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April 21, 1985 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1985-04-21

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The Michigan Daily Sunday, April 21, 1985 Page 5

Tears for Fears-Songs from
the Big Chair (PolyGram)
Just when it seemed sanity could not
endure the arrival of another good
British synth band-life was so much
easier when you could count on them all
being safely, ignorably mediocre-to-
bad-Tears for Fears emerged with the
doggedly promising 1983 The Hurting.
In description this band soufnded pret-
ty oh-no: tortured boy-sensitives
(well, look at the name they chose for
themselves), sheltered from the fearful
glare of the outside world in their 5000-
track studio in Mum's basement.,
delicately penning tunes of slender
pointy-noised English adolescent poetic
despair (tra-la) as an army of syn-
thesizers buzzed 'round them. One
should have been able to laugh them
off as Moody Blues meets Janis Ian via
the Human League.
The unfortunate dilemma was that
Tears for Fears wrote generally ex-
cellent songs to support their rather
soggy teen angst, and the production
on The Hurting was, with a few minor
missteps, right-detail-in-the-right-place
genius. I couldn't tell you what
* listening to laser disc sounds like, but
that was one LP I want to hear that way
when I can. Aside from a couple of
freefall tumbles into arty pathos, the
album was near-classic high-tech pop,
kept somewhat problematically uneven
by the depressive undercurrent, but
otherwise almost as adventurous an LP
of far-ranging studio-epic pop as The
The's Soul Mining.
The follow-up, Songs from the Big
Chair, confirms Tears for Fears'
strengths and weaknesses, adding a
few new wrinkles. The range of moods
Curt Smith and Roland Orbazal (and
continuing producer Chris Hughes)
managed to convey via both
songwriting and studio wizardry on The
Hurting is more emphasized than ever
here. The slide of track number from
ten to a minimal eight (pretty slim

pickings after a year-and-a-half of ab-
sence) is indicative of the complexity
attempted throughout each of Big
Chair's individual tracks.
Like Heaven 17, Tears for Fears are
increasingly interested in creating a
near-symphonic elaboracy within the
synth-dance context, flirting earnestly
with other musical forms (especially
jazz, in the vague mood-oriented way
that pop composers tend to think of it),
jerry-building cathedrals on simple pop
foundations. Such willful inflation
could easily turn gaseous, as many
(very dumb) people thought it did on
Heaven 17's recent How Men Are; but
with skill and instinct to back up the
ambition, this could be just the sort of
big thinking that breaks down those
paper-mache genre walls and creates
the truly great pop LP. But where
Heaven 17 have the benefit of a more
mature image, more emotionally ob-
tuse lyrics and a lighter, funkier touch
(not to mention a production sense bor-
dering on faultless), Tears for Fears'
are more simply read emotionally-
speaking and more directly '80s-twelve-
inch-sounding musically. While
Heaven 17 always sounds a cool jump
ahead of everybody else, Tears for
Fears is right now-hence they run a
greater risk of sounding conventional
and/or attenuated.
Songs from the Big Chair takes its
time, expanding songs with a deter-
mined first-flash-of-success confidence.
When it works, it works gorgeously;
when it doesn't, "Indulgence" flashes
steadily on and off in the brain like
those neon "Eat at Joes" marquees in
Bugs Bunny cartoons. A moment of ill
judgement-underestimating the
public yet again-has led PolyGram to
release as the record's first single the
generically cheerful "Everybody Wan-
ts to Rule the World" instead of the
European hit and LP opener "Shout."
This latter tune is a slow-burn suc-
cess to the ears; like the debut album's
title cut "The Hurting," it has an

