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October 22, 1982 - Image 17

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-10-22
Note:
This is a tabloid page

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Angry
pop
By Mike Belford
Billy idol/Romeo Void
Second Chance
Sunday, October 24
Tickets: $8.50
Sunday's Billy Idol/Romeo Void
twinbill at Second Chance provides Ann
Arbor with a chance to see and hear one
of England's earliest punk rockers
(with his new band) together with one
of California's newer experiments in
post-punk pop.
Don't expect any dangerous crowd
behavior though; today's Billy Idol has
come a long way from Generation X's
heady performances of London '76.
Generation X were always noted for
being in the right place at the right time
rather than for the musical content of
their shows; similarly Billy Idol and
Tony James were there more for their
physical appearance than anything
else. Despite this they did manage to
come up with a couple of good songs-
the two early singles "Your
Generation" and "Ready Steady Go."
Ultimately, Generation X died the
death of many London punk bands, and
after struggling through credibility

problems with the British press, and a
brief attempt to reform the band in
1980, Billy Idol neatly sidestepped
across the Atlantic and into the main-
stream - of American rock/pop.
Nowadays he's being sold as the
rebellious, but safe, "boy next door"-
and the solo album Billy Idol reflects
this image, with a slick production job
and a band that can actually play-
something that was always a problem
for Generation X.
The songs borrow heavily from early
Seventies influences (Bolan, Bowie),
and are more obviously dance-oriented
than anything Idol's done before; but at
least the album proves he can sing-
surprisingly well in fact dn the two
tracks "White Wedding" and "Shooting
Stars."
The overall impression of the LP,
though, is one of carefully packaged
product marketing, and it's easy to see
the whole new Billy Idol image as pure
media and record company hype.
Last year's single "Dancing With
Myself" proved that there was still
something there, but it would be sad to
see the spirit of the early Generation X
completely submerged beneath a wash
of bland consumerism.
San Francisco band Romeo Void are
a complete contrast. Singer/songwriter
Debora Iyall and bassist/composer
Frank Zincavage both emerged from
the Art Institute of San Francisco in the
late seventies, where they had
previously collaborated on experimen-
tal video soundtracks. The band began
as an extension of this work with the
enlistment of lead guitarist Peter
Woods, and in 1980 of jazz saxophonist
Benjamin Rossi and drummer Larry

Romeo Void: Love that sound
Carter.
The music of Romeo Void is difficult
to categorize. Although not wanting to
be an "Art School band" in the Talking
Heads tradition, there are inevitable
similarities at times-purely because
the lyrics and soundtrack are so typical
of an Art School environment.
Their first album It's a Condition and
the resulting supporting tours with
major bands were fairly well received
(including a four-star review in
Rolling Stone), and a follow up 4-track
EP Never Say Never, produced by Ric
Ocasek of the Cars gained the band a lot
of attention in East Coast clubs during
the summer of 1981.

The current tour promotes the second
Romeo Void album, Benefactor,
produced by Ian Taylor on Columbia
records. It includes a re-mixed version
of the song "Never say Never," a dance
floor favorite with such classic lines as
I might like you better if we slept
together. The other new tracks
"Chinatown," "S.O.S." and "Uncover
Kept," in particular reflect definite ad-
vances between the two albums, and
judging by Debora's resolute vision
and no-nonsense lyrics combined with
the rest of the band's icy rhythmic
proficiency the live show should be
equally as good.

