Page 8 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 16, 1985
SWA - Your Future If You
WURM - Feast (SST)
With the recent genre-busting suc-
cess of the Minutement and Husker
Du, SST releases have been finding
their way into more hip households
than ever before, spreading their
label's gospel of trendlessness,
twisted humor and the dirty side of
rock 'n' roll in general. Long time SST
alumni Chuck Dukowski (ex-Black
Flag bass player and tunesmith) is
the man behind these two new
releases, both of which stay true to the
loosely defined SST tradition but yield
decidedly mixed results.
SWA is Dukowski's current project
and a marked departure from the
sounds made during the Black Flag
period. Drawing heavily from 1970s
heavy rock (Alice Cooper Love it to
Death, Black Sabbath Vol. 4, Blue
Oyster Cult Secret Treaties, etc.),
SWA aims for a sharply executed and
dangerously calculated R & R attack
(note business suits in back cover
Merril Ward's vocals are usually
strong but his posturing and in-
tonation are sometimes hackneyed.
The playing is also pretty effective,
especially Richard Ford's guitar on
songs like "Caravan" and "Creeps",
lots of noise that sounds like a swarm
of carnivorous bees. Overall, the band
is tight and the sound is cohesive.
As for the actual tunes that're bein'
laid down, things are a bit less con-
sistent. The opening track, "Rip it
Up", moves fast and sounds like a
mutant cross between Motorhead and
Oingo Boingo. Most of the other songs
are much slower, striving to create a
certain tension heavily reminiscent of
early Alice Cooper.
Although some of them work
well,especially "Creeps," there is a
noticeable similarity in their struc-
ture that makes them a bit redundant.
"Simon's Thing" is real different with
a funk bassline and mocking female
This would all work a lot better,
however, if the sound itself was bigger
and more wide open. Except for the
vocals, nothing is loud enough, the
result being a claustrophobic and
muffled sound. The highs are too low
and the lows are too high, the sound
isn't allowed to really kick in and ex-
plode. It's pretty clear that such
problems are most likely non-existent
when the band plays live, but that
doesn't help the sound of SWA on this
record. Hopefully time, experience,
or some other crisis will allow the
next SWA release to live up to its
For Wurm, time is something that
ran out eons ago. Originally formed
by Dukowski in 1972, the band existed
on and off until 1983 when they recor-
ded Feast and promptly split up.
Unlike SWA, Wurm is anything but a
tightly organized rock ensemble.
Loose, sloppy and way trashed out,
Wurm would've been the perfect band
to play at Morrissey's first com-
Like SWA, they too are greatly in-.
fluenced by early '70s jams, especially
Deep Purple, Alice Cooper and the
New York Dolls.
Chuck Dukowski's production suits
the band particularly well, giving
them lots of wide open spaces to fill
with sound. Simon Smallwood's
vocals, however, are mixed kind of
high which is sometimes too much
considering the otherworldly nature
of his pipes: imagine a satanically
engineered meeting between Jello
Biafra and Beverly Sills.
Everything else is pretty solid, par-
Michigan Alumni work here:
The Wall Street Journal
The New York Times
The Washington Post
The Detroit Free Press
The Detroit News
United Press International
Because they worked here:
ticularly the title track and "Where
Will We Run." Wurm, however, is not
a band for anytime listening and is
best suited for hectic bashes and an
occasional brunch or luncheon.
They're fun, they rock, but they're
certainly not essential - which is
probably how they intended it to be.
The Robert Cray Band -
False Accusations (Hightone)
Cray's first album, Bad Influence,
seemed to herald a rising blues star
who would come to take his place
alongside the likes of Albert Collins or
Gatemouth Brown. His second effort,
False Accusations, doesn't quite live
up to that promise.
Cray is a strong guitarist, but
strong guitarists are disturbingly
commonplace. Preferring a slow,
drawn-out style reminiscent of
Collins' to the usual high energy
"wall-of-notes" approach, his solos
can be intriguing. Unfortunately, his
songs - and most of them here are his
own compositions - aren't structured
well enough to give him the liberty he
needs for those solos.
The album's biggest problem,
though, is Cray's singing. It's surely
no crime for a bluesman not to sing
too well, but it shouldn't be something
he boasts about either. Producers
Bruce Bromberg and Dennis Walker
- probably to compensate for the
generally slow pace - mixed Cray's
vocals to the forefront, and if they
belong on the record at all they belong
somewhere in the back. With a limited
range and inconsistently "off" sound,
Cray could probably do a lot better if
he hired someone else to do the.
singing for him.
