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January 17, 1986 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1986-01-17

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ARTS

_ ...........

7

Jhe Michigan Daily

Friday, January 17, 1986

Pi~og'

Records'
The Waterboys- This Is
The Sea (Island)
Here we are in a fabulous
place/what are you gonna dream
here/We are standing in a fabulous
place/ What are you gonna play
here? If you were Mike Scott, leader
of the Scottish group The Waterboys,
you'd conjure up majestic visions of
mountains and rocky shorelines, tor-
turous tests of the soul, heraldic chur-
ch bells and a glimpse at "the whole of
the moon," whistle stops on a "jour-
ney beneath the skin."
And if you were Scott's band you'd
-paint a musical picture as big and
colorful as his lyrics, drawing out
every emotion with rich strokes of
sound: layers of strummed acoustic
guitar, beautiful flourishes of
saxophone and blasts of trumpet,
Jmelodic piano and keyboards, and the
sinewy wail of electric guitars. What
you would end up with is some of the
most thrilling, soulful, beautiful rock
music being made today. This is the
stuff that The Waterboys' This Is The
Sea is made of.
This Is The Sea, the Scottish outfit's
:third LP, is perhaps the best album of
1985. It's an eclectic volume of songs
that range over a world of human ex-
%perience, full of musical originality,
style, and insightful conviction.
Singer and songwriter Scott, who
plays guitar and keyboards to boot,
has emerged as a rock visionary in a
league with Springsteen, Bob Dylan,
and Van Morrison. His songs and
vocals ring out with the determination
"of Dylan and Bruce, and he seeks the
spiritual revelation much like
Morrison, U2, and Simple Minds.
Scott's aspirations to such grandeur,
may seem far-reaching, but the sheer
sincerity of his love for life will draw
you to the exhilirating heart of this
album.
The Waterboys' sound is a mix of
the subtle and the sublime, ranging
from the stirring, classical style of the
brass and strings intro of "Don't Bang
the Drum" to the reckless, raging
guitar of "Medicine Bow," which
draws on the power of the thrashiest
garage bands. This eclectic yet full-
,bodied musical style merges with the
Mbeatific yearning of the lyrics to cut
gems like "The Whole of the Moon,"
where Scott compares his pursuits to
the successes of an immortal hero. I
spoke about wings/you just flew/ I
wondered,I guessed and I
tried/you just knew/I saw the
crescent/ you saw the Whole of the
Moon.
The sound teems with a carnival
atmosphere. You'll rarely hear a
song as moving and determined as
'Don't Bang the Drum," a
passionate, guitar-and-sax-driven cry
for individuality and greatness. The
world is Mike Scott's "fabulous
place" and it demands your best:
What show of soul are we gonna
~get from you/.. .if I know you'll
bang the drum like monkeys
do/...but not here man!/This is
sacred ground with a power
flowing through.
"The Pan Within" gallops with
uitar, piano, and violin along a
"journey beneath the skin," and the
beautiful love song "Trumpets" dan-
ces with the lyrical swoon of
(ironically) saxophone as Scott
croons, I want to be with you/to
find myself in the best of dreams.
But Scott has his feet firmly planted
on the ground; he tempers his roman-
ticism with a razor-sharp view of the
tragic "Old England," a fallen empire
where homes are warm and
mothers sigh/ where criminals are
televised... and everyone is

civilised/ and children stare with
heroin eyes.
The spirit of The Waterboys is best
evoked in the rollicking maelstrom of
"'Medicine Bow:"I will not sleep
and I will not rest/I will put my
soul and my will to the test/I'm
gonna tug at my tether/ I'm. gonna
tear at my leads/I'm gonna test my
knowledge in the field of deeds. At
first listen to This Is The Sea, it's
easy to tell why, in Britain, Scott is
being called somewhat of a god. Go
ahead, take a plunge into Mike Scott's
sea. You will emerge refreshed.
-Michael Fischer
WANTED
IF YOU love to read and love
free books, then the Daily can help
you broaden your horizons without
emptying your pockets! We need
people to review books, and are
looking for students with a special
interests. So, whether it be sci-fi,
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EC's

