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April 13, 1988 - Image 5

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-04-13

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ARTS
The Michigan Daily Wednesday, April 13, 1988 Page 5

'Laff
Glossy

your

brains

out!

:
"

Gargoyle

is

coming

Adrian Belew is the most well-known member of the band, but the three other Bears aren't cold porridge.
Pictured from left to right are Bob Nyswonger, Rob Fetters, Belew, and Chris Arduser.

Guitarist

Adrian

Belew
Bears

growls
By Michael Fischer
The name of his band is not
Adrian Belew and the Bears. It's The
Bears - and they're not from
Chicago, either. No mere backing
outfit, this is a band in the truest
sense of the word - a team on stage
and in songwriting. Indeed, this band
chose their generic name because
they wanted to sound like a little-
league baseball squad.
Still, Adrian Belew would appear
to be the band's leader. He produced
the debut LP The Bears - the first
release on the Primitive Man
Recording Company (PMRC) label
- as well as their new release, Rise
and Shine. And Belew's world-class
playing credits - King Crimson,
S Talking Heads, David Bowie, Laurie
Anderson, Frank Zappa, and (whew!)
Paul Simon - certainly dwarf the
no-name status of his fellow Bears,
long-time friends who Belew had met
in the mid-'70s while they played
bars around Cincinnati as The
Raisins.
But Rob Fetters (who doubles up
with Belew on guitar and vocals),
Bob Nyswonger (bass), and Chris
Arduser (drums), are absolutely top-
notch players, though not in Belew's
experimental/art-rock studio vein.
Theirs is the crack work-ethic
stressed by years together on stage.
The stylistic dichotomy formed by
the creation of The Bears in 1986
gave rise to an instantly recognizable
brand of pop. Their sound is based on
the driving rhythm guitar, solid
backbeat, and raucous frat-rock har-
monies of blues-based club rock, but

with

The

distinctive colourings are added by
obtuse and surprisingly exotic over-
tones. When the Bears dub their own
sound as that of "East meets Mid-
west," they mean the Far East - as
in the Oriental spicings of Belew's
sitar-like synthesized-guitar themes.
Their brilliant debut, The Bears,
is chock-full of instantly unforget-
table cuts, characterized by lunatic
vocal arrangements reminsicent of
Talking Heads. A fine example is
"Fear is Never Boring," with its pul-
sating digital-delay bass riff and ir-
reverently kinky lyrics. The Bears'
eclectic stylings, though, also in-
clude the charming island melodies of
"Wavelength," as well as the
insightful message and apocalyptic
sound of "Trust." With help from
airplay on college and AOR radio,
the band's heavy touring schedule
started to build up a following.
The follow-up, Rise and Shine,
does have the sound of a collection
rushed out to capitalize on this mo-
mentum. Its 14 selections are less
consistent; many cuts feel more like
promising ideas than great songs. Of
course, these include such offhand
studio anomalies as the minute-long
"Highway 2" - a side-splitting
Bourbon Street parody of the Kenny
Loggins hit "Danger Zone."
The first five tracks here, though,
display crackerjack songwriting and
cool stylings. The rapid-fire delay
guitar of "Robobo's Beef," a
tkoughtful gripe against nuclear-war
politics, recalls the exciting rhythmic
onslaughts of The Bears, and con-
summate melodies promote the
globalist optimism of "Not Worlds
Apart." In an endearing appeal for

wildlife preservation, "Save Me,"
Belew swirls exciting Eastern themes
over Nyswonger's smooth fretless-
bass lines.
These three songs show The
Bears' better, more serious lyrical
side; never stuffy, it allays a some-
times irritating tendency towards
wise-guy cynicism. Still, their weird
side produces some classic lines of
its own - the fat lover of the rock-
ing "Complicated Potatoes," an ode
to his woman's cooking skills, re-
joices, "I had a recent rhinoscopy / so
I could smell every recipe." The
song's roadhouse guitar licks and
vocals are typical of the album's
slight smoothing-over of The Bears'
quirky sonic edges. Rise and Shine's
arrangements have a more traditional
feel - more accessible and catchy,
less idiosyncratic.
The album is worthwhile if only
as a reason for these eager guys to
get back out on the road. Their last
Detroit concert was one of the year's
better gigs; driven by Arduser's lim-
See Bears, Page 8

By Brian Bonet
A glossy Gargoyle? The 420
Maynard Misfits have decided to
break out the good stock for this
long awaited, much delayed double
issue, that's actually two mags in
one. More visceral than the Worker's
Vanguard, this slick rag provides
lashing laughs by way of the Garg's
traditionally tasteless style.
Read the Garg from one end and
you'll be led through a collection of
comics by Softy the demented
clown. The comic section is a wide-
ranging tribute to the Gargoyle
staff's love of comic books. See
Barney Rubble yield a raging buzz
saw with a vengeance, and travel to
the futuristic land of Poughkeepsie
where Psychology Man battles
Angerman and human snails.
Flip the mag over and it's Gar-
goyle On Campus, a spoof on the
student-aimed publications that in-
form us just how important our
lives are and help us stay hip with
the latest college trends. Acquire the
intricate techniques of crotch grab-
Records
House of Freaks
Monkey on a Chain Gang
Rhino Records
This is a good record. That's the
problem.
House of Freaks is a two-man
outfit consisting of Bryan Harvey
on guitar and vocals, and Johnny
Hott on drums. Harvey has an en-
gaging voice, and he's not afraid to
go after pretty sounds. The lyrics
are chock full of scary animals,
thunder, rain, dead guys, and other
guys intent on making live guys
dead, which is OK, I guess. The
songs are good, but eventually the
whole project stalls because the
project is a little too pure.

bing, a collegiate trend/art form
that's gripping the nation. Also, get
the scoop on U2's latest disc,
Gabriel's Trumpet, that includes
guest appearances from the Mormon
Tabernacle Choir and the Pope him-
self. And finally, Garg On Campus
does an investigative piece - how

".
s f"*
.~v.
I'.".~-
' e'b
With the new slick Gargoyle you get a tribute to the staff's love for comic
books and a nifty Gargoyle On Campus issue.

Elvis cults are stealing our children.
So pick up a Garg whenever it
goes on sale (hopefully tomorrow,
maybe since yesterday, or probably
soon). There's something here to
offend everyone, so, "Laff your
brains out!" It's only $2.

Harvey and Hott didn't let any-
body else into the studio. They
play only one or two instruments
apiece. After four songs, the lis-
tener begins to mentally re-produce
the album, adding a bass-line here,
piano there. And after eight, one
reaches for the glockenspiel.
Individually, nearly every cut is
very good. Collectively, they sound
less inspired, and less individual.
The same songs would probably
sound fantastic if the duo had let
the songs dictate the sounds, rather
than their own limited instru-
mentation. House of Freaks' purity
is admirable only to the extent that
it serves the songs.
-John Logie

H

o

"
6Affr- r

v-ti--v

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