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April 18, 1986 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1986-04-18

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Page 8 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, April 18, 1986

Spring

cleaning in the

record bins

&No -

.,lvis Costello and the Costello
Show - King of America
(Columbia)
The country and western style
which Elvis began courting with on
Almost Blue has finally congealed in-
.to a style distinctively his own. King
Wf America is a strange album in that
it is country music gone awry.
V The album's music itself preserves
the country flavor well. In fact, many
of the songs feature the core of Elvis
Presley's band - James Burton,
Jerry Scheff, and Ron Tutt. The
vocals, too, sound authentic due to
Alvis' naturally nasal twang. One
would expect lyrics to be passionate
end direct if they too were authen-
ically country. Passion...maybe, but
irectness has never been Elvis'
trong point, and on King of America
e maintains his staggering ratio of
metaphors per stanza.
By the way, King of America is
,oing to be the last Elvis Costello
Album, at least by that name. Elvis is
reverting to his original name -
Seclan Patrick MacManus. The
lbum's first song, "Brilliant
Mistake," seems to be an explanation
or the change in names. Of his rock-
tar persona "Elvis," he sings, "He
;was a fine idea at the time/ Now
;he's a brilliant mistake.../ He
thought he was the King of
hmerica, / But it was just a
boulevard of broken dreams. "So
)lvis is through with the glitzy world
pf rock and roll and we can all now
tefer to him as...Declan Patrick?
* One of the album's best songs, "In-
loor Fireworks," deals with a peren-
hil topic for Elvis - domestic strife.
t's a catchy tune but what really
makes this song great is the way he
nabs a metaphor and holds onto it all
way through, with the chorus:
tI:ndoor fireworks/ Can still burn
our fingers... / They're not so
Spectacular/ They don't burn up in
the sky/ But they can dazzle or
felight/ Or bring a tear/ When the
1noke gets in your eyes." At the
song's end, when the marriage falls
#part, Elvis adds, "I'll build a bon-
fire of my dreams/ And burn a
Proken effigy of me and you."
This is great wordsmanship from a
moan who seems to just now be getting
4 grasp on his vast songwriting
*bilities.
g All of this is not to say that Elvis has
entirely forsaken rock and roll.
Luckily for those of us who know and
loved him when he was trying to live
$p to the name Elvis, he has thrown in
the old standard "Don't let me be
Misunderstood" as well as
I'Eisenhower Blues." Both of these
tunes rock, but the latter is far
$uperior because it features a paten-
ted Elvis screech, the like of which
has not been heard since "Man Out of
'ime" on Imperial Bedroom.
Don't be scared off by the new coun-
try approach. Listen to this album
many times and you'll love it. But
don't trust me, Trust Declan.
- Joel Tractenberg
Face of Concern - SAFE
(Press)
It takes a special something to keep
predictable pop songs from becoming
Static, and Face of Concern show they
really have that element on their 12"
SAFE. Both sides contain absolutely
captivating, simple melodies.
"Really Doesn't Matter" is a truly
beautiful song from a man who, rejec-
ting society's vision of the perfect love
affair, says:

You sit alone at night and wait for
love to come your way
I wonder when you'll open your
eyes
No it really doesn't matter that it
doesn 't happen that way
I want you to be happy
Although corny it's a big im-
provement on the standard theme of
"do nothing with your life until a prin-
ce takes you away."
Unfortunately, each great verse

