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February 21, 1986 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1986-02-21

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Page 8 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, February 21, 1986





Ken yans not into Africa'

The Long Ryders-
State of Our Union
Yes indeed, partner, it's 1986.
American tough-guy heros have
replaced the androgynous British
icons which colorfully illuminated
every aspect of the media. We're
American, goddamit. Rambo. Rocky.
The flag. Back to basics rock and
Unfortunately, the Long Ryders
have been swallowed up in this trend,
as well. Their first release on Island
records finds them dropping the
grungey, '60s flavor which made them
so likeable and fun on their first
record. Instead it seems that this
wonderfully unassuming rocker of a
band has decided to shoot straight for
the top, taking it upon themselves to
write the Great American Epic. It's
Western rock all the way, chock full of
outcasts, bandits, and trains.
Not to be putting down coun-
try/western music in any way, but in
this case it's just a contrived gim-
mick. "Good Times Tomorrow, Hard
Times Today" does nothing very in-
teresting with the medium. Just more
wailing vocals and banjos. Most of the
tunes are certainly competent if not
enjoyable little anthems. And the
Long Ryders have plenty of musical
The album opener, "Looking for
Lewis and Clark," is the hottest track
by far. It's a rumbling, powerful piece
which searches for identity and
questions our idols, juxtaposing a line
like Ithought Isaw my government
running away with my heart with
one about having heard the national
anthem sung in Johannesburg. It's a
great track which is confused and
proud at the same time.
A few other cuts live up to the
promise offered in the opener; like the
weary, guitar-based ballad "Years
Long Ago," which also manages to
capture in its chorus a bit of the sound
of the last album. But while there's
nothing really bad about State of Our
Union, one can't help feeling annoyed
at the way this great band has become
just another gimmick. There's ab-
solutely nothing on this here piece of
vinyl to equal the soaring,rZombier-
esque blast of "Still Get By" or the
beautiful, touching brilliance of
"Ivory Tower." While there might
have always been a touch of that
Western style in The Long Ryders ap-
proach, they were a lot more fun and
original as paisley period cowboys,
and not commercial cowboys.
-Beth Fertig
Camper Van Beethoven-
Telephone Free Landslide
(Rough Trade)
GENIUS ALERT! Telephone Free
Landslide Victory is already a
guaranteed member of my ten-best
list for 1986. Better records may come
along, but no way will nine of them
appear. Victory is new-sounding,
cheery, hilarious - it's a friendly
record. What kinda music is it? Let's
try folk/ska/latino/psycho/punk, but
The opening strains of "Border
Ska," a peppy instrumental
huarache-stomper, give a mild taste
of depravity to come. The second

song, "The Day That Lassie Went to
the Moon," tells the story of the
famous film canine who "packed her
bags and got into a hot air balloon."
Lordamighty the lyrics are twisted,
but the song is sung so earnestly that
things take on an ethereal beauty.
On "Wasted," (yes, it's the Black
Flag/Circle Jerks classic) Camper
Van Beethoven violinist Jonathan
Segel brings an entirely new feel to
the melody. "Yanqui Go Home" is
another pleasant south-of-the-borde'
ish instrumental.
"Oh No!" is a vaguely Velvet Uo-
derground-ish pop tune, serious and
good, but the band follows it with 4
whining instrumental dirge called, "9
of Disks" which sounds Eastern aid
deliciously ugly. "Payed Vacationi
Greece" (their spelling) continues in
the same vein, and does not sound
particularly Greek tG me.
"Where the Hell is Bill?" is a coun-
trified two-step in which it is
speculated that Maybe he went to
get a sideways haircut / Maybe he
went to get a striped shirt / Maybe
he went to get some plastic shoes
"Vladivostock" is yet another eastern
instrumental, which doesn't sound
particularly Russian. And this is just
Side One!
Side Two opens with "Skinhead
Stomp" which features slightly off-
key violin work by Segel, and is much
better for it. Otherwise its resemblance
ce to Madness' "One Step Beyond"
would be noticeable. "Tina" seems to
be in another language - I'm not sure
which one.
The third song is the album's
masterpiece. "Take the Skinheads
Bowling" features non-sequiter non-
rhyming lyrics like Everybody's
coming home for lunch these days
/ Last night there were skinheads
on my lawn, or I had a dream, I
wanted to sleep next to plastic / I
had a dream, I wanted to lick your
knees. "Bowling" features a driving
beat, great back-up vocals - it is wor-
th the price of the album by itself.
"Mao Reminisces About his Days in
Southern China" is yet another
Eastern-sounding instrumental, which
doesn't sound particularly Chinese, I
"I Don't See You" fuses the Easter
sound with a driving retro-rock feel,
and is good enough to raise the only
complaint I have with the record. The
Eastern-sounding instrumentals are
good, but there are a whole lot of
them, and Camper Van Beethoven
lyrics are so damn good that they
could have added lyrics to the in-
strumentals and still had nifty songs.
After demonstrating an ability to
write good lyrics for a number like "I
Don't See You," it's a bit hard to take
the next piece. "Balalaika Gap," an
Eastern-sounding instrumental
which sounds more Russian than
"Opi Rides Again"is a pleasant
Western sounding instrumental
which segues into "Club Med Sucks,"
a harum-scarum condemnation of
horribly rich people with a nifty
thrashy chorus. The album closes
with "The Ambiguity Song" which is
just about what the title says it is.
The cover art is great. The little in-
sert is funny, and the drawing is neat.
Telephone Free Landslide Victory has
made me very, very happy. 4
-John Logie

