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March 17, 1988 - Image 63

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-03-17

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people of destroying them-
selves-you deny them the
compassion that comes out of
Blades admits that music
like this creates a marketing
problem-"It isn't your tradi-
tional format-oriented album,"
he says-but he has hopes that
it will gain mass acceptance.
"The promise that it holds is, it
could be a breakthrough-not
just for a Latin artist doing his
first English record, but for
English-speaking musicians as
well. Why does every song have
to sound the same? Why not
take a chance?"
Making this an even bigger
month for Blades is the release
of his fourth movie, "The Mila-
gro Beanfield War," directed by Studying
Robert Redford. It's a comedy
about the clash between developers and
the residents of a New Mexico mountain
town. Two years ago, after "Crossover
Dreams," he moved from New York to Los
Angeles to study the movie business up
close: "I wanted to see for myself what
kind of mentality there is here and why

bridges to build and to main-
tain. Right now Blades is pre-
paring for the late-spring re-
lease of "Antecedentes," a
Spanish-language record on
Elektra, and considering movie
parts. And late this year he'll
move back to New York and
soon will begin planning for his
eventual return to Panama-
where, rumors persist, he'll run
for office someday. But not un-
til he's well prepared. "There's
a lot I have to understand," he
says. "I have to identify the
problems. For that I need to
gather a group of people who
are equally motivated, and who
aren't subject to the existing po-
litical structure. Once we've
,r analyzed the problems we can
ar present a plan."
Never mind that Blades al-
ready talks like a politician when he talks
politics. More important is this: in Panama
Ruben Blades will come full circle and keep
the promise of his life and work, which is
that going forward doesn't have to mean
you can never go back.

the business up close: In 'Milagro Beanfield W
there isn't more Latin participation in
film production." The connection with
Redford has already paid off. Next year,
Blades hopes, he'll be bringing a group of
Panamanians to study film at Redford's
Sundance Institute in Utah.
In the meantime there's work to be done,

Reggae, Heartache: Two LP's

I f you're a reggae musician
and your last name is Mar-
ley, fans of the island music
will give you a listen-even if
your first name is Ziggy. But
anyone expecting this son of
the legendary Bob Marley to
remain comfortably within
the traditions of his father's
music had better get out of the
way. With his dazzling third
album, Conscious Party (Vir-
gin), Ziggy Marley has cut a
path for reggae to follow into
the next decade.
Certainly, Ziggy has amusi-
cal, as well as physical, resem-
blancetohislatefather. There
is the same political fervor, as
in "We Propose," when Ziggy
and his band, the Melody
Makers (with Marley's two
sisters and younger brother),
exhort "warmongers, politi-
cians, racists, capitalists" to
"learn, learn, learn!" And
there are the undertones of
Rastafarianism, the Jamai-
can religious sect. One of Ras-
ta's more powerful themes,

the call of "back to Africa,"
drives "Dreams of Home,"
with its traditional rhythms
and majestic choir.
Ziggy's music, however, has
a cleaner, more "pop" sound
than his father's. The effer-
vescent "Tomorrow People"
is irresistible. This is not the
butter-smooth, recycled reg-
gae of bands like UB40; songs
like "Tumblin Down," defiant
and confident, and the steamy
"New Love" maintain a raw
edge. Through the hop of the

rhythm, through the refined
tunes, burns the unmistak-
able fire of his father. For reg-
gae, rent by Bob Marley's
1981 death and the murder of
Peter Tosh last year, Ziggy's
powerful work couldn't have
come at a better time.
f the great pop songwriters
of the '60s knew how to do
one thing, it was ache. John
Lennon and Paul McCart-
ney's "Ticket to Ride," Brian
Wilson's "Don't Worry Baby,"
Jerry Butler and Curtis May-
field's "He Will Break Your
Heart"-there's more honest,
hope-toldie heartbreak in
those three-minute sides than
in all of this week's Top 40.
That's whytheSmithereens,a
quartet from northern New
Jersey, are such a revelation
and their second major-label
release, Green Thoughts (Capi-
tol/Enigma), is such a pleas-
ure. Pat DiNizio, the group's
songwriter and singer, can
ache with the best of them.
It's clear on a first listening

how deeply DiNizio has ab-
sorbed the work of the '60s
pop craftsmen, who prized
lovely melodies and meticu-
lous lyrics over visceral pow-
er. Less skillful musicians
have been ruined by this rev-
erence for the past. The
Smithereens get away clean.
The band plays with a tough,
propulsive attack that's ut-
terly contemporary. Produc-
er Don Dixon has shaped an
aural landscape that shim-
mers with dark tensions. And
while DiNizio obviously be-
lieves that love is a hurtin'
thing, his songs have none of
the old masters' naivete.
"Only a Memory" makes a
jilted lover's nostalgia sound
downright ominous, like a
brush fire about to spread out
of control and burn down the
whole town. "Drown in My
Own Tears" makes you be-
lieve that this guy means
to do just that. "Green
Thoughts" may be the most
perfect record ever made for'
people who are brokenheart-
ed and pissed off about it.
B. B.

'Conscious Party': Ziggy


APRIL 1988


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