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March 08, 1985 - Image 13

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1985-03-08
Note:
This is a tabloid page

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IT'S HAPPENING NOW!!
GRAND OPENING SA
COME IN AND SAVE NOW ON THE BEST IN HIGH FIDELITY
CHECK OUT THESE EXAMPLES OF THE GREAT BARGAINS
TO BE FOUND FROM NOW UNTIL WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13

moved ahead oblivious to various
trends both past-as-present and pseudo-
techno-future. Retro maybe where it's
forever. That said,here are some
atlfor1984/ge breallre atiit i

garage
sounds
Battle of the Garages, Vol. iii
Various Artists
Voxx/Bomp!
Stone Cold World
The Droogs
Plug 'n' Socket Records
Frontier Days
The Del Lords
EMI/Capitol
All Black and Hairy
The Gravedigger
Voxx/Romp!
The Best of the Music Machine
The Music Machine
Rhino
This is Not the New Dream
Syndicate Album ... Live!
The Dream Syndicate
A&M
Beaver Patrol
The Wilde Knights
Voxx/Bomp!
By Dennis Harvey
IT'S WEARYING. It makes me feel
older. I feel older anyway. In any
case, '60's revivalism is already win-
ding down and out like a speeded-up
version of the Original Decade Itself.
No, it's probably not beginning to wind
down yet, rather still winding itself up
and up to the point where some day
soon, suddenly the generic Everybody
will be attuned to Garagedom-Cool,
and the whole groovey thing will (as a
result of oversaturation) die the bitter
death suffered by every underground
movement that survives to stumble out
of the cave and lie around in the public
sun for a while.
There are too many bands out there
now currently doing it, mimicking their
parents to death, lost in the latest
fashion (which is just the fashions of 15-
20 years ago plus some mild irony that
may well have been there in the first
place). A few days ago someone
groaned to me, "Oh god, I dread the day
that the '70's are the new thing," and
that dreaded day can't be far away.
Retro-rock has yielded up much
ascendant genius, from the Three
O'Clock to the Bangles, but the purely
retro scene that it sprang from and
spawned is getting fast listener-jaded-
who can care for long about bands so
hellbent on living in the past? Maybe
there's not much to live for in the '80's,
but after the last few months I'm begin-
ning to doubt I want to live the '80's for
the '60's. The following reviews of new
garagelike released and two re-issues
generally lean toward the positive, and
the records merit it. But nearly all of last
year's best releases had relatively little
to do with blatant nostalgia - they

T HE THIRD compilation of
America's caveteenworld
limits itself to the ever-burgeoning L.A.
scene (Vol. IV) will go international)
and is hence more limited in scope than
the prior two entries. On side on the
sound is enough to garage you to death,
though that experience must be one of
the more pleasant ways to go. Starting
with the 90-second surf-girl cliche
monolgue "Intro '66" by the Zebra
Stripes, the side regresses fast to
cavetot status via the Fourgiven's for-
cefully Neanderthal "Yeah!," on
through The Gravedigger V's echo-
ruptured "Spookey," The Untold
Fable's sloppy-surfy "I Try," and The
Mystery Machine's melodic "She's Not
Mine." Other cuts exhibit nothing much
beyond determined crudity, though,
with the disappointing inclusion of the
usually sublime Pandoras' lame
"Gloria" parody "Melvin." Grunge
can't get any grungier than side one's
closing Tories' version of "Shout,"
which has virtually nothing going for it
beyond -the energy generated at the
recording party you and I weren't at.
Most of these cuts are of pure fanzine
quality - sound so thin that they can't
have much musical interest unless You
Were There. Side two sonically im-
proves, and loosens up in range to in-
clude poppier bands. The Eyes of Mind
and The Things, both of whom released
likeable Voxx lon-plays last year, come
up with adequately mixed and well-
written tracks. The Young Lords (good
name!) have fine high energy - a
harmonica always helps - on "Tearing
Up My Heart," and SS20 go for a near-
Motown Big Sound (with some Byr-
dsdom thrown in) on "No Matter
What." And the closing "I Think I'll
Die" by Electric Peace at least tries for
some sort of cheesy epic quality. Battle
of the Garages Vol. III is all about
what's momentarily cool in L.A. I'm
prejudiced in favor of the genre, but the
eventual effect it is like watching a
parade - after a while you notice only .
the floats that conspicuously stand out
from the rest. There's tedium in too
much of anything, and Battle III makes
L.A.'s garage interiors a bit too
lookalike for my tastes.
T HE DROOGS have actually been
playing this stuff since 1969 - when
it was neither cool nor nostalgic, just
obstinately outdated - which ex-
plains why the album (which may well
be their first, for all I know) carries its
garage ambiance much less self-
consciously than most of the newer
groups. They've also certainly had the
time to become accomplished and
varied songwriters. If the band didn't
constantly pull itself enjoyably back
toward two-minutes-to-bartime stomp
frenzy, they could probably rival The
Rain Parade as serious, non-archival
sculptors of revisionist psychedelic
rock. They don't, and obviously don't
have to, ape their influences, and Stone
Cold World gonly rarely (as in the one
live cut, "He's Waiting") sounds like a
blatant turning back of the clock.
Elsewhere this short eight-song LP has
admirable variety and polish. "Mr.
Right" has the gorgeous epic buzzing
guitar of Neil Young circa "Cinam-