Nairobi, Kenya (AP)
Out of Africa, nominated for 11
Academy Awards and one of the
season's biggest hits in the United
States, has attracted only lukewarm
interest in the country where it was
One reason audiences here are not
flocking to see the Sydney Pollack
romantic epic is because it is not a
Kenyan movie but a film about the
East African nation's colonial period.
"There is not a single Kenyan who
comes out strong," the Kenya Times
paid in a column. "They are.., the
romanticized 'houseboys,' servants
whose existence seems to be owed to
the presence of the 'memsahib' and
their various masters."
The film, based on the romantic
writings of Danish aristocrat Karen
Blixen and starring Meryl Streep and
Robert Redford, has received
superlative reviews in the United
States, where it had its world
premiere in December. Besides the
11 Oscar nominations, it has won
three Golden Globe awards and has
inspired a fashion line of safari garb.
"Out of Africa" opened in Nairobi
on Jan. 31 for its first showing outside
the United States. After a charity

premiere that attracted a full house to
the 1,524-seat 20th Century Cinema, it
drew 9,349 customers for 21 showings
in the first week of a scheduled four-
week engagement, according to the
theater's management.
The movie, which slowly unravels
Blixen's romance with Oxford-
educated hunter Denys Finch Hatton,
has little appeal for most Kenyan
moviegoers who clamor for the action
and violence of low-budget martial ar-
ts pictures and slick James Bond
However, many Kenyans have
stayed away from "Out of Africa" for
political reasons. During filming,
charges were leveled that white ex-
tras received twice as much pay as
black extras. At the same time, some
Kenyans called Blixen, who used the
pen name Isak Dinesen, a racist and
her books repugnant.
The Kenya Times repeated those
charges during a scathing attack on
the author last year and questioned
why the government had allowed her
story to be filmed in Kenya.
However, during her stay in Kenya
in the 1920s, Blixen was attacked by
white settlers as being "pro-rative"

because she opposed regulations that
permitted forced labor and advocated
educating the children on her coffee
plantation. She left Africa in 1931 and
died in Denmark in 1962.
Despite all the hoopla, "Out of
Africa" may be a fincial blessing for
Kenya, which is gearing up to sell
Americans everything from beer to
Abercrombie and Kent, Kenya's
largest travel agancy, has added an
"Out of Africa" itinerary to its list of
tours. The tour includes a drive
through the Ngong Hills where Blixen
owned a coffee farm and a stop at her
now dilapidated farmhouse, which the
government is turning into a museum.
David Markham, operations direc-
tor for Abercrombie and Kent, said
5,000 Americans visited Kenya in 1985
and he expected that number to in-
crease this year, largely because of
the movie. Besides attracting
American trourists who like to spend
money, Kenya also is hoping to
capitalize on "Out of Africa" by ped-
dling its premium beer in the highly
competitive U.S. market.
Privately owned East African
Breweries Ltd. signed an agreement
with Creative Import Marketing Co.
of Milwaukee, Wis., on Feb. 5 to
market Tusker Malt Lager in the

United States beginning in June. The
deal calls for 150,000 cases to be ship-
ped the first 12 months; the beer will
cost less than $6 a six-pack.
But while "Out of Africa" might
have warmed American interest in
Kenya, problems associated with
making the film here have left some
Hollywood movie producers cold.
Terence Clegg, who co-produced the
$28.6 million movie with Pollack,
complained in a letterdto a Nairobi
newspaper, The Standard, of un-
cooperative government ministries
and bureaucratic roadblocks during
the filming.
He followed up his complaint with
the announcement that Universal Pic-
tures had dropped plans to film a
movie in Kenya this year about Steve
Biko, the black South African activist
who died in police custody in 1977.
"We shall probably go to Zimbabwe
because I believe we can get a better
deal there," Clegg said.
However, Brian Tetley, a British-
born photographer who has lived in
Africa for 19 years, said the
Hollywood filmmakers were not doing
Kenya a favor by filming here.
He said the film's producers should
"stop pretending to be philan-
thropists" when in fact a prime
motive for doing the movie was com-
mercial gain. The filmmakers, he
said, "stand to make themselves
wealthy beyond the dream of any or-
dinary Kenyan out of the use of our
Kenya background."







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