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March 27, 1983 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1983-03-27

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ARTS

4*The Michigan Daily

Sunday, March 27, 1983

Page 5

Diatribes aside, Bebe bombs

By Larry Dean
OME INTERESTING OCCUREN-
CES at Joe's Star Lounge, circa
3/24/83:
,There were these guys in Hawaiian shirts
on stage. They were throneholders to a new,
irlterfacilitated music of contradicting or-
ders and did it all up under the banner of
Aiinum Beach. Not exactly Brian Wilson
c gn Gary Numan, but the guitars were as
cusp as any shiny metal sheet unrolled for
fold-storage-purposes that 1'd ever heard.
*Pple danced and they seemed to please.
Ol confusion came when they couldn't
decide whether the audience response
wasn't too lukewarm to play an encore.
Not too long after I and my consort
arived, two young ladies claimed (after
asking about prior-claimage-on) the seats in
frnt of us. They ordered a lot of drinks but
didn't seem to be very hip on any of the
music going on. Except when girl #2 in the
white-with-small-black-polka-dots dress
denounced Peter Gabriel's "Shock the
Monkey" when it came on the jukebox. I
was mortified and saddened, and to that
you can add outraged. No taste.
I kept having to get up as alackey rolled
keg after keg to the wartorn trench of the
bar area. My seat was in such a locale as to
make maneuvering for him impossible.

With each obligation, a flown chunk of
becalmedness was frittered and then back
in need of comfort. But a minor point, in-
deed-
The sound was good. Too loud, but nice
and clean. Hooray.
Finally the biggest names on the poster
took the stage: Bebe Buell and the B-Sides.
First to trot out was drummer Jon
Rousseau, who took sticks to skins and
bashed out an off-kilter beat. For a moment
I thought he was a renegade audience
member who had absconded with some
implements and decided this was his "big
chance," but was quickly given the ID-OK
as bassist Thomas Staunton came out and
played us - a little guitar ! In capping off
the introduction, backup singer Sakura
Pinette appeared, along with guitarist
George Gordon. who showed his chops on
the bass. There was s rousing climax of
crashing chords, the two string-men swit-
ched to their God-given tools, and a new
beat was established for the name-in-
question, Bebe Buell.
The audience greeted Beeb's appearance
with hoorahs and boisterous applause.
Dressed entirely in black - right down to
the gloves on her hands - Bebe began
belting out a tune to the Shirelles-meet-

Black Sabbath accompaniment of the B-
Sides. For visual embellishment, she played
with her hair a lot, and did other stuff like
clutch the mike-stand and hang her head
as if in silent prayer. My impression was
that she had seen too many concerts and
hadn't quite coordinated her onstage
movements yet. She was a living,
breathing, moving history of rock 'n' roll
body-movement cliches. After the song was
finished, she politely quipped, "Thank you
for coming." Uh-huh.
The B-Sides themselves seemed a
conglomeration of other sources. Guitarist
Gordon looked like a hybrid of Stiv Bators
(former lead vocalist from Ohio's Dead
Boys, now with Lords of the New Church)
and the Cars' Ric Ocasek. He word shades,
a cap, and a Batman tie, the latter over a
trusty black T-shirt. Staunton, in opposition
to the stereotypical "laid-back" bass player,
frequently stepped up to stagefront and
looked extremely "into it." In his
fashionable garb, he presented himself as a
refugee from the Duran Duran Fan Club.
Drummer Rousseau was the most casual
B-Side, but his drumming left much to be
desired. And Pinette - well, she seemed1
sorely out-of-place.
The music was equally derivative. While
Gordon was a fairly adept guitarist who
was able to fill up the void one usually gets
with a three-piece group, he relied too much

on a phase-shifter effect box which
monotonized his - and thus, the group's -
sound. Also, ending a majority of the songs
with crescendo-like, rumble-rumble-crash
endings didn't help, either. It almost makes
one appreciate the Ramones' "non-stop"
approach.
Granted, the B-Sides are a young group.
And Bebe is still new to the performing side
of the scene.Maybe if they had a record out
to better prepare their audiences, it would
make.the whole going a lot less tedious.
More road-work and practice are needed,
too.
There were a great deal of disappoin-
tments at Thursday night's show; not all of
them were the group's fault, thoug The
crowd wasn't the best, and provided little or
no support for the band. As the two women
in front of me and the ever-flowing drinks
proved, most were there to sucomb to the
numbness of intoxication. The songs from
the covers girl EP came off OK, especially
"My Little Red Book," but the instrumental
version of Bowie's "Panic In Detroit" had
folks waiting for vocals which never cam.
By the time the encore of the Psychedelic
Furs' "President Gas" was over, and Bebe
had thanked the crowd for coming for the
third time, the ironies, inconsistencies, and
the posing was a mere throbbing headache
to the dazed audience. So who needs in-
spiration? You shouldn't have to ask.

