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January 10, 1982 - Image 7

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-01-10

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ARTS

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The Michigan Daily

Sunday, January 10; 1982.

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Records

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Neil Young-'Reactor' (Reprise)
When I saw Neil'Young's new album,
Reactor, with the name "Crazy Hor-
se" below his, I couldn't help but drool a
bit. If you don't know, Crazy Horse is
the rock trio whose backing in the past
provided Young with the freedom and
inspiration he needed to let loose on
lead guitar; just listen to "Like a
Hurricane" or "Down by the River"
and you'll know what I'm talking about.
Unfortunately, Reactor hardly lived
up to my expectations and will probably
disappoint most Neil Young fans. To be
brief (yet unkind), Neil Young plays
very little lead guitar and the little he
does is lacklustre 4(for Neil Young, at
least). At best the song lyrics are
adequate; at worst they're offen-
sive-none of them even come close to
being as good as anything he has done
in the past. For example, the lyrics to
"T-Bone" consist of the two lines "Got
mashed potato/Ain't got no T-bone"
repeated over and over for the song's
nine-minute length.
Listening to Reactor it seems that
Neil Young has adopted a minimalist
approach to his music (either that or he
recorded the album in two hours-in-
cluding songwriting). Minimalist, to
Neil Young, means a chunky riff-based
guitar sound and crude (pointless?)
lyrics. Although this works on the songs
"Opera Star".and "Surfer Joe and Moe
the Sleeze," the rest of the songs seem
to be born purely out of contempt for
the form as reflected in predictable
playing and unimaginative lyrics.
It's certainly not the case that
making a statement on music is beyond
Neil Young; for on his last album,
Hawks and Doves, Young used his near-
perfect assimilation of country music
as a vehicle for indicting red-neck men-
tality with devastatingly funny results.
What Reactor really suffers from is a
lack of focus; it seems hurried, con-
fused, and just plain careless in places.
It should be made clear that as an
album,.Reactor is fairly good. Yet as a
Neil Young record it's poor and is easily
the worst record he has ever made with
Crazy Horse. For those reasons, Reac-
tor should be avoided.
-Douglas Coombe
Throbbing Gristle- Greatest Hits'
(Rough Tide)
T. G. is back! Or should I say T. G. is

here? For those unfortunate souls who
missed the first Four Throbbing Gristle
albums, the hour of redemption is at
hand: Rough Trade records has
released the group's first domestic LP.
This album contains a fine selection
covering the highlights of one of the
original pioneers of the electronic
music movement, a movement which
spawned such bastard sons as Gary
Numan, the Silicon Teens, ad
nauseam. Before its amicable breakup
earlier this year, Throbbing Gristle
embodied the idea of experimental
music-the eagerness to cross new
frontiers and the courage to face the
consequences. At their best, they
created the atmosphere and tension
associated with the finest of the Velvet
Underground. At their least successful,
they presented an exciting challenge to
the listener.
Moving from their classic "Ham-
burger Lady"-an eerie account con-
cerning a victim of a Napalm at-
tack-this disc covers every facet of
their much too short career. Their first
single, "United," was an underground

classic, selling more than 50,000 copies
with no advertising, promotion, or
significant airplay. But T.G. is not for
everyone-only for those who are not
afraid to take. chances with their music.

As the liner notes say, "this whels
burning, this gristle's throbbinglsg
long as something is doing sometf~
you better be diggin', dig?"
--Tony Corbeil

Chevy Chase loses control in Modern Problems.

Chase fruitless

ry Richard Campbell
NE OF THE distinguishing marks
of movie reviews is their naturally
caustic manner. If a film doesn't stack
up favorably to Gone With the Wind, it
is fair game for snide remarks. Many
reviewers, like Rex Reed, are read
simply because they are funny. Even
an esteemed critic like Pauline Kael of-
ten falls into the pattern of snide
remarks, and nasty put-downs for their
own sake.
Modern Problems is exactly the kind
of filrm that is going to receive more
laborous jokes than critical insights. It
is a bad movie, a comedy that isn't fun-
ny, a special effects, film that is pretty
tame, and a romance that is dull. From
here it would be all too easy to write
one-liners about the star, Chevy Chase,
falling flat on his face. But there are
items in this film that deserve to be
commented on.
As -the title suggests, Modern
Problems is the story of a ordinary guy
beset by all the hassling trivia of
today's world. Chase stars as an air
traffic controller who has lost his wife,
his girl-friend; who is inundated with
breaking appliances, sun-roofs, and
stereos. Driving home one night, a
truck hauling liquid nuclear waste ac-
cidently dumps some of its cargo onto
him. The resulting burst of radiation
endows Chase with telekinetic powers.
It isn't hard to envision somerkind of
pointless, yet hilarious comedy that has
Chase running around 'moving things
through the power of his mind. Director
Ken Shapiro, whose previous effort at
screen comedy produced the cult
classic The Groove Tube, would seem
to be a good choice to direct such a
visual joke-a-minute farce. But ap-
parently Shapiro wanted to do more
than direct an ordinary comedy.
Shapiro tried to introduce some depth
of characterization and reality to this
physic world. ,His script makes an un-
subtle attempt at giving some depth to
the movie. Like Woody Allen, Shapiro
obviously wants his comedy to have
some fleeting social significance. But
unlike Allen, Shapiro's blend occurs
unevenly and unrealistically. A sim-
pler, straighter comedy would have
n better. The script and the direc-
tion don't explain any of the dramatic
pauses that litter the film.
As far as the comedy goes, what there
is isn't particularly inventive.- The
special effects are dwelled upon for no
reason. When Chase levitates, the
camera stays on the scene, the music

stops; id we are supposed to gasp in
awe. It simply isn't that exciting, or
funny.
Dabney Coleman makes an ap-
pearance as a conceited. author of
various self-help books. His rantings on
what people are supposed to do
provides a stimulus for much of the ac-
tion. But, again, his character is too
absurd for the dramatic aspects, and
not funny enough for the comedic.
Other supporting roles add little to
the plot. Patti D'arbanville and Mary
Kay Place play woman at various times
in and out of love with Chase. Nell Car-
ter and Brian Doyle-Murray provide
some relief from the strained at-
mbsphere by their broad, ingoistic
characters.
Modern Problems is a film that could
have been good, but was ultimately
ruined by good intentions. Shapiro
should try to present one idea well,
rather than waste his time on
developing two ideas badly. Chase is
not to blame for his hapless performan-
ce as many anti-ex-SNL critics contend.
The basic structure of the film is poorly
developed.

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ANNOUNCING
The University of Michigan Gilbert & Sullivan Society
ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING
For the April 1982 Production of "Patience"
Please join us if you are interes'ed in participating in the cast, orchestra,
costume or set crews. Everyone is welcobel
8 PM Sunday, Jan. 10th
Pendleton Room in Michigan Union
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gentle
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