The Michigan Daily Tuesday, December1, 18
By Reuben Michaels
and Earl Roberts
That tasteless bastion of degener-
ate print, The Gargoyle, is back!
The Gargoyle's "Revolution" is-
sue, the University's hedonistic hu-
mor mag's first publication of the
school year, will be discretely so-
licited on the Diag starting today and
will continue throughout the week.
Don't miss it. "Revolution" is an
issue that may invoke what it bash-
ingly parodies: superficial social
consciousness in the form of half-
assed rallies, shanty-building, or at
least a candle-light vigil or two. Its
rhetorical onslaught is aimed at the
insincere, totally psyched '80s "Dead
Heads" (adorned in pre-torn jeans,
paisley, and manufactured tie-dyes).
This is what two Daily critics
have to say about the latest creation
from the misfits of 420 Maynard.
Michaels: Well, Earl, I'd say
that gang downstairs has really
pulled themselves together this time.
Roberts: But -
M: Just let me finish. If you
thought the "Apathy" issue was
brutal this one makes all those cam-
pus activists look like Hitler Youth
R: Yes, Reuben, I surprisingly
agree, but what you forgot to men- .
tion is that Gargoyle Revolution is 7
loaded with extra freebies. Take for
example the Desktop/Wrist Shanty.
M: I noticed you're wearing
yours right above your Rolex.
R: Yes, I am. It fits nicely.. Hell,
this was worth the $1.50 price tag s
M: But what about sensitivity?
What about social conscience?
R: Hell, joke 'em if they can't
take a -
M: Yeah, I guess you're right.
After all, "Revolution" pokes fun at
everything, from Rambo to Zoom.
And talk about that Zoom. spread!
R: Was that factual?
M: I believe so. Except I'm not
really sure that Zak is in the slam--
R: But don't you think knocking
the pontiff is going a bit too far,
Reuben? All that rubbish about the
"New and Improved Testament" and
photographs of his papal holiness
toking on a cigarette. C'mon! The Gargoyle s
M: Maybe he would have looked 'Revolution.' M
better with a cigar. You know what magazine provid
they say about a cigar improving a
R: Now that we're on the the
subject of improving images I just
ordered a "My parents just dropped
acid with Timothy Leary and all I
got was this lousy t-shirt" from the
Garg's Rags for Rich Kids, Ltd.
M: Yeah, I think I'll get my
mom one of those groovy lava
lamps. You know the slogan, "be a
flower child, or just look like one."
R: Is it true that anti-nuke rallies
are out of fashion, now?
M: I don't know. I still wear my
"Save the Whales" button.-
R: I wear "Impeach Nixon."
M: I guess we'll have to wait for
our issue of "Hell No, We Won't
Go," the Garg's guide to what's "in"
among the activism scene.
R: And what about the Gar-
goyle's smutty Forum section?
There was something familiar about
it. I've seen it in another well-re-
spected publication but it escapes me
at the time.
M: Children under 16 not admit-
ted without adult supervision.
R: And "Revolution" goes be-
yond slamming greeks, geeks, and
trendy freaks. The cartoons have
something for everyone - even the
kids with "Fleecie in a Day at the
Fair," after all, Fleecie is God's little
M: Yeah, they really give Fun-
damentalist Christians a hard time.
But ya gotta love those phony ads. I
can hardly tell 'em from the real
ones. Especially the pseudo Daily
R: And that preacher Mike ad!
M: It also includes the Garg's
exclusive LSA Course guide Adden-
dum. You won't find "Sexual Poli-
tics in the African Dung Beetle" in
the University's course guide.
R: I feel like joining another
student organization. How about
giving the Roman system a try?
M: So it's safe to say that we
both give the Gargoyle manifesto,
"Revolution," a thumbs up?
R: You got it! It's the funniest
thing since Eminence! Now let's
move on to the University's other
humor publication - The Michigan
Editors note: Reuben Michaels
and Earl Roberts think they're Beth
Fertig and Brian Bonet.
taff takes over the rock on the cover of their new issue,
[ore radical than 'The Revolutionary Worker,' the
des comic humor for comrades as well as the entire
"For 40 days and 40 nights/ I
come across a desert.../ Come bear
witness, the half-breed rides again,"
declares Robbie Robertson on
"Testimony," the triumphant,
gospel-rock finale to his debut solo
LP. It's his first record in ten years,
and although its significance may
escape a new generation, this amaz-
ing work marks no less than the
resurrection of an American rock and
This year, U2's The Joshua Tree
and J.C. Mellencamp's The Lone-
some Jubilee viewed the spiritual
and social values of America.