Daily Photo by DOUG McMAHON
Bebe Buell and her band, the B-Sides, played to a mostly unresponsive
crowd at Joe's Star Lounge Thursday night. But the main problem was with
the band's lack of originality and Buell's uncomfortable stance on stage.

Records-
Echo and the Bunnymen -
'Porcupine' (Warner Bros.)
E CHO AND THE Bunnymen - how
to describe them in one sentence?
An English eccentricity, a dark
enigma, even a modern day cult myth.
Certainly they're one of the most
dynamic and exciting rock bands of the
'80s, both in live performance and their
infrequent record releases.
Last year the band were having
difficulty in completing a third album,
and with the recent release of Por-
cupine the reasons for this become a lit-
tle clearer. The new album, no mhatter
how hard it tries, cannot help but be
caught up in the trailing wake of the
Bunnymen's last LP Heaven Up Here,
acknowledged to have been one of the
best albums of recent years.
Originally titled "Higher Hell,"
Porcupine shows the band struggling in
the snare of creative frustration,
unable to break free from their own
strongest musical points and surpass
previous achievements.
On "Heaven Up Here," Ian Mc-
Culloch sings We have no dark
.Books-
The War Outside Ireland
by Michael Joyce
Tinkers Dam Press, 173 p., $8.50
T HE WAR OUTSIDE IRELAND,
Michael Joyce's recently
published first novel, possesses the
ingredients of a fine Irish tale: red-
faced Dublin children, corn pudding,
and policemen. And, as if these aren't
enough, the author shares his surname
with the foremost Irish writer.
-<Unfortunately, the ingredients of the
novel never blend harmoniously and
the book itself fails to rise high enough
to engage the reader's interest.
,.Jn The War, Joyce explores not a war
'between nations, but the psychological
and physical conflict between the Irish-
American family and its environment
- these United States. The novel
-focuses on the displacement of the
Doyle family from their homeland, and
yithin this, the displacement of the
.garrator, Edmund Doyle, from his
father's house. The theme is presented
through Edmund's visit to his parents'
home in Buffalo, where his younger
brother, Jimmy, has locked himself in
the bathroom for days - and no one
knows why. As Edmund helps his
family through Jimmy's crisis, his
memory darts back and forth, spanning
the history of the Doyle family. Within
the plot, however, the displacement
theme is itself displaced among
unecessary details, and overwhelmed

things, but this album reveals the other
side of the coin, with the vibrant-energy
and spiralling self-confidence of the fir-
st two albums only rarely breaking
through Mac's pessimistic lyrics and
the oppressively synthesized backing
arrangements.
Porcupine opens with the current
single, "The Cutter," riding on a jagged
up-tempo beat with rare overlying
string and synthesiser additions.
Although probably the brightest track
on the album, it hardly compares with
the Bunnymen's last single, "The Back
of Love," a remixed version of which is
also included on side one.
There are really no obvious contem-
porary comparisons any more. Past in-
fluences included Tom Verlaine,
Television and The Doors, but the spar-
se jangling guitar sound that featured
on early songs such as "Pride," or
"Crocodiles" has been filled out so
thoroughly by Ian Broudie's layered
production that much of the taut direc-
tness of the band has been lost.
In place of directness is a new com-
plex sound that does work exceptionally
well on a number of tracks. "Higher
Hell" in particular features an in-
strumental break that literally soars

