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October 05, 1984 - Image 16

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The Michigan Daily, 1984-10-05
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(Continued from Page 3)
saturated A Flock of Seagulls, with its
adolescent, sci-fi lyricism, went gold in
no time flat.
Now it's two years later and the band
has exhausted their two tricks. Score
has changed his haircut (he probably
wanted to see sunlight) and their sound
has degenerated into mixing board
Their Tuesday night concert has been
rescheduled twice so that the band
could schedule in appearances as an
opening act for Thompson Twins and
the Go-Go's, which is far more
devastating criticism than I could ever
conceive against them.
The Bangles, a most engaging and
exciting new group, was scheduled to
suffer the indignity of having to open
for them, but canceled out just last
week. Hopefully they'll appear in town
on their own, and get the attention they
properly deserve.
R .E.M. has gotten so much press
in the past year and a half that there is
little to add. In short, this four man
band from Athens, Georgia, has ac-
cumulated unanimous critical acclaim
and a steadily increasing audience
without comprising any of their in-
The greatest mystery about R.E.M.
is how a band so unconventional and un-
fashionable ever ignited such a fierce
following. They don't use synths, or
production gimmicks, nor do they pan-
der to the dance crowd mentality.
They take a basic rock and roll at-
titude, and add to it such commerically
unviable elements as folk, country, and
even traditional Indian.
R.E.M.'s music is like the exotic bog
pictured on the front of their Murmer
album, mysterious and magical at
times, but with a very earthy feel.
Shadowy, beautiful melodies, worked
out in uncluttered arrangements for
guitar, bass, drums, and vocals.
As principal writer for the band,
Michael Stipe fashions emotionally
suggestive lyrics that perfectly com-
pliments the music's feel.
Instead of concentrating on the literal
context of his words, Stipe draws their
power from the tone and emotional
timber of his voice. Listen to the sim-
ple, plaintive cry of Sorry. . . in "S.
Central Rain" for a classic example of
how a single well-phrased word can
make a song.
R.E.M. tours because they love it, not
because (in the most contemptable,
ingratiating excuse bands frequently
use) they "owe it" to their fans. They
play a clean, informal but earnest
show. The songs are a bit more rock
and roll in their thrust, some songs
losing a little from the delivery, others
gaining from it.
The band gets as much attention for
its ethics as it does its work. They come
without slick hair styles, make up, or
flashy attire, and they regard videos
and M-TV with as much affection as the
Their first recording, the Chronic
Town EP; was completely recorded and
packaged, virtually finished, when they

signed with their label. Their first
album Murmer, was cut in a
remarkable sixteen days, and the
follow up Reckoning in an astonishing
eleven days.
The idea is that an intelligent band,
with their instincts intact, can go in and
feel a song out with a minimum of knob
twisting. Reckoning in particular
demonstrates that musiciansrwith a
sensitivity for writing the mood into a
song don't have to sterilize it of all

R.E.M. on the other hand, by virtue of
their talent, and subsequent
voluminous praise, built their career
quickly, and established a broad base of
fans of different background. One
might consider though, that that fact
doesn't necessarily mean the people
who buy their records are that discer-
ning. First, their songs are intrinsically
pleasant, with a strong melodic base, so
they're easy to like, and second, many
of their more recent fans might be the
sort of people who want to jump up on

'Each of these four bands might be setting
precedents that could eventually influence
the attitudes of the "industry," and the way
future new bands are handled.'

The music is a barrage of danceably
dark rhythms. Guitarist Billy Zoom
(who plays in the John Entwhistle
school of stage immobility) spins out a
continual cascade of droning, crashing
electric rain against the black heart
plulsing of John Doe's bass work.Cer-
Vanka's vocals, cackly and muddy, and
the perfect instrument for her words.
The Replacements arq the least
successful of the bunch, but fora num-
ber of reasons offer the most intriguing
possibilities. They've gotten tremen-
dous critical support, and a solidifying
word-of-mouth reputation on the tour
If they were to secure a non-
threatening distribution deal with a
major label, the potential for finding a
commercial niche could magnify
More interesting is their attitude.
While none of these bands - X
R.E.M., or the dB's - have the sort of
disgust for pop that poisoned the at-
titudes 'of so many of the new wave
punk groups (who told us they were
going to liberate music), the
Replacements grew up in and were
weened on AOR and top 40 radio, and
have not made any good/bad distin-
ctions with what they heard.
They never "outgrew" their
childhood favorites, and hence have a
significantly greater volume of wealth
to drawdupon than a band with self
professed seriousness would.
The most encouraging thing about
this weekend is it's an unofficial
celebration of four success stories of
varying degrees. Each of these four
bands might be setting precedents that
could eventually influence the attitudes
of the "industry," and the way future
new bands are handled.
The possibilities are exciting.
Bull is a Daily associate arts editor.

humanity by pointless. mixing board
perfection - An idea all too scarce in
the "industry" today.
I N SUMMATION, an interesting point
to consider is this: of the five bands
the one to achieve the greatest and
fastest success (Flock of Seagulls) is
the least substantial, most gimmick
ridden of the lot.
Subsequently, as their tricks were
out, so have their prospects for a long
The'other bands have all resisted
shortcuts and trends, though X admit-
tedfiy does cater somewhat to it's very
segmented audience, and they do also
indulge in a certain amount of stage

another musical fashion, without that
much sincere appreciation.
Though the dB's share a fair amount
of similarities with R.E.M., the key to
their failure might be their more eccen-
tric (and in some ways more charming)
musical sense and lyric wit.
The band's new album, Like this, does
however, feature more conventional,
writing and arrangements, and might
prove more palatable.
X is a band that - aside from their
punk-fashion appearance - easily put
off many a casual listener with their
very disturbing music. Rising up from
the ashes of punk in 1980, this L.A.
based ensemble decided single han-
dedly to reclaim lost turf, and gain
much more.

