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February 11, 1981 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1981-02-11

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I

ARTS
Wednesday, February 11, 1981

The Michigan Daily

Page 5

What does HSR mean to me?

By RJ SMITH
You can tell a lot about people
from the kind of jelly beans they eat
and which they pick out, Ronald
Reagan says. After watching their
concert Monday evening, I think I
know how The Busboys and -Human
Sexual Response rate. The Busboys
avoid the black ones like the plague
and Human Sexual Response will
eat as many as they can, cuz sugar
shock can be such a trip.
It was a battle of the heavy-metal
syntho-pop bands. There was no
battlefield, just the demilitarized
zone in front of the stage empty of
people for the Humans and packed
when the Busboys came on. It was
the best concert I have seen on cam-
pus in a good bit of time, and
although the war zone activity made
it seem otherwise, the Humans took
away the evening.
I SAW HUMAN Sexual Response
last summer in Providence, RI,
playing to a rabid crowd of fans
living not far from the band's Boston
home. It was one of the best concerts
I have ever seen - the band was
fully confident and made some of the
most gloriously sexual hard rock
imaginable. If Monday was no
reprise, it was certainly a show to be
remembered.
The main problem was a lack of
familiarity. The crowd didn't know
them, and wasn't responding -
when someone in the audience yelled
out "we like you" they looked sur-
prised and said "you like us?" They
played a shortish set, tough and ter-

se. But ephipanies are non-
essential: Human Sexual Response
are one of the best live bands I have
Ever seen, and as strangers in a
strange land, playing trippy, osten-
sibly back-dated music (platform-
heeled freak out music not exactly
being in vogue), they are a
revelation.
And a gas, too. They took the
Second Chance stage decked out in
day-glo t-shirts, shorts and baggie
pants, looking like they had been
jogging through a fallout zone. This
is one strange band - six men and a
woman, post-punk glitter folks, in a
band with four singers who create
harmonies to die for. And every one
of them, spare the bass player
(sorry Chris) and the drummer I
couldn't see, is self-consciously
scrumptious.
ON THEIR ALBUM, Figure 14.
their odd little tales of sex and
bathing in a carnival funhouse -
two parts Night Gallery, two parts
attraction/repulsion with the sexual
act and maybe a touch of Interview
thrown in - sound at times removed
and too clever.
But onstage the thing coalesces.
The average Human Sexual Respon-
se song shunts from glimmering ar-
ty melodies in favor of ultra-
danceable heavy metal riffs driven
by guitarist Rich Gilbert's punky
psychedelia. Power and color are
constants. The Human's songs are
always changing, and, yet somehow
maintain a feeling for the beat (the
kind of beat that runs up and down
your spine, making you feel really

good but giving you a workout
too)..
"What Does'Sex Mean To Me?",
lascivious lyrics and all, got worked
out live in a way it doesn't on the
record. "Unba Unba" and most of
all "Dolls" showed off some of their
best harmonizing. And of course,
there was the cover of "Cool Jerk"
and Casey Cameron doing the
ethereal "Jackie Onassis."
SO FAR NO word on whether all
returning hostages will be given
lifetime passes to all Human Sexual
Response concerts. The rest of you
will have to pay, and all I can say is
run, don't walk. Their songs are a
succession of provocative, teasing
images conferred with as much con-
viction as I have seen in a long time.
"I bet you never heard music like
this by spades" is the best line the
Busboys have, and it's the only one
they need right now. They do not
have rhythm.,Instead the Busboys
assert a subversive drive to play
what they like - Caucasian rock
made up largely of Stonesish blues
burners and boogie tunes that sound
like Lynard Skynard or Z.Z. Top
with a couple of sassy keyboard
players.
The five blacks and one Chicano
that make the Busboys ran through
an ecstatic, if protracted, set of well-
played rock. It's a strange experien-
ce, hearing them play the rock we
hear all the time coming from our
whitest radio stations. You im-
mediately sit up and pay attention.
The problem is that all this makes

the group's music no more than,
well, interesting. At their best the
Busboys apply their AOR chops to
lively, blunt raveups. At least half
the time, however, I found myself
wondering why they were so in-
terested in rewriting the corn-fed
boogie, oogie oogie of God knows
how many faceless crotch rock ban-
ds.
I DON'T FIND the Busboys very
funny. Their role reversal yoks
("There Goes the Neighborhood,"
"KKK" et al) are typical Saturday
Night Live fodder, stuff Richard
Pryor trashes on his worst night.
Much more interesting - enriching
- is the group's stage presence; and
especially that of lead singer Brian
O'Neal. Talking in between songs
during songs, hopping around the
stage,' O'Neal bleeds good humor.
He's a man who seems to know exac-
tly what he wants to do, and seeing
him you think that if he hasn't nearly
done it yet, he will if we give him
time.
What the band needs to do now is
combine their onstage wit with the
guts of songs like "Minimum Wage"
in their music (mhde much tougher
in concert than on their -first and
only record). Right now, that kind of
toughness is, only implied in their
songs; there's a lot of ttories to be
told by a black band that so ex-
plicitly wants to play what whites
are playing. It was an exciting show
Monday evening, one which makes
me wish they would drop some of the
Stepin Fetchit stuff, relax, andi open
up and tell those stories.