mention a lilting chorus. Nearly as ab-
sorbing is the centerpiece "Head Over
Heels" (it must take some nerve to ab-
scond the title of an already very-well-
known recent tune by somebody else),
which similarly builds deliberately on a
simple compositional foundation to an
anathemic intensity of wistful please
don't romantic outcry. These tunes
may not have a lot in common with
"Roundabout," "American Pie" or
"Stairway to Heaven" on the surface
(aw, shaddap, you jaded art-dogs, you
know those are great songs, no matter
how sick of them you pretend to be), but
they struggle for a similar expanse and
grandeur of rising tension.
More slight but very appealling is the
rather beautiful piano/sax/vocal
lament "I Believe" (rather too pup-
pyishly "dedicated to Robert Wyatt (if
he's listening)" on the cover); a fairly
swinging "Broken," with ominously
rising keybaord phrases that sound like
the old Stranglers; and "Mothers Talk,"
already a European hit, which after a
dreadful Eurodisco string opening tur-
ns into a big-beat dancefloor hurl before
eventually fizzling out.
There are lesser production mistakes
scattered throughout, but the real sen-
sibility errors are the overall blandness
of "Everybody Wants to Rule the
World" and the final seven-minute
snoozefest, "Listen." This track seems
determined to lull everyone past caring
with its scarcely one-and-a-half
melodic ideas and general air of
Valium-heaven ambient-ethereal
hoodah. , Drenched in faint operatic
backing vocals and vaguely Third-
Worldly all-together-now-everybody-
everywhere sentiments (you can tell by
the chorus, which is in some obscure
language we're denied - a translation
of), the song must be saying something
terribly international-nay, univer-

sal-and unity-oriented, but. . . zzzz-
Meanwhile, back at Mum's garden-
surrounded studio, the enchanted fey
"Christopher Robin's" who comprise
Tears for Fears (with a bit of session
help) stand on point, tremulously on the
edge of brilliance. Songs from the Big
Chair is like potato stew-everything's
great, but once in a while you get these
unpleasant lumps.
-Dennis Harvey
Mark Knopfler-Comfort
And Joy/Original Sountrack
henogram ) Cal/Original
Oin rack (Mercury)
Two years ago Mark Knopfler took
time out from Dire Straits to write the
score for Bill Forsyth's Local Hero, a'
lush, beguiling work that incorporated
everything from pop and jazz elements
to traditional Scottish folk melodies.
This year sees two more soundtrack
releases, one an EP of material from
Forsyth's Comfort and Joy, the other oa
full lenth album of Pat O'Connor's Cal.
The first, available only as an import,
is a pretty but uninspiring three piece
set don in slick, mellow jazz style, the
best track being "A Fistful Of Ice
Cream," featuring a beautiful in-
strumental reworking of an old Dire
Straits song- "Private In-
The Cal soundtrack on the other hand
offers much more, a quietly meditative
collection of music, featuring guitars,
mandolin, and uillean pipes in delicate
arrangements that stir up ghostly
images of ancient Irish folk music. It's
not as sensual a score as that for Local
Hero, but has greater depth. Not just
for Dire Straits fans.
-Byron L. Bull

Tears for Fears band members appear 'tortured boy-sensitives,' but do they
really have a 5000-track studio? Their new album, 'Songs from the Big
Chair,' confirms the strengths and weaknesses established on 'The Hurting,'
their first LP.

initially disorienting beat, a slow one
that refuses to turn bump-and-grind,
along with a neurotically dramatic at-
mosphere (including some slightly
overwrought lead vocals). It's not an
immediately endearing song, but it's
compelling, and could be a devastating
psyche-out on the dance floor if accom-
panied by an appropriate cacophony of

disco-hell lighting overkill.
There are two masterpieces here of
big-canvas melancholy dancepop,
songs that bug you at first and then
grow and grow with each listening.
"The Working Hour" is a fine epic of
pseudo-jazz/blues moodiness, a strong
descending bassline filled in by wailing
sax, bongos and lyrical keyboard, not to

-----A N N A RBO R-
with this entire ad $1 00 off any $4.00
admission 1 or 2 tickets. Good all
*1.00features thru 4124185.