By John Abdenour
IN MANY WAYS last Wednesday's
performance by the English Con-
cert, led by harpsichordist Trevor
Pinnock, revealed the best and the
worst of Bach on old instruments. The
evening ran the emotional gamut, one
reveled at times in the beauty and
sensuousness of the music, and
agonized at others, especially during
soloist David Reichenberg's tortured
reading of a devilishly difficult oboe
concerto.
Although throughout most of the
concerto the ensemble displayed the
technical prowess for which it is
famed, the overall effect was sur-
prisingly disappointing. Before the
opening phrase cadenced, it was
strikingly apparent that Rackham
was too large a space for the small
orchestra to fill. The auditorium's
acoustic is oppressively dry, and muf-
fles harmonics; an unfortunate fact
which wreaked havoc for the balance
throughout the concert, especially in
the J.S. Bach Harpsichord Concerto
in D Minor (BWV 1059). The thirsty
hall sopped up most of the har-
psichord's brilliance and volume,
leaving the listener to try to make
sense out of the naked harmonic sup-
port offered by the orchestra for an
almost nonexistent solo harpsichord
line.
As if having to negotiate the
inhospitable Rackham acoustics

pproach
weren't disadvantage enough, the or-
chestra set itself at even higher hurdle
by presenting a badly conceived
program. the Brandenburg Concerto
no. 3 in G major (BWV 1048) was an
unfortnate choice to open the perfor-
mance. My suspicion is that this is a
stock repertoire piece for the or-
chestra - perhaps too 'stock': the
concerto sounded old and flat, as
though the players were simply tired
of it. A less complex, more accessible
piece wouild have served much bet-
ter.
Other choices were bad as well. The
harpsichord concerto should have
been left at home, safe from the
previously mentioned perils of large,
dry American concert halls. The Oboe
Concerto in E-flat major, by C.P.E.
Bach, was simply too difficult to per-
mit a believable live performance.
Oboeist David Reichenberg offered a
heroic effort, pausing at one point
amidst the daunting arpeggio
passages to blow water out of his
fingerholes. Although some fine
music was created, cracked notes lit-
tered the performance. The baroque
oboe is perhaps the hardest of all in-
struments to play. Under the circum-
stances, attmepting the piece at all
was a veritable suicide mission.
As the concert progressed, the or-
chestra seemed to get used to the hall,
and I, for one, forgot how small the
sound was, and thereafter found it
much easier to appreciate the ensem-
ble's admirable craftsmanship. The
tuning was consistently good, and oc-

works
casionally, in chromatic passal
superb - with only four fiddles1
part, playing virtually witi
vibrato. Quite a feat.
The orchestra offered a charr
reading of C.P.E. Bach's Symph
no. 3 in C major. Composed in
post-baroque, 'galant' style, the pi
featured a lighter, less complicz
texture than that found in the work
the elder Bach. The strings nirl
negotiated the scaler passages,
Pinnock displayed a fine sense
dramatic timing, repeatedly bring
things to a delightfully crashing
at deceptive cadences. The piece
an unqualified success. It seeme
me during this piece, which closed
first half of the concert, that th
chestra was really enjoying itsel
the first time that night.
The artistic high point of
evening, however, was undoub
the Concerto for Two Violins i
minor (BWV 1043) by J. S. B
Violinists Simon Standage,
Michaela Comberti played wil
sturdy sense of purpose in the
movements; the first of the r
triplet passages in the last mover
was played a bit carefully, therea
they repeated it with more confid
and drama. The famous Largo
non tanto, a heartbreakir
beautiful dialogue between the
violins, was played as well as
ever heard it - live or recorded.
solo lines were lovingly wo
together by Standage and Comb
and the orchestra provided exa

despite

problems

the right amount of support. The dep-
th of feeling communicated by the
players was awesome; the soloists
indulged in what some might consider
excessive vibrato. It wasn't ex-
cessive, so much as it was absolutely
as much as they could have gotten
away with within the context of
eighteenth century performance
practice. It was, in other words, per-
fect.
An passacaglia by Handel was
played as an encore. This offered fur-
ther proof that, at long last, the or-
chestra had hit its stride. I could have
stayed and listened to them all night.

Not because I was sold by the first
half of the concert, but because they
seemed to get better and better as the
evening wore on.
On balance, the concert was worth
the musical and emotional roller-
coaster ride one had to endure to
reach the C.P.E. Bach Symphony and
the double violin concerto. While one
might have expected more astute
programming, and more consistently
excellent playing, the English Con-
cert provided convincing evidence
that it deserves its lofty rank amongĀ§t
the world's baroque ensembles.

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