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March 03, 1981 - Image 9

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1981-03-03

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ARTS

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The Michigan Daily

Tuesday, March 3, 1981

Page 9

MAR TIN MULL

Lounge lizard turned loose

Muff krs! Our
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By DENNIS HARVEY
At a time when most comic folk are
patting themselves on the back for their
"outrageousness," Martin Mull's
peculiar faux pas seems to be that he's
just too weird for the masses. The
Saturday Night Live crew and others
have successfully pedalled their more
juvenile yoks to the world market,
while Mull's sublimely perverse sense
of humor has stayed on the commercial
fringe, not quite hitting it big. But you
can see him in his best-suited environ-
ment - the concert stage - this Friday
at 8:00, at the Michigan Theatre.
His concerts, Mull told the Daily
. recently, "are built 'as much around
music as anything else" - remember,
he's the composer of "Fruit" and "I
Haven't the Vegas Idea," among other
favorites. The show is based on Mull's
songs, patter, a backup band, playing
with stage furniture - anything.
"A NON-FORMAT, the format being
that you get out there and be yourself,"
says Mull. "The technical word, I
believe, for doing something else is
*_'bullshit;' you've got Wayne Newton's
act." But such integrity doesn't prevent
this tour from being "in support of my
;bank account."
Mull's career has ambled about
through various media since around
1967, when he began pushing his umm
unique talent as a composer and
musician $ on various . innocent
producers and bands, leading to and
through seven albums to date.
Fame arrived, somewhat, when he
portrayed genial wife-beater Garth
Gimble on Norman Lear's twisted syn-
dicated soap Mary Hartman, Mary
Hartman. When Garth was skewered
prematurely by an aluminum Christ-
mas tree, Mull returned to play brother
Barth in the summer series Fernwood 2
Night.
THAT PROVIDED the blueprint for
America 2 Night, an unnervingly ac-

Mull says working with "the hip cast"
- Tuesday Weld, Sally Kellerman,
Christopher Lee, etc. - "was a riot,"
but the tone was depressingly changed
when original director Gary Weiss (of
Saturday Night Live short films) was
replaced by TV-trained Bill Persky.
"IT MIGHT HAVE fared better if it
had been treated differently . .. it
came out like a sit-com. And the
publicity campaign killed it," Mull
says. "They're showing it on airplanes
now and people are walking out." But
he says he's "Kinda proud of 'My
Bodyguard,' a sleeper hit released last
year in which Mull had a strictly sup-
porting role. He'll soon be appearing as
the villain in the uneagerly awaited
Take This Job and Shove It film,
featuring Charlie Rich, and in Robert
Downey's 10 O'Clock High with Dr.
John and Susan Anspatch.
An announced Norman Lear comedy,
Religion, "is a dead issue - it will
never get beyond the form of a memo,
with a contract for Fred ('Jerry Hub-
bard') Willard and I to star in it. Lear
has a remarkably short attention
span." More promising is a 40-page
treatment, written by Mull, that he is
currently hauling from studio to studio.
Martin Mull is an agreeably self-
aware member of the current comic
crop - lounge-lizard wit, blithely
drawn to offensiveness. His act is great
fun, mostly because it's so transparent
- the maliciousness hits like paper
arrows, striking home without any ill
intent. You can be assured that Behind
Mull's deliciously obscene happy-hour
grin lurks anarchy of the most innocent
kind.
Amity
SLSAT
~r. REVIEW PROGRAMS
Call for Amity's free brochure
on the exam of interest to
you.

pp

COMEDIAN MARTIN MULL, pictured above, will be appearing this Friday
night at the Michigan Theatre. You probably remember him as Barth Gim-
ble, host of 'America 2 Night,' a late night Johnny-Carson-gone-wild talk
show. Mull has also put out more than a half dozen records and appeared in
several cheesy movies, but catch him live at what he does best - shooting
off his wit at a crowd. Tickets are $8.50 and are available at the Michigan
Theatre Box Office, Hudson's and all CTC ticket outlets.

L Th' Fi1
Z E
Op

curate and flaky satire on inane talk
shows, broadcast "live" from Fer-
nwood, Ohio, and hosted by the sleekly
malicious Barth and his foam-brained
sidekick, Jerry Hubbard. According to
Mull, the backstage scene was "like the
Ted Mack Professional Hour - people
would come in with a sketch, say 'I
yodel,' and we would say, 'Love it'."
After the cancellation of America 2

Pearl Harbour

Pearl Harbour-'Don't Follow Me,
I'm Lost Too' (Warner Brothers) - On
her first solo album minus The Ex-
plosions, Pearl Harbour has proved
beyond all doubt that she has a voice to
contend with. It's not that the lusty
strength of her vocals has increased
since Pearl Harbour and the Explosions
(in fact, that possibility is quite incon-
ceivable), but that she has finally found
the musical backing powerful enough to
r eally showcase her impressive
abilities.
Since no musicians are listed, we
must attribute the credit for the music
on this album to Harbour and her
producer, Mickey Gallagher (keyboard
player for Ian Dury and the
& Blockheads). What they have

fashioned, beyond all reason, is the
most ecstatic celebration of rockabilly
since its demise as a popular trend. But
they don't allow the -early rockabilly
sound to interfere with the final
product, a fate that befell Elvis' Get
Happy in his almost clinical reproduc-
tion of early soul music. Harbour and
Gallagher are not afraid to embellish
their rockabilly celebration with
modern studio techniques. But at the
same time, they never allow anything
to interfere with the unmatchable
strengths of that rockabilly sound.
RIDING ABOVE the crunch-crunch
pound-pound of instruments is Har-
bour's rockabilly vibratto, gulping
down the words like a female Robert
Gordon. Only she's much hotter. In-
stead of imitating the greats, Harbour

Night, Mull continued appearing
sporadically (n the tube, and launched
a screen career that has not as yet
merited being called a success -
though he tends to be a distinctive
presence in his films. He was agreeably
off-the-wall in FM, but nothing else in it
was.
Much was expected of the southern
Californian culture satire Serial, and
xp lodes
does their memory proud in her own
style. A la the great female blues
singers of 'yesteryear, Harbour ex-
presses herself as a competent, con-
fident woman who doesn't mind men,
but isn't about to be bothered with
anyone that gets in her way.
And it's not just in the lyrics, either.
Harbour's voice pulls no punches. As
the instruments rail at each other in the
dense mix, Harbour's voice is always
on top, pushing them faster, harder.
The two together - fantastic music
and an amazing vocalist - are nothing
short of unstoppable. This album just
begs to be turned way up. This is one of
those records that doesn't need to tell
you to "Play Loud." You'll know.
-Mark Dighton

'A

7l

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On Campus
Interviews
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On-Campus Interviews
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March 4-5

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