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March 02, 1984 - Image 14

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-03-02
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Baby
steps
The Pretenders
Learning to Crawl
Sire
By Don Pappas

IN THE SUMMER of 1982, prior to
going into the studio to cut their third
album, the Pretenders met and decided
that things might go a little smoother
without bass player Pete Farndon.
Chrissie Hynde's ex-boyfriend, Far-
ndon, had a bad habit of punching
Chrissie's new flame, the Kinks' Ray
Davies, and Farndon's differing
musical tastes and heroin abuse did not
make him any more popular with his
bandmates.
The following day, lead guitarist
James Honeyman Scott (co-writer with
Hynde of such hits as "Brass In
Pocket" and "Day After Day") was
found dead of cocaine intolerance. Over
the course of the next nine months,
Farndon overdosed on heroin, and
Chrissie Hynde gave birth to a daughter
by way of Davies.
So, after almost two years since we
last saw her, Chrissie Hynde is back
with a new lifestyle, and a new band,
and a new album.'
While no match for the first Preten-
ders LP, Learning to Crawl packs some
powerful lyrics and delivers a few good
punches itself.
Two of the album's tracks, "Back On
the Chain Gang" and "My City Was
Gone," comprised the Pretenders' first
post-Farndon/Scott single and stand as
the dullest songs on the album. Though
supposedly written before the
guitarist's demise, "Back On the Chain
Gang," a song about love, death and
carrying on, took on all kinds of new
meaning in the light of James
Honeyman Scott's death. "Chain
Gang" survives well enough lyrically,
but it goes nowhere musically. The song
is overly repetitive, and, filling in for
Honeyman Scott, Billy Bremner (for-
merly of Rockpile) provides un-
velievably bland guitar work.
Bremner further reveals his lack of
imagination on "My City Was Gone,"

