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December 03, 1982 - Image 18

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-12-03
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Happy
birthda- y
Sipple Wallace with Bonnie Raitt
Michigan Theatre
8 p.m. Friday, December 3

By Susan Makuch

S IPPIE SINGS! So what, you may,
say-who's Sippie, anyway?
Well, Sippie Wallace just happens to
be one of the oldest and most successful
blues-belters around. She'll strut her
jazzy stuff in the Michigan Theatre
tonight, at 8 p.m. Joining her will be a
few of her friends-Bonnie Raitt, Dr.
John, and Jim Dapogny & the Chicago
Blues Band.
Sippie Wallace, "shouter" extraor-
dinaire, began her career some 77
years ago when she sang her first hymn
at a Baptist church in Houston. Sippie
once said that anybody who is able to
sing gospel can sing the blues, as she
has proven over and over throughout
her professional career. She feels that
the only real difference between the two
types of music is in the words and beat.
A reverend once told her that "blues is
a confession. When you get the blues,
when a person done you wrong, you're
gonna tell him about it." Sippie lets
everyone know about her blues.
After an unsuccessful attempt at
marriage (she was only 15 years old at
the time), Sippie hooked up with her
piano-playing brother in 1923. Both of
them were emotionally tied to jazz and
blues, and it showed. They began
touring with some of the era's biggest
names, people like Louis Armstrong,
Clarence Williams, and Sippie's
favorite, Fats Waller. Her first recor-
ding (a demo, actually) was "Up the
Country" in 1923. She received $50 a

side, which Sippie saw as being a whole
lot of money. The fact that the release
sold more than 100,000 copies in its first
month was an added bonus.
The 1920s proved Sippie's most
popular era, being an extremely good
time for blues and jazz in general. She
ended up recording over 50 discs during
the decade, an electrifying
achievement for any artist, especially a
female black singer. She was well on
her way to becoming a legend when she
and her new husband relocated per-
manently in Detroit. This move took
Sippie out of the blues mainstream and
she faded into the mass of "former"
musical giants.
In 1966 a jazz producer from Detroit
heard a rumor that the "Texas
Nightingale" was living in the area.
Ron Harwood took a chance-one in a
million-and looked in the phone book
for "Beulah Wallace." Much to his
amazement, he found her. It didn't take
much for Harwood to coax Sippie back
into the limelight. An album followed,
and so did the touring.
One of the many fans of Sippie
Wallace was a young blues novice
named Bonnie Raitt. Influenced by old
and new Sippie recordings, Bonnie
became engrossed not only in the older
woman's style, but in her story as well.
After Bonnie hit the big time (actually
remaking a few of Sippie's old-time
hits), she wanted to meet her idol. Her
dream came true a few years ago and
the two have since become almost in-
separable. If Sippie is not helping Bon-
nie with background vocals on her
albums, Bonnie is helping Sippie with
the backups on hers. Professionally,
they go together like bees in a hive-
they are at home with one another. ,
Sippie, who has concentrated on live
performances, cut her first album in
over 10 years recently. Of course, Bon-
nie was there, but so were many other
blues greats, including Ann Arbor's
own Jim Dapogny and his Chicago
Blues Band. They all recorded the LP in
two 12-hour marathon sessions, the way
Sippie used to do it. The result is simply
Sippie. Critics have called it a "spon-

P 0
Piincley
hype
By Philip Lawes
Prince 1999
Prince
Warner Bros.
I N THE LATEST issue of Rolling
Stone, Michael Hill states: "Prince
himself does more than merely get
down and talk dirty. Benarth all his
kinky propositions resides a tantalizing
utopian philosophy of humanism
through hedonism that suggests once
you have broken all the rules, you'll
find some real values. All you've got to
do is act naturally."
Maybe Mr. Hill is forced to make
comments like that in order to make
enough money to meet his monthly
payments on the Brooklyn Bridge. If
one buys the idea the Prince's lyrics
constitute significant social commen-
tary, one will buy anything.
I make mention of hill's review to
point up an aspect of Prince's method
and career which I find to be at once
repulsive and ingenious: his under-
unhesi-
tating willingness and proven ability to
promote himself in the most outrageous
ways.
With Prince, the whole deal is for
sale, the whole persona is developed to
improve the record sales. His gim-
micks are innumerable. His overt,
outrageous androgny: it was simply
amazing to me to see the degree of ac-
ceptance even street thugs in Detroit
gave to the music of the little man in
trenchcoat and G-string, who would
have a life expectancy of about three
minutes in their company. Of course,
little schoolgirls took to him im-

