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January 24, 1985 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-01-24

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Thursday, January 24, 1985

Page 5

Records

By Andrew Porter

It's been nearly two years since The
,Jam called it quits.Or, rather, since
Paul Weller called it quits. It seemed to
the brash, young guitarist that the Jam
had progressed as far as a group
possibly could without wearing thin its
,welcome, embarrassing itself, or losing
its idealistic fervor. As mere trio, The
.Jam lasted about the same amount of
time that The Beatles did (starting
from their Ed Sullivan appearance)
and, though they certainly weren't as
innovative or skillful as musicians
compared to the Fab Four, they en-
-compassed a much wider range of
musical genres in their bulging
catalogue of work.
Their first album, In The City, was a
gutsy, crude rhythm and blues melange
that recalled similar attempts to
imitate that style by an earlier group
known as The Who. Their last studio ef-
fort was the Beat Surrender EP, a five-
song mix of everything from a soulful
Title to a jazzy quip entitled "Shopping"
to a set of Motown covers (a la Curtis
Mayfield and The Temptations).
The only threads that remained at
that point to tie together The Jam's
history comprised the tough fabric of
their optimism. From their early
criticisms of social structures that bur-
dened the working class to their later
denouncements of arms build-ups
("Absolute Beginners" and "The Great
,Depression" to name the two most
popular), they never lost the sincere
compulsion to fight complacency and to
motivate their listeners into action.
Weller sauntered down the same
pathway that he jumped off of,
however, when he founded the Style
Council with keyboardist Mick Talbot.
He continued to mimmick Motown, his
songs still retained the anti-complacen-
ey themes, and his album covers again
featured (as did late Jam singles and
EP's) the Boy Wonder/Cappucino Kid
"youth idealism" scribblings.
As a duo (aided by a checklist of
guest musicians), The Style Council has
thus far released three discs of in-
terest: a single, an EP, and an album.
The trend seems to be that the larger
the volume of material that is released
in one quantum, the poorer the overall
quality of the package. One of the first
releases was a 45 rpm 8" single that
contained "Speak Like a Child" b/w
"Party Chambers". While the former
tune was their first U.K. hit and an
adequate performance of a
Motown/soul composition, the latter is
(surprisingly)- one of the finest things
that the group has recorded to date.
The song sounds more like a number
from a Broadway musical than from a
rock 'n' roll record and introduces the
listener to the true versatility of the
group. Weller creates and executes a
fabulous bass line for the song (he was

the original bassist in The Jam) and
keyboardist Talbot takes a minute long
solo before the fade which includes
some extravagant work on an expan-
ding organ played with a truly inspired
dash of showmanship.
But it all goes downhill from there.
Their next release, Introducing The
Style Council, is a very long EP that
edges even further in the direction that
Beat Surrender moved but manages to
escape at this point from any hints at
the past. Essentially, it could (and in
some places it did) land on the tur-
ntables of radio stations that play to
appeal to a middle-aged listening
audience. Along with "Speak Like A

The last that has been heard of the
group has been from their first LP
release, My Ever Changing Moods (or
Cafe Bleu, as it has been named over-
seas). Unfortunately, the album is a
very lame piece of artwork that is rid-
dled with lousy songwriting and boring
arrangements.
The first song, the title cut, is a poppy
attempt to break through to Star-
Spangled airwaves. It does not feature
the ingenious lyrics or persistent
melodies that usually characterize
Weller's abilities. It sounds like fun at
first but, by the third time one has
heard it, it no longer sees rotation on
the turntable. The album also features
a remake of "Le Paris Match", this
time sung by female vocalist Tracey
Thorn (who recorded a solo album that
Weller arranged). To be sure, the
original was included on the In-
troducing EP and neither version really
works that well at all.
The last two songs on the first side of
the album, however, are probably the
best that Weller has ever composed
and, alone, are reason enough for a
Jam devotee to purchase the album.
"Dropping Bombs on the White House"
is a 100% pure jazz number with a great
theme and an intense spiritual punch
that really grabs the listener and keeps
his attention. If the tune were not ab-
solutely flawless then the whole attem-
pt would have been viewed as a preten-

