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April 08, 1988 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-04-08
Note:
This is a tabloid page

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'W

9

music

Dead

people,

fish: Hitchcock's

song

fodder

Robyn Hitchcock
and the Egyptians
Globe of Frogs
A&M Records
What do insects, fish, and decaying
dead people have in common?
They're among Robyn Hitchcock's
favorite song topics. In fact, it seems
he writes about little else. And he's
probably the only successful
songwriter around who's been getting
away with it for 10 years.
Hitchcock has long been England's
most eccentric export, but until about
three years ago, he was little more
than a cult favorite. His records with
the Soft Boys are the best in deviant
pop, much more upbeat though
obviously influenced by Syd Barrett's
neuroses. As a solo act and later with
his band the Egyptians, Hitchcock's
bizarre sensibilities continued to
flourish with little notice. Now it
seems he's everywhere.
Globe of Frogs marks Hitchcock's
major label debut, but it sounds like
he's been preparing for it for years.
As his Ann Arbor gigs have shown,
he gets bigger and bigger with every
outing, and as a result, his songs
have become a little more accessible.
Well, as accessible as dead people,
insects, and fish can get.
With its poppy tuns and spirited
playing, Globe is a lot more fun
than his last, rather dismal, LP, El-
ement of Light . But fans of his older
material will still be slightly
disappointed. "Sleeping With Your
Devil Mask" and "Balloon Man" are
among his strongest singles, lunging
straight ahead with a solid rhythm
section backed by bassist Andy
Metcalfe and drummer Morris
Windsor. But the pop punch falls flat
on "Unsettled" and the softly ringing
"Chinese Bones," which features
Hitchcock's favorite fan, Peter Buck
of R.E.M., and jangles along like the
most Byrds-y moments of Buck's
own band.
Hitchcock's Beatles influence is
given a token outlet with the track
"Flesh Number One (Beatle Dennis),"
where Buck joins in for a light-
hearted tribute song. The rest of the
tracks tend to round out the LP in a
somewhat appropriate but
unsatisfying manner, filling in the
spaces with material that is expected
of Robyn Hitchcock. It's not espe-
cially "new" sounding, and will make
long-time fans impatient and likely
to slap Fegmania! , Hitchcock's last
really solid LP, on their turntables.t
For too many years Robyn
Hitchcock has been a rare serendipity
in rock music, a warped genius who's
created some of the most challenging
and enjoyable pop songs in the
import bins. His popularity may be
growing with every album, but if he
doesn't act quickly his originality

industrious.non-virtuoso to conjure a
virtual orchestra of sounds and
rhythms. Such technology is not
only of use to upstarts making their
own demos and cassette-only re-
leases, but recently, top artists such
as Karl Wallinger of World Party,
not to mention Springsteen and
Prince, have taken near-total creative
control in making such "solo" al-
bums.
William.Orbit- a multi-instru-
mentalist, composer, and house pro-
ducer for I.R.S. Records - is a
product of these technological break-
throughs. These aforementioned gad-
gets allow Orbit to experiment with
an enormous range of styles and
genres without compromises and
bring a prolific talent to vinyl unfet-
tered. This edge encourages not only
the wide spectrum of musical styles,
but also a rapidity of recording, al-
lowing him to release two albums in
the last nine months.
The first,Orbit, begins with a
dreadful near-parody of T h e
Psychedelic Furs' "Love My Way"
but offers few bright spots thereafter.
Although Orbit's songs show a hand
at keyboard textures and rhythms that
bring Vangelis to mind, the album
suffers from a lifeless, synth-schlock
emptiness.
What a godsend to Orbit, then, is
his latest, Strange Cargo. On this
LP, contrary to Orbit, the artist lets
loose, displaying a remarkable
stylistic variety. Orbit ranges from
gorgeous excursions in flamenco-
guitar textures ("Via Caliente,"
"Riding to Rio") to eerie techno-am-
bient mood-pieces ("The Secret
Garden") and mini-film-soundtracks
("Out of the Ice"). Orbit luckily
avoids avant-garde meandering,
though; "Fire and Mercy" is a dance-
able funk-metal firestorm, a kind of
kitsch -free Jan Hammer, and on
"Jimmy's Jag" Orbit proves his
mettle on the electric guitar solo.
The variety of Strange Cargo is
intriguing enough as a solo show, a
sign uf the times. Its contrast to Or-
bit shows just how much the new
technology has liberated the pop au-
teur in pursuing his muse-why
this man's music is uniquely in-
seperable from the here and now.
- Michael Fischer
The Kinks
Live-The Road
MCA Records
These journeyed rockers still
have what it takes to pull off a live
show and make a live LP interest-
ing, exciting, and fun. Great mater-
ial, fine playing, and a sense of
humor. Ray Davies' newer tunes
haven't lost the edge he honed in the
'60s and '70s. Brother Dave offers
even more proof here that he is one
of the greatest (and perhaps the most
overlooked) guitarist in Rock'n'Roll
history. They tear up on
"Destroyer." -Marc S. Taras