But all of this doesn't mean the
album is a complete waste. A few of
Cray's compositions, although inap-
propriate for his guitar work, are
refreshingly catchy. "Change of
Heart, Change of Mind" in particular
shows that the reaction to Cray's first
album wasn't completely off the
money. And he is, after all, a talented
guitarist who tends to show a great
deal more energy in the area live
shows than he does on this recording.
By rights, Cray still has a long
career in front of him, and perhaps
one day he will come to stand beside
the greats; but before then, he and his
entourage are going to have to learn
to play up his considerable strengths
and play down his nagging
10,U00 Maniacs: scene newcomers. play their own style of American
Band blends cultures
By Daniel Trager
W ITH THE diversity of American
revivalism showing through
such panes as R.E.M., Green on Red,
Lone Justice, and countless others,
it's getting harder and ,harder for
newcomers to the scene to get any
Well, along comes 10,000 Maniacs to
prove they've got something a little
different to offer. The name is a good
starter. "We came from a town where
all the bands were cover acts com-
peting for the same audience. We
came up with the name to distance
ourselves from the other bands in
name as well as in our sound," said
bass guitarist John Lombardo.
10,000 Maniacs' self-styled eclectic-
ness further distances them from
main-stream revivalists. "Each of us
have so many influences; we just try
and do what we can do best," Lom-
bardo explained. "I grew up listening
to countrier bands, like Graham
Parkinson and the Byrds. I was into
more mainstream music while the
other band members were all into
their own thing, too," he added.
British and American folk, Carib-
bean, and even Latin music styles find
their respective niches in the
Oh sure, they've got plenty of the
back-to-the-roots style and philosophy
that is almost oo characteristic of
main-stream revivalists. But there's
so much more there. Their new
record, The Wishing Chair, is proof-
perfect of this. Sometimes country,
sometimes folk, and even sometimes
U2, the record avoids stylistic
Most interesting are Natalie Mer-
chant's vocals and lyrics. Under-
stated but compelling, they are even
sometimes disturbing. On "Lilydale"
her voice sounds like a kind of4
mystical blend of Judy Collins, early
Linda Ronstadt, and Joan Baez, while
lyrically the song is a melancholy but6
tastefully-done ode to the tranquility
of a graveyard.
Merchant's voice itself.seems a sort
of Welsh or Gaelic, but it purely
stylistic as she, and the band, are all
from New York. This characteristic
inflection isteven more defined on
"Among the Indians," another4
testament of songwriting ability as
the sad lament of the American In-
dian. It is thoughtfully told and the
band's cultural roots show through.
The addition of accordion, thanks to
keysman Dennis Drew, on cuts like
"Arbor Day" further attest to the
cultural references the band draws on
in their sound.
Though by no means a dance band,
they're still upbeat and danceable,
though the album is chocked with4
slower tracks. .
Not to be passed over is the guitar
work from the combined talents of
Robert Buck, Steve Gustafson, and
The styles, like just about anything
else the band does, are varied, from
the Spanish-style classical picking of
"Arbor Day," to the Edge-like drone
of "My Mother the War."
The Maniacs' style is impressive
both live and on the album as thly
succeed in mixing all sorts of guitars
without sacrificing the other facetsf.
their songs. And it is with this d-
mirable use of guitars, along with the
identifiable mystic voice of Natalie
Merchant, along with the eclectic tn-
fluences and sounds the band derives
from their cultural heritage that
make 14,000 Maniacs a band to watch.
And at Rick's tonight, you'll get your
WEKEN DS MADE OF?
AND READING THE WEEKEND MAGAZINE
~1~** * 7--5,
It's more than just talk. At ROLM, your career is always a two-
way dialogue. Right from the start, you have an immediate
voice in important business communications projects, while
flexible assignments broaden your professional experience.
Your voice makes a difference. In the future of a company
that is standing on the threshold of the most exciting years in
the history of telecommunications. Bringing full-feature
desktop voice and data systems-complete with PC capabilities,
digital memory and more-to a market intense with
Your ideas hold the answers. And ROLM is listening. Our phi-
losophy, and all our products, continue to be unique expres-
sions of the people who create them. It's hardly surprising
coming from one of the first companies to make "Create a great
place to work" one of its founding goals. That's why you'll find
ROLM attracts and motivates the brightest in the industry, and
provides physical surroundings and benefits befitting that kind
After the hard work you've put into preparing for your career,
ROLM wouldn't think of offering you any less.
Electrical Engineering &
Computer Science Majors
Come talk about the opportunities at ROLM.
Sign up with your Placement Office for an on-
campus interview, and mark your calendar for
our pre-interview presentation, or send your
resume and letter of interest to Vicky
Anderson, Engineering Recruitment, M/S 372,
4900 Old Ironsides Drive, Santa Clara, CA
- - 95054. Equal Opportunity Employer.
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