tious failure but, in light of the looming
criticism, The Style Councii pulls it off
magnificently. Immediately thereaf-
ter, the side concludes with "A Solid
Bond in Your Heart," which stands as a
resoundingly optimistic, impeccably
crafted, straightforward rock 'n' roll
tune that succeeds in all areas and
saves the rest of the album from utter
hopelessness. The lyrics recall the
same idealistic fervor that refuses to
diffuse as Weller ages: "I am fuelled
by the idea/That this world was made
to share/But it never seems to work
out/And all we seem to share is doubt
and misery. I just want to build up a
solid bond in your heart."
Weller has become a really sharp
musician, as well as a superb bassist,
and Mick Talbot has demonstrated (in
rare spots) his masterful abilities as a
pianist. So far, The Style Council has
not been as successful as one might
have expected, although they have
really clicked in spots and come up with
outstanding results. They suffer only
from inconsistency.
In the future, however, we may be in
for something really big, maybe a
breakthrough (currently in the U.K.
Weller is a national celebrity and a
highly sought-after figure for major
endorsements), but for now we are left
with nothing but late Jam albums to
stave off our hungers for solid material
from Paul Weller.

raul weller, surrounded Dy his comrades from Tne jam, s
camera. something he rarely does.

. . . London subway advertisement
demonstrates the power of a Style
Council endorsement.
Child," the new release featured the
next Style Council U.K. hit "Long Hot
Summer" (and a remix of the same on
side two). While the song has an effec-
tive ostinato bassline and a relaxing
punch, it lacks the power and charisma
of even the most mediocre Motown at-
tempts that The Jam managed to stew
together in the studio.
One song before the EP concludes the
listener's get treated to an instrumental
entitled "Mick's Up." One might ex-
pect a lengthy set of keyboard solos and
a demonstration of virtuosity from such
a title, but instead we are delivered
only the repetition of a measly theme in
a very dull and flat song.
Introducing The Style Council is not a
bad collection of material. It is actually
a very adequate mixture of studio and
live recordings that are worth
possessing for the few who closely
followed The Jam during their half-
decade stint. Otherwise, the EP is no
classic and certainly not a powerful
showcase through which to introduce a
new band.

. SAT. & SUN. FIRST MATINEE ONLY $2.00
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Sci-fi biggie visits
quadrant

By David Altman
Few questions have plagued mankind
as deeply and for as long as the problem
of immortality and, having achieved
that, how to spend one's Sunday after-
noons. In recent years, western
philosophers have been able to turn for
answers to a treasure trove of collected
wisdom that ponders and offers
solutions to such questions of great
gravity. In fact, the source of this
wisdom is so consummate it comes in
paperback.
For the uninitiated, the work of such
great scope alluded to above is The Hit-
chhikers Guide to the Galaxy, tetrology
by Douglas Adams. These four books of
comedy-science-fiction follow the inter-
stellar exploits of Earthman Arthur
Dent: his friend from Betelgeuse (or
thereabouts), Ford Prefect; the two
headed president of the galaxy, Zaphod
Beblebrox; and a group of pandimen-
sional hyper-mice; from the destruc-
tion of Earth to the restaurant at the
end of the universe and then,
somehow, back to Earth again.
Mr. Adams' first book in the series,
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
appeared first in England and met with
instant success with it's bizarre sense
of humanity and its admonition on the
cover "Don't panic! There is still time
to read this book before they are all
gone." He followed the book with two

others, The Restaurant at the End of
the Universe and Life, the Universe and
Everything. BBC then made these
books into a radio program, a television
series, and a record album.
A fourth book in this saga has recen-
tly appeared on the shelves of Ann Ar-
bor bookstores in hardcover. So Long
and Thanks for all the Fish picks up
where the others left off, tying up the
remaining loose ends and creating
enough new ones to ensure Mr. Adams
can write another one of these if all else
in his career falls through.
If you are a fan of this series, Doug
Adams, or just enjoy meeting tall
people with English accents, he will be
appearing today at the Community
News Center on South University from
3 to 4:30 p.m. Mr. Adams will sign
autographs and will take questions to
which he usually replies enigmatically,
" 42."

Let Them Know
How You Feel!!
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763 1107

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TUESDAYS 7-9pm
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Ballroom Dancing
MONDAYS 7-9pm
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Registration
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thru FEBRUARY 6
Michigan Union
Ticket Office
Mime
MONDAYS 7-8:30 p.m.
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TUESDAYS 7-9pm
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