* R ising reggae band

bops at Pig


By James Mayes
O NE CAN SUM-UP Bop Harvey's
Wednesday night performance at
the Blind Pig in one word- fantastic,
entertaining, unique.. . (alright, maybe
not one word). This mega-talented
Reggae band combines politics,amusic,
and philosophy into something I won't
Blood guts,
death and
* ore death

call music-it's more than that. It's the
communion of a band and it's audience;
soon neither is distinguishable. At the
end of the night both part, but long for a
rejoining. The band has other towns
and other audiences, but we must wait
longingly for their return. This is the
Bop Harvey experience which all those
in attendance at the Pig discovered.
Their music, most of it original, filled
every corner and permeated all minds.
The band had a message embedded in
its music and the crowd listened. The
music behind the message was creative
while always maintaining the reggae
background, but there was something
unmistakably different about it. As
lead singer Word E. Smith puts it,
"What we do is a fusion of many dif-
ferent styles designed to break down
those barriers which prevent reggae
from being played on the more popular
radio stations." This form of reggae,
while not sounding pop-ish, draws
popular appeal, as evidenced by the
highly diverse Wednesday crowd.
Yet there is more to this band than
just creative genius, they have
tangible musical talent. One of the
players, Miles Davis is a PhD can-
didate in trumpet, and pianist Scott
Culling is in the Greater Lansing Sym-
phony Orchestra. The remainder of the
band; Joel Hamilton-rhythm, horn;
Dan Stechow-bass guitar; Steve
Shoha-guitar; Randy Sly-drums;

and Word E. Smith-vocal, rhythm,.
guitar, have all, except for Smith, had
formal musical training. Smith is a
special case in that he seems to be a
natural musician.
The talent is exploited-most of the
members are featured in at least one
song. The horns are always showing
themselves strongly in every song, not
just the features. The bass player,
Stechow, is extremely talented, with an
ability to maintain the stability of a
song while developing his own per-
sonality on the instrument.
Piano player Scott Culling isn't very
evident (unless you listen'carefully) but
when he is featured we find out just
what Greater Lansing sees in him. The
same holds true for Randy Sly, we know
the drums are there but there really
isn't anything to appreciate until he is
featured- but when he is...
Davis, one of the main reasons the
horn section is so powerful (not taking
anything away from Hamilton), plays
an unbelievable solo and shows us just
what makes a doctoral candidate.
The band lists as its one main in-
fluence the legendary Bob Marley, but
though they play some of Marley's and
a few other artist's stuff, no real outside
influences are generally apparent in
their original compositions, except for
perhaps the world itself.
The band has an EP coming out
which will include "Tongue Tied," and

- their theme song "Nation From
Nation." Also coming up is an exten-
sive tour of Ohio, Wisconsin, Kentucky,
and Illinois. For those of you who
missed them a the Pig, don't despair
they will be back in Ann Arbor on
Saturday April 27, at the U-Club.

MON. 4:30, 7:00, 9:35 $2.00
SUN. 1:00. 4:00, 7:00. 9:35

Starmng CHER
MON. 5:00, 7:20, 9:40
SUN. 12:30, 2:45.5:00, 7:20, 9:40

" z
:,; :::
:ti j$


By Joshua Bilmes

HAVING NEVER seen a Friday the
JThirteenthNmovie before, I was
*thrilled by the opportunity to finally see
an entry in one of the few film series to
ever last as long as five movies, and
* quickly made tracks to the State to see
Friday the Thirteenth Part V-A New
It is not really a good movie. Vincent
Canby reviewed it in five sentences in
The New York Times, concluding:
"It's worth recognizing only as an ar-
tifact of our culture." To an extent he's
right; the film has absolutely no
:characterization. It's more predictable
*than the sun rising in the morning.
But therein lies the charm of the
film. Some twenty executions are fit in-
to ninety minutes. That works out to
one execution every four and a half
minutes. Bravo. It's just plain fun,
because you know just who is going to
get killed and when, and you know pret-
ty much how. It is not so much a horror
*movie as a very lengthy bad joke.
Taking themovieyseriously is the wrong
approach. The entertainment is the
The audience had a wonderful time
cheering the good guys on (and the bad
guys too) and giving warnings to the
soon-to-be victims. The perfect
placement of the hatchet (right between
the eyes, or in the back and out through
the stomach, for example) by the gen-
tleman in the hockey mask drew
Sraucous applause. And who can resist

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