PageJ0 -The Michigan Daily - Friday, January 16, 1987
Usually when a rock artist
anflounces a conversion to Christ -
iany itaheralds the arrival of
music 'that is blander and less
compelling than pre-conversion
works. Bob Dylan's infamous
Christian period is now regarded,
foi'6th most part, as a less-than-
spectacular chapter in his career.
Rock 'n' roll is, after all, the
devil's music, and Stryper not-
withstanding, the words
"Christian" and "rock"woften
appda to be mutually exclusive.
B,ut Little Richard, bless his
stit, has made a record that at
titmes manages to challenge the
separation between Church and
Rock .His voice reminds the
lisle odr that rock 'n' roll has roots
in'-the black gospel tradition.
Little Richard attempts to make a
powerful argument that rock 'n'
roll is the Rock that the Church
was founded on.
It's unfortunate that his efforts
are sabotaged by production that is
rroiing short of inept. Little
Richard, given one of the greatest
rock voices ever, sounds muffled
aod weak amidst big-bam-
aing drums, oppressive
hrins, and worst of all, his own
7yhthesizer! While I'm
sympathetic to the desire to bring
a past legend into the present,
Little Richard still writes songs
that sound like 1957's, and they
csry .out for the instrumentation
and- production thatthrust that
voice to the forefront over a
swirling mix of boogie-woogying
piano, acoustic base, and a
minimal drum kit.
The songwriting, though, is
surprisingly good. "Destruction"
is a terrific prophecy which given
better production might well have
spread Little Richard's message to
the masses. "Lifetime Friend" is a
gentle thank-you note to God that
is so unassumingly sweet and
heartfelt that it becomes uplifting.
The re-cut "Great Gosh
A'Mighty" is a god notch worse
than it's first presentation, on the
"Down and Out in Beverly Hills"
soundtrack, but Little Richard's
not so subtle substitution of
"God" for "Gosh" tickles me.
Lifetime Friend is good news.
While it is a mediocre to lousy
album, Little Richard fares well.
The voice, while weaker, still can
shake the rafters. The songs are
still good. Perhaps live
performance, seperated from the
useless modern baggage, will be
Little Richard's resurrection.
Although he has released 24
albums throughout his 18 year
career, most people have still never
heard of Peter Hammill. This
British singersongwriter began his
career with the legendary art-rock
outfit Van Der Graaf Generator.
With Van Der Graaf, and as a solo
artist, Hammill's music has
influenced a variety of artists
ranging from Peter Gabriel to The
Fall. Skin, Peter Hammil's most'
recent album and first U.S. release
in years, finds him at what appears
to be the peak of his creativity.
Skin is a powerful, passionate,
and inspiring record - perhaps the
most perfect record Peter Hammill
has yet made. Many of its songs are
more accessible than most of his
previous work. The title track
combines a quirky pop feel with
sarcastic, discontented lyrics in a
manner not unlike XTC. "Painting
By Numbers" is a bitter attack upon
the art establishment, set to a
suprisingly cheerful pop melody
with bright trumpet and harpsichord
textures. Hammill sings "The
whole thing falls apart/When the
movement's more important than
the art/When we're more concerned
with what's been thought than said/
This is the moment when the
"All's Said and Done" is one of
the most powerful love songs
Hammill has written, a stirring
song about loss and desperation.
"You Hit Me Where I Live"
explores the same subject from a
more angry perspective, with Ham -
mill's voice regularly building into
an abrasive shriek. And "Four
Pails,". penned by his friend Chris
Judge-Smith, is a pretty ballad
about chemistry. Of a former love,
he sings, "Four pails of water and a
bagfull of salts That is all she
. Skin's final cut, "Now Lover,"
is a lengthy music opus of sorts,
reminiscent of his work with Van
Der Graaf Generator. Here,
sexuality is described in
physiological, yet almost mystical
terms. More than ever, Hammill's
lyrics pare fillled with compelling,
Skin presents Peter Hammill's
lyrics, singing, and guitar and
keyboard playing in their finest
form. For those unfamiliar with his
work, this is an ideal introduction
to a fascinating artist whose
creative powers continue to unfold
The Sun Story
The record industry has been
thriving on reissues for the past
couple of years, and this re-release
of Sun Records' classics is one of
the best. Sun Records, founded by
talent scout extraordinaire Sam
Phillips, was at the forefront of the
rock n' roll industry from the
label's inception in 1951 to its
final vinyl in 1963. Sam Phillips
and Sun recruited from the streets of
Memphis, where the turbulent gale
of the rhythm and blues scene
uprooted country boys and blew
them into town. Among Sun's
singing farmers were Johnny Cash,
Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry
Lee Lewis, and then-dauphin Elvis
This compilation, featuring
original recordings, represents the
formative years of rock n' roll, as
these musicians strove to refine
their coarse country styles to
become more suitable for main -
stream America. Sam Phillips
recognized the vast commercial po -
tential of a polished yet spirited
musical genre. While searching for
See RECORDS, Page 11
The Peter Nero Trio will be performing a jazz/classical melange at Hill
Auditorium tomorrow night. Showtime is set for 8 p.m.
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or attend an information seminar in Auditorium 3 of the Modern Languages Building,
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