COVER
STORY
Continued from Page 11 I
Engineering Dean Charles VestI
sees a renewed interest in science
behind these application increases.
He cites the prominence of comput-
ers, the media's attention on Amer-
ica's competition in manufacturing,
and especially the excitement of theI
space program. But he also believes
students' values are changing in the
'80s.
"I have very mixed emotions," heI
said. "I do think that we have overt
the past decade seen an increase in thet
number of students entering fieldst
like business and engineering where
they feel there is a rather safe path tot
a well-paying job immediately upon
graduation.
"What I would cite as evidence is
while we have seen remarkable in-
creases in applicants and the qualityI
of undergrads, I don't believe we seet
enough of a percentage of graduates
moving into graduate or doctoral
programs... pursuing research or ad-
vanced technology in academic kinds
of careers... I think there may be
more people in that category than I
would like. That's an unfair overallI
categorization. But too many peopleI
look at the short term investment in
their careers and are not looking hard
enough into the long term invest-t
ment."t
According to Vest, the Engineer-
ing School received visits from 260I
employers last year who conductedI
455 interviews. He said that while
there has been a slight drop in the
sheer number of interviews recently1
along with the demand for engineers,
which may provide students with less
choices, the market is still "quite
strong." Vest is also pleased with
other developments in the school,
such as the increasing numbers of
women and minority students.
But Joe White isn't so sure that
students are any different in the '80s
- at least not those in the Business
School. "Students have always paid a
lot of attention to where am I going
and how do I get there," he said.
In the 1980s, the American Medi-
cal College Application Service and
the U.S. Law School Admissions
Council reported the University of
Michigan to be the largest supplier
of pre-law and pre-medical students in
the country. Lou Rice, the Univer-
sity's Chief Pre-Professional Advi-
sor, is pleased although not surprised
by these findings.
"I think it's an interesting com-
mentary on the University of Michi-
gan in that it continues to produce
large numbers of students interested
in the professions of law and
medicine in comparison to what ap-
pears to be declining applicant
pools," he said.
Rice noted that the country's
number of law and medical school
applicants has been steadily declining
since the 1974, and that despite being
the nation's leading applicant sup-
plier for these fields, the University

has also been affected by the trend.
Rice points to numbers. In the
1974-'75 year, 630 University stu-
dents applied to U.S. medical
schools, according to the AMCAS.
In 1984-'85, that number fell to 461.
Two years later, it was 355.
He also sites a study he conducted
of the University's class of 1975.
Two years after graduation (with 61
percent responding), more than half
the class had enrolled in graduate or
pre-professional programs; and most
of those were enrolled in medicine,
law, education, and social work pro-
grams. Only four percent were in an
MBA program.
Today, Rice said that report would
be significantly different, and said
that more University students are
turning to business. He added that
this is an indicator of students' val-
ues.
"Most of the stuff you read today
suggests most students are interested
in immediate rewards: financial secu-
rity and job advancement. They see
those opportunities more readily in
the business world than in the medi-
cal world."
Rice added that the increasing cost
of,education is also a large factor.
"Students saw increasing debt and
increasing cost and deferred financial
rewards... they looked for more im-
mediate rewards with less cost to
them...
"It may be they're making choices
that result in more immediate re-
turn," he continued. "There's a
difference between a two year MBA
program and a four year medical pro-
gram with an. internship."
As the 1980s draw to a close, the
figures might be telling. But the de-
bate continues as to where students'
values will be moving in the future.
"All you guys have done is read in
the media since the recession how
tight the job market is," said Debo-
rah Orr May. "Today's student has a
lot of pressure. The world costs a lot
to live in. This is the first generation
that may have to face a reduction in
the standard of living." May added
that she felt any such reduction
would be reinforced by the impact of
dualbcareer couples.
"But how many of those dual ca-
reer couples could do that on their
own?"
As the times are changing, Judith
Chapman also feels succeeding on a