Some white students are quick to ac-
cuse blacks of perpetuating racial
barriers through self-imposed
segregation. If black students really
want to fit in at the University, these
whites argue, they shouldn't isolate
themselves in mostly black social and
cultural groups.
Leaders of some of these black cam-
pus groups react defensively to the
suggestion that their cohesiveness per-
petuates the division between black and
white students.
Says Hayman of the Bursley Family:
"We are an efficient group and we are
able to work well together, but at no
point do we contribute any racism or
segregation upon ourselves. The bot-
tom line is that we are students at The
University of Michigan who are trying
to succeed."
Many black students say it's all too
easy for whites to write the problem off
to black isolation. What many whites
fail to understand, these blacks say, is
that the black groups provide essential
support for keeping fellow blacks at the
University. Without these groups,
many blacks say they couldn't have
made it though their first year. Many
would either find themselves unhappy
enough to leave willingly or unable to
keep their grades high enough to stay.
I T' S LATE MARCH, 1970 and the
University is at a near standstill.
Three out of every four students are
boycotting classes and many teaching
assistants are refusing to hold classes
for those students who still will come.
Many University buildings, including
Angell and Mason halls, and the
economics and -chemistry buildings,
are completely shut down. Unionized
University workers sympathize with
the boycott and many basic ser-
vices-including meals in the dor-
ms-are cut off.
That spring the University community
stood firmly behind the Black Action
Movement (BAM) and its demands for
better conditions for black students..
The BAM strike marked the begin-
ning of the University's active efforts to
increase the number of black students
and to improve the social and academic
atmosphere for them on campus. It
marked the beginning of the Univer-
sity's search for solutions.
Under intense pressure, the Regents
in 1970 agreed to make concessions.
They promised to create a Center for
Afro-American and African Studies.
They promised to found the Trotter
House, as a cultural and social center
for black students. And, most impor-
tant, they promised to spend the money
necessary to recruit and provide sup-
port services so that black enrollment
could be increased to'10 percent of the
student body within three years.
In the spring of that year, there was
optimism, a confidence that finally the
problems of blacks on campus were
being addressed. Today, however, 12
years later, much of that optimism has
soured.
Academic support services like the
Coalition for the Use of Learning Skills
in Lsa, and the Opportunity Program
function today somewhat effectively,
But those who work in or with the
programs say they are seriously crip-
pled by smallbudgets and a lack of
coordination between them.
If the University ever had the money
to reach its goal of 10 percent black
enrollment, it certainly never used it.
Black enrollment peaked in 1976 at just
over 7 percent; it has fallen steadily
since and today has slipped to under 5
percent.
Even the Trotter House has been
reorganized. To save money, the
Univesity recently decided that the
house should serve as the social center
for all minorities on campus, not just

blacks.
The University's attempts since 1970
have, by almost all accounts, filled a
frustrating record of failure.
"It ought to be abundantly clear the
University has not been able to achieve

'Blacks (in Ann Arbor) are en-
couraged-more so forced-to assimilate,
to try to understand the white
society ... the dominant culture is what
we have to understand, the white world.'
-Diane Hutcherson
minority leader

Jazz
for 3

they won't need as much academic
help.
Vice President for Student Services
Henry Johnson represents the first
school. "I'm concerned with what
(black) students need more than what

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Bill Spin

By Rob Weisberg
The Gateway Trio

University Club
8 and 10:30 p.m. Saturday,
Tickets: $6.50

October 23

LOCAL MUSIC fans will be in for a
treat Saturday night when the
Eclipse Jazz Society brings the
Gateway trio into the University Club
for two sets.
The Gateway trio is drummer and
occasional pianist Jack DeJohnette,
guitarist John Abercrombie, and
bassist Dave Holland. All three have
been and continue to be involved in
numerous musical projects, of which
Gateway is but one. They've released
two albums in this incarnation-the
raucous debut Gateway back in 1975
and the considerably lighter Gateway
II three years later, both on the ECM
label.
The latter recording demonstrates a
wonderfully intriguing interplay bet-
ween the drummer and the guitarist,
not at all surprising since Abercrombie
is DeJohnette's preferred guitar
player.
DeJohnette once said of Gateway II:
"(This) album isn't as frantic as the
first because it was more directed. I

don't mean laid back, but getting the
most out of the energy-making
everything count. As something
develops, certain parts of it become
more refined, and in other parts the
rawness tends to get redirected. Space
can be as intense as alot of notes."
The intensity of space on Gateway II
is certainly as provocative as the
relative density of the first album; we'll
probably be hearing the essence of each
tomorrow night as well as a taste of all
the work these musicians have done
over the years.
Which amounts to a good deal of
music. DeJohnette began playing
classical piano at the age of' four in
Chicago; he played kazoo with T-Bone
Walker at a local club the next year.
Not content to stop there, he picked up
the drums in high school while con-
tinuing to play piano.
He stuck it out in the windy city until
1966, working extensively in the
Association for the Advancement of
Creative Musicians. That's the
revolutionary experimental
organization which sprung upon us,
among others, the Art Ensemble of
Chicago (hitting town in the near
future), Muhal Richard Abrams, Air,
and Anthony Braxton.
Since coming to New York he's
worked with such luminaries as John
Coletrane, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans,
Stan Getz, Lee Konitz, Charles Lloyd
and Miles Davis (with whom he ap-
peared on "Live Evil" and "Bitches'
Brew"). He currently leads New Direc-
tions with Lester Bowie, Eddie Gomez,
and Abercrombie; and Special Edition,
featuring Chico Freeman-both highly-
acclaimed ensembles..

