Tuesday, February 16, 1988
The Michigan Daily
By Alan Paul
Labels can be so confining. Jus
ask Barrence Whitfield, the Boston
based leader of the Savages, who is
often tagged a "blues singer."
This is like calling Jimi Hendrix
a guitar strummer, Shakey Jake an
interesting guy, or Ronald Reagan
It is a gross understatement.
Whitfield is a high energy, prima
screaming, gut bucket blues-bash
ing, Little Richard- loving, freak
falsetto flailing, rock 'n' roller.
"Our music is a mixture o
everything. We don't do just on
kind of thing," Whitfield says from
his Omaha hotel room. "We try tc
do it all with an edge to it so it';
more rock 'n' roll than anything
But we're categorized (as blues) be
cause of some of the places we play
and some of the people who com
out to see us. I'm not singing th
blues every night."
Whitfield and the Savages ar
certainly not singing the blues over
their latest Rounder release, the aptly
titled Ow! Ow! Ow! The album
kicks off with the wild Littl
Richard on acid sounding shrieks of
"Rockin' the Mule" and doesn't slow
down. One sequence on side two is a
microcosm of the band's diversity
The songs move from the wild post-
punk shriek of "Girl From Outer
Space," sung entirely in falsetto, to
the upbeat pure Stax-style soul of
"Runnin' and Hidin,"' to the deep
guttural guitar blues of "The Blues
is a Thief."
Whitfield's wide ranging sounds
have their roots in the first rendition
of the Savages, which split up over
a year ago. That band was composed
of former members of Boston
garage- grunge gurus The Lyres.
"The garage rock was their influ-
ence," Whitfield says. "They had
been doing that for three or four
years and the guitar player was also
in a band called DMZ. They had that
little garage edge to them."
The original Savages split up for
personal reasons; the guitar player
wanted to go back to school and the
rest of the band fell apart. Whitfield
t briefly considered hanging it up be-
n fore reforming a new, more wide
s ranging batch of Savages.
"The old band was a garage band
x that really had intensity but what we
n have now is a real good band that
n can play anything that you hand
them. They're more versatile but
still with that intensity."
i Whitfield and the Savages are
- committed to Rounder for one more
y record. He is optimistic that the band
will move on to a major label and
f does not worry about coming under
* pressure to smooth out his music.
"You go with what got you
* here, what brought you success. You
s try to advance yourself without los-
ing what got you started," Whitfield
- says. "But you don't want to keep
y doing the same thing over and over
e again until people think it's all you
e can do. If you do tasteful things, it's
not that you're being commercial,
e but you're advancing.
r "You're still staying in the same
y type of genre. You want to advance
n but you don't want to lose your
e roots. There's natural progressions
f and there's artificial leaps. Now, if
v the band turned into another Hooters
a or something...you could say 'hey
. they sold out!'
There doesn't seem to be any
r danger of anyone yelling "sell out"
in the near future. They don't call
f them the Savages for nothing;
p Whitfield is widely known for his
s wild stage antics.
"It's just something thaL's a
s spontaneous thing," Whitfield says,
his voice cracking in the upper
r registers. "You get on stage, you
d start getting into the music and the
next thing you know I'm doing flips
and rolling around on the ground and
diving into the audience, and jump-
ing around from there to there and
dancing. It's just a feeling that if
you're into the music, you want to
express it on stage. Plus, it's a form
of entertainment. I just go with my
impulse. If I want to roll up my
pants, I'll do that. It's just sponta-
"It's just fun music. Every place
we play at gets live and people really
get into it. I loooove playing live. I
like to see people bash their brains
out. Really, I like to see people have
a good time and they usually do
when we play."
The crowds had such a good time
everywhere Whitfield and the Sav-
ages played last summer in Europe
that the band became heroes, receiv-
ing rave reviews and drawing rock
elite such as Robert Plant, Elvis
Costello, and Robyn Hitchcock to
their shows. Whitfield was dubbed
the "R&B hurricane" and one En-
glish critic wrote "Barrence Whit-
field- dear God, we are all his chil-
Whitfield chalks such adulation
up to witnessing the "real deal."
"When they try to do it, it's like,
they try their best but it doesn't
come off as well," Whitfield says.
"An American band goes over and
just wows them because it's more
authentic than some British guy try-
ing to do Chuck Berry."
BARRENCE WIIITFIELD AND
THE SAVAGES appear tonight at
10 p.m. at the Blind Pig, 208 S.
First St. Doors open at 9 and
admission is $7.50. Whitfield will
be in the WCBN (88.3 FM) studio
for an on-air interview between 8
and 9 p.m.
Barrence Whitfield brings his no-holds-barred stage show to the,
Blind Pig tonight.
DO YOU RECEIVE ENOUGH FINANCIAL AID ?
OR ARE YOU...
" over-burdened w / loans
" working more than studying
" afraid you can't afford a U-M
. education *Y
The Michigan Student Assembly wants to take your
complaints to Washington D.C. To submit your
testimony attend an External Relations Committee
meeting - 6:30 pm Thursday, or call the MSA office
" A- AMi
And other majors that don't
guarantee jobs after graduation
Getting the job you want isn't easy. Especially for recent college grads.
Very few majors will prepare you for a specific career, and guarantee
you get hired right out of college. For the rest of you, finding some-
thing you like won't be simple. You could contemplate grad school.
Or law school. Two or three more years of school, and student loans
comparable to the national debt. There are very few jobs out there
that require little or no experience. Jobs that you would enjoy, where
the only requirement is a college degree.
O0 This Spring Break, catch a Greyhound' to
the beach, the mountains or your hometown.
_____For $49.50 each way, you and your friends