies love at first sight ... er,
sound. It was romantic, that mixed ec-
stacy of fulfillment and relief.
Truth to tell, I never heard music
like this by anyone. The Busboys dole
out rock and roll in joyful, swaggering
struts that quicken indiscriminately in-
to jigs of doo wop, twists of late Fifties
inostalgia, and jerks of new wave im-
mediacy.
Yet the whole celebration is slightly
psychotic, subtly skewered by the
demon of class consciousness lurking
confidently behind the sc'enes. He
YOU WILL NEVER even know he is
there if you don't listen to the words,
but race is definitely the issue, and
class consciousness in this country is
improperly married to race. Between
every taut, cocky Kevin O'Neal bass
riff, every jazzy jangle of Brian
O'Neal's piano, every strident punch of
Victor Johnson's obstreperous, saucy
guitar is the manic ambiguity of a
demon playing possum.
But you can feel him pulling your leg
enticingly, deliciously in songs like
"There Goes the Neighborhood" ("the
whites are moving in"), when Brian
O'Neal insists, "I ain't moving out for
no Carol or Bob / The inner city is too
close to-my job." In "Minimum Wage,"
he croons his mock contentment with
working for the minimum wage
because (sardonically, gleefully) "I
have God."
The joke is in the tone-not the words
themselves-in the lighter tunes, but
the Busboys can deliver a punch just as
well as a punch line. Listen carefully to
the raucous opening of "KKK" and you
can hear someone saying the Pledge of
Allegiance (yeah, to the flag), not to
even mention the visual shock of a band
that is five-sixths black cooly singing,
"I wanna join the Ku Klux Klan." This
time their color is essential to the joke.

The racial composition of the
Busboys is undeniably a factor in their
music. You can hear a minstrel quality
in the vocals- on many of the songs,
while Brian O'Neal sings in a smooth,
Fats-Domino-on-MDA croon. The
music is rife with tight, numbing bass
riffs and strident, strutting rock ac-
companiments that incorporate the feel
of Fifties rhythm and blues in an un-
mistakably rock format.
NOW YOU MUST understand that the
album is racial, not racist, and the race
consciousness is neither cloying nor
saturating. There's lots of other goodies
on the album - an hilarious male hun-
ter-gatherer tune called "Anggie," a
brilliantly coy tribute to Chuck Berry
called "Johnny Soul'd Out," even an
anti-nuke song with bass notes and
guitar solo dragged screaming from the
instruments while Brian O'Neal keeps
reminding, "This is not a test."
The Busboys serve gourmet rock on a
silver platter, the tastiest I have heard
from any new band since the Talking
Heads. Don't let it pass you by.
-Fred Sch ill

Wonder
Stevie Wonder - "Hotter than July"
(Tamla) - Wherever Stevie Wonder
went after the release of Songs in the
Key of Life, I am pleased to report that
he has returned. A few years ago, an
album with a green cover and
something about plants in the title
came out with Wonder's name all over
it, but those of us who had come to know
and love the man's music doubted that
this was it. With Hotter than July, the
marvel of Motown has returned to his
rightful spot among the best popular
musicians recording today.
July's inner sleeve bears a portrait of
Martin Luther King, Jr., a photo mon-
tage of his work and influence, and two
paragraphs wherein Wonder asks that
King's birthday be made a national
holiday (this year's opportunity went
by three weeks ago). But unlike his
single-minded devotion to the welfare
of vegetation on his last album, Wonder
has thankfully not gone overboard this
time. He pays direct homage to King
with one number ("Happy Birthday"),
indirect homage with another ("Cash in
Your Face"), but he diversifies his at-
tention over the other eight songs,
singing of such matters as jealousy,
God, the joys of fatherhood, and of
course, love, love, and more love. ,
"I Ain't Gonna Stand for It,'
released also as a single, may just be
the catchiest, most danceable Wonder
tune ever. The verses begin with Won-
der singing lower than he ever has
before (on vinyl, anyway), producing a
dark, grumbly, angry sound that suits
the lyrics beautifully:
Don't wanna mistrust nobody by
mistake
But I hear someone's been diggin
round in my cake .. .
Do' t wanna cause nobody no
bodily harm
But somebody's been rubbin' on my
good luck charm

