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April 03, 1985 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1985-04-03

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The Michigan Daily Wednesday, April 3, 1985 Page 5

Itals' uncontrived

By Hobey Echlin
REGGAE MUSIC to we has always
been the most natural form of
music there is. Its rudiments echo the
very elements of life: the ticking high-
hat and sharp snare mark the passing
of time, while the rising and falling
pulse of the bass line suggests the
varying yet constant intensity of life,
stayed to reality by the regular

chinking of the guitar. The roll of a steel
drum suggests the pride of the
Jamaican people, emotionally ex-
pressed in the wailing vocals that add
the human element to this life music.
It is just such music that lies at the
spiritual root of the Jamaican
Rastafarian culture. It is the music of
the Rastafarian religion and their lives.
They live the rhythms that their reggae
hymns echo. No other religious form of
music is so generally excepted in

today's culture. You don't see people
lining up outside Rick's to see the Mor-
mon Tabernacle Choir.
It takes a special sort of religious and
spiritual quality to be a reggae artist. It
is not so much a profession as a way of
life, and so only the truly talented, both
spiritually and musically, can really
play reggae. The Itals, Roots Radics,
and Don Carlos are three such instan-
ces of such a quality.
The Itals, fresh from rural Jamaica,

derive their name from "ital" meaning
pure, natural, and uncontrived. Such is
the spirit of reggae itself and such is the
nature of the Itals. The Itals are
vocalists Keith Porter, Ronnie Davis,
and Lloyd Ricketts. All three are
veterans of the Jamaican music scene,
all three having been involved with it
since the late 60's. They formed as the
Itals in 1976 and have enjoyed such suc-
cess as winning a spot on the 1981
Reggae Sunsplash Festival circuit,
releasing the critically acclaimed
Brutal .Out Deh LP in 1982, and the
more recent Give Me Power album
released in 1983.
Keith Porter leads the group with his
high, raspy vocals that hark back to
Bob Marley's spiritual vocal style, as
Ronnie and Lloyd provide harmonic
backing that recall their exposure to
the Baptist hymn-singing of the Kinston
childhood. Together, their sound em-
bodies the religious quality of reggae I
mentioned earler. Songs like the
Rastafarian hymn "Roll River Jor-
dan," and "Give Me Power," with lines
like Cause without Jah there is no
love confirm the Itals spiritual com-
mitment to their music., "Jah Calling"
is a testament of this in itself: Teeth
and tongue, they got to meet some
sweet day/I wanna be among the
number to share the sweet I
say/Won't you hear when Jah
calls... The Itals are as innovative as
they are traditional, as the novel sounds
of a saxaphone find the way into "In
Deh" and almost bluesy guitar can be
heard in "Me Waan Justice."
What the Itals contribute vocally to
reggae, the Roots Radics contribute
musically. Featuring reggae legend
Flubba Holt on bass, the Radics are the
most sought after back-up band in

to fill
Jamaica. Their prowess has been seen
and heard in the performances and
albums of such artists as Peter Tosh,
Gregory Isaacs, and Black Uhuru.
They have several albums to their
credit; including many entitled "Radics
in Dub," which showcase their musical
talent. The Radics stand as well alone
as behind the legends, as they often do
their own set before they go into their
backup set.
Rounding out this lineup is Don
Carlos. Don has retained a sort of ob-
scurity despite being one of the original
members of the legendary Black
Uhuru. To date, he has two albums,
Natty Dread Have Him Credentialand
the more rootsy Harvest Time LP, both

recorded with long-time friend and co-
writer Gold (named so for his sun-
bleached dreadlocks). Both albums had
great success in both Jamaica and
The Itals, Roots Radics, and Don
Carlos each bring their own musical
and spiritual contribution to reggae
music. If you thought Black Market
was anything like real reggae, or that
UB40 seemed genuine, this triple bill
headlined by Jamaica's Itals at the U-
Ballroom in the Union Thursday night
will have your soul as well as your ears
experiencing true reggae, and leaving
those other "reggae" bands to their
happy hour Yuppie crowds... Call 99-
MUSIC for information.

