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November 30, 1984 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 1984-11-30
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S

R E C O R D S

FraIl
(Continued from Page 9)
Love You Too Much," which is the nth
song to have a painfully obvious
"Another One Bites the Dust" ripoff
bass riff.
The only real sign of growth is "The
Lebanon," with its unusual guitar em-
phasis and general (if overextended)
new feelings of some depth and sweep.
Even if the idea of the League doing a
serious political song seems a tad silly
(and the lyrics don't exactly steal much
fire from the Clash, to be sure), there's
something gropingly impressive going
on here.
The rest of Hysteria! is par for the
course-a pleasant package of bright,
not particularly memorable songs by a
group that really shouldn't have much
more expected of them.
M any of these bands seem
ultimately doomed by a lack of
any real depth. They all sell a chic good
time on the dance floor, a fey per-
sonality appeal and sponged-clean
production values, but the lightness of
the package loses all interest after a
few plays. Heaven 17's long-in-the-
making 3rd LP How Men Are has a cer-
tain degree of all these qualities, but it
does them with such flair-and adds so
much more-that it almost singlehan-
dedly sustains hope for commercial
Brit pop.
The British Electric Foundation for-
med several years ago out of the ashes
of the briefly defunct (pre-girls, pre-
"Don't You Want Me") Human League
with no intention of live performing,
and lots of whimsically corporate ideas
of acting as a production blanket for
various musical projects.
As a studio "band," Heaven 17's first
British LPs-Penthouse and
Pavement, The Luxury Gap-were the
most consistently intelligent flexings of
the whole synthpopdance movement.
But after two years of inactivity the
band, like the whole genre, seemed ripe
for a sound writing off. Big shock: How
Men Are is a masterpiece of the ap-
parently not-quite-dead-yet genre. It's
stunningly well produced and, more
importantly, it sports almost wall-to-
wall great songwriting.
The first song spells out just how far
Heaven 17 have come as hyperactive
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yet controlled studio geniuses: "Five
Minutes to Midnight" camoflages the
album's simplest tune behind a blinding
barrage of breathing noises,
proletariat-chorus "YEAH! YEAH!
YEAH!" chants, full woodwind/string
orchestration, imitation-"found"
spoken-tape fragments, further in-
describable aural devestation, and an
ending that is as shockingly abrupt as a
tumble into a cold lake.
This freakout intro segues into the
pure ecstacy of "Sunset Now" (far
superior here to the extended dance
version), the first single. Melodical,
very happy stuff, this is one of many
cuts on which Heaven 17 manages to get
away with using funky black-female
backups, a device that too frequently
makes would-be white soul boys like
Boy George and, lately, Elvis Costello
only sound more soulless. "Sunset
Now"'s poetically melancholy, fairy-
tale lyrics are also representative of the
LP's forward strides.
There are so many wonderful songs
here, of such astonishing variety
(nearly all danceable, though) that one
can only try to convey the breadth of
imagination by listing a few of the
frills-thunderously circular Philip
Glass-like keyboard arpeggios on
"Flamedown;" the delicious cocktail
piano on "Reputation;' the vaguely
psychedelic full-orchestration on the 10-
minute closing epic "And That's No
Lie."
That latter cut is perhaps the only
time that a fine tune gets , at points, a
bit lost under the weight of production
colossalism. The only other minor error
is "The Skin I'm In," a terribly pretty
straight-out ballad that gets a little too
sugary from the icing of a "System 100
simulated classical guitar" that con-
jures up unnecessary images of som-
breros and roses held between perfect
teeth. Still, these are swell songs that
could have been just a little better. The
rest of How Men Are couldn't con-
ceivably be improved-tracks like
"This is Mine," "Flamedown" and
Shame is on the Rocks" set a standard
by which future synth-based dancepop
can be measured.
How Men Are has lot of the confident,
striding-along urban feeling of the best
Bacharach/David songs; it struts
through penthouse and pavement with
equal quasi-jazzy sophistication and
vulnerability. One could, indeed,
imagine Dionne Warwick singing most
of these songs without too much
trouble. Glenn Gregory has improved a
great deal as lead vocalist, though.
Without lapsing into imitation-Bowie
melodrama, he achieves (especially on
"Reputation" and "The Skin I'm In") a
crooner credibility that is meltingly
assure, thus wiping out a major
previous Heaven 17 reservation that the
vocals were too lacking in warmth and
character.
There is, despite all the production
density, a generally relaxed air here
that finally realizes the Heaven 17
image perfectly-post-Roxy Music Old
European romantic detachment meets
genial 'corporatism,' plus a certain
aahh-screw-it politicism.
Heaven 17 has always played a
fashionable political cynicismyoff a
more glamorous man-of-the-world
champagne-and-oysters indifference to
anything but style. It's a charming con-
tradiction (well, perhaps not entirely),
but it seemed mildly strained until How
Men Are. Here, the oddly kind air of

