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October 17, 1986 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1986-10-17
Note:
This is a tabloid page

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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V V

V WI V

Music

Philly's Jo
The Johnsons
BREAK TOMORROW'S DAY
Restless
The Johnsons are a great band.
Pure and simple.
Avoiding all of the current
musical fashions, trends, and
overhyped images, Philadelphia's
Johnsons are a breath of fresh air in
modern rock and roll. They pay
homage to their roots- the clean
'60s hooks, a touch of ringing
guitar lines- and tie it all up with
their own strengths. The sound is
nothing unfamiliar, but warmly
greeted just the same.
There's no need to worry about
any overly intellectual or
pretentious songwriting with The
Johnsons. They rely heavily on
love songs, simple lyrics like You
don't make me feel good anymore
("Call Your Name"), but throw in
just enough conviction- and a
little bit more- to make the tunes
stick. And stick hard they do.
This catchy, pure pop approach
is what makes "Break Tomorrow's
Day" such a fine debut LP. The
record is just loaded with wonderful
goods, from the swirling fury of
"Love You So" to the clean-edged
R&R of "Burning Desire."
Vocalist Adam Miller has a
distinctive growl of a voice which
reminds one of R.E.M.'s Michael
Stipe in spots, despite his own
more discernable pronunciation.
Miller's low range is balanced by
guitarist Mike Morrison's own
singing, with his persistently
teasing harmonies that surround
every chorus and then some. And
one is easily won over by the
band's fatal hooks.
There isn't a poor track to be
found on this record, although some
certainly hit harder than others.
Side one takes a slight slow turn on
"Call Your Name," which drags a
little (perhaps it's just too long),
but is more than made up for by
The Johnsons' good sense in
choosing to cover Peter Laughner's
(of Pere Ubu) "Sylvia Plath," a
doozy of a song with shimmering,
drop-dead guitar playing. These
guys play hard enough to bring her
tragic figure back from the dead.
And side two features the frenetic,
touch-and-go title track.
The Johnsons are a great pop
band. They boldly go where many
have gone before, yet they do it
with so much earnesty and a
profound sense of the appropriate
that the result is purely theirs.-
Pure and simple.
-Beth Fertig

hnsons: a great new band, pure and simple

J

INTERVIEW
Con inued from Page 8
kinds of ways in which the
government limits what the
University can and cannot do, so
it's not completely autonomous to
begin with. It's an artificial issue.
D: Last year FSACC tried to get
an honorary degree from the
University for Nelson Mandela (the
jailed leader of the African National
Congress), but you were stopped by
a Regents' bylaw which requires a
degree candidate to attend the
graduation ceremony. The
administration says it's not
possible to honor Mandela this year
because a committee reviewing the
bylaw will not have a recom-
mendation in time.
R: We've read that in The Daily.
Members of the administration have
said that whatever the committee
comes up with won't be applicable
until next year, and that's
something that we want to
challenge. The committee is already
beginning to meet. I don't see any
reason why, regardless of how long
it takes to deliberate, they've
already determined that nothing can
be done this year. Frequently,
committees like this are a stalling
tactic to avoid dealing with
controversial issues.
D: How do you plan to force the
University to speed up?
R: Well, we have the strategy of
trying to mobilize lots of people
around political issues, and that's
the only resource we have. At the
point we feel we have a majority
consensus, we'll try to make that
known to the administration.
D: Do you have any kind of civil
disobedience planned?
R: Well, yeah. Again, we want to
operate in many ways and we want
to employ as many tactics as we
can to press this issue. And civil
disobedience is not something fun
or something without sacrifice or
something that you do frivolously,
and it's not the first thing that we
consider. We feel the issue is so
important, that it's not something
that we rule out either.
D: Originally the shanty was
approved by the administration to
be up for just two weeks. How do
you justify leaving it up?
R: Well, I guess whether we got an
okay from the administration or not
was a secondary consideration
because we intended to build it
anyway. We told the
administration, as a matter of
courtesy so they would know what
was happening. We decided to have
it up longer because we got a such
a good response, involving people
from diverse sectors of the campus.
We had people from the rugby
team, the crew team, sororities and
fraternities-it was doing more than
we thought it would in terms of
educating people and making a
statement. And we didn't think it
would be appropriate, in that
context, to tear it down.

D: The shanty's been destroyed a
few times, hasn't it?
R: Yes, it's been completely
destroyed fourbtimes, and it's
periodically been vandalized. In a
way it's surprising, but in another
way it isn't. I maintain adamantly
that the people who attack it are
racists, and people have found sort
of silly ways of responding to that.
But people know what it represents.
D: Many students say they don't
have time to get involved in a
cause, yet you're a student, a
teacher, a mother, a wife, and an
activist. How do you manage?
R: Well, it's difficult. Sometimes
my academic work suffers because
of my political work, and that
doesn't make me happy. But in
order to feel complete and
responsible, I don't see any real
way to eliminate any of these
responsibilities. I have a very
supportive husband and a loving
son, and they help me out.

