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January 27, 1986 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1986-01-27

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ARTS

The Michiaan Daily

Monday, January 27, 1986

Page 5

What If Thinking:
Twisty homage pop

By Dave Yount
GUITARIST Howard Glazer and
vocalist Gail Baker must be
proud. What started basically as a
studio project between them in 1983
has turned into touring and additional
recordings. Detroit-based WHAT IF
THINKING (the name means "What
if we tried this? Or what if we tried
that?") has toured the midwest,
south, and most of Michigan, and
currently has a single out with two
bouncy tracks.
Their first record, an EP, received
Billboard's top EP pick in March 1983,
and they've been accruing favorable
reactions ever since. Their music has
been categorized as techno-pop or
new music, but with Howard Glazer's
fuzzy, squealing guitar work, these
names don't fit just right.
Great synthesizer work on "I Want
That Boy", the A-aide of their 45 on
Rude Records, is reminiscent of
Devo, except that WHAT IF
THINKING has a female vocalist.
Heavy breathing, accompanied with
lyrics like "I think she's gonna drive
me crazy/And my visions getting
hazy/As I contemplate her prize,"
quickly give you the idea that there's
some serious lusting happening, but
maintains tastefulness with its
humor. The B-side of the single,
"Run,.Run, Run" has this whaling
Jeff Beck guitar solo (that even J.B.
might be proud of) in the middle of the
otherwise B-52's/Talking Head's
sound, for an interesting effect.
Their, recent material (due out on
their upcoming full-length LP) is just
as danceable and fun as the single.
"Survival of the Fittest" features
Mike Staton's popping bass and
Glazer's award-winning lead guitar
synthesizer work. While it's a blend of

rock and roll guitar and Grace Slick-
like vocals by Gail Baker, it still has
an undeniable funky feel to it. "If
"Action, Action" can't get you hop-
ping, there might be something
seriously wrong with your abiliy to
have fun. This Oingo Boingo-sounding
tune contains rapid-fire vocals and
two screeching guitar solos, one of
which slowly fade in the left channel
and out the right.
"Psychedelic Carnival" mixes two
rather unlikely worlds - psychedelia
and circuses. James Dragon's excep-
tional keyboard work provides the
circus feeling, complete with
keyboard-simulated whip cracks, and
Glazer's underlying droning guitar
adds the spacey, cosmic touch. Gail
Baker's supplements floating lyrics
and completes the mood as well as the
two worlds, very effectively. "White
Rabbit", a remake of the Jefferson
Airplane classic, is done with just
enough originality to make it in-
teresting and exciting (achieved by
changing the beat a little by drummer
Al Waltz and using synthesizers), and
yet do the original some justice by
allowing you to recognize the fact that
it is a remake.
WHAT IF THINKING deserves
their award from the Detroit Metro
Times for "Talent Deserving Wider
Recognition-Band," and Glazer
unquestionably deservesahis Best New
Music Guitarist award. Talent is writ-
ten all over the band. Prepare your-
self for possibly some of the best tunes
and fruggin' Ann Arbor might see this
semester when WHAT IF THIN-
KING ponders for us at the Blind Pig
tonight. It's an all-win situation: we
experience great music while we give
WHAT IF THINKING some of that
wider recognition that they so clearly,
deserve.

Records
Joni Mitchell - Dog Eat Dog
(Geffen)
Sometimes I am a little slow when it
comes to popular music. It often takes
me a while to catch on to what's hap-
pening. Case in point: the new album
from Joni Mitchell. Dog Eat Dog
seemed cold and contrived on first
hearings. I was confused. When it
comes to Joni Mitchell, I am easily
impressed.
Joni has been among pop royalty for
fifteen years or better and much of
her well deserved reputation stems
from her restless commitment to
growth and change. Joni Mitchell
does not excuse herself. Remember
how surprised we were with the jazz
polish of For the Roses? How these
flirtations grew into the oblique
poetics of Don Juan's Reckless
Daughter and Mingus? How the
return to pop roots tickled on Wild
Things Run Fast? Well, the protean
princess is on the move again. Joni
boldly steps into the future. Is there
life beyond MTV?
Dog Eat Dog hollers an affirmative
response. Say yes. Slickaphonic
production qualities abound. Thomas
Dolby is co-producer and sideman.
Drummer Vinnie Colaiuta could be
anybody's second choice and, in

