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January 24, 1986 - Image 16

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1986-01-24
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7W

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MUSiC
Our critics pick 1985's Best Records

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1

Quirky 'Gods' becomes cult hit

It is always easier to accept (or part due to a damned video?
dismiss) the opinion of a critic The Dream of the Blue Turtles-
dw smn ss) th e opn inr tn nof n rf Sting (A&M) The finest young jazz

nermost
One of hi
forming.

when one rsua g rurtutlxV
the critic's preferences and biases.
For this reason we herewith
provide our critics' selections for
the Best Records of 1985.
Joe Acciaioli
In no particular order...
White City- Pete Townshend (AT-
CO) Here the former composer and
manic guitarist for the Who tackles
feels that range from lilting reggae to
a boogying jazz show tune. Coupled
with sharp lyrics, these songs serve as
an effective attack on the various ills
of apartheid. Although not quite as
melodically consistent as Empty
Glass or Chinese Eyes, most of the
selections are at once beautiful and
powerful.
Soul to Soul- Stevie Ray Vaughan
(Epic) Listening to this Texas
bluesman provided a guaranteed
lesson in humility for anyone who
claims to play guitar. His solos aim
straight for the soul with some of the
nastiest and most stirring sounds ever
recorded. With his band expanded to
include keyboards and sax, Vaughan
occasionally ventures into an ap-
pealing R&B sound that brings
refreshing new dimension to his
previously all-blues format.
Brothers In Arms-Dire Staits
Warner Brothers) Speaking of great
guitar players, Mark Knopfler once
again presents a collection of six-
string hooks and riffs that simply bur-
sts with emotion and sizzle. Most im-
portant, perhaps, is the fact that this
album brought Dire Straits the
recognition it has for so long deser-
ved. So what if that fame was in large

talents meet one of pop's best DAVID
songwriters, resulting in an album AT SWE
that is melodically affecting while in- Saint 008
strumentally accomplished and in- this, just
spired. would wo
Little Creatures-Talking Heads was wor
(Sire) For 1985, Byrne and company Bounce"
strip-down to a simple five-piece master
sound reminiscent of 77. While Byr- saxophon
ne's wry humor permeates the among th
album's arrangements and lyrics, the reached b
collection is most noteworthy for its CLARI
delightful melodies. In Conce
1067) A
arWuif arwuif Hamilton
I refuse to rate these as one rates jazz, and
horses, hybrids, or grades of sausage. Carter at
Everything mentioned here is on selves fo
equal footing with sincere creative clarinet f
music everywhere, and Wulfie won't of his life
be treating it like a goddamned golf Murrayc
tournament. World Sa
GRIOT GALAXY- Opus Krampus of the con
(Sound Aspects 004) This is Glory, trum mee
risen from Old Detroit, and the You must
brightness of these four black men Byron E
has shone clear across to Europe.
Live performance in Nickelsdorf, Marsha
Austria. Would Columbia records (Warner)
please sign these guys and tour them A mood
proudly? Thanks. touchingly
ART ENSEMBLE OF CHICAGO -'The songs by1
Third Decade (Ecm 1273) A dynamic pop ode.
core sample of how five of the grows up,;
original stone crazy multi- love, andr
instrumentalists are sounding with a fie
nowadays, here in the chilly vastness each fleet
of the future. One of their very very more. A b
best, ever. Kate Bu
CECIL TAYLOR-SegmentslI (Or- Kate B
chestra of Two Continents)/Winged album an
Serpent (Sliding Quadrants) An army idea of a
of illuminaries, mercilessly pasting sonal, o
us with further visions from the in- soul-sea

