Prine's prime is
By Mark Gindin
The Michigan Daily-Tuesday, March 8, 1983-Page 7
yet to come
Jamaaladeen Tacuma stretches his digits at the U-Club last Saturday.
Jakm aaladeen makes
WHAT TO write about
.i Jamaaladeen Tacuma? 0, what to
ascribe about Cornell Rochester? 0,
"what to elaborate about Olu Dara? Oh
-oh oh oh oh!
The name of their ensemble is Double
Exchange, and they put on a jazz-filled
show over at the U-Club last Saturday
,night courtesy of the Eclipse
organization. Let's take the word ex-
change and make a newspaper "story"
Exchange of seat's. I had to sit
behind a pillar, and look around it to see
the performers. But I didn't exchange
seats with anyone.
Exchange of concept. The first set
by Double Exchange was a bare bones
drum and bass combo. Sort of like Jazz-
In-dub. Truly a gutsy concept, sort of
,like Da Vinci removing everything but
the blacks and whites from "The Last
Exchange of Punches, Pt. I.
Jamaaladeen came out in what could
.best be described as a citrusy suit, a
burst of lime flavor. He, and Cornell
Rochester stepped through the ropes in-
to the squared circle. Tacuma dwarfed
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his bass, and then became a bully on
that poor little thing. Mommy, look at
that mean man beating the shit out of
that defenseless intrument. He whom-
ped that sucker. Punched it in the nose.
Lefts, rights, hooks, faster-than-the-
changing melodies, rhythms, and
hooks like weight classes, Jamaaladeen
resoundingly sounded a new basic sock
Exchange of punches, Pt. II. If
boxing is an international sport then so
is Cornell a global beating sort. Cor-
nell's style was stick and move, search
and destroy, pound and deploy. From
riding bop to PanAfrican hop,
Rochester exchanged regular drum
sticks for Thor's magic hammer,
kissing the sky with cymbalic breaking.
Exchange of words. Jamaaladeen
was a fun guy to watch, as were the
other two too. Topics discussed with the
crowd and each other ranged from
Kung Fu to genitalia, to wow! look at
that guy play !
Exchange of partners. In the 2nd
set, trumpeter Olu Dara joined. To this
mandance funky cake, Dara added an
emanating outer space tradition, ex-
changing African and traditional
trumpets, and a mixing bowl. Sonic
tonics of vibrations, clicks, bell like
tones, and pops were thrown into the
melee. Dara's pressure drop made for
some more heavy stompin'.
Exchange of time. Opening the
show were locals Inserts, a mass of acid
casualty improv data loop King Crim-
sonish "art. " Dreaming on stage, the
band suffered a case of the dirge
drones, though occasionally the fretless
bass and drums ironed the guitar wash
of sound. To sum up, during one of their
"songs", the guitar player checked his
Clearly, by exchanging pretense for
funning, Double Exchange were won-
derfully youthful and stunning. Look for
Jamaaladeen and Cosmetic, his other
band (another of several bands)
coming Wednesday night at Rick's.
Look for his solo album coming soon
(with Diva's Wilhemina Fernandez).
Coming soon, more energetic frenetics.
T HE JOHN PRINE who came to
town last week was about the same
as the one who showed up in 1975 laun-
ching the Common Sense tour and the
one who returned a year later in a
benefit for the Ark at the Power Center.
Approaching middle age at 36 and a
little larger around the middle, he
speaks with the same slow drawl he has on
stage, belying his sharp observations of
the human state that comes through in
the songs he writes. But songwriting
isn't all he wants to do.
Prine now has his own record com-
pany. It can't distribute records quite
yet, but he says he hoopes his new
album will be out by September and the
company might distribute it, with Prine
doing the producing. It's a fascinating
story, and he sat down after his Ann
Arbor concert to conclude the telephone
interview he had started the week
He said he named the company "Oh
Boy!" to match any sort of reaction a
product might meet. "Oh boy, was that
a great song. Oh boy, things aren't gong
that great. Maybe we can open a Jewish
branch and call it Oy Vey!" Sort of a
name for.all seasons.