general, the group adds spice to Joni's
strongly flavored stuff. Prominent
among this new batch of compositions
is a powerful opus called "The Three
Great Stimulants." Rife with sym-
pathy and apocalyptic vision, this
tune shows that Joni hasn't lost her
teeth. While madmen sit up
building bombs/And making laws
and bars/They're gonna slam free
choice behind us.
Saxophonist Wayne Shorter ap-
pears to great advantage ona couple
of pieces. His tenor is sinuous on
"Lucky Girl" while Joni rhymes like
wild: Cheaters/Woman/beaters/
And Huck/Finn/shucksters/hop-
ping/parking/meters... And thank-
fully the impish Joni Mitchell sense of
humor is alive and thriving. Witness
the wry qualities of "Smokin" with
it's sample and hold gotta-have-
another-smoke behavior problems.
It's all coming together for me.
Slowly. And thoughtfully. I'm begin-
ning to feel that this will be remem-
bered as some of the best and most
substantial slickaphonic pop music of
the decade. And then some. Bravo
Joni.

Doc and Merle Watson -
Pickin' the Blues (Flying Fish)
It should be enough merely to say
this is the Watsons at their usual: un-
believable.
Doc looks, sounds, and feels as if his
guitar is a part of himself. He picks
complicated patterns in the midst of
essentially simple songs, and makes
them seem simple.
His singing is remarkable here as
well. With a weathered but strangely
melodic voice, it's clear why he's been
one of country folk's living legends for
who-knows-how-long.
Merle is somewhat less impressive
on his slide guitar, largely because
he's less audible, and indeed, the
album might well have been called a
Doc solo album.
"Stormy Weather," "Freight Train
Blues," and "Sittin' Here Pickin' the
Blues" are typically strong adap-
tations of blues songs to the flat-
picking style, and every one of them

works remarkably well.
"Hobo Bill's Last Ride" is probably
the strongest cut on the album, and
with the best warbling, is unforget-
table.
One particular liner note is sad-
dening. Doc writes with pride that five
generations of his family are alive in
the Blue Ridge. A footnote points out,
sadly, that his mother died shortly af-
ter the notes were written, and of
course, national news reported the
freak death of Merle last year.
But the album remains a strong one
by one of the best in the business, and
with Watson the co-headliner at this
year's Ann Arbor folk festival, this
album is a good way to preserve
some of his show.
-Joseph Kraus

-Marc S.

Taras

FEMINIZING JUDAISM
THROUGH NEW RITUAL & CEREMONY:
THE FEMINIST REVOLUTION IN JUDAISM
A Talk by Esther Broner
Tuesday, Jan.28 7:30p.m. at
Esther Broner is a novelist (A H eave of 14 onen. HILLEL $2.oO
Her Mother) playwright, essayist,
professor of English l iterature, .
recipient of the National -y, Co-sponsored hr
Endowment for the N4omen 's
Arts Award and Studies
Wonder Women Dept.
Award for 1983784. HILEL
She is a forerunner 1429 HillSt.
and visionary'
in her new ) r' 663-3336
rituals for
women.

THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
announces the 1986 summer program in Seville, Spain
June 15 -July 26
Classes taught in English and Spanish
EARN 6 CREDITS
$1700 PROGRAM FEE - INCLUDES TUITION
For applications and further information please contact
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TUESDAY LUNCH FORUM 12 NOON
CONTINUING THE SERIES ON WOMEN'S CONCERNS:
AN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
JANUARY 28: "RESISTANCE AND SURVIVAL:
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Speaker: Eliana Moya-Reggio, Head of the Spanish Program, Residential College
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LUNCH AVAILABLE: Students-$1.00 Others-$1.50
Co-Sponsored by The Ecumenical Campus Center, The International Center.
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For additional information please call 662-5529
RESIDENCE HALL ASSOCIATION presents
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Monday, January 27 8:00 p.m.
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Technical managers from TI's Semiconductor
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Current openings are for positions within
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