The Itals, not to be confused with a local band of a similar name, will perform their powerfully spiritual Jamaican
reggae in the U-ballroom of the Michigan Union on Thursday night. Also appearing will be Roots Radics, known for
their reggae instrumentals, and Don Carlos, formerly of Black Uhuru.


'performance charms despite flaws

By Mike Gallatin
SHERRILL MILNES capped off the
1984-85 Choral Union Concert Series
at Hill Auditorium Friday evening with
five encores to an audience that
honored him with two standing
ovations: This tribute was perhaps
more to his natural, easy-going humor
and a stage presence which exuded
supreme self-confidence without
arrogance than to his exciting brillian-
ce as a performer.
Having always placed special em-
phasis on the works of Verdi he was
recently awarded the title of Comman-
der of the Order of the Republic of Italy
in recognition of his contribution to
Italian music. As he shared this fact
without conceit before his first encore,
there was little doubt that he was
pleased with himself. He stands of the
height of his distinguished career, spor-
ting a stage manner which is proud but
not pompous, humble but not meek.
SThe recital was a diverse one,
highlighting Milnes' strengths as well
as weaknesses. In the first half, Brah-
ms' "Vier ernste Gesange" possessed
the most potential but was seriously
undermined by the piano accom-
paniment by Jon Spong. The Mozart
immediately preceding the Brahms,
"Rivolgete a lui lo sguardo," originally
included in the opera Cosi fan tutte, was
overpedalled. This blurred the simple
harmonies of this buffa aria and
ultimately created the sense that the
voice and piano part were not evenly
matched. The opening songs by Mar-
cello showed the signs of too many
liberties as well. The ritards were
greater than the accelerandos which
created an unbalanced rubato effect
which detracted from a final result of
unity between parts desired.
The Brahms on the other hand was
underpedalled and exhibited a
progressively lagging tempo com-
pletely unbecoming to late romantic
Brahms. In an effort to bring out the
rich harmonies, Jon Spong's piano ac-
companiment found itself lagging
behind the singer. Milnes' German
pronunciation was up to par and his dic-
tion was impeccable. but Spong's feeble
attempt at two for three on the piano
accompaniment destroyed the feeling
of ensemble required to bring it off sue-
Aaron Copland's song "The World
Feels Dusty," with lyrics from a poem
by Emily Dickinson, was short and bit-
tersweet. When "Little Irish Girl" by
Hermann Lohr followed, Milnes acted
out both parts of the humorous ballad,
and the pace of the concert picked up as
the audience delighted in the charm
and silliness of this happy tune.
"To Music," by Alice Jordan, con-
cluded the first half on an upbeat note
as the piano part itself sang and Milnes
paid tribute to the trascendant powers

of music as an art form towering head
and shoulders above the other arts.
Four songs by Santoliquido were the
main fare after intermission.
"Riflessi" showed the most potential
for poetry as the text describes the
yellow and gold reflections of sunlight
on the brook-and leaves of a garden.
The music shimmers with the
phosphorescence of golden color, pain-
ting the intoxicating tones of the scene.
The piano part was reminiscent of the
impressionistic music of Debussy but
unfortunately when the melody was in
the left hand Jon Spong blurred the
edges of the gradually emerging

iridescent canvas by drowning it out
with the right hand.
Two opera excerpts by Saint-Saens
and Gounod ended the program proper.
Here the piano resounded with bell-like
crystal tones but Sherrill Milnes' ac-
cent in the French language is inferior
to his German and Italian. What most
redeemed the evening was Milnes easy-
going charm and humorous charades
between each encore as he chose to in-
troduce them one by one.
From German lieder, American
musicals, Irish ballads, Italian aria,
French love songs and much more he
proved beyond a doubt his mastery of

the craft of singing. He will be featured
in a Live from the Met telecast of Ver-
di's Simon Boccanegra April 17th on
public television.

Send $2 for catalog
of over 16,000 topics to
assist your research of.
forts. For info., call toil.
free 1-800621-5745 (in I-
linois call 312-922.300).
Authors' Research, Rm.800-N.
407 S. Dearborn. Chicago, IL 80605


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