band from producing the wonderful
and simple music that they seem
capable of.
- Katie Gentile
Jean- Michel Jarre -
Rendez-Vous (Polygram)
Jean-Michel Jarre's.latest album,
Rendez-Vous, is a documentation of
Jarre's latest interests; namely, the
Sesquicentennial of the city of
Houston. Jarre was com-
missioned by the city of Houston to
'create a celebration' of this event in
conjunction with the 25th anniversary
of NASA's Johnson Space Center.
In his usually revolutionary
demeanor, Jarre has devised an
event in which millions are expected
to participate, and which even more
will see. Rendez-Vous is a studio
recording of the highlights from this
spectacle.
Though his previous 'historic
albums of synth-pop have been widely
popular in the states, this event will
mark Jarre's American debut.
With the release of his first album,
Oxygene, in 1976, he broke ground for
what would become the new rage of
modern music; techno-pop. But
Jarre, with his melodic blending of
moods and rhythms, remains at the
top of the very field that he created.
Rendez-Vous is divided into six sec-
tions; I hesitate to call them songs,
for though they are each separate,
they are yet all composites of one
whole and should be listened to as
such.
The album starts slowly; the in-
troductory methodic pulsation is
reminiscent of a submarine. The
rhythm then picks up. A strange
melody emerges, eventually over-
coming the bass. This melody then
takes off in various, equally strange
and engaging tangents. Jarre alter-
nates between this low and intriguing
theme and a faster, more urgent
pace. There is a sense of grandure
thorughout Rendez-Vous.
Especially good is the "Third Ren-
dez-Vous." The repetitive beat gives
this piece a humour all its own, while
still blending the continuous themes
of grandure found throughout the
album. The last piece, "Ron's Piece,"
was originally to have been perfor-
med by Ron McNaire aboard the
Challenger shuttle that blew up in
January of this year. In fact, the
album is dedicated to the crew of the
Challenger.
After tackling the subject of space,
one wonders what will be next for this
great talent, and can only look for-
ward to the future like Jarre so ob-
viously does.
-Noelle Brower
Camper Van Beethoven -
II & III (Pitch a Tent/
Rough Trade)
"Each and every one of these
songs is intended to be at the same
time a well-formed and complex joke
but also a very serious and heartfelt
piece of music: each song is very
serious, each song is very humorous."
So say the zany, anarchically-
arranged liner notes to the second
L.P. by Santa Cruz, California's nutty
Camper Van Beethoven, and it's an
adequate summation of a band that
thanks (among others) department
store Santas and Sophocles on the
record sleeve and performs violin-
laden versions of "White Riot" and
"Theme from S.W.A.T." live. The
band's lunacy includes pranks such as

labeling one half of the disc "Side B"
and the other "Side 2" and making the
album's title nearly impossible to
find. The record is even certified
Kosher. Musically, the Campers at-
tack a number of styles, although ska
is no longer one of them (as opposed to
their debut Telephone Free Landslide
Victory).
"Circles" (with its backwards
chanting, tape loops, and sitar),
"Sometimes," and "Form Another
Stone"' weave their melodies in a
thoroughly psychedelic (though com-
pletely underivative) style that sends
me back to the summer of '67 (where I
sit in my diapers by the stereo...).
"(We're a ) Bad Trip" and "No More
Bullshit," while not rocking my fez off
like they did in concert (due to some
thin production and toned-down
guitar), still emerge as hilarious little
ditties. "Cowboys from Hollywood"
is a country/western romp in honor
of our Cowboy-in-Chief, while "Sad
Lovers Waltz" is exactly that, a
folksy, twangy ballad that belongs on
the jukebox in one of those beer, boots
and authentic string tie bars right

think I'll go to film schoolbut in a
heavier rock vein, while their square-
dance version of "I Love Her All the
Time" explodes in fiddle
pyrotechnics, sounding like the
Charlie Daniels Band-meets-Sonic
Youth.
The record is rounded out by eight
short instrumentals, and my only
complaint against this album is that
there aren't more funny lyrics to fill up
these eight little gems. A few of these,
"Dustpan" and "Abundance"
especially, are great, and lack only
words of some sort to raise them to
fantastic status. Hopefully future ef-
forts by this fun-as-hell band will
feature even more of their wacky sen-
se of humor, because their approach
to music is as invigorating as any
band around.
-Mike Rubin
Smithereens - Especially
for You (Enigma)
The word "smithereens" usually
refers to a person or an object which
has just been exploded (e.g. He was
blown to smithereens by an atomic
warhead.) With such a violent name,
who would expect the Smithereens to
play clean-cut '60s pop? Astounding
as it may seem, it's all too true.
Smithereens are a very slick pop
quartet from Long Island New York.
Their new Album, Especially For
You, is the band's second release and
features Lincoln Park, Michigan's
own Marshall Crenshaw. Crenshaw's
presence throughout the record is
only one of its many pleasant sur-
prises.
For some reason any rock band
with an accordian player im-
mediately wins a place in my heart. It
is disappointing that this time
honored instrument appears only on-
ce, but the important thing is that it
does appear on the album. The song,
"Cigarette," is a tongue in cheek
ballad that reduces all of life's com-
plexities down to the smoke curling
off the end of a burning cigarette. The
song's lyrics, and the accordian, show
that the Smithereens have a sense of
humor.
Another surprise is a duet on the
album between lead vocalist Pat
DiNizio and Suzanne Vega. The song,
"In a Lonely Place," has a rather
quaint psuedo cafe jazz feel to it. Any
fans of Suzanne Vega are bound to
love this track.
Crenshaw fans, or any lovers of '60'
pop/rock in a Monkees/Hollies type of
vein will find the Smithereens to be a
band well worth looking into. Songs
like, "Strangers When We Meet,"
and, "Behind a Wall of Sleep" leap out
of the speakers and grab hold of you
instantly. Although the '60s pop sound
is heavily cultivated, the material is
still quirky, original and fun. We're
sure to be hearing a lot more from the
Smithereens in the future.
-Jim Erwin
The Cucumbers -
All Shook Up 12" (Fake
Doom)
The Cucumbers are an eager-to-
please New York based quartet that
cultivated a pleasant poppy sound on
their LP, Who Betrays Me . . . and
Other Happier Songs. Unfortunately
this release represents a step back for
the band. The cover of Elvis' classic is
an attempt to shoehorn the song into
the band's poppy mode. Disjointed
synths are grafted onto a vocal which
never once approaches the power of
Elvis' original. At one point, the band
tosses in telephone touch-tone noises

