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April 08, 1981 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1981-04-08

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Wednesday, April 8, 1981

The Michigan Daily

Page 5

Jett rocks dirty


She head-butted the mike. Thrashing
about as the Blackhearts tore fren-
ziedly through the Sex Pistols' "Black
Leather," Joan Jett inadvertently sent
the mike reeling. It soared
dramatically before abruptly (and
loudly) doing a belly flop on the Second
Chance dance floor.
That's what the Jett set was like
Monday night. The show was one con-
stant frantic rebellion, a perpetual no-
holds-barred war of independence from
sexual and social repression.
this imagg of herself; she started the
show with the declaration that "I don't
give a shit about my bad reputation,"
which is from the title cut of her debut
album Bad Reputation. The tone was
Most of the rebellion was against the
tyrannies of love, though Jett hardly
seemed the type to suffer oppression
from that quarter. Songs like' "You're
Too Possessive" and "Too Bad" rocked
in defiant, roaring bellows, while Jett
attacked her guitar and disdained "one
more time to fuck with you." No holds
barred; in fact, no holds.
Jett is the grittiest female singer I

have ever seen. What she lacks in vocal
range, she makes up in sheer power and
control; what her guitar playing lacks
in manual dexterity is made up for with
harshchanges of pace and sheer am-
THE PACE of the Blackhearts' music
is dizzying, spurred by its quasi-punk
tone and Jett's perpetual impatience.
Jett herself slashes through the solid
wall of sound with ripping riffs from her
guitar and cutting vocals sung heedless
Much of the lyrical content is the
same species of fodder that pop bands
feed the masses, but it's a different
strain. The lyrics are obsessed with
love and its trials, just like you would
expect from The Carpenters or Kenny
Rogers or a thousand others, but there
is none of the simpering, crushed
gushes of agony such people claim to
feel. Jett is pissed off. She takes the
standpoint of a woman who resents
being used, rather than one helpless at
the feet of her lover.
While she is smooth enough to deliver
pop hooks effectively, she prefers. to
deliver them with a vengeance. Jett
hasn't the creativity or talent to be a
major influence on rock, but she is in

many ways what more female rock
singers ought to be. Her lyrics refuse to,
perpetuate the helpless-female love
mythology, and she is virtually the only
female rocker who does not exploit her
sexuality (though she has plenty of it).
EVEN HER choice of covers reflects
this individualistic point of view. Her
choice for a single is Leslie Gore's "You
Don't Own Me," a timeless early '60s
classic punctuated with then-untimely
fierceness: "Don't tell me what to
say/Don't tell me what to do/Just let
me be myself/That's all I ask of you. "
Sam the Sham and the Pharaoh's
"Wooly Bully" was pounded home
relentlessly, while the Rolling Stones'
"Starfucker" took on new irony in a
raunchy, rollicking treatment that
made the Stones' version seem seden-
tary. Even the Who's "Summertime
Blues" sounded more like a riot than a
Jett's music, .vocals, and actions
were in a constant state of excitement
that woefully did not seem to spread to
the crowd-what there was of it. It's no
secret that the Tidal Wave series, a
rather surprising artistic success, is,
struggling commercially. Though Jett
is certainly no superstar, one would

have thought her appearance would
have drawn a houseful in a town that
claims to be starving for concerts.
That was not the case, and if the trend
continues the series will go down the
tubes for the simple reason that the
promoters are losing money. That
series has lined up a succession of
quality bands for the near future, in-
cluding Junior Walker and the All-Stars
(April 20), The Fabulous Thunderbirds
(April 27), Robin Lane and the Char-
busters (May 6), and the inimitable
John Cale (May 11, along with guest ar-
tists The Shirts).
If the series falters due to lack of
audience support, Ann Arbor will again
be without dependabletand regular rock
concerts. You get what you support.
Support the
March of Dimes

Daily Photo by JIM KRUZ
ROCK SINGER JOAN Jett stresses her "Bad Reputation" in concert Mon-
day night at Second Chance.

'Gertrude Stein'

*a splendid


Classifieds get
Call 764-0557

4n Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein,
Gertrude Stein starring Pat Carroll,
Carroll pronounces the name of Pablo
Picasso as Pe(-casso-o, savoring each
syllable and the Spanish flavor of the
This dedication to detail is the
richness of Gertrude Stein. Carroll was
not .alone on the Power Center stage
Monday night; Picasso, Salvador Dali,
Ernest HemingwAy, arid a host of other
great young minds from the early twen-
tieth century were present too, spirited
there by the actress' inimitable skill.
,Gertrude Stein is known not only as a
writer, but also as an active supporter
of'the avant-garde movement in the ar-
ts. At 27 rue de Fleurus, Gertrude and
*her brother, Leo, held Saturday night
soirees regularly frequented by the
struggling new artists and writers of
the period. Picasso argued about
cubism there, Isadora Duncan danced a
little - "she always did" - while Ger-

