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February 03, 1986 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 1986-02-03

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Monday, February 3, 1986

Page 6

Network's

'Jesse' steals the show

4

By Lauren Schreiber
.AS SOON as I walked into the in-
timate theater at the Performan-
ce Network, I had suspicions that I
might like Jesse and the Bandit
Queen. A guitar player and a violinist
Were playing country music on the
small stage, simply set with a piano, a
few chairs and a small table.
My suspicions were confirmed the
moment Judith Ottmar and James
Moran strolled on the stage.

"I'm fat now...Yes, fat. But once,
ohh, once," remembers Moran as
Jess, and so begins the story of Jesse
James, Belle Starr, and their
relationship in the old American
West.
Physically, Moran and Ottmar were
perfect for their roles. Their costumes
and western dialects added to their
convincing stances. Ottmar had all
the voluptuousness and vigor of a
female outlaw while Moran was per-

fectly wicked as the notorious villain
in retrospect. Neither actor ever lost
the enthusiasm for their roles; and at
all times they were believable and
related well to one another. Both
played up the comedy as well as the
more dramatic moments without
overacting.
Director David Bernstein made full
use of his stand and the actors'
movements remained interesting and
motivated throughout the play.

Husker Du, Soul Asylum rock

By Hobey Echlin
WHAT WITH all this God-forsaken, twisted-this
and motley-that heavy metal around, it's
refreshing, downright inspiring, when a band comes
along and, sans smoke machines and glitter gim-
micks, knocks you flat on your ass with some hell-bent
rock 'n' roll.
And that's just what happened, (twice, no less) as
Minneapolis' finest, Husker Du and Soul Asylum,
kicked out more than a few of the jams at Traxx in
Detroit Friday night.
Soul Asylum led off the festivities with a raw,
surging pulp of MC5-ish juice as they plunged into their
first song. Their 45-minute set stomped, tromped,
soared, and damn near exploded with its garagey
power. And while Soul Asylum wore their early '70s
rock influences on their sleeves, they weren't afraid to
sweat them up.
Aside from soke down-home, long-haired, Rama
Lama, Fa Fa Fa rock 'n' roll, Soul Asylum spiced
things up with a little hardcore, (which the dippity-do
and die audience ate up like acid at a Dead show), and
even some balladesque slower tunes to smooth things
out.
Husker Du's set was fine as well, though the band

seemed to be wearing their recent switch to Warner
Bros. a little too much.
Their material was expectedly recent, concentrating
on the mellow feel of "Makes No Sense at All," and the
title track of their new Flip Your Wig LP, as well as the
successful sounds of their New Day Rising LP.
The Huskers seemed a little tired, the result of
having to play an earlier all ages show. Sticking with
their slower, newer material made for a bit of
monotony as well, as the preponderance of low-key
songs gave the Huskers a dull feel at times.
Added to this were a few problems, like Bob Mould's
effect splattered guitar came off sounding like distilled
water too often, and the bass lacked the low range and
depth the Huskers high-guitar low bass sound deman-
ds. Beyond that, they stayed annoyingly away from
their lauded Zen Arcade LP.
But come encore time, the Huskers were in top form
as they sifted through "Never Talking to You Again,"
the hypnotic "Pink Turns to Blue," and stomped and
screeched through "What's Goin' On." A spasmodic
cover of the MC5's "Ramblin' Rose" featured Soul
Asylum bassist and their quintessential, greasy-long-
haired, rock-'n'-roll-animal singer spitting out the
scratching soprano lyrics.
A splendid outing, indeed.

Moran and Ottmar played other
characters as well. At the beginning
this was sometimes confusing as it
was difficult to tell when they swit-
ched back to being Jess and Belle.
However, later on in the play, they
made better use of subtle changes in
costume to define their characters.
Moran was especially adept at this as
he went from outlaw Jesse James to
Police Gazette editor to a wild west
show performer.
David Freeman's script contained
Records
Fred Small - No Limit1
(Rounder)
If anybody else had done this album
it would have been a pleasant sur-
prise. From Small, however, it's
worrisome.
As one of the young "angry guitars"
of the folk world, he was responsible1
for "The Heart of the Appaloosa" and
the anthemic "No More Vietnams" on
his last recording venture. He
seemed on the brink of winning a
large younger audience that shared
his political frustrations and his basic
views on the goodness of mankind.
But here, Small has softened his
tone, and relied more on an easier,
anecdotal approach.
That's not to say there aren't some
fairly impressive successes, though.
"Big Italian Rose" and "Scramblled,
Eggs and Prayers" are clever, mildly
inspiring songs that easily surpass the
similar "Larry the Polar Bear" from
his last album.
Similarily, "The Peace Dragon"
may wind up a folk children's stan-
dard. Obviously inspired by Peter
Yarrow's "Puff the Magic Dragon," it
falls far short of therclassic, but
achieves a sing-song protest effect
that has its charms.
"Leslie is Different", the story of an
abondoned child with multiple birth
defects, is moving in spite of its ob-.
vious appeal. "She said love never
comes easy/And miracles mostly
come hard," works in spite of its
sugary overtones.
But the title song, which seems a

