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April 04, 1985 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1985-04-04

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ARTS
The Michigan Daily Thursday, April 4, 1985 Page 5

'Last Dragon'

relies

on

same story, plus energy

By James Mayes
W HAT'S THE "baddest" new movie in town? If you an-
swered other than Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon,
then you have something to do this weekend. If you answered
correctly, then you've witnessed the action and excitement
that people who haven't seen Dragon are missing. Moreover,
you have had the chance to see a film which will probably be
one of this year's biggest sleepers.
The Last Dragon is the story of a teenaged boy on a quest
for the mystical power called "The Glow," and all of the ob-
stacles he must facebefore he can achieve his goal (one of the
obstacles is Julius J. Carry III, as Sho'nuff, the Shogun of
Harlem-he gives a fine performance). "The Glow" is
characteristic of a martial artist who has attained the
highest skill level-known only as "The Last Dragon," thus
the title. Those who know how to use "The Glow" are'
capable of great feats of strength and skill, and can be
deadly.
Is this story anythipg new? Not really, we have seen secret
powers, and someone searching for them, in movies like
"Star Wars" (Luke and the force) and "Krull." This film has
a corny part or two, and to top it all off, it happens to be a
martial arts movie.
Then why do I call this a possible sleeper of the year? Two
reasons: first, many people are accustomed to the dubbed
pieces of trash shown on television every Saturday afternoon
or to those accursed Chuck Norris and Ninja movies and are

thus unwilling to risk hard-earned money on "just another"
martial arts movie. Don't let the title fool you, unlike most
martial arts movies the fighting in Dragon seems secondary.
Second, what the film lacks in creativity it makes up for
(doubly so) in spirit and some really top-notch acting. Don't
expect something on the level of Harrison Ford's performan-
ce in Witness, but do expect an overwhelming amount of
energy.
This energy, ever-present and inspiring, manifested itself
throughout, and originated from the new, young cast. Both
Taimak, as Leroy Green, and Vanity, as Laura Charles, are
new to the silver screen although their zeal and excellence
makes them better suited for the starring roles than anyone I
can think of. The ,remainder of the cast creates an at-
mosphere which draws the audience into the movie while in-
tensifying and expanding the energy field.
Almost as engrossing as the energetic atmosphere is the
music and its coordination into the movie. Songs like
DeBarge's "Rythym of the Night" are' consistent, well-
placed and are used to create a movie with good music, rather
than a musical. After ten minutes in the theater most people
will overlook the flaws and concentrate on experiencing the
film.
This weekend spend your money wisely. Don't go see trash
like Porky's Revenge, see a movie packed with excitement,
energy, and just plain fun.

This is The Truth
Local post-hardcore faves The Truth, pictured above, will head a triple bill Friday night at East Quad's Halfway Inn,
joined by Pagan Baby and G.O.C. Truth member Jerry Bush promises that in addition to their set the band will offer
"the usual Truth memorabilia, records and buttons and stuff," including their excellent Recent EP called, simply, E.P.
No. 1. Tickets are 3 dollars at the door; show begins around 9:00.

Records

Chris Isaak - Silvertone
(Warner Bros.)
Back before (but not much before)
the Stray Cats made '50's rockabilly
revivalism a craze of the moment,
Silverton was a San Francisco band
that cleverly duckwalked back over
'50s territory to the applause of a
devoted but essentially local clique.
For a while, they and' transplanted
Texas Rank and File seemed to be the
sole important reps of 'billy revivalism
in the Bay Area. Then the trendiness of
the thing died, with' Rank and File
emerging afloat with a national label
contract on Slash.
This debut disc by Chris Isaak comes
unseasonably late - for god's sake,
even Roman Holliday has forsaken the
'50's for AOR metal - and it offers no
explanation why the original band has
winnowed down to a solo performer
(plus guitarist James Wilsey). Oh well,
politics are politics, and a good record
is just that, whatever the season. This is
an extremely pleasant album of spittle-
slicked rockabilly and genre
derivations, all nicely sung, played, and
produced. There's nothing very -rootsy-
'cool or raw in Erick Jacobsen's sleek
production settings, but the LP main-
tains its credibilitiy as revised '50's
rock while effectively shedding any
vestige of literal revivalism.
Isaak has a nice, boy-punkabilly-
sensitive vibrata, and the textures
Jacobsen has whipped up around the
singer's simple but effective songs are
richly evocative of . one thing and
another - an acoustic mournfulness for
"Funeral in the Rain," a more
Elvislike plaintive quality on "Tears,"
a country-classic sound for "Western
Stars." The excellent writing allows
this LP very few low points,
and a degree of stylistic
quality consistency rare to debut
albums. (Of course; in Isaak's case, the
"debut" comes after years of
educational hard work in basically the
same genre.)
For listeners who'd like a '50's-
influenced simplicity of attack but don't
want just another plagiarizing trot
through the archives, Silvertone ig just
the ticket.
- Dennis Harvey
Kim Wilde-Teases and Dares
(MCA Records)
Teases and Dares, the newest release
from Kim Wilde, is like the cheap
cologne you sprayed on when you were
twelve. It's light and somewhat sweet,
but it still isn't very good.
The album intends pure pop appeal,
yet there is nothing here to hold our in-
tgrest. The songs are absolutely
saturated with synthesizers. Up to four
different types on each, if you read the
inner sleeve. However, there is no art to
either the production or 'the