high level is a little more difficult.
"Self made human beings are to a
large extent a thing of the past," she
said.
"They feel like to succeed they
have to be coming out of school
with a high place position and
salary," said Deborah Orr May. "In
reality they get entry level posi-
tions."
"Sometimes students think they
should be at the same level as their
parents when they start," said Doreen
Murasky, noting that it is difficult
for one to do as well as one's par-
ents. "And (sometimes) students who
are graduating with degrees from par-
ents who don't have a degree feel
kind of guilty that they're going be-
yond what their parents have done...
this may even be more true for
women...
"This is a generation moving in
new directions in terms of sex roles,"
said Murasky.
As the semester winds down,
many seniors are currently weighing
their options and making plans.
Current figures have it that approxi-
mately 75 percent of a class of enter-
ing University students will com-
plete a degree within five years. For
some, the option after that will be a
graduate program. For others it's
facing the workforce. And in each
case there is reason for excitement
and anxiety, often both at once.
"I'm taking a year off," said Tony
Edelblute, an LS&A senior who
plans to graduate in April. "I've
changed my plans completely, so I'm
pretty nervous about leaving this
sheltered environment."
"I have anxieties," said one Resi-
dential College senior. "That I won't
find a job. That's probably the
biggest, that I won't be able to sup-
port myself next year. And that I'll
lose touch with my friends."
David Mancino, a senior in the
School of Engineering, is more op-
timistic. "I can't wait," he said. "I'm
counting the days. I have tons of
work to do 'till then. I've been here
five years, I'm getting a degree and a
job is waiting for me."
Doreen Murasky feels these mixed
emotions are all a part of the process.
"It's normal to have stress and anxi-
ety around changes, even if it's posi-
tive."
And "change" doesn't necessarily
mean the "best years" are over yet.

Two graduating seniors celebrate at l
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN GIL
----NI)
MENDELSSOHN

U
1}

What the hell is Robyn Hitchcock holding in his hand? Who knows; the guy is really strange. Look at him.

may be taken for granted.
--Beth Fertig
The Jean Paul Sartre
Experience
Love Songs
Fundamental Music
The Jean Paul Sartre Experience.
What a cool name. Fortunately
there's much more to this album
than its existentialist-psychedelic
moniker. The delicate, windy guitar
ballads on Love Songs drip slowly
and softly with quiet persistence
much like a leaky faucet. In fact,
you can hear a faucet dripping in the
background on the LP's opening
tune "Fish in the Sea."
Songs such as "The Grey Parade"

and "Loving Grapevine" float lazily
from the vinyl like a synth-stripped
Cocteau Twins, their simplicity
swaying drunkenly toward nihilism.
The lyrics at times seem like a
chronicle of boring everyday experi-
ences. But it is exactly this simple
philosophy of stripping down to the
elements and fighting a daily battle
to gain control of your destiny that
is so refreshing. The Jean Paul
Sartre Experience says let your own
happiness be your only law.
This is very mellow, quirky, pop
music with swell lyrics like "I like
rain tapping against my window/I
like rain dancing on the pavement/I
like rain when I'm inside." The
band-members cite their "obvious
musical influences" as "folk ballads,

soul music, funky music, and Owen
Gutsell music." Needless to say this
is a laid back album that's lots of
fun to listen to.
-Todd Shanker
William Orbit
Strange Cargo
Orbit
I.R.S./No Speak Records
The advent of affordable audio
technology has opened pop music to
a whole new legion of artists - in
much the same way, strangely, as did
the anti-technical revolution of punk-
rock. Perhaps for the first time in the
history of recorded music, one artist
can singlehandedly create complex
tracks on a master tape allowing the

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PAGE 4 WEEKEND/APRIL 8. 1988 WEEKEND/APRIL 8. 1988

PAGE 4

WEEKEND/APRIL 8, 1988

WEEKEND/APRIL 8, 1988

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