but it's doubtful that even Scott could
have saved this exercise in boredom.
"My City Was Gone" finds Hynde
returning to Akron, Ohio to discover
that her family and friends have gone
and that her wonderful Midwestern
countrysides have been replaced by
parking lots and shopping malls by "a
government that had no
pride. " The lyrics are sophomoric
and the whole thing is soporific from
the beginning. Hynde's newer material
fares much better.
The album starts off with its first
single, "Middle of the Road," Martin
Chambers' drumming riding shotgun
all the way. The song is indicative of
the Pretenders' new, lighter sound
(Telecasters and Stratocasters
everywhere) and of Chrissie Hnyde's
decidely new pop songwriting. Nothing
fancy but certainly energetic, "Middle
of the Road" concerns Hynde coming to
grips with her new lifestyle and some
new political attitudes. Hynde still has
social and political concerns, but she
has a smile for everyone I meet, as
long as you don't try dragging my
bay or dropping a bomb on my
street. She explains, I'm not the cat I
used to be. I've got a kid, I'm 33.
If "Middle of the Road" is to be seen
as a disclaimer. "Time The Avenger"
belies the need for any such
disclaimer. By far the best tune on the
album, "Time The Avenger" recalls
the first album's "Mystery
Achievement" not only rhythmically
but also lyrically. Chambers and new
bass player Malcolm Foster keep
things humming, and guitarist Robbie
McIntosh shines and grinds. Seems a
likely single.
"Watching the Clothes," a song about
working as a waitress, doing your laun-
dry on a Saturday night, and basically
watching your life slide by, follows. It's
as rowdy as "Louie Louie" from
Pretenders II, but nonetheless it
represents only a mediocre effort on
Chrissie Hynde's part.
The next two songs are addressed to
Hynde's daughter. In "Show Me,"
Hynde welcomes her daughter to the
human race, with its wars, disease
and brutality and beseeches the child
to show her the meaning of love with
her innocence and grace. The song is
very pop and upbeat and succeeds by
avoiding mushiness.
"Thumbelina" is a fun rockabilly
tune about crossing America, looking to
be born again. This time, though,
mother is giving the lesson: What's
important here today (is) the broken
line on the highway... Take my
hand, we'll make it through this
world.
The album's only cover, "Thin Line
A41
z m
* P
~~~~0
y y' " I.' 8,
I-i"-'- C d s " 0

By Julie Edelson

Chava '
charm
Chava Alberstein
Hille Foundation
Lydia Mendelssohn Theater
8 p.m. Saturday, March 3

at Hillel, said that Albertstein was
selected to perform because she has a
large following in the Ann Ar-
bor/Detroit area.
"She doesn't just appeal to Univer-
sity of Michigan students," Siegel said.
Albertstein's songs, which are in
Yiddish and Hebrew, center on the
spiritual aspect of Israeli life - the
cleansing of the spirit that comes with
the harvest and the changing of the
seasons. Her love songs also describe
this love of the land and her nation, as
well as a love of humanity.
Siegel said that "her voice and the
feeling she has behind her words about
her country" is what makes Albertstein
so special.
Siegel said, however, that Alber-
tstein's songs transcend national
issues. "There's more going on (in
Israel) than just politics," she said.
Albertstein presents us with the
nation's artistic perspective.
Albertstein is known for her ability to
eloquently blend the sounds of Hebrew,
a language which is often difficult to fit
into accepted melodic structures.
Her repetoire has been strengthened
through her work with a variety of
renowned composers and songwriters,

ALTHOUGH her name may not be at
the top of the list of popular
musicians of most University students,
she has won the "Kinor David" prize -
the Israeli "Grammy" for the singer of
the year, six times. Most every Israeli
home has at least one of her recordings.
She is Chava Albertstein, acclaimed
by critics in Israel and abroad as one of
the most superior Israeli singers. She
will be appearing at the Lydia Men-
delssohn Theater as part of Hillel's
Celebration of Jewish Arts series.
Beth Siegel, director of cultural arts

including Moshe Vilensky, Sasha
Argove, and Naomi Shemer. She also
collaborates with younger musicians,
such as Shalom Hanoch, Matti Caspi,
and Schlomo Gronich. she has recor-
ded 30 albums, and has given concerts
in the United States, Canada, South
America, Australia, and Western
Europe.
Albertstein was born in Poland at the
end of World War II, and she and her
family were later forced to flee Warsaw
as refugees. After roaming through
Russia, they immigrated to Israel in
the 1950s.
It is not surprising that Albertstein is
musically inclined. Her father teaches
music, her brother is a jazz enthusiast
and clarinetist, and her mother was on-
ce an amateur Yiddish folksinger.
It was first prize in a talent contest
held in her home town, Tivon, hear
Haifa, that triggered the start of Alber-
tstein s career. After she served in the
Army, where she was a soloist in the
Army Entertainment Corps, Alber-
tstein started professional singing. It
was at this time that she began a series
of stage performances, recordings, and
international concert tours.
The Ann Arbor audience will have

Chava Albers
melodies
the unique opj
taste of Israeli
to be a memory
A
I1

Pretenders: Ready to walk
Between Love and Hate," is a bit over-
produced, a bit overdone. Nonetheless,
"Thin Line" teaches that fate has a way
of evening things up and, furthermore,
that, when it comes to love, actions
speak louder than words. Hynde
warns, the sweetest woman in the
world could be the meanest woman
in the world if you make her that
way.
Chrissie Hynde deals with the same
topic more concisely in the next tune, "I
Hurt You." She lays it on the line: I
hurt you because you hurt me; I
hurt you so you hurt me. The song is
fairly dull, but the thick sound and a
nice, juicy Robbie McIntosh solo save
the song.
The album closes with a Christ-
mas/love song, "2,000 Miles," which is
as pithy as it is harmonic. A nice

melodic composition, but I prefer
Johnny Mathis for pithy Christmas
tunes.
Chrissie Hynde has shown that she is
one of the few artists who can take a
deliberate step into the pop arena while
keeping intelligent, often poetic, lyrics
intact. Her voice is stronger and surer
than ever. Quite simply, there is no way
to replace a guitarist such as James
Honeyman Scott, but Robbie McIntosh
suffices and may even be better suited
for Hynde's more recent, lighter-weight
music.
As Learning to Crawl is much more
pop than rock, it may pale in com-
parison to its predecessors. But with
the new sound come fresh lyrics which
seem to sport more mature attitudes.
The new Pretenders will be walking
in no time.d

idnce
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V! /

Divine
dance
The Oakland Ballet
University Musical Society
Power Center
8 p.m. Monday-Tuesday, March 5-6
By Ellen Rieser
W ITH THE rise in popularity of
ballet in America, the past ten
years have seen a flourishing of ex-
cellent regional companies. While
many of these companies tour exten-
sively in their native regions, they still
tend to be unknown once they go on
national tour.
Such was the unfortunate experience
of the Oakland Ballet, a leading West
Coast company, which made its first
tour to the Ann Arbor area last winter.
Founded in 1961 as a small civic com-
pany, the Oakland Ballet has developed
into a major company with a 20-plus
corps de ballet, a professional training
school, and its own theater. The com-
pany works with distinguished
choreographers such as Arpino,
Berisoff, Nijinska, and Sokolow, and it
has an interstingly eclectic repertoire.
Despite all of these credentials, while
the Oakland Ballet danced brilliantly at
Power Center last season, it danced
brilliantly for a nearly empty house.
What audience there was responded en-
thusiastically to the company's of-
ferings, especially the lavish and well-
danced revivals of famous Diaghilev
ballets such as Scheherazade, Spectre
de la Rose, and La Boutique Fantasque.
This season the Oakland Ballet retur-

P
c
o }
f _ f
't T"
:\'

The Oakland Ballet: Revives 'Billy the
ns again to Power Center for three dif-
ferent evenings of dance. The Monday,
March 5th program will feature four
short works, each very different in
feeling: Inconsequentials, by Agnes de
Mille, grande dame of American ballet;
Death and the Maiden, by London Con-
temporary Dance Theater's Robert
North; Waterways, by Betsy Erickson;
and Dvorak Dances by Ronn Guidi,
founder and artistic director of the
Oakland Ballet.
The March 6th program will also
feature four short works: Street Songs,
by Val Caniparoli; Billy the Kid, by
Eugene Loring; Dvorak Dances; and
Bolero by Marc Wilde.
Those who saw Torvill and Dean
skate to Bolero in tfieir recent Olympic
performance should find it interesting
to compare how choreographers from
two different genres interpret the same
piece of music.
Although the diversity represented
by the Monday and Tuesday night
programs should make for pleasant

performances, the real treat of
Oakland's stay promises to be Wed-
nesday's full-evening production of The
Crystal Slipper. Set to a score by
Bohuslav Martinu with choreography
by Carlos Carvajal, a contemporary
Bay-area choreographer, The Crystal
Slipper is a retelling of Cinderella.
Ann Arbor rarely sees full-evening
productions - it's easier and cheaper
for companies to tour with several
smaller works. Forget waiting for
American Ballet Theater's Cinderella
in Detroit in April. (It is an over-
froufroued behemoth of a Cinderella,
an expensive and ultimately boring
production.) Oakland Ballet is an
imaginative company with a flair for
reviving classics of all sorts, from
preserving the contemporary (Billy the
Kid) to restaging the old (Diaghilev's
works).
The Crystal Slipper should be an en-
joyable ballet - and one that should
give some of the Oakland Ballet's more
luminous dancers a chance to shine. 0

the
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PHOTOG R

4 Weekend/Friday, March 2, 1984

9 Weekend/]

.pl.. g $'-

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