arrangements. A group like Depeche
Mode, or Orchestral Manoeuvres in the
Dark, can get away with heavy syn-
thesizers by providing unique sounds
and effects. But Wilde's album is just
plain boring and "cheesy" sounding;
sort of like a wound up tinkertoy
playing at high speed. And her thin,
high voice seems trapped in the muddy
electronics.

Wilde
... reeks this time around

Unfortunately, the musical quality is
not surpassed by that of the lyrics. Most
of the songs are about breaking up and
getting back together (baby), but carry
a very juvenile flavor due to their lack
of depth. One song, on the whole, does
work well-the commercial hit "Go For
It." It has a good beat, and is sort of fun;
almost living up to her old hit, the fresh
and poppy "Kids in America." A few of
the other pieces on the new album
might be somewhat danceable, but are
still fairly weak.
If you choose to "spray on" Teases
and Dares, keep in mind that unlike a
cheap cologne, there is no such thing as
an inexpensive list price album. For
your money, go with something else
that "smells" better.
-Beth Fertig

piece of reggae bop-pop credited to Jan.
Hammer that skips along pleasantly
enough without offering any real sur-
prises. Abercrombie's acrid guitar,
with the pinched quality that is rather
distinctive, sounds as if it were suspen-
ded in a cloud chamber; emotionally
aloof. Not very compelling.
The title track 'Night' is a more suc-
cessful mood piece opening with slow,
airy guitar lines. Brecker's saxophone
statement rolls over, softly nocturnal
with power in reserve, like hibernating
bears. Here Hammer's acoustic piano
is reminiscent of Bill Evans' lyricism.
Even this piece leaves one feeling like
these guys are just reading. But playing
all the right notes, right?-
"3 East" is a cosmopolitan Carla-ish
arrangement. Abercrombie's solo has a
fragile quality. Feathery-light, he
seems to be blown about by DeJohnet-
te's drumming-he stumbles, swirls,
and jumps along his way. This one is
fine without fire.
A nice organ groove and more air-
brush guitar highlight "Look Around".
Guitarist friends speak to me patiently
of Abercrombie's-facility. Ah well. On-
ce again his foggy soft touch greeting
card guitar seems to be swept along in
the music like an autumn leaf riding the
wind. The clarity and proficiency here
seem to be impressed upon the music
rather than emerging from the heart of
it.
"Believe You Me" is a nice upbeat
thing with Michael's first committed
playing on the record. I am almost con-
vinced. I almost believe him. I wonder
how differently I might have responded
to this LP if they had programmed the
last cut first.
Finally, the real jazz comes out from
under the sheets. 'Four on One' is a
smoking straight bop piece that almost
redeems the reggae nap on the first
side. Brecker's sax is choppy and
soulful, and DeJohnette's solo leaves
me with fond memories of genuine
warmth.
Maybe it's me this time. One of you
might breath spring flowers upon
hearing, this one. I just find the at-
mosphere a little thin. May I have a
slice of cheese?
-Marc S. Taras
Fenton Robinson-Nightflight
(Alligator Records)
Maybe Alligator records should
change their name to "Alley Guitar"
records! They seem to have an endless
supply of high-tech blues guitarists
sneaking through the alleys to their
studios to record. Some of these cats
don't even do that many club dates;
they are known around town as
musicians' musicians. Now the label
that brought us Son Seals, Albert
Collins, and Lonnie Brooks has brought
forth just such a musicians' musician:
Fenton Robinson.
O.K. They're right. The guy is