trude boisterously played hostess.
Carroll tells stories of the inhabitants
and guests of 27 rue de Fleurus in a
manner that is nothing less than
spellbinding. She scarcely moves from
her chair, occasionally pacing the room
(the play is set in the living room of
Stein's apartment) in a moment of fury
or springing up in eagerness to act out a
favorite memory.
The tilt of Carroll's .head, her fluid
arm gestures, the movement of her
bulging eyes tells all. She is Picasso-
talking to Gertrude and then Gertrude
again; as the artist she puts on a heavy
Spanish accent. She is particularly
adept at dialects and mimics everyone
without mercy.
Stein had a reputation for being
domineering and conceited. She an-
nounces to us early on that, yes, she is
indeed a genius. And she loves to pass
judgment - with quick verbal swoops
she decimates her victims. She talks of
Isadora Duncan and her brother who

returned from a trip to Greece and then
"they were Greek." Carroll plays the
writer's bitchy side up to the fullest.
She sneers over "Isadora with the
scarves," and then sadly relates the
tale of the dancer's death: Duncan was
killed while driving when one of her
scarves got caught behind the wheel of
a convertible, causing her neck to
break. Then Carroll booms, "Still, affec-
tions can be dangerous," and smacks
her lips over having the last word.
While the audience breaks up she gives
them a beaninglook of self-satisfaction
that is still totally in character.
Whether telling the tale of how
Picasso almost became a poet (Stein
grabbed him and shook it out of him. "I.
am the writer," she said) or telling
dreamy stories of her life to companion
Alice B. Toklas, Carroll never falters in
her characterization of the actress. I
could say that she was superb, but that
wouldn't be fair - that's too great an

5th A , 61-9700


r~ subtitled

'Holly Near: Whoput the fire out?

Daily-7:15, 9:05
Wed-1:35, 3:25, 5:25, 7:15, 9:05
one admission $2.00 any film
Good Mon. thiu Thurs. Eves.
valid thru 3/9/81 "M"
the relationship
continues ...
Daily-7:30, 9:30
Wed-1:20, 3:20, 5:30, 7:30, 9:30

Holly Near-'Fire in the Rain'
(Olivia)-Holly Near has mellowed.
Gbne are the fiery political spirit and
the passionate delivery. With Fire in
the Rain Near has become
frighteningly commercial; she blends
cocktail-lounge melodies and a big
band sound, creating a new image that
is puzzling and uninteresting.
Admittedly, she has a difficult act to
follow. Her previous release, Imagine
My Surprise, is one of the most lyrically
impressive albums in women's music.
PI Itas Near's "coming out" record. Af-
tqr years on the road singing anti-war
and pro-women-but-still-heterosexual
dities 'she announced her" change of
spxuality to the world by releasing this
album: A combination of lesbian love
sqags, anti-violence lyrics, and folky
4TUT NEAR'S MUSIC isn't just for
wimmin who make love to other womyn
(r, however you like to spell
it)-anyone concerned about society's
treatment of women will find worth-
while qualities in her music. She en-
courages emotion and caring, not a
switch of sexuality.
Above all, this lady is political. When
Near was touring after the release of
Imagine My Surprise, a fan said to her,
"Holly, what happened to your interest
in politics? All you sing now are lesbian
love songs." Near's reply : "I think
lesbian love songs, are plenty
political!" and then she wrote "You Bet
(I sing love songs) ",to make the point
in Fire in the Rain, Near reduces her
themes to their simplest form. She
repeats banal choruses over and over.
This album has none of the story/poems
that 'enriched her other records. In

"Working Woman" Near states her of-
fice worker philosophy: "Hey, I'm not
your girl and you know it/At home I'm
a woman and a poet." She somberly
states in "Foolish Notion," an anti-war
song, "Why do we kill people/who are
killing people/to show that killing
people is wrong." And her prognosis on
nuclear power is that "There ain't no
where you can run, no, no,
no .. . People, you have the warmth
and the beauty in the light of the sun,"
getting in her plug for solar power.
Accompanying Near's rich vocals
(although at times she lapses into
Olivia Newton-John pop-like
breathiness) are an overpowering
number of brass instruments. Holly
Near's clear, full voice accounts for
much of her appeal. But on this outing,
the ann arbor
film cooperative
7:00 Nat. Sci.
9:00 Not. Sci.

it doesn't jump out at the listener as it
does on her other records because of the
obtrusive orchestration. The irony is
that this album stresses melody much
more than Near's earlier works. Too
bad there's not much worth listening to.
Fire in the Rain is boring because we
need to have Near say something. In
this album her presence .is so under-
stated. And a hyperactive trumpet isn't
adequate compensation for the voice
and political sentiments of Holly Near.
-Anne Gadon


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