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The Dream Syndicate: mixed reviews
mon Girl" around an appropriately
melancholy "Nowhere Man"-themed
tune. The title song is bigbeat tough-boy
rock a bit reminiscent of the Hoodoo
Gurus' debut album last year. "Change
is Gonna Come" and "Get My Love On
You" are further evidence of the band's
solid writing instincts, and there's even
a mournful ballad in there somewhere.
Agreeable stuff, this. It would be more
than welcome if the Droogs pulled up
their west coast roots for a while and
toured a bit, since few of us whelps have
ever had a chance to see a band from
back then in the First Garage Era.
N YCS DEL LORDS are doing
exactly what the Del Fuegos do -
no pretenses, yee-hah! boyrock with
mouths open and tongues danglin' out,
stuff that's designed to make the Senior
Prom bust into spontaneous flames. So
why do I think the D-Fuegos' Longest
Day LP is keen and want to throw the.
D-Lords' debut under the next
snowplow? Maybe these guys just had a
bum time in the studio, because Fron-
tier Days seems as arid as their
Bostonian counterparts' vinyl seems
juiced. It can't all be passed off as Bad
Day At The Mixing Board, though. The
mix admittedly is too emptily slick and
the production frills (especially the
vocal harmonies) often ditto, but the
blame can't be dumped entirely on co-
producer (with band) Lon Whitney. The
Del Lords are mediocre singers.
adequate but uninspired players,
humorles reiterators of cliche as
lyricists. When they finally do abandon

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doggedly sincere boy/girl politics for
something else, it's for the vapid mock-
macho posing of "Mercenary." If these
guys have any satirical bent at all, it's
way too subtle for me; they just sound
dumb. "I play the Drums" has a game
idea (" 'Stead of beatin' on my little
brother's face/I play the drums"), but
the . tune is generic and, em-
barrassingly, so is the drumwork. The
appealingly sparse, snakey "Livin' on
Love" threatens briefly to become in-
teresting as a Springsteenish domestic
drama of love amid the po' white folks
downtown, but it jumps ship at the first
opportunity for an ancient cop-out:
"Then one morning about two years
on/I woke up, and she was gone." So
much for the in-depth observation. At
the end of the road there's a slow purty
tune called "Feel Like Going Home,"
which should tell you just how far these
guys' imaginations can stretch. (I'm
surprised the first song wasn't called
"It's A Big World" or something.) The
remainder of the songs play source-
hopscotch, and there may be some mild
fun to be had in figuring out just where
you've heard that riff or melody line
before. (I found it infuriating.) All of
them are 'catchy' in a way that
vanishes from the mind as soon as the
track is over. Simplicity is the rule
here, probably not because it's a virtue
but because the band wouldn't know
how the hell to do anything else. The
Del Lords badly lack the abandon and
humor of the Fleshtones, the dirtrock
conviction of the Del Fuegos, and the
songwriting knack of either. They don't
even have a real revivalist stance to fall

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12 Weekend/Friday, March 8, 1985

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