above the rest of the song, although it's
no longer clear exactly what in-
struments are being played.
With this increased musical com-
plexity comes a new lyrical depth that's
also an unusual departure for the Bun-
nymen. In the past, personal emotions
and experiences provided the basis for
the songs, but now literary references
abound. Keats and "King Lear" in the
track "Ripeness," with reference to the
passing of the glories of youth, How
will we recall ripeness when it's
over?pleads McCulloch. Author John
Webster also figures prominently in the
songs "My White Devil," and the frac-
tured discordant "Clay." That they
should rely so heavily on such detached
intellectual influence is another sign
that the Bunnymen are searching
desperately for external inspiration.
The choice of "Porcupine" as the
album title is appropriate. At just over
five minutes the title song is a virtual
synthesis of the entire album, with such
revealing lyrics as Missing the point
of our mission, will we become
misshapen? over a pounding tormen-
ted beat that places the Bunnymen in
almost as bleak and desolate a position
as a band like The Cure.

Despite the overall negative aura of
"Porcupine," there are hopeful signs,
none more so than the last track on the
album, "In Bluer Skies."
This really is Echo and the Bun-
nymen at their best. A solid rhythmic
groove underpinning a shimmering
glass wall of sound, with the guitar of
Will Sergeant, as in all their best songs,
the dominant element in the mix.
Even here, though, they can't fesist a
last passing reference to the second
album. Have we been born to follow?
tied to a bitter rein? is the album's
final unanswered question.
Porcupine therefore remains an un-
certain album. On one hand there's the
current self-doubt and questioning of
Ian McCulloch's lyrics and on the other
the growing intensity and power of the
music itself.
Already Echo and the Bunnymen are
so far beyond most of their contem-
poraries in terms of experience and
achievement that Porcupine's uncer-
tainty could almost be said to form part
of a natural progression for the band;
the album still stands as one of the best
releases so far of 1983.
By Mike Belford

POETRY READING with
John Peter Beck and
David A. Epstein
reading from their works
Monday, March 28, 8 PM, at
Guild House, 802 Monroe (662-5189)

MEDICAL
UM, W YN & MSU MEDICAL SCHOOL ADMISSIONS
DEANS & MED STUDENTS HERE... ON CAMPUS. INFO &
CDISCUSSION ON ADMISSIONS, PREPARATION, MEDICAL
CAREERS AND MORE...
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30
7pm-8:3Opm
2nd floor ANGELL -
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by stylistic clutter and literary preten-
se.
Joyce's generally restless style,
flooded with metaphors and alliteration
reminiscent of tenth grade creative
writing exercises, is tiresome. For
example, he writes of his brother-in-
law painting the Doyle house: "He hung
there like an ox ir a parachute, the
brush flapping white paint against the
peak." The bovine image is graphic
enough, but why "peak" (other than
because it alliterates with "paint")?
"Roof" may have been less poetic, but
perhaps clearer. Less forced is the
description of crystals on a winter day
that coat "the sidewalks with a crun-
ched glaze"; but in company with hun-
dreds of other such comparisons (in-
cluding knots, bonnets, and oxen), the
reader feels confused and lost in a jum-
ble of disconnected images.
In introducing each character, Joyce
provides at least one descriptive
paragraph, mammoth in size, per-
person. It would be pleasant if he could
get far enough outside himself as
narrator so the reader might share
what the other Doyles see in one
another. And why not show the reader
instead of telling so much? Trade
"Black Peggy is short" for a descrip-
tion of how much smaller she looks
when standing next to Deidre, Ed-
mund's sister.
Joyce does achieve a memorable
description in recounting Mr. Doyle's
behavior at his father's trial for

shooting a rifle through a bank window.
The author writes, Doyle "shook as he
stood there in his out-of-fashion, plaid
Sears suit and stiff, unaccustomed to
dress shoes... The laughter in the room
especially seemed to frighten him." His
father's pathetic state moves one to feel
the rare presence of a living, human
character.
Mainly, the novel's literary preten-
tion is responsible for its stylistic
weakness. The reason one cannot feel
much friendship or sympathy for
Joyce's characters is that they are
presented in a cool, often self-indulgent,
Hemingwayesque tone. The conver-
sation between Edmund and Pat, for

example, fills a half page in which Ed-
mund lights a cigarette (hail
machismo!), and another half page of
distant exchange is about the Black
Irish. The conversation stands still -
and when it ends, the novel has come no
closer to realizing its goal.
- By Lisa Ryan

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We are the East Quad Music
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LAST DAY:
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II-3pm
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