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March 30, 1984 - Image 25

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-03-30
Note:
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Spring-
cleaning
Echo and the Bunnymen
Killing Moon,
Never Stop Korova
The Right Profile
Let's Pretend-Vibratune
The Riff Doctors
I Don't Want to Go Back-Coyote
The Smiths
This Charming Man-Rough Trade
Jules Shear
When Love Surges-EMI-America
The Units
New Way to Move-Epic
The Waterboys
The Waterboys-Chicken Jazz
a). Burnell and Dave Greenfield
Fire and Water-Epic
Fire and Water-Epic---UK
utopia
Oblivious-Passport
By Larry Dean
NOW THAT spring is in the air (as
of this writing - the wistful week
before Spring Break, with temps clim-
bing into the luxurious '60s), it's a sure
sign that plenty of changes are due
upon our little campus, not to mention
the whole of the world. Rivers of slush
cascade through the streets, littered
with flotsam, jetsam and occasional
residue from autumn-last; bulksome
coats are being replaced by lighter
jackets; bird chirps fill the crisp air
with gentle song; and spirits are on an
upswing.
As with thaws of the past, there
comes a thing called Spring Cleaning.
We all know what that is: The time to
sort through the trash and debris of our
winter hibernation, and prepare for
sunny, devil-may-care days of finals,
mayhem, and uproarious hoopla. So in
accordance with this time-honored
tradition, I offer some overlooked
and/or derserving musical items that
managed to slip by during the latter
throes of flurries and nosehair-freezing
coldspells.
First, Echo and the Bunnymen's
latest 45, "The Killing Moon," b/w "Do
It Clean" (Korova). Although rooted
firmly in the Bunnymen formula, this
single is sort of a departure for the
Liverpool lads, with piano and acoustic
guitar prominent in the mix. Still
lingering are the Indian (as in Ghandi)
references in the sound - especially
with Will Sergeant's lead guitar - but
they are considerably toned down from
the explicit ethnicity found on Por-
cupine, their last LP.
"The Killing Moon" is chock full of
ominous sentieice, juxtaposed with an
early rock 'n' roll-style chord
progression on the bridge; over the be-
bopness, McCulloch wails, Fate/Up
against youwill/Through the thick
and thin/You will wait until/You
give yourself to him. Classic B'men.
Before "The Killing Moon," another
non-LP single was released: "Never

Stop," b/w "Heads Will Roll." The B-
side here is one of the hottest tracks off
Porcupine, chock full 'o the Eastern
touches mentioned earlier, but with a
hearty dash of psychedelic wigging-out,
too. "Never Stop," however, is an un-
paralleled popper, almost totally out on
a limb from the past catalogue of Bun-
nymen work. With layered percussion;
piano, violas, and synthesizer, "Never
Stop" is the first true 'studio' cut the
Bunnymen have managed. Happily, it
is an excellent tune, again spotlighting
Will Sergeant's jarring chord solos. If
this stuff is any indication of a forth-
coming LP, the pulsebeat of the world
will have to cease upon its release.
On homier turf, North Carolina's the
Right Profile (name lifted from the
Clash song of the same name) have
come out with a super debut single,
"Let's Pretend," b/w "Junior Miss"
and "Little A" (Vibratune). Produced
by Mitch Easter, this material is a big
departure from Easter's past credits,
and from the music coming out of the N.
Carolina area, period. Starting with a
"cool" intro bass line, then seguing into
rolling drums and chintzy organ, "Let's
Pretend" is a spunky but dark ode to a
misfiring relationship. As the chorus
says: Let's pretend we're real/Let's
pretend we feel/Let's pretend we
even like each other. When vocalist
Jeffrey Foster sings, You never think
of what you're doing/You never
think of who you're
screwing/Screwing up, the deceit
becomes double-edged, and the song
picks up additional steam. Clocking in
at five minutes, "Let's Pretend" is an
adventurously-lengthy A-side.
The two B-sides are prime pop-rock,
too - "Junior Miss," another foray into
lovedom by Foster, and "Little A" a
quirkier, less straightforward song by
bandmember Stephen Dubner.
The Riff Doctors hail from Hoboken,
New Jersey, another hotspot for new
music. Their single, "I Don't Want To
Go Back," b/w "Falling" (Coyote), is
on the same label that's brought us the
Phosphenes and Steve Almaas and the
Beat Rodeo, instigated to give all that
burgeoning talent a soapbox to sing
from. Fronted by Frank Bednash
(prominently pictured on. the sleeve
with his Sear's Silvertone guitar in
tow), the Riff Doctors are, to quote a
record-store pal, "the best thing since
white bread."
Both songs are quite good - short,
highlighted by jangly guitars, major
chords, bouncy rhythms, and
traditionally peppy lyrics. "Falling"
even has handclaps, and God knows
there's not enough of those nowadays!
The inside label says PLAY LOUD, and
I couldn't agree more with that.
One group causing a stir right now in
England is the Smiths, and their debut
single, "This Charming Man," b/w
"Jeane" (Rough Trade), shows both
why, they do and don't deserve it. The
Smith's forte is beat-heavy guitar-
oriented pop laden with casual lyrical
nuances. Singer Morrissey wants to be
(the new) Bryan Ferry, crooning
lounge-lizardly in a throaty warble
straight out of Country Life-era Roxy
Music.
With lyrics like I would go out
tonight/But I haven't got a stitch to
wear, the Smith's biggest problem
becomes evident, that being that they
try too hard to sound like others, and
not hard enough at themselves. The
musicianship continues on this medium
kind of bent, with everyone turning in

F.