something of a recluse. And don't feel
bad, I never heard of him either. But
hoo-boy! Can he cook! The inter-
national acclaim and reputation as
Chicago's hidden-secret-legend are
well deserved. The cat seems to be a
real straight arrow. A teetotaler.
Deeply religious. And it shows. Or shall
I say, it makes itself heard. And how.
Robinson's playing is deliberate. The
conviction rings out during "I Found
Out Yesterday" as Fenton urges,
"Let's work on it. Let's work on it!" He
turns the beat around for "Slow
Walking", a fine mid-tempo groove
perfectly suited to Fenton's thoughtful
playing, and well tailored for his very
funky band. "Can't Hold Out Much
Longer" has Junior Wells sitting in on
harp while Fenton talks things over
with his woman. The title track,
"Nightflight", is a jazz-type organ
groove a la Jimmy Smith and Kenny
Burrell. Only Fenton is from Chicago
instead of Detroit. Hearing this one
makes me realize that the late Mike
Bloomfield sounded a lot like this guy.
After some rollicking organ with
tongue-in-cheek asides Fenton takes
charge and offers up characteristics
laser-etched blues expanses. "The
Feeling Is Gone" is a slow sad tale of
love spurned and the ensuing remorse
while "Laundry Man" turns to the ur-
ban super shaman to "wash my
troubles away." This is down blues
with an up beat. "Crazy, Crazy Lovin"'
is so hot that it will make your tem-
perature rise!
- Marc S. Taras
Beverly Sills Sings Mozart
and Strauss
Beverly Sills Mad Scenes
Otto Klemperer and
Philharmonia
Beethoven's Symphony No. 5
in C Minor
(Angel Records)
Who's got the spring goodies? Angel
does ! %Angel who? Angel Records
Company, that's who! In the past, two
months or so, EMI Digital has come up
with quite a few superlative discs for
classical lovers.
To start things off, Beverly Sills, the
great operatic star is back. Not exactly
back on the stage, but she is standing
broad, erect, and slkillfully adroit on top
of two records re-released this past
month which include music of Bellini,
Donzietti, Mozart and Strauss.
On one album, Sills is featured doing
Mozart's "Vorrei Spigarvi Oh dio,"
"The Abduction from the Seraglio,"
and "Zaide." From Strauss' com-
positional pen, Sills contributes three
more concert arias: "Amor," "Breit
uber mein Haupt," and the final scene
from Daphne. Now that we've
discussed what's on the record, let's

talk about Sills' singing: it's
phenomenal as it always has been. She
provides a constant sweet tone quality,
and all the appropriate drama when
and where it's necessary. Her musical
contrasts between the Mozart selec-
tions and the Strauss nieces. are

Sills
... floods the airwavess
decisive and exacting and at the samer
time, her music making'activity bursts
with its vigor.
The other album re-released andr
remastered on Angel is a disc ofE
Operatic Mad Scenes from operas by
Bellini, Donzietti and Thomas. Sills
performances here are not less
'stimulating. She combines her con-
summate artistry with a vivid inten-
sity. The intensity rides along perfectly
with the dramatic characterizations of
the texts in these opera scenes, and she
creates an assortment of real life pic-
tures for the listener, which produce a
sense of live performance. "Mad
Scenes" are exciting and Sills shows
them to us in precisely this manner. In
turn, you are excited along with her-a
definite asset to listening not always
found in an album.
qN

a
It
IV
t
is

Ad added treat is that each album is
accompanied by a text leaflet which
has English translations of all the
lyrics. This mkes following along a lot
easier, especially if you aren't fluent or
lucid in Italian or German.
Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C
Minor will provide an enjoyable con-
trast to the above opera listings. This
issue of the universally known and
ubiquitous Symphony is a performance
led by' Otto Klemperer with the
Philharmonia Orchestra. The recor-
ding is fifty percent commendable and
worth listening to, with the other half
being of lesser quality. Klemperer
begins and heads through the first two
movements in pedintic manner,
producing somewhat overly restrained
music. Then in the last two movements
the scene does a real switch and the in-
terpretation becomes grandiose in
every way, with generous amounts of
suppleness, but at the same time it does
not destroy the overall form and struc-
ture of the work. The ending is worth
your time just for the many exciting
moments Klemperer obtains from the
orchestra.
-Neil Ga/an ter

.a. ) ".O e .>.I . , -' -c: , LJ*" Plt c r-..W .o. JL.

SArLE

John
(ECM)

Abercrombie-Night

A LOOK AT THE
1985 spring fashions
SUPPLEMENT TO
pick up your copy at various
locations around cam us on:
"0d 9P

Maybe it's an atmosphere thing.
Where you either get it or you
don't. You know, kind of like Brian Eno
or the Grateful Dead or asparagus.
With guitarist John Abercrombie, I just
don't get it. For this LP he has assem-
bled a group of very astute sidemen:
Jan Hammer on keyboards, Michael
Brecker on sax, and drummer Jack
DeJohnette. This is a capable bunch
that plays all the right notes. But the in-
sides are missing. John's playing is
downy soft but lacks heart, Brecker's
horn is clarion-sure sans soul. Hammer
noodles mostly, and DeJohnette's at-
tention is simply not enough.
Oddly, the LP opens with the only
composition not penned by Abercrom-
bie. "Ethereggae" is a predictable

eat 4
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IV

a t5ti9 eco5 eti cos
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PASSOVER IS COMING
Worried about Passover??!!

lo a T CT , N
n - a

6 --.

..o.

Come join our communal seder in a warm,
joyous, Chassidic atmosphere. With illustra-
tions, explanations and insights into the
HAGADA - Story of Passover - Plus a
Delicious Festive Meal.
ALL THIS A T:
CHABAD HOUSE
715 1-TTl I.5TRCT .T

AA 442I2tL

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