Robertson 's ingenious songwriting
conjures the country' s folklore and
mythology - combining the an-
cient images of the Native Ameri-
cans with the Christian visions of
their oppressors, then picturing the
siren-like mystique of the American
Dream of success which supplanted
the ideals of both.
The furious thrash of "Hell's Half
Acre" tells the story of a kid drafted
and sent from his reservation to a
foreign war ("they put a crown of
thorns on this native son"), and the
Biblical allusions and images of
"darkness at high noon" intensify the
apocalyptic vision of the driving
"Showdown at Big Sky." That
Robertson's mythical imagery and
back-country characters are so vivid
is not surprising; his very life nearly
followed the suicidal rise and fall of
Presley, Monroe, and Dean that he
chronicles in the thunderous rocker
At 16, having learned guitar dur-
ing summers on his Iroquois
mother's native Six Nations Reser-
vation, Robertson left Toronto for
Arkansas to join the group which
later backed up Bob Dylan in the late
The Royal Court of
The Royal Court of China
"The Royal Court of China" is a
slightly unusual name for a no-
nonsense rock band hailing from
Southern regions - but so is
"R.E.M." The Royal Court of
China will probably be compared to
R.E.M. a great deal in the future.
And not without justification.
Although the Tennesseans of The
Court are not as Dixie in origins as
their confederates from Athens,
Georgia, a Southern accent can be
clearly detected in the guitars and
voices of both bands. The words
those voices give life to also lend
themselves to comparison. The
Court's lyrics rival the eloquence of
R.E.M.'s more recent, accessible
work and invariably exceed in their
articulation. In fact, lyricist Robert
Logue is a published poet.
The parallels continue with mu-
sical style. The Court play music of
the guitarcentric bedrock variety. It
is characteristic of the band and
most uncharacteristic of this syn-
thetic electrified age that The Royal
Court of China's self-titled album
does not feature keyboards, not even
a piano. But the quartet does boast
three talented string slingers versed
in electric, acoustic, slide, lead,
bass, and twelve string guitar -
not to mention mandolin.
In general, The Royal Court of
China and are comparable be-
cause both bands are damn good.
Yet the comparison should not be
carried too far. The Court does not
mimic __ or any other group.
What they do is to incorporate a di-
verse number of influences into an
intelligent but provocative form of
stripped-down rock that has only
come to be identified with by
default. Members of The Court list
influences as various as Patsy
Cline, Doc Watson, and Guadal-
On "Man in Black," lead vocalist
Joe Blanton even manages to sound
like George Thorogood. The song is
built around a merciless bass pulse
and punctuated by nasty guitar riffs.
In contrast to this searing throw-
down is -the instrumental
"Townsend, TN," a delicate inter-
weaving of guitar and mandolin.
The other instrumental piece on the
album, "Tye," blends power and
subtlety with restraint that reveals
surpising maturity for a band of
The Royal Court of China pos-
sess a great deal of potential and
talent. While they are somewhat
derivative and synthetic in nature, as
can be expected of a emerging band
(rock music today consists largely
of new combinations of familiar el-
ements), The Court's recent release
is a skillful and engaging synthesis.
Former Band guitarist Robbie Robertson returns with his first
solo album, and is joined by Peter Gabriel and U2.
'60s. As The Band, they rose to
stardom, turning out acclaimed hit
albums of gritty delta-style rock.
Robertson, their songwriter and gui-
tarist, then rode the decadent rock-
star rollercoaster until he bailed out
in 1976, disillusioned and drained.
But Robertson's muse has re-
turned with a vengeance; these songs
all manage to bear the weight of new
ambitions in theme and sound.
While the earthy grit of such Band
classics as "Up on Cripple Creek"
and "The Night They Drove Old
Dixie Down" survives, he has
smoothly taken to the CD age with-
out sacrificing a grain of integrity.
He gets major help from the U2/
Peter Gabriel/ Daniel Lanois tri-
umverate now at the forefront of art-
ful pop. The immaculately layered
touches of U2/Gabriel co-producer
Lanois creates seductive atmospheres
to envelop one in the rich melodies
of the, expansive, haunting elegy
"Fallen Angel" and the lovely ballad
"Broken Arrow," both featuring
Gabriel's ambient keyboards and vo-
cals. Lanois imports Gabriel's killer
drummer, Manu Katche, to shape
Robertson's jagged rockers with a
sophisticated rhythmic flair.
Three costly years in the making,
this album must have been meticu-
lously crafted. Yet the miracle
ofRobbie Robertson, how it still
engages that spontaneous, even
reckless instinct that makes for great
rock, is a testament to this guy's
timeless skill. At 44, this legend has
still got quite a ride in store for us.
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