passages of Cecil's brain.
s very best in 30 years of per-
Astounding, outstanding.
D MURRAY BIG BAND LIVE
ET BASIL VOL. 1 (Black
5) We waited long months for
to see how a large ensemble
ork with David at the helm. It
rth waiting on. "Bechet's
dedicated to New Orleans
clarinet/soprano
nist Sidney Bechet, belongs
he highest levels of joy ever
by creative black musicians.
NET SUMMIT -Vols 1 & 2
ert (India Navigation 1062,
Alvin Batiste and Jimmy
n, both pillars of traditional
two wilder specimens; John
nd David Murray, pool them-
r a complete history of the
amily. Hamilton spent most
playing for Duke Ellington.
came to prominence in the
xophone Quartet. All points
mpass, all tones in the spec-
et in these two exciting LPs.
t hear to believe.
Bull
ll Crenshaw-Downtown
y but inspiring collection of
y brash and tender love
the master of the modern
On Downtown Crenshaw
realizing the temporality of
reacts not in resignation but
erce determination to savor
ting moment of it that much
beautiful, thrilling album.
ush-Hounds of Love (EMI)
ush resurrects the concept
d breathes new life into the
rt rock in this highly per-
pium dream-like piece of
arching. Hounds is

mysterious, and as disconcerting as it
is beautiful, and though it has some
notable shortcomings (chiefly its ex-
cessiv.e theatrical trappings) it
remains a compelling, deeply rewar-
ding work.
The Replacements-Tim (Sire)
The Replacements get to work, Tim
suffers from a somewhat cut-and-
dried approach, but is still a for-
midable record. Paul Westerberg is a
frontman with all the strengths of a
Townshend or young Springsteen
(with none of the weaknesses) chan-
neled into what has to be the most
brilliant writer's muse since Randy
Newman. Back that up with what
may be the only band around that
really lives for rock, and you get a
good strong whiff of The Replacemen-
ts' true potential for greatness.
Lloyd Cole and The Com-
motions-Rattlesnakes (Geffen)
While the rest of the Anglo popsters
were off fashion mongering Cole and
company slipped out this debut album
of smart, sexy little songs all aobut
the cool thrill of infatuation (not love,
mind you, which they never confuse
the issue with). The tunes are elegant
and instinctively pure to the pop ideal,
while Cole manages the mean trick of
writing about young sexual anxiety
with neat little confessionals charged
with a wonderful, tipsy eagerness.
Bruce Cockburn-The Trouble With
Normal(A&M)
Cockburn is a dark romantic whose
songs possess a genuinely poetic lilt.
Trouble is a difficult album, dark and
brooding, full of incriminating
ruminations on private and global ills
that offer little suggestion of hope, ex-
cept maybe for implying the im-
perishability of the human soul even
in the face of what he suggests is utter
evoulutionary fatality.

CIANGLI

S

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OCITIZEN

Three out of eleven critics recommend
'V U.'
Hobey Echlin
1. Midnight Oil-Red Sails on the
Sunset- (Columbia)
Production is perfect, its themes
poignant (from nukes to nationalism)
and its delivery a flawless and fresh
amalgam of upbeat rock, haunting
ballads, and biting funk-rock. With
this innovative and strong approach
to music, Midnight Oil won't be down
under for much longer.
2. The Damned - Phantasmagoria
(MCA)
Six releases and at least three
record labels later, the Damned bring
forth their cleanest and peppiest
sound yet. Complete with plenty of
keyboards and sax, this dream of
musical production packs the subtle
wallop that just might give these '77
fun-punks the grown-up recognition
they deserve.
3. Sly and Robbie-Language
Barrier-(Island)
Black Uhuru's rhythm section
teams up with the likes of Afika Bam-
baata, Herbie Hancock, and even Bob
Dylan, among others, to explore
funked-out boundaries of sound and
rhythm using everything from voice
synthesizers to horns to flushing
toilets, with a steady backbeat to keep
you moving.
4. Volcanosuns- The Bright Orange
Years-(Homestead)
Ballsy, raw, diverse, and all-over
the place, this first effort from some
Burma Boys and their buddies
touches on the everywheres of the dir-
tiest garage rock. From the straight
sounds of "Jak" to the exploding
dirge of "Promise Me" to layered in-
strumentals like "Truth is Stranger
Than Fishing", this album proves a
little self-indulgence can go a long and
enjoyable way with its art for art's
sake approach.
5. Crossed Wire-Fall though Mor-
ning-(Ckrb)
Young and local, these veterans of
the Detroit music scene bring out
their best with their first EP, clear
and convincing, Crossed Wire's
layered guitar sound with the pulsing
bass and drumlines that make it
shimmer in its own perspiration.
Beth Fertig
In no order of preference, here are
my faves of '85.
Debuts:
Lloyd Cole and the Commotions--
Rattlesnakes (Geffen) Yea, he has a
bit of Dylan, Reed, and more in that