';
.:

Heaven 17: Surprise gem in the rubble
disillusionment seems casual and
genuine for the first time, the high style
unaffected. There's an aristocratic
sweetness on How Men Are that makes
it one of the year's most genuinely
likeable as well as musically dazzling
records.
ONDON studio trio Torch Song's
stateside debut Wish Thing
has nearly everything going for it
but timing. A couple of years ago this
record, with its many potential club
hits and jam-packed wave-disco-type
gimmickry, would have given Torch
Song the kind of big pushoff that sent
bands like Yaz and the Thompson
Twins off to genuine, if not always
long-lived, stardon.
Lead singer Laurie Mayer has a
limited but well-used high, feathery,
voice rather reminiscent of the defun-
ct Altered Images' little-girl sound,
and indeed Torch Song seems like a
more disco-oriented extension of
Altered Images' essential ideas -
cool, studio-bound danceability with
ear-catching gimmicks.
Impeccably produced, Wish Thing
has a lot of appeal; the songs might

not be much if laid bare from their
elaborate settings, but within those
settings they're persuasive. "Another
Place" is a slinky psuedo-exotic num-
ber that works on a sweetly imper-
sonal, high-gloss level of eroticism.
"Don't Look Now," "Telepathy,"
and indeed just about everything else
on the record are big-beat numbers
that are perfectly honorable bows in
the synthdance arena - mildly funky,
with the sort of vaguely catchy but not
quite melodic hooks that define the
genre.
The initial single "Prepare to
Energize" best illustrates Torch
Song's strengths and central misfor-
tune - it's an excellent dance song
that refines but doesn't really go any
further than the early New Romantic
wave-disco posings of Visage, Span-
dua Ballet, etc.
This is a sweet-sounding, highly
danceable LP that deserves an
audience, though it's halfway a pity (I
know I don't miss this particular
'81/'82 white-synth/funk scene too
much) that their probable audience
has largely moved onto other,
perhaps richer musical territories.