Daily Photo by JIM KRUZ
Introducing Human Sexual Response, the band that has everything! More
fun personalities than The Monkees, a Big sound- outfits that glow under the
lights, and everyone's favorite theme, sex. Boston's favorites launched their
first national tour at Second Chance Monday night, opening up for a wildly
well-received set by the Bus Boys.
No nuke concert

Popular east coast anti-nuclear min-
strel Charlie King will perform in con-
cert tonight at 8 p.m., in the Michigan
Union Ballroom.
King is a singer of topical songs who
is equally at home singing about labor
organizing and shutting down nuclear
power plants. He performs with Bright
Morning Star, a group of folk musicians
that communicate a message of non-
violence and environmental con-
sciousness.

Money from King's concert will go
toward the "Learn-In on Nuclear
Issues" sponsored by The Arbor Allian
ce, a local group of environmental ac-
tivists. Members of The Arbor Alliance
oppose nuclear power production and
the manufacture and use of nuclear
weapons. The group has organized
several rallys in the area against
nuclear power as well as a wide number
of other anti-nuclear events.

w

Kagem ush
By DENNIS HARVEY
The sheer scale of Akira Kurosawa's
Kagemusha is something of a
revelation, or at least a rediscovery -
tel 's been almost a decade since any
idely shown film offered such con-
stant panoramas of battlefields strewn
with corpses, endless lines of marching
soldiers, always extras, extras
everywhere.
Enormity became something of a
commonplace in overinflated wide-
screen studio epics of the '50's and '60's.
But most of these historical spectacles
were costly bombs, and by the time of
such late-arriving cast-of-thousands
flops as Cromwell and Nicholas and
*4iexandra, spectacle was finished ; it
might have re-emerged - in the
psychedelia of Coppola's Apocalypse
Now, but the full-dress pomp of
straightforward epics was no longer
needed, or particularly missed.
THE EXPANSIVENESS in
Kagemusha stands out particularly
because, frustratingly and a bit
mysteriously, that quality turns out to
be the only real pleasure in this
!uriously impersonal, ritualistic film.
George Lucas and Francis Ford Cop-
pola have, in a spirit of awestruck
reverence, taken it upon themselves to
give Kagemusha a road-show airing
across the U.S., and most of the reviews
have echoed their solemn respect for
the work - after all, it's Kurosawa's
first film in five years (and his largest
ever), and the movie smacks of the sort
of impressively academic filmmaking
most critics are thunderstruck by.
Kagemusha certainly is a serious,
worthy attempt - though it does have
more lightweight comic relief than you
might expect. But it's oddly formalized
- the spectacle is impressively
geometric, but its enormity is, often,
surprisingly static. Warriors just topple
over painlessly in battle; the sheer
number of the slaughtered is
presumably meant to appall us, but this
vision of the horror of war is abstracted

- yawning as para

to the point of sterility. It's pretty.
Much of the movie is confusing in the
usual fashion of war films - we're
faced with a glut of opposing factions
and leaders, and the unfamiliarity of
the actors makes them all blur into a
single vague identity. After a while, you
stop trying to follow things. The first'
half hour, before Kurosawa settles
reassuringly on his central figure, is
unrelenting tedium, a more coolly
composed vision of such epic drags as
Tora! Tora! Tora! and Midway, in
which everyone somberly consults
everyone else, dates and strategies are
tossed out for our bewilderment, and no
one in the audience knows what the hell
is going on.
IT'S A RELIEF when the narrative
becomes clear - too clear, in fact.
Kagemusha turns out to be a wildly
formulaic contrivance at heart, about a.
lowly beggar-thief who is arrested by
the men of the mightly Shingen, The
Shadow Warrior, but spared punish-
ment because of his remarkable
resemblance to the ruler. When The
Shadow Warrior is killed without the
knowledge of his enemies, the thief is
forced to pose as the deceased in order
to keep his 'ivals in feudal Japan from
attacking the leaderless Shingen for-
ces. The thief is changed and humbled
by living under the awesome shadow of
the dead warrior, finally watching with
a king's noble horror as "his" empire
crumbles under the hotheaded leader-
ship of Kagemusha's sons.
This Prince and Pauper-ish
melodramatic device has little
credibility, and scarcely seems able to

support the solemn weight of the direc-
tor's approach. The thief's essential
cowardice and bewilderment make
him, at least, a more sympathetic
figure than the usual impenetrable-
hero centerpiece of many Japanese
films, both the shlocky and prestigious.
He's given some quiet moments of
character growth, but these intimate
bits, like the film's bits of humor, are
rather broad and overly familiar, if
welcome all the same for their change
of pace.
Kagemusha isn't a clear-cut failure,

des pass by
but its reserve seems aged and tex-
tbookish. Its stately pictorial quality
doesn't add up to the sort of languid,
trance-like beauty delivered by
Kubrick's Barry Lyndon (and promised)
by Polanski's Tess); you can't lose
yourself in this de-energized exercise in
staging. There's a definite master's
touch in the classically thought-out
compositions and sequencing, but no
real hint of why Kurosawa chose this
project - elaborate as it is, it seems
distant, disinterested. It's a vast, politie
bore.

A New and Vital Black Drama

I

Can't Hear the Birds Singing

February 11 -15
-" Wed,- Sat 8pm Sun 2
OPENS TONIGHT

P T P
Ticket Office
Michigan League
one 10-1 & 2-5
Phone 764.0450

%V Tickets $8.50 reserved
Available at the Michigan Theatre Box Office, all CTC
utlets, Hudson's, & Where House Records. Into at 668-8480
aInn

.............

11 jIVEI? SITY cMUSICA L OCIETY presents
THE 1981 ANN ARBOR
April 29,30, May 1 and 2 at 8:30
Hill Auditorium

The Philadelphia Orchestra
Eugene Ormandy, Conductor Laureate
Aldo Ceccato, Guest Conductor
The University Choral Union
Donald Bryant, Director

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