By Matthew Ben-Zeev
M any moons ago, a kindly,
unpretentious film
opened at Briarwood Theatre -7, and
it has clung there ever since. That The
Gods Must Be Crazy has survived
past its first anniversary in Ann Arbor
while continuing to reel in the years in
cities from Paris to San Francisco
represents a small miracle of seren-
dipity. Somehow, this cornball blend
of slapstick and humanity has cap-
tured a loyal following a la Harold and
Maude, proving once again that a
film's appeal and endurance do not
depend upon mainstream subject
matter and heavy-handed ideological
lessons.
The story revolves around Xi!,
(pronounced "Key-click") a humble,
loveable South African bushman con-
tendedly minding his own business in
the quiet Kalahari. Suddenly, a
tremendously tough, oblong projec-
tive (a Coke bottle) whirs into the
bushmen camp, apparently as a gift
from the gods (actually, it was discar-
ded from a passing airplane). After
some experimentation, the curious
gizmo proves to be a handy and ver-
sative drill, paint brush, clarinet, etc.
Unfortunately, the gods sent only one,
creating a scarce commodity - a
concept the communal bushmen had
never conceived of. Inevitably,
jealousy erupts into hostility and
chaos, prompting the elders to
question the Gods' common sense. Xi!
heroically embarks upon an
Odysseus-like journey to the end of
the earth, the gist being to deposit the
bottle there for no return.
Meanwhile, a bunch of silly and
unrelated subplots develop regarding
a newly-recruited village
schoolteacher, her bumbling but well-
intentioned guide and a band of
Marxist revolutionaries who hold the
schoolteacher and her class hostage
after a failed coup. Naturally, Xi!
becomes innocently mixed up in
the mess, as well as someepesky con-
frontations with the bizarre customs
and technology of the modern world.
Through it all, Xi is dignified and un-
flappable, pragmatically adjusting to
the gods' ridiculous games.
Ultimately, it is resourceful Xi! who
ingeniously saves the day.
Several types of appeals combine to
make the film unique. One concerns
cultural clash as it relates to our self-
satisfaction with the advanced
society. It is fun to gigle at Xi!'s awe
of the gods' wonderful toys because
we're -proud of our toys. Haven't you
ever felt the urge to resurrect Abe
Lincoln or some other historical
VAN DYCK OS STUDIOS
VALENTINE
SPECIAL
2- 3"x 5"s for $5.00
if taken before Jan. 31st.
663-6966
* Passport - Immigration
esm Application
s. o n o . e s
407 E.WILLIAM
c.Dvsia Am Arbor