noteperfect performances devoid of
passion or real interest.
Finally, we get out of the singles
realm with the latest 12" from Jules
Shear, late of Jules and the Polar
Bears, "When Love Surges," b/w an in-
strumental of the A-side (EMI-
America). After two stellar Polar
Bears albums; an EP, a few appearan-
ces on other musicians' albums, and
some production work, Shear released
his Watch Dog solo album, a mixed-bag
comeback from a major talent. Sadly,
"When Love Surges," recorded in
Detroit with Don Was - of Was (Not
Was) - producing, is tired dance-rock
full of cliches and insipid lyrics. Even
on Watch Dog, some songs were saved
by Jules' exuberent, unpredictable
lyrics - here, they're so bland, we
welcome the instrumental's solid beat
and tired studio tricks as relief from the
mundane singing. Old Shear comes
highly recommended, this does not.
The Units' New Way to Move EP
(epic) is a pleasant surprise. A four-
person synthesizer band, San Fran-
cisco's Units make danceable, simple
tunes that are uncluttered and en-
joyable in their own jubilant way. Don't
expect the grandiose angst of Tears
For Fears, the showbiz sleaze of Soft
Cell, or the primal scream minimalism
of Suicide in the Units' music - desite
the all-synth line-up their music is sur-
prisingly warm and cheery, lacking
many of the pretensions that make the
above-mentioned intolerable at times.
A solid effort.
Before it gets too old, I have to men-
tion the excellent eponymous - debut
from the Waterboys (Chicken Jazz).
Sounding at various moments like
Television, the Velvet Underground,
and even 10cc, the Waterboys LP is a
remarkable, emotional debut. Vocalist
Mike Scott sings with a Tom Verlaine
whine, and plays guitar much in the
same manner as Verlaine - shaky,
quavering licks that bite deep into the
psyche of the listener. Scott is also a gif-
ted so-ngwriter, evoking dreamy moods
out of the textures of songs like
"December," "Gala," and "Savage
Earth Heart." In all, The Waterboys is
must-listening.
A soundtrack album for the film
Ecoutez Vos Murs gave Jean-Jacques
Burnel and Dave Greenfield the oppor-
tunity to record together outside their
regular band, the Stranglers. The
resulting album, Fire and Water, is an
improvement from Burnel's previous
solo outing, Euroman Cometh, which
suffered from a lack of musical direc-
tion and pedantic humor that wore thin
very fast. Here, Greenfield's at-
mospheric keyboards weave mar-
velous textures around simple musical
themes, proving again that he is one of
the finest contemporary keyboardists,
never at a loss for new ideas and soun-
ds; one listen to the slinky "Le Soir," or

the noises on "Trois Pedophiles Pour
Eric Sabyr," will prove Greenfield's
virtuousity.
On "Rain & Dole & Tea," Maggie
Reilly turns in a'pretty vocal appearan-
ce,, and Burnel's comic side turns the
cheek in "Vladimir & Sergei," a sequel
to the Stranglers B-side, "Vladimir &
Olga."' So if you like film music that
doubles as a solo effort for two mem-
bers of the fiercest, most original band
recording today (hint, hint!), then give
Fire and Water a try.
Another EP, Let's Active's afoot
(IRS), is quite possibly one of the best
pop discs I've heard in some time.
Masterminded by producer Mitch
Easter (who was brought up earlier
on), Let's Active is a crew who know
their roots, aren't ashamed to show it,
but who also aren't afraid to surge
ahead. As a result, afoot fairly leaps off
the turntable with its verve and high-
spirited discharge.
"Every Word Means No" is classic
riff-rock, "Make Up With Me" hook-
filled and sparkling, "Edge of the
World" ethereal and magestic . . . and
that's only side one! The three songs on
side two, "Room With A View"
(featuring lead vocals by bassist Faye

.m ,,4
Suit by Austin Reed, $265; pink button-down oxford,
$26; paisley tie, $20 (above). Available at Marty's.
Joanie Char blouse, $72; Corbin poly-cotton shirt,
$45; belt $24 (below-right). Available at His Lady.
Background: Law Quad.

Hunter), "In Between," and "Leader of
Men," all show the same craft and at-
titude that make Let's Active more
than just a vehicle for Easter's
songwriting skills. For those who think
he started producing and then went on
to playing, one listen to afoot should
turn your heads around.
Last, but not least, Oblivion waxes
philosophic on Orwell's disparaging
futureshock, but doesn't sacrifice in-
trepidity along the way. The adroit
1984-ish themes can be found in songs
like "Welcome To My Revolution,"
"Love With A thinker," and "Winston
Smith Takes It On The Jaw" (Smith
being the central character in Orwell'sj
novel), but those themes don't interfere
with the overall pace of Oblivion; while
it pokes accusing fingers here and there
at the possibilities of totalitarianism
run amok, it isn't a 'concept' album as
much as it is a record with some sly
subliminal messages to pass on.
For the other side of the sphere, we
get the equitable pop songs - "I Will
Wait," "If I Didn't Try," "Crybaby,"
and so on. The big diff between this
album and the last Utopia effort is a
tightening up of the music, and a more
ballsy attack. Todd Rundgren seems to
be riding high on a wave of success
these days, and while it might not
necessarily be commercial success, the
ensuing music is well worth the atten-
tion. Oblivion is Utopia, and vice-versa,
but don'tcha believe that means the end
is in sight.
As for the upcoming months - may
they be sunshiny and musically
gratifying, not to mention swell.

..
4
G:
C"
y

(I-

Michael Seroy cardigan vest, $70; and sweater, $65; Willi Wear pants, $64. Available at Ayla. B
Building.

Miyo T-shirt,
$20; Girbaud
pant, $66; belt
$38 (left).
Guess jeans,
$58; CP Shades
tank, $9,
Gibaud shirt,
$36. Available
at Bivouac.
Background:
State Street.

y.

28 Weekend/Friday, March 30, 1984

13 Weekend/F

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