a

weak attempt to produce another an-
them, is just short of embarrassing.
With a fuller instrumental
arrangement, it makes weak over-
tures to the pop-rock crowd amongst
whom it will certainly be ignored.
No Limit is only Small's third
album, so there's still hope that he'll
be able to develop into the type of
songwriter that Heart of the Ap-
paloosa prophesied. Even if he never
does, he will undoubtedly remain, as
he is here, one of mainstream folk
music's leading voices.
- Joseph Kraus
Gary Burton Quartet - Real
Life Hits (ECM)
A new LP from a new.Gary Burton
quartet will always be met with ex-
cited ears. This one is no exeption.
Some critics have already called it
Burton's best work, which after 20
years and more albums is quite a
claim. But let the record speak to
you; there is some credence to this
seemingly outrageous suggestion.
Real Life Hits is chocked full of great
material treated as it should be, with
Burton's consummate attention to
detrail.
And what a band! Mike Hyman on
drums and wunderkind Makoto Ozone
on piano join Burton and long time
collaborator Steve Swallow to round
out a thinking man's quartet. Makoto
is still in his early 20's paying with
youthful verve and the impeccability
that is more often the result of the
wisdom of age. Swallow is, as ever, a
charmer. A delight.

The varied material on Hits
challenges the band appropriately.
All four players rise to the excitement
of Carla Bley's "Syndrome."
"Fleurette Africaine" by the master,
Duke Ellington, is unfolding here; a
thing of organic ebony beauty.
Ozone's original "I need you Here"
which apppeared on his debut LP with
Columbia is an excellent inclusion on
this date. Yum yum yum. I'll hav
seconds, thanks!
Marc S. Taras

no true plot, rendering it a bit vague
and lacking explanation in some
places. But it was at all times highly
engrossing and comical; Bernstein,
Ottmar and Moran worked well to
overcome the few inadequacies of
their material.
A good combination of historic fact
and legend, plenty of murder, sex,
and villainy, Jesse and the Bandit
Queen was, at heart, the story of the
relationship between two very color-
ful individuals. If not a flawless

production, Jesse and the Bandit
Queen is entertaining, well-acted and
directed, and worthwhile.
The play will continue its run Thur-g
sday-Sunday through February 16 at
the Performance Network, 408 W.
Washington. Performances begin at 8
p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays
and at 6:30 p.m. on Sundays. For
ticket info, call the Performance
Network at 663-0681.

Tales from an underground

Action Sports Wea7
Below Dealer Cost
Prices on Ladies
Running*Shoes &
Court goe
Sizes 58 5!/2
419 E. LIBERTY
(2 blks. off State)
663-6771

By John D. Wolter
Keith Laumer
r cket Books, $2.95
I picked up Retief to the Rescue
Rescue having never even heard of
Keith Laumer. That's not his fault;
he's written six books in the Retief
series, and apparently he's developed
a notable underground following. I
surveyed seven of my friends at a
recent get-together and three of them
had read the series, one of them
noting "I love 'em". Having read
Retief to the Rescue, I can understand
why.
Our hero, James Retief, has been
sent to the planet Furtheron to help
settle a war between the two Fur-
theronian factions, known colloquially
as the Creepies and the Crawlies. This
is much easier said than done. First, it
needs to be done quickly, as an inspec-
Primitons
play Pig
Throbbing Lobster recording ar-
tists The Primitons will be making
their first Michigan appearance
tonight at the Blind Pig.
The band's self-titled EP (well,
it's seven songs) is an impressive
debut. It displays MitchEaster's
(of R.E.M. and Let's Active Active
fame) knack for inventive, poppy
production. But the band gives
him something to work with, too. A
dash of folk, some of that Southern
guitar ringing, and a whole lotta
rock and roll. A little arty, but real
ready for radio. They can load a
hook, like on the fun and frolicking
"All My Friends," or get
irresistably clever with a line like
You'll never know what to do if
Jesus or the atom bomb break
through sung so, smoothly on the
guitar-happy "You'll Never
Know."
So what's that again? Primitons.
-Beth Fertig

tion team is due to arrive on Fur-
theron to examine the progress of the
Diplomatic Corps in establishing
peace, and second, the Creepies and
the Crawlies don't really seem to want
peace.
The charm of the book, however, is
not the plot, but rather the characters.
Relief plays the straight man to the
antics of the rest of the characters,
who represent various extremes: the
falterine bureaucratic Diplomatic
Corps, who have been trying to get the
Furthertonians to agree to a "limited
provisional preliminary symbolic
partial cease-fire covering left-
handed bloop guns of calibre .25. and
below"; the unsophisticated Fur-

theronians, who capture and lose the
capital city on a daily basis; and the
Groaci, constantly trying to keep the
civil war going for their own ends. The
dislogue between the characters is
lively and sets the lighthearted tone of
the book.
My one gripe with the book is that
Laumer takes everyday expressions
(like "if the shoe were on the other
foot") and states them in different
words ("if the ("if the sneaker were
on the other pedal extremity.") It's
humorous for a while, but the gag
wears with age, and, believe me, he
does it a lot.

4

: H
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764-0552
or stop by the St
Publications Bui
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