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October 26, 1987 - Image 7

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-10-26

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ARTS
Monday, October 26, 1987

The Michigan Daily

Page 7

Rhythm

and

By Mike Rubin
Tonight and tomorrow night at
the Power Center herald the return to
Ann Arbor of America's most
happening hep-cat, Tom Waits. One
of the last true American originals,
and certainly the most creative
performer currently shopping his
wares on a major label, Waits defies
the usually saccharine limits of the
"singer/songwriter" genre.
Waits has transformed his career
from being a lonely troubadour of
the American road, an amusing but
unimportant musical outcast carry-
ing his piano on his back a n d
bunions on his feet, to a critically
acclaimed artiste and media darling,
appearing or. the David Letterman
show and it, several films, most
recently in the bayou noir film
Down By Law.
Waits has achieved this new-
found attention via a startling and

stimulating musical evolution.
Throughout the '70s he recorded
several albums for Asylum Records,
full of piano tinkling, stream-of-
consciousness beatnik jazz. While
entertaining, he seemed forever
destined to wear the loser's fedora as
he ranted and raved to anyone who
cared to listen at the neighborhood
speakeasy. He was a throwback to an
earlier day, an obsessive but essen-
tially retrogressive poet of the piss
factories and pool rooms of
America's stark white underbelly,
the chain-smoking chatterer at the
counter of an Edward Hopper diner,
still waiting patiently for his coffee
to arrive.
In 1983 Waits jumped to Island
Records and traded in his crown as
bard of the Bowery for a more
modern persona as the Captain
Beefheart of the homeless shelter. He
trimmed his song lengths in half,
allowing for twice as many tunes per

'Blue'
record and paving the way for some
eclectic musical experimentation.
Waits left the beret and piano far
behind (probably at some truck stop)
and moved into a realm beyond even
accordion, toying with such bizarre
noisemakers as pump organs and an
optigon, musical flotsam and jetsam
that was more at home in grand-
father's attic than in a recording
studio.
The result was 1983's
Swordfishtrombones and 1985's
Rain Dogs, two of the most
challenging records of the decade, and
the recent Frank's Wild Years, a
collection of songs from Waits'
romantic opera of the same name.
Waits' characters are still straight
out of Picasso's blue period, but for
the first time their sob stories and
swan songs have instrumentation
that is just as interesting. Waits
spins yarns like a bad-karma
Kerouac, creating a world of Cuban

period
jails and Hong Kong beds, two
dollar pistols and small-time
Napoleons, shadow boys and red bell
dames, shiny Roosevelt dimes and
donuts that have names that sound
like prostitutes, all brought to life
with his trademark voice.
It's that voice that sets Waits
apart from all others, leaving him
alone at the bottom of the scrap heap
as the Duke of Hard Knocks,
keeping the daily diary of the
AmericantNightmare.A deep,
guttural growl that rises up from
somewhere between the pancreas and
duodenum. A black rabbit pulled
from beneath the magician's belt. A
serrated and sinewy column of
smoke that rises up from an
eternally burning Lucky Strike, to
grab the listener by the ears, nose,
and throat for a hell of a good head
cold.
Tom Waits will perform at the
Power Center tonight and tomorrow
at 8 p.m. Tickets are $16.50.

Tom Waits will return to Ann Arbor for the first time in seven years with
two shows at the Power Center.

Ubu' s smokestack rock

By Mike Rubin
Tonight at Alvin's in Detroit
marks the return to the concert stage
of legendary late '70s post-punk
carbon monoxide rockers Pere Ubu.
After an absence of over five years
during which members pursued
various solo projects, America's first
and last "avant-garage" band has
resumed operating under the Ubu
banner.
Pere Ubu in their prime were a
brutal, brilliant, and bouyant beast,
roaring with the dynamic discord and
dadaism one might imagine of a
group which takes their name from a
character in an Alfred Jarry play.
Join
the
Daily
Arts
Page
Call: 763-0379

From their infancy in Cleveland,
Ohio, an area known more for its
factory spires than for musical
pioneers (unless you consider Joe
Walsh on the cutting edge of sonic
experimentation), the band came

across sounding like some strange
fermentation of industrial grime and
basement lint. Beginning their
recording career as a straight-ahead
but stripped-down rock band
punctuated by synthesized steam

returns
belchings from Allen Ravenstine,
kinetic assembly line guitar licks
from Tom Herman and the late Peter
Laughner, and loony lunch hour
whelping from lead singer David
See PERE UBU Page 9

IPi Delta Pi Delta Pi Delta Pi Delta Pi Delta Pi Del

Ii A LOVES THEIR PLEDGES:
Jodi Albert Dara Goldschmidt Lois Ranthun
Diane Bajefsky Stephanie Corin Cindy Sanders
Emily Bums Rebecca Jacobs Andrea Scampa
Laura Davis Shari Korn Dawn Sievert
Lori Feiner Lauren Lane Lisa Stegman
Jackie Friedman Lisa Long Kelly Stock
Linda Frye Kelly Machiorlatti Paige Tocco
Becky Gaynier Merritt Massuch Jodi Wolff
Shari Glassberg Kelly McLean Gayle Yourofsky
Carrie McDonald
Jennifer Meyers
Mary Beth Moenssen
Carrie Nelson
Christina Pelletier
Jennifer Piehl

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