for no apparent reason.
The original song "Everything
Goes," fails to capture the energy that
the best moments of the album
featured, and the extended mix of
"Shook Up" is wholly superfluous.
The Cucumbers should not be written
off on the basis of this release. They
could still hone their sound, liven up a
bit, and turn out to be quite enjoyable.
- John Logie
Naked Prey -Under the
Blue Marlin (Frontier)
Naked Prey have a serious case of
desert fever. These guys are rock and
rollers who have been hanging out in
the wilds - you know, state of nature,
man against man, against animals -
for way too long. The band are tight
players who often fall into wicked
guitar jamming similar to that of
Crazy Horse of the Heartbreakers.
However, this crafty musicianship is
not enough to get them by. Lines like
I was looking for a ride back from

epitomizes their style at its best l
showdown lyrics, plenty of jam-c
ming, and a humorous approach. But
Naked Prey can switch styles, as they
do on "How I Felt That Day," (which
sounds an awful lot like label-mates
Thin White Rope) on which they take<
a more evil, psycho bend, aided in
part by the whispering, hissing touch
to the vocals. There's something
you should know, there's a fever in
the airsings Van Christian. Yes there<
is, but unfortunately Naked Prey have
been out in that air a little too long.
-Beth Fertig

progression. Poetry and pain. That'
catastrophic and cacophonous feel.
And more.
This is indeed a Glorious Din. But
it is never overwrought. There is hope
in pain and pleasure. Light is in the
dark misty thoughts of the socially
abused young of the present. The
voice echoes and haunts, yet caresses.
It's that glistening barrage of chiming
and pounding Middle Eastern guitars
and drums.
This is one of the best independent
American releases to come out recen-
tly. There is a density and depth to
this band. "Arrival" and "Cello
Tape" are the cream here but there is
a consistent balance of tune-age
throughout. Try to get a hold of it.
- Richard Williams

Mandela in the prison/Biko in
the ground/Sotho and Soweto
voices silenced till the end of time/
Freedom don't come easy, don 't
come bloodless, don't come
fast/But in the minds of the coun-
tless people/No past laws gonna
stop this pass.
Certainly, these lines are more
honest and unpretentious than, for in-
stance, the well intentioned but
abrasively repetitious chant "I ain 't
gonna play Sun City." This band
avoids making opinionated statemen-
ts and aggressive judgements, but
their avoidance of such actions makes
them appear all the more believable
and sincere about what they're
saying.
The music on Modern Times is

QwkaMt- Y"