mediately, partially due to their
discovery that the Prince image, in
itself, was enough to make Mommy and
Daddy simply shit. The homosexual
image worked big for him, bigger than
it ever did for the Dynamic Superiors,
Sylvester, or even Little Richard.
In addition, Prince rediscovered sex.
Not just the simple, mundane,
missionary-position, hetersexual sex
that got us where we are today, but sex
to make parents of all races lose all
colour from their faces: sex with men.
Sex with one's sister. Oral sex. Sex with
a bride-to-be in the back seat of a cab on
the way to her wedding. That sort of
sex. Prince, it seemed only drew the
lines at sex with small appliances, but
that policy could change at any minute.
Sex sells things, as any sharp
business student will attest. Somewhat
in the same manner that G.M. uses sex
to sell Camaros, Prince used it to start,
continue, and sustain his career.
When the elements mentioned before
were in any danger of losing their ef-
fectiveness, the artist cleverly found
other ways to offend, and thus remain
visible. He violated religion, intoning
the Twenty-third Psalm over typically
outrageous lyric concepts. Piss off the
faithful, sell a few records.
While I am proud of my success in not
being offended by his obvious attempts
to offend-I was rather amused by the
whole thing-I must admit to being
angered, outraged, and so forth, by his
"political" stances.
Roger (that's Prince's real name)
shows the most mercenary, self-
serving attitude to serious issues. War
is bad. Thermonuclear holocaust is
rather unattractive. Lots of people
think so. Why not toss anti-war slogans
into a few songs, and sell a few more
discs?
Hence we get an anti-war pro sex
manifesto which can be summarized,
"War/society is Icky/constricting, so
lets party/screw." The stance is not
simply silly, its cheap and hypocritical.
The little doctrines are superficial, safe
and unoriginal . . . yet some find
meaning in them. I would suggest that

they listen more closely. The "You're
gonna have to fight your own damn
war, Cause we don't wanna fight no
more," couplet in "Partyup," for
example, is not an eloquent pacifist
statement. Rather, it is the cynical use
of an emotional issue by a lazy
songwriter.
In 1999, Prince states,
If you didn't come to party
don't bother knocking on my door
Igot a lion in my pocket
And baby he's ready to roar
To paraphrase: "I'm partying (in
defiance of impending doom, as a
protect against mass death) and if you
bother me with dissent, I'll kill you."
Brilliant, no? Who in hell can possibly
take this stuff seriously? Let's face fac-
ts: while the tune is catchy and the
lyrics occasionally clever, this is not
the new disarmament anthem.
Once one gets past trying to find
serious content in "Prince 1999," one
can get down to enjoying the good poin-
ts of the album-and accepting it for it's
pure entertainment value. You might
as well have a good time. Prince sure
does.
On the whole, the album is a great
deal of fun, as long as one doesn't listen
too closely to the lyrics, trying to
determine the exact psycho-sexual
connotations and what effect they will
have on the future of humanity.
Prince does have a great deal of
talent, especially in cooking up infec-
tious, danceable hooks. Even the most
mechanical tunes here have some value
as dance numbers, and tend to grow on
you with repeated listening. At the
same time, with fw arguable excep-
tions, this album never reaches musical
peaks of previous works. The songs
here don't have the overdubbed com-
plexity or visceral immediacy of "Par-
tyup" or "Private Joy."
Stylistically, Prince displays a
newfound munimalism on most of these
cuts, exhibiting greater expertise in
the studio most prominently on a num-
ber of intricately overdubbed vocal
arrangements. Musically, he seems to
have been drained somewhat by the

demands of hi
proteges, Vanit
their best cuts '
appropriated s
impact, while
Prince 1999 sou
the "What Tim
ce's "D.M.S.R.
Romance.), for
bassline which
deal to The Timi
Prince 1999
featuring only
there is still a lo
"All The Criti
York," and "Au
should have be
pointless, repeti
The good stuff
"Let's Preten
easily the best t
in concept and
bed harmony, F
Tiny Tim falset
Whitmanesque
time, over a driv
thesized bass ai
thesizer embelli
Prince is inh
Out posture, bu
gets it across in
Take the voic
delivering "My
don't care at al
C'mon honey,
delivers the firs
Tim, but abrupt
ding, macho ras
Adding to the
Prince tosses in
chorus, "Ooh we
All the hippies
works beautiful
Jacksons/Osmu
Tres fun.
Unfortunately
terrorist feels
Toward the end
into a rap whic
the line, "I sinc
taste out of your
Gosh.
Lady Cab Dri
minute study in
strongest dance
beat? Great, e
rock solidrback
trusive synthesi
flourishes on s
the whole thing
hectic peak by th
The lyrics?
heavilly influ
Forum and som
dbook. You kno
driver is as lo
seduce her, ban
out for the mete
hell out of her.
interprets the
groans and wha
her. "This is for
my brother han
is for politiciar
believe in war.
judge. Don't try
"Delirious,"
rockabilly takec
.Buddy Holly go
interesting is "
rather typical
somewhat lite
focused, yet rat
"1999," the ti
troduction, wha
its been gettin
bitious song
musically and i
ter. Complexly
vocal tracks cor
propriately mud
work. The ly:
cliched, cleve
meaningless. If
any other mess
dance, dance," y

Bonnie Raitt: Surprise party

taneous musical joy."
Since thes'e artists are going to be at
the Michigan Theatre along with Sippie
this evening, it should be another

musical joy. The pretext for the
meeting of so many talented musicians
is Sippie's 84th birthday celebration.
Not bad for an octogenarian, huh?