C o V E
wiped out with my own eyes...a great unusually cool temperatures and thus exchange
q" forest," he said. high productivity and prosperity. As we only an mi
According to a report from the Red emerge from this period and climates Since it
Cross, this famine promises to be the return to normal (warmer and Zambian
worst of the century. 185 million therefore drier), global crop yields may foreign e:
people-equivalent to over two-thirds of decrease. and maci
the population of the United States-are The danger of attributing famine to forced to
endangered in 27 different African the weather, some African students need has
nations. warned, is that it implies that hunger is recently
However, there are things that a part of the natural order. One of the Zambia's
University community person can do to purposes of society, they argue, is to in the inte
help the situation according to relief develop agricultural systems that com- Only a
i n A ft ic a workers, hunger experts, and Africans. pensate for the vagaries of weather. land in Za
Since the problem of the famine is so Kay Holden, Ann Arbor represen- to this stu
complex, it is important first, accor- tative of the Hunger Project, stresses people fro
By Sandra Steingraber ding to Teferi Fufa, a University of that many countries in regions of the gover
Minnesota student and member of the cyclical drought, such as China, have and try an
Oromo Relief Society, to gain an under- solved the problem of hunger by the use Thus, ti
O N THE Thursday before Thanks- standing of the causes behind the of simple agricultural techniques in- by cash a
giving, over 4000 University disaster. Those answers come, not from cluding irrigating during drought and reserves,
students participated in the nationwide any one source, but from a synthesis of storing grain during years of good har- farmers h
Fast for a World Harvest sponsored by climatology, anthropology, ecology, vest. bians on I
Oxfam America, an international economics and history. Kenyan student Reena Shah noted the curre
relief agency. This sce
As a gesture of solidarity with the African ni
world's hungry people, students living Macklein
in dorms, co-ops and sororities signed 'Bla ingthecnreplacem
away their meals and donated the Blaming the climate . . . leaves con- rops-wI
money to local and international rp-t
unger rogras Wn tecntingi science of the rest of the world with no other resistant-
funds pro ra s ed hould t ali0ofee
finished, funds raised should total burden than piety and feelings of charity.'
$4,500, predicts Jeanie Cilik, member of
the Committee Concerned with World bated thep
Hunger who coordinated the campus - Rolando Garcia and making a
fast. Jose Escudero what used
fsMackle
Some of this money is earmarked for in "Drought and Man" prevailing
drought-afflicted Africa, where in- "backwar
voluntary fasting-in the form of star- hunger p
vation-has become a day to day haste to
reality for millions. The numbers are gaining i
staggering. In Ethiopia alone, 900,000 ccording to the Red Cross it has that millions of Americans lead young Afr
have already perished or will be dead of not rained in some areas of prosperous lives in the deserts of industria
starvation by the end of this year. Africa for over two years. Thus, the Arizona. economic
These totals represent more than most visible and immediate cause of One reason that the equation of not seen
twice the lives lost in the 1973-74 famine the food crisis is the drought that has drought with famine is so attractive flight to t
which ultimately precipitated the over- gripped Africa for several consecutive and receives so much media attention higher sta
throw of Emperor Haile Selassie and years. is that it frees us from guilt. Thus argue number o
resulted in the institution of a Soviet- Rev. Gene Thiemann, speaking at Rolando Garcia and Jose Escudero in number o:
style Marxist regime. Lutheran World Concordia College here in Ann Arbor their book Drought and Man. lands u
Relief reports that just last month last week, pointed to the lack of water "Blaming the climate...leaves the African
18,000 died at a single relief center in as a major factor contributing to the conscience of the rest of the world with crippled a
Korem, a city in the northern province of famine. The Director for Interpretation no other burden than piety and feelings holding do
Tigrai. Between seven and ten million of Lutheran World Relief, Thiemann of charity," they write. They contend favor the
lives are threatened. One out of four are has just returned from Mauritania in that a drought serves only as a Thiemann
children under the age of five. west Africa where, he reports, "four- triggering mechanism that releases a get a dec
For many African students and teen of the last sixteen years have been latent instability present in the social- Without p
teachers here at the University, the drought years. Even the cactus are agricultural system. prevente
specter of wizened children and wilting ... It is such a severe drought, it Ann Arborite Larry Macklem, provemer
weeping mothers-which recurs daily just has become a megafamine. representative of Interfaith Council for productivi
in the papers and on the news-evokes a Why does Africa suffer so many Peace, echoes these sentiments. None of
kind of pain that is deeper than the droughts? Architecture student Sayuja Calling for a new perspective on the plains who
hunger pangs of a skipped meal. The Sharma, from Kenya, laughs at this role of drought in the African famine, ditions ar
parched fields and gaunt faces are question, replying, "Why does it snow Macklem asks the question, "why do African na
those of their own homeland and in Michigan in the winter?" people that live (in regions of cyclical European
people. Most African countries are located in drought) not have sociological-political Marxist s
Amleset Tedla fled Ethiopia in 1979 a climatological belt of highly seasonal solutions built in to the system? . On Mar
and is now here studying medicine. She rainfall. A dry spell that occurs during Any attempt to answer his question "LAND T
described the situation in her northern the rainy season in Kenya, for example, requires an examination into the way lands wer
province of Eritrea by saying, "The is more disastrous than a dry spell in food is currently grown and distributed 2000-year-a
people have nothing, you see them (on Iowa, where rainfall is more equitably and the ways in which it has been tenancy a
television) with no clothes to wear. distributed throughout the growing during the different political epochs of sweeping i
There is. no medication. The children season. the region. precisely
need milk...they need clean water." Throughout its 2000 year history, A University student who asked not to famine tli
Dr. Teshome Wagaw, Professor of Abyssinia, the so-called cradle of be identified explained that feredunde
Education, was once a dean at the Ethiopia, has endured many cycles of agricultural practices in pre-colonial Now, le
University of Addis Ababa in the drought and famine. The famine of Zambia were carried out by extended thousands
capital city of Ethiopia. In the wake of 1888-1892 was so severe that it became families who lived in one of 73 tribal refugees,
government persecution following the known as kifu qun, "evil days." groups. They planted many kinds of der the h
revolution ten years ago, he.left his There is evidence that these droughts subsistence crops, bartered with each while ship
country for what he thought would only have and will become more frequent other, and shared food during bad bor and t
be a brief sabbatical. and severe. As global temperatures times. million on
The increasingly intolerant political rise - whether due to a natural Under colonial rule, however, sub- WhathapI
climate, however, has made his return climatological shift or a manmade sistence crops were often replaced with Marina
impossible. He recalls the destruction "greenhouse effect -available non-food crops-such as tobac- lived in E
of the soil and landscape as farmers moisture decreases. Some co-which were exchanged with years of th
sought to increase short-term crop climatologists also suggest that the European nations for cash. With the agricultui
yields and gather fuel for their families, period from 1840-1940-dubbed "The advent of a cash economy, the extended g
"I have seen in 5 or 6 years a forest ittle Ice Age"-represented years of family system broke down; a paycheck
Weekend/Friday
? r"' .t -. -. .. ... . . . . . . ....~r.r 1sn . ".a"".+ . . . ...f... . . . . . ....-. . . . ..." .....sw.av" " . . t. . . .- .

.

Laurie Mayer

Torch Song: (From left) Grant Gilbert, William Orbit, and

10 --Weekend/Friday; November 30,194

4w

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