Dwight Yoakem - Guitars,
Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.
(Reprise)
Make no mistakes about it. This
guy isn't country-rock, or cow-punk,
or hyphen-anything. Dwight Yoakem
is country, thank you, and he can
write a fine country song. A spiritual
and musical heir to fellow Californian
Merle Haggard, Yoakam has fleshed
out his indie EP (Oak Records, 1984)
with four new tunes for his major
label debut. Haggard had frequently
evoked, most particularly on "It
Won't Hurt" and "Twenty Years." The
subject matter of these two songs are,
respectively, drinkin' to forget and
wronged man gets sent up. Now this
is standard-issue country subject
matter - if you aren't bringing
something special along you might as
well not come. Well, Dwight does 'em
proud, singing with a clenched-mouth
irony that suits the spare, jaded tinge
of his songs. He's especially good on
the uptempo numbers, where his
stellar accompanists can let go just a
bit. And you've got to hear what he
does with "Ring of Fire." Gimme a
one-way to Bakersfield, and make it
express...
-Jeff Stanzler
Evo Bluestein - Evo's
Autoharp (Greenhays)
Then. The autoharp was invented
in America in the late nineteenth cen-
tury. Luminaries of early recorded
country music like Ernest Stoneman
and Sara Carter made its resonant
metallic strum a familiar sound in the
'20s and '30s. As the string band sound
faded from the country spotlight, so
too did the autoharp.
Now. Here's a guy named Evo who
has retrieved the instrument but has
left behind the rule book on how it's to
be played. In Evo's hands, this sedate
rhythmic instrument is transformed
into a potentially lethal weapon. I
mean he does everything with it, short
of putting it through a food processor.
The weird thing is that is all works
marvelously well. He makes an often
bizarre mixture of odd tonalities and
herky-jerk rhythms into something
quite captivating. Evo is adamant in
his refusal to consign the autoharp to
the scrapheap of monotony. Music to
cure what ails you.
-Jeff Stanzler
Scratch Acid -
(Rabid Cat Records)
Deep in the fields, deep in the
woods, deep in the South, they be a-
comin' (from Austin, Texas). Scratch
Acid rips and screams a mess o' rock.
More Birthday Party? You bet. But
this ain't no pale imitation.
"Cannibal" does what the lyrics say
not to do. Don't eat my heart/
Don't eat my stomach/Stop eatin'
my brain. Man oh boy, does that
guitar zoom, zoom, zoom. "Owner's
Lament" is real different. It's slow
and menacing with a Vienna choir
violin backing and the drums of the
Spanish-American War. Flamingo!
Side two isn't as strong, but it still
rocks with abandon. For we see that a
rack 'n' ruin approach can dull after a
while. And while they aren't no Birthday
Party, they still have lots going for
'em.
- Richard Williams
Glorious Din - Leading