FISCH
Continued from Page 8
more attentive to her children's
needs and wants. "I will let them
have their views," she said. "They
can hold their own opinions. I
would want to be a friend instead of
making myself superior to them,
and saying that what I think is right
just because I'm their mother."
"How do you instill a sense of
openness, and still get respect?"
wondered Lisa Waggoner, an LSA
sophomore.
"What do you do when your kid
is going through a lot of hard stuff,
and he doesn't want to listen to a
word you say?" asks Karen Ward,
an LSA senior.
I wish I had some of the an-
swers. It seems that being a parent
is a question of balancing
tensions-loving, but not
smothering; spending time with
your children yet encouraging
independence; helping them set
goals for themselves, yet respecting
them if they can't meet those goals,

or if they decide to change them.
What an incredible- respon-
sibility: forming a personality, or

a
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The Johnsons, shown here in their home town: straight-forward rock 'n' roll without pretension.

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The Three Johns
LIVE IN CHICAGO
Last Time Round
"When we were in New York we
were Goth punks like the Sisters of
Mercy. In L.A. we were Valley
Girls, but they didn't believe us.
Tonight we're gangsters. No-
tonight we're world famous hang
glider pilots with very weird
shoes." So starts The Three Johns
lates album "Live in Chicago." The
Three Johns have a sense of humor.
Their studio releases (six 12"s, 1
EP, and 2LPs) have all been strong,
but lack the band's sense of humor,
which is what makes their live
shows such a treat. The yuks don't
stop coming on "Live at Chicago."
The highlight of the album may be
the cover of Madonna's classic
"Like A Virgin." At the song's end,
lead singer John Hyatt laments that
he "never got to sing a duet with
Madonna in the bath." The bathtub
is a theme which pervades the
record; guitarist John Langford
comments: "There are fourty nine
million punks in my bathtub, but I
don't care."
What do bathtubs have to do
with the Three Johns' songs? I'm

not sure- probably nothing much.
But one of the things that makes
the Three Johns so funny is their
ability to babble on endlessly about
bathtubs and then rip into a song
about striking coal miners like
"The World of the Workers" or "Do
Not Cross the Line," a song about
"Margaret Thatcher: the most evil
women in the world."
The Three Johns' sound is pretty.
much straightforward messy rock
'n' roll (they drink a lot) that
sometimes borders on the quirky.
The music is often as goofy as their
humor-these. guys have a drum
machine solo worked into their set.
I'm not one who much likes drum
machines, but theirs rocks. It
makes really odd sounds that a real
live drummer couldn't.
The standouts are the searing
version of "3 Junk" (from the
"Atom Drum Bop" LP), "English
White Boy Engineer," in which the
Johns take a shot at South Africa,
"the most evil place in the world,"
and the highly regimented sounding
"The Day Industry Decided to
Stop." As a whole the album plays
a lot smoother than some of their
studio releases, which can be a little
disjointed.
Nothing beats seeing the Three

Johns live. After all, what could be
better than seeing three drunken
blokes bopping around stage and
staggering into each other? But if
you can't see 'em live, buy the
record- it comes close.
By the way, they're all really
named John.
-Danny Plotnick
John Kirkpatrick &
Ashely Hutchings
THE COMPLEAT
DANCING MASTER
Carthage
Kirkpatrick and Hutchings are
two of the most visible of the
English folk musicians whose
mining of old English folk
melodies made possible the sorts of
work Fairport Convention, Steeleye
Span, the Strawbs, and early Jethro
Tull made famous.
But, where others of that crowd
(like Richard Thompson and Sandy
Denny) have moved into rock
circles, Kirkpatrick and Hutchings
(along with Martin Carthy and
Dave Swarbrick) have immersed
themselves in traditional music.
Among the first founding

members of Fairport Convention to
leave, Hutchings went on to start
the Albion Dance Band, where he
focussed on traditional dance music.
Kirkpatrick, in and out of bands
like Brass Monkey, plays the
meanest harmonium this side of the
eighteenth century.
Somehow the twosome
convinced Island Records to release
this album in 1976. It's as far
from commercial as Kent is from
London, but it's a marvelous
introduction to the sort of work the
two have done throughout their
careers.
With the cream of English folk-
rock musicians, they perform
snatches of reels and dances in
much the way thay must have
sounded two hundred years ago. The
highlights of the album are prose
interludes. With various actors
reading from Chaucer (in middle
English!), Dickens, and the Puritan
William Prynne, the album
becomes a collage of sounds,
attitudes, and epochs.
Available again on Joe Boyd's
Carthage Records, it's a very good
way to dip into an entertaining and
under-explored side of folk music.
-Joseph Kraus

An;

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PAGE 4 WEEKEND/OCTOBER 17, 1986

WEEKEND/OCTOBER 17, 1986

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