Abercrombie, a native New Yorker,
began playing guitar at four-
teen-which just goes to show you
needn't give up just yet-and studied at
the Berklee School of Music in Boston.
Before leaving that hallowed institution
he recorded with the Brecker Brothers'
band Dreams; he then headed back to
New York where his studio and stage
compatriates included Gato Barbieri,
Gil Evans, Ralph Towner, Billy
Cobham, and many others-including
most prominently, DeJohnette.
Some idea of Abercrombie's ap-
proach to music can be gleaned from a
description he once gave Downbeat
Magazine of his improvisational
technique. Said he, "If I find myself
playing a long, very even type of
phrase, I'll suddenly realize that if I
continue in this manner, it's going to
get very boring. So I'll play a more
broken phrase, or a phrase involving
more triplets; anything to break up the
monotony of what I've just played.
What you play is the impetus for what
comes next, and it all has to do with the
general flow of your solo ...
"I believe in structured solos, solos
that have a real curve to them.
Generally, I'll start my solo by playing
a few notes and maybe keeping things
more broken with, hopefully, a lot of
thematic development. Then,
gradually, as the solo builds and,
becomes more intense and fluid, I tend
to play more notes and try to reach a
real peak in the solos. Then it can taper
off. Or sometimes it will reach a
climactic point and it's just obvious
that that's the end of the solo."
Holland, born in Wolverhampton,

England, counts Ray Brown, Charles
Mingus and Scott LaFaro among his
earliest influences. He was a member
of the groundbreaking Spontaneous
Music Ensemble in Britain, working
with some of Europe's most experimen-
tal musicians, as well as various other
groups; he was involved with five ban-
ds when Miles Davis plucked him away
from the old country after being im-
pressed by a performance at Ronnie
Scott's club in '68.
He played his first gig with Davis the
night after arriving in New
York-having never rehearsed with the
band, only with their records-and the
rest is history. He played in Chick
Corea's experimental trio with Barry
Altschul; with Anthony Braxton on
several projects including a quartet
version of the aforementioned group
known as Circles. He currently works
with the Sam Rivers quartet as well as
Gateway and teaches music theory in
Woodstock, New York.
From teaching, Holland has said, "I
get a fresh approach to the music.
Every time I go over the basics, it
teaches me something new; it tunes me
into the basics again. J--think the act of
externalizing your ideas is a very good
one. Making the subconscious the con-
scious is very good-it makes you
aware of what possibilities are
available."
And when you put three musicians of
such extraordinary caliber together on
one stage. . . the possibilities are en-
dless.

the goals it set 12 years ago," says
George Goodman, who worked as an
admissions couselor during the BAM
strike and now works as director of the
Opportunity Program. In' fact, many
top administrators concede today, the
goal of 10 percent black enrollment
may never be met. If it ever is, they
say, it won't be until 1993 at the earliest.
The reasons for the University's
inability-or, some argue, its un-
willingness-to meet its stated goals
are numerous and complex. The
University has two distinct problems:
One is getting black high school studen-
ts to come to the University in the first
place, and the second is getting them to
stay once they're here.
On the first problem, University ad-
missions officials complain that it is
hard to find enough blacks who qualify
academically. And, to make matters
worse, they insist competition among
colleges for the small number of
qualified students has never been as
fierce as it is today.
"When the goal (of 10 percent black
enrollment) was set, the University was
a pioneer," said admissions officer
Dave Robinson last summer. "There
wasn't the competition there is now.
Many other schools have gotten into the
market."
But once a black student. does come
to Ann Arbor, chances are he won't stay
through graduation. Attrition rates
among black University students are
high. One study, finished last year by a
University professor, showed that 56
percent of the black students who star-
ted at the University in 1976 dropped out
or transferred before-graduation, com-
pared to 34 percent among their white
counterparts.
University officials point to several
reasons why so many black students
leave the University: Many of them
simply can't afford to stay here. Some
have weak educational backgrounds
and can't keep up their schoolwork.
Others-simply choose not to continue
the struggle against campus racism.
Whatever the reasons, University of-
ficials agree that minority attrition
rates are probably the biggest hurdle to
solving campus race problems. But
these same officials disagree about how
to approach the hurdle.
There is one school of thought that
says provide lots of academic help and
black students who want degrees will
stay here regardless of the social at-
mosphere. But there is another school
which argues that if the social at-
mosphere is improved and black
students feel more comfortable here,

they want," he says, "and what they
need is a good academic support ser-
vice.
"The key issue for keeping students
here is keeping them here
academically. What keeps you here is
not how comfortable you are outside of
class, it's whether you can cut it in
class."
But the director of one of the Univer-
sity's largest academic support ser-
vices, the Coalition for the Use of Lear-
ning Skills, disagrees. "The attitude of
the University is that programs that
have to do with the social area are of

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1982: Same old problems

12 Weekend/October 22, 1982

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