Roach
show
Roaches
Power Center
8 p.m. Wednesday, December 8
By Larry Dean
I ENTERED the dark, claustrophobic
confines of the local record store,
curious as to what the latest releases
were. The employee, a friend of mine
named Neil, greeted me with his usual
level of enthusiasm and held up a
record jacket for my scrutiny.
"What's this?" I asked.
"The Roches," Neil said.
"So who are the Roches?"
Neil vanished beneath the counter,
where the in-store turntable resided,
put the tonearm down on side one, track
one of The Roches.
"We" came lilting out of the
speakers, just bouncy acoustic guitar

and three harmonious voices. While I
was half-listening to the music, my eyes
scanned the record jacket until-BAM!
The name of the producer: Robert
Fripp. Robert Fripp? Of "Larks
Tongues in Aspic," "Red," and "21st
Century Schizoid Man" fame? Whose
solo album, Exposure, is creating an
ever-widening void between me and the
neighbors because I'm playing it night
and day and it's causing their hair to
fall out? Robert Fripp of King Crim-
son? The association between this
pioneer of nerve-shattering guitar-the
man who played the solo on Eno's
"Baby's On Fire," for God's sake-and
these three folk singers seemed too
absurd to be true.
"Is this for real?" I asked, the con-
fusion evident in my eyes.
Neil look pleased. "Yup. Keep
listening."
Well, I did keep listening, and I know
it's a terribly trite thing for one to say,
but I'm very glad I did. The Roches is
one of the most endearing and heartfelt
debuts I'd ever heard, and Fripp's
"audio verite" production helped give
the three Roche sisters' voices an in-
nocent urgency that another producer
would have most likely slicked over
with studio technique.
Fripp's contribution to the music, too,

helped make The Roches a rare treat,
as his haunting guitar lines wafted in
and out of the Roches' vocals, em-
bellishing them. A marriage made in
heaven,Ithought.
After The Roches, Maggie and Terre
Roche went into hiding. This was not a
new tactic; after their 1975 debut album
as a duo, Seductive Reasoning, failed to
make an impression with the general
public and elicited only mild critical
response, they vanished to the wilds of
their New Jersey homestead to think
things through. Only in the case-of The
Roches, it wasn't failure that lead them
back there-it was the overwhelming
success, nurtured by the critics that
were listening this time, and the
various other mes who kept listening.
As a result of Maggie and Terre's ex-
cursion, much of the work on the
Roches' second album, Nurds, was
handled by Suzzy, the third sister. Un-
fortunately, the lack of unified effort
showed, and the album as a whole was
weak at the seams, at times cloying and
too cute, and at others, almost living up
to the ideal of the first. It passed by like
many second albums do, unheralded,
but excused, because follow-ups are
always tough.
The good news these days is that the
Roches have a new album out and that

soon they will be bringing their breezy
harmonies to Ann Arbor's Power Cen-
ter. Fripp returns to his role as
producer and honorary "fourth Roche"
on Keep On Doing, the music is
gorgeous and the voices-they ring
more beautifully than ever before.
Terre captivates on "I Fell In Love,"
giving more vocal exuberation than
even on "Exposure," from Fripp's
album of the same name. The styling
between the two songs is worlds apart,
but the energy and enthusiasm in her
voice surges forth from a central sour-
ce, complementing the two com-
positions in their own individual man-
ners.. "Losing True" is a wonderful
ballad, with Maggie at the forefront,
singing with diffidence and heart.
But those are only two examples, the
rest of Keep On Doing satisfies,
satisfies like the first Roches album
and beyond it: Maggie, Terre and Suzzy
are more than those fantastic voices,
they are a natural resource and should
be preserved and admonished by every
available ear. Keep On Doing keeps
on doing, all right, and pretty soon the
Power Center will be alight with the
Roches' musical rarity. Try and make
it to what promises to be an evening of
ethereal, earnest music.
And, above all-keep listening. 6g

Prince: Deep meaning

nn3

- .. W~I -4- 9R#-

Q _I JANNqEL _

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