Eventually, his production of other
artists might become a reality. There
are probably enough of them around
who might like the way John Prine
thinks an album should sound.
Prine moved to Nashville after his
divorce to live with his girlfriend a few
years ago. "In Chicago, my friends
were carpenters, plumbers, and other
kinds of regular working people. In
Nashville, I hang around with people
who are in the music business, because
that's what's in Nashville."
As he explained in his concert at the
Michigan Theatre Friday night, most of
the newer songs have been co-written in
Nashville. One of the reasons co-writing
with friends is easier is because "we
can criticize each other's work. We can
make a song that neither would have
written by ourselves."
There are now about 20 new songs
ready for the studio, Prine said, and
hopefully 12 will make it onto the
album, rather than the usual ten.
"Record companies figured out that
they pay for each song, so more songs
(on an album) means they pay out
more and have to sell it for the same
If Oh Boy! can distribute the record,
"I can sell it for two dollars less in the
store and make two dollars more
because there ain't no middle man.
Release of a new album means a tour,
and Prine said his would be "coast to
coast," hopefully including Ann Arbor.
That Prine, with his sarcastic, earthy
slice of life lyrics is popular in Ann Ar-
bor comes hardly as a surprise. But
other parts of the country also listen to
Steve Goodman, another prominent
folk-tinged songwriter, often
collaborates and performs with Prine,
one of his best friends. He accompanied
Prine on part of his 3%/2 week tour of the
Northwest, just before he came to
"We broke some (attendance) recor-
ds up in the Northwest, playing halls
that Hank Williams and Roy Rogers
played in," Prine jubilantly proclaimed
form his hideaway in Hackson Hole,
Wyoming, in the Grand Teton Moun-
tains. "We deserve this vacation."
But it is the music-buying public who
ultimately judge his work and Prine
has the utmost respect and thanks for
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them. "I could probably play a prairie
and get more people than if I played in a
city. In a prairie, there are usually
cities around and my fans often come a
long way to hear me, which just makes
me feel great."
Because he is still looking for the big
hit that will make-him a "Star,"Prine
gets most of his money from touring
and royalties, just like any other
songwriter. But he says touring is much
more than a chore. "I'll probably keep
playing for people 'til they.have to take
me off in a wheelchair."
His Ann Arbor show was not quite
perfect because the sound system had a
problem. It made his scratchy, honest
voice incomprehensible when he belted
out his songs. With a band like Black
Sabbath, it might have meant the end of
the show-but not John Prine. "You
don't write eleven years and not have
enough quiet, acoustic songs to last a
Phillip Donnelly, Prine's stagemate
for the past few years, said the un-
scheduled break w as the first the pair
had been forced to take, but "it was nor
problem." Since the order of songsand
what is played changes each show
Doily Photo by DEBORAH LEWIS
John Prine and stagemate Phillip Donnelly relax backstage after their
concert last Friday.
- to the Movies
ONE PRICE FOR ALL
anyway, it was easy to adapt when
"everything went wrong." r
.Donnelly, also based in Nashville, is
originally from Dublin, Ireland, but a
heavy brogue is almost absent. "People
say I sing with an accent but talk
without one." Although he only sang
part of "Paradise" this time, "in other
shows I sometimes sing a couple of my
own. Things were different than normal
The pair brought six guitars on to the
stage, but Donnelly remained with one
electric model as Prine fluctuated bet-
ween an electric and an acoustic.
Asked to invent a genre to classify his
music, Prine came up with the term
"country rock and roll-a, with an em-
phasis on the roll. People always drop
the last syllable of a word, so I was
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and the word stays."
The shine of Prine had not been
diminished by the speaker failure in
fact, he came out as the hero when he
was called back for an encore. His fans
are probably more loyal than ever after
a long-awaited return to Ann Arbor.
And Prine liked it too.
"Yeah, I got off on it. Want to see my
underwear?" Prine asked afterwards.
Prine looks toward the future with
hope. "It only takes 40 minutes to
record an album, more if you take time
to flip it over."
As he asks in one of his songs, John
Prine won't be buried, just cup up and
passed around. And after his concert,
nobody would ask for a refund.
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