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November 19, 1985 - Image 7

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1985-11-19

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Tuesday, November 19, 1985

Page

Roche's antics and talent warmA2

By Peter Ephross
T HE ROCHES PROVIDED a near
capacity crowd with a warm
escape from the freezing drizzle
Friday night at the Michigan Theater.
Displaying a combination of their
beautiful harmonies and bizarre
behavior, the three sisters from New
Jersey made the audience tem-
porarily forget the dismal . Ann Ar-
bor weather.

Maggie, Terre, and Suzzy came on-
to the stage dressed in offbeat
Madonna costumes, filling the stage
with bright reds and flowery patterns.
When they burst into their fifth song,
of the evening, "Gimme a Slice," the
tension between their wacky behavior
and strong harmonies was evident.
After a piece from their latest
album, Another World, the Roches
evoked a positive response from the
crowd with one of their classics, "The
Train."

On their next song, "Hammond,"
the girls again displayed great range
from Maggie's lows to Terre's
soprano highs.
After this song, the music tem-
porarily stopped and the absurdity
began.
Suzzy began a conversational in-
terlude, the kind that normally puts
the audience at ease and also gives
the performers a chance to rest.
During this concert, these purposes
were served, but through unusual

means: the stories just didn't make
sense. Suzzy told how President
Reagan visited the girls backstage at
one of their earlier concerts, but not
out of choice. It was just one of his
campaign stops. The rest of the story
was even more incoherent, but it ad-
ded to the feeling that the Roches
were amateurs and should be sym-
pathized with.
As if to negate their appearance as
amateurs, the Roches moved into
the most successful portion of the
show. "Older Girls," "Turn off the
Faucet," and "Hey Mr. Sellack,"
were done with emotion, accom-
panied by Suzzy's intense gyrations,
that added to the messages of the
songs. This basic message is best ex-
pressed by "Another World," the title
track of their latest album. Until we
reach a better world, we should hold
precious to the escapes we have from
this one.

Throughout the concert, one of the
sisters walked up to a computer and
programmed the drum beat for the
next song, as on "Face Down at Folk
City." This innovation should be
avoided as much as possible in
following tours.
The next two songs, "Missing," and
"Love to See Ya," provided the
audience with a foil against which to
appreciate the rest of the evening.
Their voices were hidden in the non-
sensical lyrics, and the electric drum
beat became more and more an-
noying.
The Roches recaptured the hearts
of the audience with their next song,
"Going to Ireland Soon." Featuring
Suzzy playing a book with a drum
mallet, the song went on for almost
ten minutes. Each sister picked a dif-
ferent word and repeated it over and
over. The beauty in this piece lay in
its apparent improvisation.

Displaying their versatility, the
Roches moved into a '50s, doo-wop
song, "Speak Softly Daddy." On this
song, Suzzy guitar string broke, tem-
porarily forcing the trio to become a
duo. But this equipment failure only
added to the absurdity of the evening.
Perhaps the disappointing version
of Handel's "Halleluiah Chorus," one
of the Roches' classics, was due to
their fatigue. At any rate, on the next
song, "The Married Man" Suzzy took
advantage of the opportunity and lay
down on the stage, napping for the en-
tire song.
The Roches now began what turned
out to be a half an hour endeavor to
leave the stage; "Love Radiate
Around" highlighted the first of
several encores.
On their next return, the Roches
paused, enjoying the demands for en-
cores, finally ending their set with
"Dirt's on the Loose."

Grio t s latest from Europe

By arwulf arwulf
W E NEED NOT look far to
encounter the Beautiful, the
Terrifying, the Marvelous and the
Phantasmagoric. From out of
Detroit has come the Griot
Galaxy, often billed as the Sci-Fi
Band, and always packing a
whollop as only true hallu-
cinatory performers can.
If you've seen these men, with
silver and gold-painted faces,
wearing tunics, pantaloons and
strange headpieces, and if you've
heard their other-worldly music,
then you know what I'm talking
about. Like Sun Ra and his
Arkestra, this vision is best caught
live ... best dreamt up close.
The next best thing is the
phonograph record. Up until just
recently, the only recording we've
had to draw upon was their LP
Kins, recorded in 1981. This is a
fabulously laid-out album, and it
offers a healthy cross-section of
this organization as they were
back then.
We who are in love with this
music, however, have been year-
ning for more recent material. The
months have crawled by since they
toured Europe, and rumors cir-
culated, hinting at a wondrous live
recording already available over
there.
This is the kind of thing which
frustrates the avid follower - the
gentlemen from Detroit, unable to

find enough work in their home
town, are invited to appear in
Austria. A record emerges, and we
at home must wait our while %w buy
it from West Germany. Only in late
20th century America does this
seem logical.
It is the logic of banality, predic-
tability and mass-conformity, all
of which are the antithesis of
Creative Improvised Black Music.
The fact remains, these cats have
not been able to find regular gigs
here at home.
Yeah, yeah, Montreux/Detroit,
and an occasional Eclipse gig, and
there's the side gigs: Faruq
featured on a single with the Sun
Messengers, Tani Tabbal ap-
pearing with a percussion troupe
at the DIA, Anthony Holland
gigging with Tani and A. Spencer
Barefield, Jaribu Shahid adding
his brilliant, peculiar angles to a
contemporary string ensemble.
But none of this is steady work!
We need to celebrate these men
while they are still here, rather
than waiting 25 years to get in-
terested.
The latest recording knocks me
right on my butt, and I encourage
each and every one of you to get
yourself a copy and play it loudly
for all of your friends. It's called
Opus Krampus, and its available
on the sound aspects label, (sas
004), out of West Germany.
Recorded in July of 1984, in
Nickelsdorf, Austria, this live
recording shakes all preconcep-
tions of Jazz to the very bases.
"Liberty City Rundown," written
by Faruq Z. Bey, is as intricate
and endearingly formidable as the
man himself. Lurching along at a
healthy clip, this is an excellent
taste of the Griots, and would ser-
ve as an adequate introduction to
their sound.
The fiery saxophonist David
McMurray is absent from this
session, and he may have been

unable to make the trek overseas.
In a way this is fortunate, as much
as I love his sound, for it gives us a
solid dosage of Faruq and Anthony
as they interact.
"Dragons," also by Faruq, is
more ominous and trudges
through some ferocious minor
knocks. This is Vesuvius reaching
for Pompeii, Godzilla making for
Tokyo in sweat pants. You take it
full in the face, with Anthony in
one ear and Faruq wedged firmly
in the other. The r.hythm is
devastating, hypnotic.
Jaribu Shahid, poet and young
terror on the bass, composed
"Necrophilia," which comprises
all of side 2. This, like many of
their romps, is based in part on a
cyclic mode, with staggering erup-
tions from the horns hanging off
the face of the moment. There is
also an intonation/recitation of a
poem from Faruq, entitled "Tales
of Zinjanthropus Galacticus," full
of his strange personal vision. The
reprise of the eruptions and sub-
sequent evolution back to the
cyclic modal theme are for this
listener a full-blown hayride
through hell on a blender.
The Austrian audience were hit
with some full-force American
Ethnos on that day in '84, and they
responded accordingly. Time now
for major recording contracts and
prestigious concert hall bookings,
here in the States. Now. Right now.
As Faruq says: "Is it midnite
yet?"

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