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September 11, 1984 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-09-11

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 11, 1984 - Page 7


Nick Lowe, "Nick Lowe and
his Cowboy Outfit" (Colum-
bia Records).
Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit is
par for the course among Lowe solo
albums - unfatiguably cheerful,
tongue solidly glued in cheek, comfor-
tably lodged somewhere between wave-
pop and '50s/early '60s party pop; with a
guaranteed one or two minor fun
classics and a remainder of songs that
are, if not particularly memorable, im-
possible to actively dislike.
Like a lot of artists signed to Stiff
Records in the '70s (though Lowe had a
far more extensive track record than
most),'Nick Lowe has specialized in the
more harmless fun-fun-fun aspects of
the (R.I.P.) "New Wave," half-
jokingly nostalgic for early radio-pop
innocense, half faster-than-the-same
wavepop cheekiness.
And, like such fello Stiff enrollees as
Rachel Sweet, Lene Lovich and Ian
Dury, Lowe has consistentlyjust failed
to go beyond that jokey formula,
snaring a few hit singles but never put-
ting out a whole LP that trades in more
than simple goodwill. Lowe once made
an EP of Everly Bros. hits with Rock-
pile partner Dave Edmunds, and all of

middling solo projects have had the
same air of high spirits/affection/skill
and inspiration. Perhaps only Elvis
Costello, among all the happy-middle-
range Stiff acquisitons of the period,
has really developed steadily with
the years.
Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit is
still solidly within this tradition; it's a
solid B-plus as a party album, but it
inhabits that netherland between the
grisly retrograde music and that still
monopolizes much of the radio waves
and what we call New Music.
There's nothing wrong with being an
essentially nostalgia-based group, but
Lowe uneasily straddles new and old
without quite fixing an identity in
either. Perhaps the critical difference
between him and bands like the Rain
Parade and Rank and Rile, is that the
latter take their dated genre pop conve-
ntions with utter seriousness, while
Lowe seems content to clown around.
Perhaps it's our problem rather
than Lowe's not being able to accept
such slicked-up nouveau '50s/'60s pop
comfortably. In any case, the album
winds up feeling more like an arch trip
through the archives by talented
moderns than like a creative revision.
That doesn't mean that Cowboy Out-

fit isn't a very pleasant LP - it is. The
"cowboy" motif, for those of you not
particularly intrigued by the cowpunk
wave of Rank and File, Jason and the
Scorchers, etc., is pretty much limited
to one or two midtemp stomps. Elvis
Costello Himself co-produces one total-
pop cut, "L.A.F.S." (that means Love
At First Sight), which sounds a shade
too Costello-at-his-blandest to fit into
the grittie context of this album.
More typical are self-explanatory
titles like "Hey Big Mouth," "Stand up
and Say That," "God's Gift to Women"
and "The Gee and the Rick and the 3-
Card Trick," which are silly as they
sound and nearly as much fun.
Lowe flirts with rockabilly, soul,
R&B, and mid-60s pop like a near-
master imitator; only near because he
writes fairly catchy but unmemorable
songs that fit perfectly into the chosen
There are some mildly ecstatic ex-
ceptions, like the keyboard-happy
opener "Half a Boy and Half a Man,''
the Elvis-(not C.) worthy "Maureen,"
but most of the cuts are more charming
for the references they call up from
memory lane than for their own worth.
The only song that really jumps off the
vinyl and into your lap is the most fully
'80s-flavoured, an irresistable pop-up
called "Break Away," which is nearly
as memorable as Rockpile's catchy-as-
plague version of "Teacher, Teacher"
on Seconds of Pleasure.
Needless to say, Lowe's fine sense of
harmony is intact throughout the
album, and the musicians (whoinclude
Martin Belmont and ex-Squeeze Paul
Carrack) have infectious tacky-wall-of-
sound fun.
There's a lot to like on Nick Lowe and
His Cowboy Outfit, and virtually
nothing to dislike. Still, it's frustrating
that the enjoyment one feels never tur-
ns to anything approaching love. Lowe
has plenty of charm and studio know-
how going for him, and he's a com-
petent songwriter; but he remains just
one degree too easy-going to make the
jump from pleasurable minor perfor-
mer to major presence.
- Dennis Harvey

S tudLc1e nts
You can place your order for telephone service from
August 27 through September 12 at our Michigan Bell
Customer Service Center. We're located at 324 E. Huron in
Ann Arbor. Center hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Monday through Friday.
There are three important points to remember
when placing your order for service:
1. Michigan Bell now provides basic telephone
service only, NOT the telephones. If you already
own modular telephones, just keep them and
plug them in once your service is installed. If you
don't own any telephones, there are a number of
companies from which you can buy or lease them.
2. If your residence is already equipped with
modular telephone service, no installer visit will
be required.
3. Please bring picture identification, such as a
driver's license or passport, when placing your
order for service.
As always, we'll be happy to answer any questions.
Good luck this fall!
Michigan Bell