figure just so you could show him
around and hear him say "Wow, I
have seen the future, and it's neat!"?
Nevertheless, this time-machine
aspect is tempered by a tinge of sad-
ness. Xi! represents a rare relic
the childhood period of humanity
an innocent time when society meant
a close-knit extended family and life
was unburdened by ambivalence and
technology-gone-awry. Perhaps, the
film suggests, in advancing beyond
the bushman we have to some degree
lost sight of life's tenderness and
charm.
More and more, Xi!'s point of view
seems to make sense. Nothing ever
contradicts his original conclusions
about the bottle and its source; and
after all, he does manage to reach
"the end of the earth," mission ac-
complished. We can sympathize with
Xi!'s assumption that the players
be gods.
Equally ironic is the similarity bet-
ween Xi!'s and the bungling guide's
predicaments. Even having been born
into the modern society, the latter
seems infinitely more confused than
Xi! Thus, even the acclimated mem-
ber of society is as helpless as the
displaced bushman when it comes to
mastering social interaction.
LTHOUGH SUCH cultural
questioning leaves plenty to
think about, the film presents its
potentially serious messages in such a
lighthearted way that we can enjoy
the contrasts without really feeling
guilty or disturbed. In fact,
appeal of the movie is its restraint
from moralizing or political in-
sinuation. To underscore this,
producer Jamie Uys creates the
guerrilla insurrection with a tone
reminiscent of Moe clamping Curly's
head in an ironing board. The affect is
to make the audience feel played
down to. In a mainstream, ar-
tistically-oriented film, such
patronizing would be received as an
insult to our intelligence. Here,
however, the absurdity comes off as
tongue-in-cheek fun, consistent with
the film's aim to make us see the
world through Xi! 's eyes.
The film manages to attract its
audience by eliciting mixed feelings
about the industrialized society, but in
an entertaining way which cleverly
insulates itself against derogatory
audience feedback. In other words, it
asks a valid question about our
culture, then purposely trivializes the
question.
The off-beat approach makes The
Gods Must Be Crazy a cult film.
*THIS THURSDAY . .
TH
CCR SOUNDALIKES

"Cultness" here does not describe an
involved subculture such as that
surrounding The Rocky Horror Pic-
ture Show. Going to see Gods is not a
major event mobilizing a homogenous
in-group. Rather, it is a small scale
phenomenon shared by independent
individuals who appreciate obscurity
and the triumph of the freakish un-
derdog. The film's appeal is similar
to that of Harold and Maude, but
more significantly, it is related to
non-artistic cults which also en-
courage people to appreciate simple
and unassuming values. Take, for in-
stance, the cult surrounding White
Castle restaurants - not exactly
gourmet, but at least you can call the
place your own. At first, White Castle
just seems like strange food, then
gradually it develops a mystique.
Whether for films or sliders, this kind
of cult is self-consciously skewed from
the mainstream, but it also anti-avan-
te-garde. The Gods Must Be Crazy
has endured because "Anthro 101
meets the Keystone Cops" is not an
elitist concept, but it is a creative way
to reconsider the path of progress.
Besides, its real star, the Coke bottle,
was already a cult.
DU SSECTINGthe elements of recent Xi!, a Ka/ihari tribesman, hurls a troublem
cult hits sets a precedent which to be the edge of the world.
tempts one to speculate. So far, a few
patterns have emerged among suc-
cessful cult films. As mentioned,oneCM-O
pattern is the tendency to target in-
groups or other small segments
(usually college student). Even Gods The Univrsity of Mch
void of parental rebellion, has attrac-
ted a collegiate crowd. Rebellion, it RESIDENCE HALL PO
seems, is one way to nab a college
audience, but a more potent appeal
aimsh to release the college student Te Housing Division is looking for well-qua
frohims oees tubesomeg etides members in Residence Halls. We specificall
In both Gods and Harold and Maude, -Serving as.positive academic and g
the hero encounters foreign objects -Fosteringa spirit of community
(the Coke bottle and Maude, respec- -Developing and strengthening leader
tively) which open up new and per- -Developing programs for a diverse
plexing worlds. Adaptation to the new
world is no small challenge, but it can THERE WILL BE TWO IN
be conquered. Is not our own THR WIL ET OIN
predicament analogous,"with the so- Sunday, January 26, 19
called "real world" of employment
and marriage awaiting? The point is Tuesday, January 28, 1
that young-people's cult heroes are
not merely cute or off-the-wall. They IN AUDITORIUM 3 - MODE
command immediate empathy by
struggling with responsibilities and Representatives from the Housing Divisio
with their own identity, eventually answer questions regarding candidate qu
proving themselves as not so helpless expectations. Appilcatons are available n
after all.
Learn to live with someone ALL NEW APPLICANTS A
who's living with cancer. ONE OF THES
Call us.
An Equa Opportunity, Affin
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This offer is good from the end of
the game until closing.
(good only day of game
no other specials apply to this offer)

0-

4 Weekend-January 24, 1986

Y'TYTTTTTTT

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