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September 23, 1983 - Image 17

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1983-09-23
Note:
This is a tabloid page

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Small
steps
The Crossing
Big Country
Polygram Records

By Larry Dean
W HEN DYLAN started honing his
chops on a vintage Stratocaster 'round
the time of Highway 61 Revisited,
many-a devout Dylanite grew aghast
that Mr. Z had abandoned his ample
acoustic for this noisier and less attrac-
tive hunk of wood 'n' wire. The result -
for those who stuck around for master-
works like Blonde On Blonde, and even
the rest of the ranks, I mean, the crew
who dropped out of the fan club - was a
thing called, with greater
ferociousness, Folk-Rock, hyphen in-
tact. Today, it flourishes in the music of'
Don Maclean and the now-defunct-but-
always-inevitably-remembered Ea-
gles, and in the trendy clangings of Big
Country.
One would assume, with so much
hype and good press, that Big Country
is a band worth noticing. No. I mean
let's be simple - no. Not that The
Crossing isn't a solid effort - in fact, it
is every bit as sturdy as the maple that
made up Dylan's electric guitar's body;
but it is such a limiting and self-
conscious disc that it wears thin ex-
tremely fast and doesn't remain long in
memory.
What is it, then, that makes up The
Crossing? Well, producer Steve
Lillywhite is much in demand these

days, having turned out fine records for
the likes of Peter Gabriel, U2, XTC, and
Siouxsie and the Banshees. His
trademark 'big drum' sound (also
known in the trade as the Phil Collins
Roll) and ballsy guitar quality are
brought out quite effectively on The
Crossing, and he would seem the
producer for this type of music. Hey,
side one even kicks off with "In a Big
Country," complete' with rebel yell
from vocalist Stuart Adamson (ex of
Skids) and Mark Brzezicki's
tumultuous drums. My point here,
however, is that this is a moment of ex-
treme predestination, and by now just a
little bit tiresome. Maybe a Casiotone
would have helped (just kidding!).
The Crossing sounds like the soun-
dtrack to a travelogue about Scotland,
complete with down-home images via
the lyrics and yee-hah guitar riffs. If
the motif had been a Spanish one, we
would find Adamson and Co. in
matador garb on the back cover -
'stead, though, it's a more casual denim
jacket and flannel approach, furthered
by some delicate soft touch
photography. Dexy's Midnight Runners
1983 this ain't, but it still suggests that
our boys are holding up their end of the
ethnocentric tartanhood.
Nearly every tune on The Crossing
has some faintly folky feel to it, either
courtesy of guitar riffs, or through
Adamson's throaty vocals. Sometimes
it works - as in "The Storm," a.
beautifully lilting song which sounds
like Richard Thompson in a spunky
mood - and other times it flops, as, for
example, in "Close Action," seemingly'
based loosely on Eugene O'Neill's ex-
pressionist drama, The Hairy Ape.
Now the attacks and semi-praises are
coming from all sides here...and in the
course of rambling, the valuable points
have been overlooked or sputtered, so
let it be said: Big Country are com-
petent and even -Oh Boy! - good
musicians with a penchant for too many
deedleedeedlees. The riffs soar, but this
stuff isn't too far removed from Molly

Ballet
Espanol
Ballet Nacional Espanol
University Musical Society
Power Center
8 p.m .,Wednesday, September 28
By Ellen Rieser
T OE SHOES and plies will be flash-
ing again this year in the Power
Center as the "Choice Series" kicks off
its 1983-84 season with the Ann Arbor
premier of Ballet Nacional Espanol.
The 50-member company prides itself
on its ability to present the three major
Spanish dance styles: Spanish ballet,
which descended from the dances of the
Spanish Royal Court; Spanish folk dan-
cing; and the flamenco style, which
was derived by Spanish gypsies from
Moorish dances.
For its September 28th performance
at the Power Center Ballet Nacional
Espanol presents a program that will
provide the local audience with an op-
portunity to experience each of these
very different dance styles.
The program will lead off with
Sonatas, music and choreography by
Antonio-Ruiz Soler, " principal
choreographer of the troupe. Sonatas
should provide an excellent example of
Spanish Ballet.
Zapateado, the company's second
piece will be performed by Paco
Romero, with choreography by Soler
and music by Sarastate. Although the
company did no release a description of
the dance, the Zapateado is a Spanish
dance for a solo performer marked by
rhythmic tapping of the heels.

Big Country: Down-home style

Hatchet territory...Makes one wonder
if the band doesn't do the patented pen-
dulum-guitar choreography on stage,
as well. And while The Crossing dishes
up some swell tunes (must also mention
the nicely built-up music in "Porroh-
man," and the music and lyrics of "In-
wards," The Crossing's finest song), it
sure has its stinkers, too (Isn't "Fields
of Fire" a revamped "Should I Stay Or
Should I Go?"). Gosh, this must all

sound pretty damn unconvincing, but
the matter at hand indicates that Big
Country is no big thing and certainly
not interesting beyond a few good
songs... nothing great. This doesn't
mean I'd ever pass up a free ride to
Scotland or the White Cliff region,
where B.C. hail come from - one thing
beneficial about The Crossing: it makes
a great postcard - but a tepid record.

The final piece on the program will be
Soler's version of the famous character
ballet, The Three-Cornered Hat (El
Sombrero de Tres Picos"). Originally
presented in 1919 by Diaghilves's Ballet
Russes, it is a remarkpble
collaboration of artistic talent,
featuring original music by de Falla,
choreography by Massine, and scenery
and costumes by Picasso.
Although Ballet Nacional Espanol's
production features different
choreography, it maintains the de Falla
score and uses reproductions of the
Picasso originals.
The ballet tells the witty narrative of
how a miller and his beautiful wife
cleverly thwart an elderly official bent
on her seduction. With its bouncy
music and broad humor, The Three-
Cornered Hat is liable to be the hit of
the evening. And Ballet Nacional
Espanol, the first dance company to be
sponsored by the Spanish government
on a permanent basis, may even be the
hit of the season.

I

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Stew

Art

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Ballet Nacional Espanol: On their toes

12 W eekencVSentemer.2. 19 4 ')'

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