pressiveness. Blegen's performance of "Catfish F
R___UL the Poulenc Gloria with the Westmin- Weissenb
Stevie Wonder-(Soundtrack to) The ster Chorus is no less impressive. She awesome t
Woman in Red (Motown) carries her voice with great skill among about all
RellSedoo Stthis massive chorus and the chorus However (
A LU Mm nteviesgofcourseotevineuh produces some very lush and rich choral out a fasci
but this album sure isn't his best. I textures. The piece is evidence of a flavor to G
does have however, "I Just Called to very well balanced combination of enjoyable.
voices with a vocal soloist. N. G. your feet
SSaheyear' bev Y tou" wh ing es ar one Lorin Maazel, The Cleveland Or- N. G.
with a couple of very worthwhile duets chestra, Tchaikowsky Symphony No. 4 Recent
Falco-Jungle Rosemer-(A&M) with Dionne Warwick. I guess I just -(CBS Masterworks) John Lo
This album is very slick, but not expect a bit more from big Stevie than Maazel's recent version of the from revi
overly commericial. It probably will the simple conclusion in "Don't Drive Tchaikowsky Symphony No. 4 in f WCBN a
not get the attention it deserves from Drunk" that Mothers Against Drunk minor Op. 36 with the ever-so-famous
mainstream radio and M-TV. this is all Driving are mad. Musically the album mighty Cleveland ensemble is an ex- ter, Marla
very well-crafted cosmopolitan con- plays it safe, but I suppose that's to be cellent example of how and when Krell, Del
tinental pop sung in German and expected from a soundtrack. J.K. Tchaikowskywis played at its peak.
English.D.mR. There were some minor
problems such as lack of spark in the
Let's Active-Cypres (I.R.S.) first movement's clarinet solo, and the
Let's Active is still really dB's-ish. The Hotmud Family-Years in the oboe needing a bit more expressiveness I
Overall, the harmonies and melodies Making (VETCO) in the second movements, howevero LN
are original - considering the genre of strong in instrumentation, vocals, and and they produce stirring and thrilling
could become another teenybop-pop harmony. Their style is a combination results. Maazel always digs into the 40
sound. It's mostly danceable, and more of early and modern bluegrass/coun- real meat of the music and the feelings $ ,
consistent than the band's EP. R.E.M., try, and old-timey stuff. D.R. radiated through the music are of great
dB's, Bongos, and of course, Let's Ac- warmth and vigor. N. G.er23T
tive fans should all be happy with this, Alexis Weissenberg, Seiji Ozawa, The
M.G. Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. -
Johnny Dyani-Afrika-(Steeplechase) (EMI Angel-Digital) WE
Johny Dam-fria-(Seepechse) Just to hear a top German orchestra
This album is very suite-like. All of Just the atop mesma orchesra
the tunes seem somehow related. play the American music of George
Harold Budd/Brian Eno - The Pearl Tricky African rhythms, and a carnival Gershwin is reason enough to listen to Bri
(JEM) feel from the steel drums are this new EMI Angel Digital release. A add
This is another Eno/Budd augmented by nice ensemble horn Bulgarian born pianist, Alexis CALL
collaboration, very similar to the am- work. There are lots of spaces, too. Weissenberg, joins Manchurian born B
bient music series, but it is more Overall, an engrossing and complex lp. Seiji Ozawa, in an album featuring the
engaging (and more interesting for C.E.K. ever-poplular "Rhapsody in Blue",
strict listening). All of the songs are Doug Raney Quartet-Blue and White- variations on "I Got Rhythm", and
centered on piano and "mellow" studio (Steeplechase)
effects. The songs are all very good, Doub's guitar tone is like a nerf ball,
and range between two and five very round and soft. He spent a lot of PLAN
minutes. They all will, in the words of time with Chet Baker (look on Chet's
Eno, "introduce a space to think." recent lp's) and seems influenced by
D.R. that trumpet sound. Solid rhythms and
Party Boys - No Aggro - (Independent a very relaxed atmosphere overall.
Project) C.E.K. FRIDAY, FEB. 22 - MONDAY, MAR. 4
This record is proof that not every in-
dependent release is good. The Party CL I i C L $10.00 DEPOSIT HOLDS:
CLEVER AS THEY THINK THEY Arthur Gold, Robert Fizdale, Judith
ARE. Their idea of relevance is a Blegen and the Westminster Chorus - Round Trip to Tampa.........
"primitive" sound (or at least what Concerto for two pianos, D minor;
they think is one) and simplistic Gloria for Soprano and Orchestra -
statements on obvious targets. This (CBS Masterworks) Freeport, Bahamas..........
album is SELF-INDULGENT, Sheer sparkling brilliance, energy,
PSEUDO-ARTISTIC GARBAGE. It is poise, charm, everything you want in a
not even good as camp or humorous performance is evident in this new re-
music. No matter what it says on the release of the Poulenc two-piano Con-
sleeve, this poorly recorded lp was not certo. Gold and Fizdale are the pianists
made in 1967. They belong in California. in a solidly rousing exhibition combined Corner of Liberty and Maynard
D.R. with equal amounts of grace and ex-
hife £IOU ti Dal
No. 1
No. 14
Reg. 194.00
s Ie a
-'201 E . W A SH INGT

X: post-punk picks up where Woody Guthrie left off.

4 Weekend/Friday, October 5, 1984.

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