Ministry-Twitch (Sire) brilliant as are the l
Several years back, Chicagoan Alain wide range of the
Jourgensen began infiltrating ye old trum. "Toulouse" is
nouveau vague dancefloors with a dance club favorite,
rather indistinct strain of British style flavorful as anything
synth-disco (Blancmange, New Order Top 40, and the hau
...) under the name of Ministry. With for Beginners" has
a handful of popular singles under his dent tone that could c
belt (not to mention a contract with tion of even the most
Sire), Al soon decided that it was time fan. The music isc
for a change. Teaming up with the in- viously strongly re
ternational high priest of big noise and the sound is as
hyper-dub production, On-U Records tivating as any "ne
kingpin Adrian Sherwood, he released in the past few years.
last year's turnaround single, "Over
the Shoulder." Loud, wild and distor-
ted beyonld belief, it foreshadowed
this winter's barrage of "hard-ass -
disco" (Front 242, Swans, etc.) and of- Z
fered Ministry fans a distressing (or 0
exciting, depending on your vantage P1
point) portent for Jourgensen's future
endeavors.
With the release of Twitch, Z
Ministry's dirty new direction is
unquestionably confirmed. Working
once again with the devilish Mr. Sher-
wood, Jourgensen kicks out forty or so
minutes of dense, angular percussive,
and noisey dance music, more con-
ducive to movement atop a burning
bed of coral snakes than on a typical Prince and the R
fake wood dancefloor. Parade (Warner
The new Ministry dissects the old
dance beats and reforms them into Prince continues t
jagged and disjointed soundscapes, most fascinating m
employing God-knows-what kind of business. Parade is a
electronic gadgets to achieve their the World in a Day, a
noble aims. Vocals are often given ex- unlike. Purple Rai
treme treatment (such as on the anything, Parade is
album version of "Over the Prince's refusal to sta
Shoulder"), sliding in and out of the Prince has, fort
mix before you even realized they dispensed with the
were there in the first place. Sher- that allowed him to cr
wood's trademark "stereo of terror" orchestrated synths t
production could threaten the whole a Top-40 cliche. Par
county with electrical storms and heavy, but the key
power outages.Overall, its like a hard- stripped-down, an
edged but danceable collage of acoustic guitar, and
disembodied beats and rhythms, cussion. Against this
challenging your skeletal systgem to about anything goes
a battle it won't soon forget. bells, steel drums, flu
But somehow, this thing suffers Side one is succ
from a lack of personality; a because it is so ne
mechanical blandness that lurks mostly because the s
beneath the gleeful din of Ministry's are oddly compelling
punchy surface. Is Ministry's new at- Tracy's Parade" ha
tack just abrasive-ness for its own aboard feel that is re
sake, a muscular reaction to the coif- Beatles' "'Magical M
fured mannerism of its former direc- tone. "New Position"
tion? ty calypso-funk, with
To be honest, its really hard to tell. "Let's go fishin'h
I just wish that Jourgensen had put a life."
little more humanity into Twitch, a "I Wonder s" is a
few good screams, or some non- which swirls and brel
synthetic sounding percussion. It's energy. "Girls & Boy
stuff like that (along with a few extra beat sequel to "Won
tons of conviction) that makes other Can Be so Nice" u
Sherwood productions (particularly level a final notch, wi
Mark Stewart & the Mafia, or Fats layers of instruments
Comet) sound so successful. On side two,
But remember, Twitch is hardly "anotherloverholeny
what you'd call a dog, and with its old Sly Stone) are stand
time bargain pricetag, it serves as a pairs the sparse sou
fine introduction to some of dance on this record with a
music's incendiary new directions. inspired guitar ri
pie/rude-boy lyrics.'
- Rob Michaels more of less straig
vocal funk, but the
with prominent pia
Latin Quarter - Modern from the realm of the
Times (Arista) Parade is not, howe
Latin Quarter is a British band that piano-lounge-lizard si
has yet to be heard of in the U.S., but A Cherry Moon" and
with the release of their debut album, can be tiring. And t
Modern Times, it will undoubtedly cut, an epitaph to a
only be a matter of a few short weeks verges on '50s teen
before they make a place for them- excess.
selves in new music circles. This But even though
seven member band (with an eighth periments are only
man devoted solely to writing lyrics) cessful, his refusal I
has one of the freshest, most tasteful "Little Red Corvette
sounds heard in a long time. Their desposit box explodes
sound is a soulful reggae one that, and extremely unus
when combined with lyricist Mike business. For now,;
Jones' poignant sociopolitical com- Prince to turn out
mentary, produces an innovative ef- preparation for a gr
feet that is sure to entice the ears of perar
. the road.

anyone within hearing range.T
The subject matter of the songs on The Bel-Fires
Modern Times is nothing short of Fall For The Sky
controversial, which is not at all sur- (Birdcage Recor
prising considering the recent up- You're probably r
surge of activism in popular music. this EP in the store
These song topics cover everything small label, but you s
from unemployment, to the ex- more from The Bel
ploitation of the late John Lennon, to first song, "Fame
the ever-popular (and ever- soundsik, amit

(musical) spec-
destined to be a
the title cut is as
currently in the
nting "America
a bleak, despon-
capture the atten-
loyal Pink Floyd
diverse, but ob-
ggae influenced,
clean and cap-
w" sound heard
Michael Race
0
a

yrics; it covers a

4

4

evolution -
Bros.)
o be one of the
usicians in the
is unlike Around
s that record was
in. More than
a testament to
agnate.
the most part,
electric guitars
oss over, and the
hat have become
ade is keyboard-
board sound is
d paired with
syncopated per-
backdrop, just
.. saxophones,
tes.
essful, in part
w sounding, but
ongs themselves
. "Christopher's
s a genial all-
miniscent of The
[ystery Tour" in
is down and dir-
Prince inviting
in the river of
hypnotic drone,
ithes with sexual
rs" is a more up-
ider," and "Life
ps the intensity
th overwhelming
"Kiss" and
ohead" (title by
out cuts. "Kiss"
nd Prince favors
a James Brown-
ffs and cutey-
"Another . . ." is
;ht-ahead, group
instrumentation,
no, removes it
usual.
ever, wholly suc-
ce indulges his
reak on "Under
1 "Do U Lie" he
he album's final
departed friend,
age lament-type
Prince's ex-
partially suc-
to simply re-cut
until his safe-
is encouraging,
ial in the music
it is enough for
good albums in
eat album down
-John Logie
y
ds)
ot going to find
s since it's on a
hould be hearing
=Fires soon. The
For A Dime'
iire of 1T2_ Th,,

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