THE WORDS COME as a refreshing
surprise; Wonder sounded so full of
pristine egalitarianism on Songs in the
Key of Life that one doubted the man
had a grain of sexist possessiveness in
him. It's comforting to hear him ex-
press it so uncompromisingly.
At the other extreme is an achingly
pretty ballad, "Lately," about a man
helplessly standing by while his lover
betrays him. Wonder the composer is
back to his old tricks here, floating up
unexpected chords all over the place.

previous albums - Wonder sometimes
disregards the rhythm his lyrics
demand in favor of what fits the music.
Thus, we get a line divided into phrases
that simply batter the ear: "Because
ev'/ryone in/the audi/ence began to
cheer". If Wonder had brought the
combination of music and lyrics up to
the level of the irresistibly desirous
tune, "All I Do," or the shimmering
mysticism of "As If You Read My
Mind," or the juicy reverence of
"Master Blaster," we would have had
to make room for a tenth Muse. As they
stand now, the man's gifts are already
very nearly divine. Joshua Peck
ApIl Wine
April Wine - "The Nature of the
Beast" (Capitol) - April Wine has
fared considerably well in the rock
world with their past handful of
albums (especially the successful
Harder Faster LP) and the band's
newest release The Nature of the Beast
should continue to increase the respect
that they have garnered.
April Wine is the vehicle
of Myles Goodwyn, Lead singer/
guitarist/writer/producer of the
group, who along with the other four
members of the band has maintained a
consistent quality and style of music.
Excellent vocals and clear guitar riffs
keep April Wine just a notch below ear-
ringing heavy metal ferocity.
Nature of the Beast is solid rock and

roll and certainly deserves more than
one listen before any judgment is
placed upon it. Although several of the
cuts on the album verge on the
mediocre, tracks like "One More
Time", "Bad Boys," and maybe even
"Caught in the Crossfire," receive ai
affirmative nod.
Probably the most significant thing
about Nature of the Beast is a little sur-
prise that April Wine decided to throw
in. "Just Between You and Me" is an
exceptional ballad. April Wine, cer-
tainly not known for it's subtlety, has
managed to combine superb leasd
vocals, harmonies, and smooth lead
guitar by Goodwyn into a workable
change-of-pace for the album.
Although Nature of the Beast doesn't
contain much material to compete with
Harder Faster's "I'm a Ladies Man" or
even "Roller" from their first album
First Glance, Nature of the Beast
should provide much enjoyment for the
connoisseur of heavy metal.
-Tammy Reiss
[-I- I IT 'I

TONIGHT TONIGHT
THE PICKWICK PAPERS
Dir. Noel Langley. HERMIONE GINGOLD, NIGEL PATRICK. The adventures of
rotund, middle-aged Mr. Pickwick and his "literary club" as they journey
cheerfully through the English countryside. Hilarious farce mingles with
irresistable sentiment in this beautifully acted parade of beloved Dickensian
characters.
7:00 & 9:00 at LORCH HALL
Monday; Valentino/Fairbanks Romance and Adventure Double Bill. SON OF
THE SHIEK at 7:00 only. THIEF OF BAGDAD at 9:00 only. Both are legendary
films that keep you going for days.
CINEMA GUILD Ilam the Geni of the Lamp

I

A New and Vital Black Drama
Can't Hear the Birds Singing

February 11,-15
" Wed - Sat 8pm Su
GUEST/
Earl

in 2 pm

ARTIST
I D. A. Smith

-

PTP
Ticket Office
Michigan League
one 74-Fr1041 & 2.5
Phone 764.-0450

mw-Awmftwmm

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