Eastwood's Tightrope act

(Contined from Page 6)
As it turns out, the killer is on to
Block, and has begun to trail him on his
nightly excursions, watching with
ghoulish voyeurism from as close as a
few feet away. He begins to kill each
woman Block has an experience with,
turning the chase into a dual cat and,-
mouse game with Block more often the
prey than the hunter.
Eventually the killer becomes com-
pletely obsessed with Block, who finds
his own children are the next in line
unless he can crack the case, and keep
from cracking up himself.
Admittedly, this kind of character
embellishment and some degree of plot
complications are considerably more
than the usual shell of a story Eastwood
finds himself in, which only serve as an
excuse to pad screen time before
t someone's, head is blown off. The
problem is that writer/director
Richard Tuggle never develops the
material into anything other than a B-
movie psychokiller yarn that's so
familiar one can't help but feel a con-
tinuous sense of deja vuthroughout.
The psycho is your basic omnisient,
almost supernatural imasked =killer
right out of any slaughter-at-a-summer-
camp turkey. It's difficult to see any
comparisons between him and Block,
because we never get an impression
that there's even a man behind the
Likewise, Block's own character is
* almost as undeveloped. The script is lit-
tered with an excess of pseudop-
sychological babbling about "walking
the tightrope between our two inner
sides, one good and the other evil," but
it's all unconvincing double talk that
falls with a leaden thud the moment the
actors utter any of it.
Tuggle puts Block through all man-
ners of hokey dramatic tricks to pound in
the idea, from nightmares where he
sees the killer's mask ripped off to
reveal his own face to a series of

halluncinatory flashbacks of his weird
sexual experiences. Tuggle even goes
so far as to wallow in some truly absurd
symbolism by having Block evetually
pursue the killer through the darkened
corners of his own home. In the end
though, there's still not a real man
there to care about.
For all the time Tuggle and Eastwood
waste trying to make Block into a tor-
tured character, the script frequently
shelves the subplot to make room for
gratuitous chase scenes and murders.
After a climax so prolonged and
disjointed it degenerates into a virtual
anticlimax, there's one quick scene at
the very end that tries to tie up all the
loose ends and show Block as trium-
phant in overcoming his dark side..
The problem is he hasn't done any soul
purging to make that very convincing.
If Eastwood's range extended beyond
his usual squint-eyed, clenched teeth
woodenness, he might have provided
the film with a character the audience
could empathize with enough to ignore
the details. Sadly, Eastwood is as
colorless and lacking in presence as
any of his other granite-hewn heroes,
Save for one occassion .when he lets
loose with a broad smile (and that's
something of a leap for Eastwood), Wes
Block is really just an emasculated Dir-
ty Harry.
The rest of the cast is so vaguely
sketched they literally blend in with the
background. Even Genevieve Bujold as
a rape counselor who develops a
romantic albeit platonic relationship
with Block, seems drained of her
usually irridescent screen presence.
Tightrope probably is the sort of
project that Clint Eastwood and his
legion of fans consider as "serious."
With its clunky multiple plots and less
than average action scenes, it seems
more original that what we've come to
expect, but in perspective, it's just a
third rate murder melodrama which is,
I guess, a step up for Eastwood.





r .


. ' a

September 10 to September 14
The Great
State Street



" Open to all college students. " Dozens of fabulous prizes. * Free Gifts and Discount Coupons just for entering.
Brought to you by: More than 50 participating merchants in the State Street area.

There's no Bo in Bolero

(Contined from Page 6)
To be honest, the script harbors one
more infinistesimal surprise. Despite
all of the bad acting, granite dialogue,
and dull plotting, Bo does show us a por-

trait of a woman who knows what she
wants and works to get it. It is only the
smallest of pluses though, and can't
even begin to neutralize the thousands
of minuses that fill Bolero.

Instant Winner Prize Package - pick
one up when you register to enter. Filled
with free gifts and valuable discount
coupons contributed by:

Grand Prize Drawing
September 15th at the Michigan'


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University Cellar
Mutual Savings
Martys His Lady
The Caravan Shop
Kinko s Copes
First of America Bank

Movie Poster Gallery
Comerica Bank
Jacobson s
State Discount
Ashleys Restaurant
Nectarine Ballroom
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Marti Walker
Marshall s

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(near State St.)
Ann Arbor
Classes in ballet,
modern, jazz, tap
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Marty s His Lady
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Ashley s Restaurant
Liberty Music Shop
Richardson's Pharmacy
Marti Walker

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1 The Great State Street Giveaway is a game promotion open to any
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4 Only one entry per person is permitted. In the event of multiple entries.
only the first card drawn for an individual will be honored and only the
first prize won will be awarded.
5 Prize drawing will be held at the Michigan Theatre on September 15.
6 Entrants need not be present to win.


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