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September 19, 1988 - Image 12

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-09-19

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4

ARTS
Monday, September 19, 1988

The Michigan Daily

Page 12

e

S

Despite

the slick production that

sometimes
Colour's d(

dulls and blurs Living
ebut,Vivid, Reid's feedback-

frenzied fretmanship is

scalding

enough to melt the goods in your
grocer's freezer... constant gigging and
tours in which (Soul Asylum) wiped the
stage with headliners the Replacements
and blew the flab off of Husker Du

brought

scads of attention from

underground fans and critics alike,

culminating in
labeling them
the planet.'

the Village Voice
'the best live band on

4

Flannel shirts, ripped jeans and all, Minneapolis' Soul
Asylum will unleash bedlam upon the Nectarine tonight.

JOHN MUNSON/Daily
Vernon Reid of ,Living Colour grimaces while giving an
exhibition of fretboard gymnastics at last summer's New
Music Seminar in .New York.

BY MIKE RUBIN
After a concert drought of Iowa proportions, local
power-chord connoisseurs will have the opportunity to
experience not one, but two guitar encounters of the
loudest kind tonight at the Nectarine Ballroom, as New
York City's Living Colour and Minneapolis' Soul
Asylum take amplified aim at the dance-club's glitzy
glass interior.
Since both acts have taken quite different routes
toward their major label debuts, and given the quite
different nature of their recorded efforts, the concert
pairing of the two groups may seem somewhat
incongruous at first. However, given the incendiary
live reputations of both bands, the differences between
their sonic styles should be melted away by show's end
into puddles of sweat on the disco floor.
This evening's show is the area debut for Living
Colour, a quartet founded two years ago under the
auspices of the Black Rock Coalition, a New York-
.based organization created to combat racial sterotyping
in the music industry and to promote talented and
"undiscovered Black musicians. The band is the first act
'from the Coalition to be signed to a major label -
Epic -- and is, not coincidentally, the only Black rock
band (excluding Fishbone in their non-ska attempts and
Prince in his more full-blown efforts) currently
recording for a corporate giant.
Contrary to the writings of a number of mainstream

rock critics, this fact has less to do with the absence of
Black bands playing rock music (as opposed to funk or
jazz) than with the racism inside the record industry and
radio programming. This stereo segregation dictates
that hard rock music (defined by loud and abrasive
guitars) is by and for whites only, and isolates music
by Black artists on Black-targeted, dance-floor oriented,
synthesizer and beat-box-based, "urban contemporary"
stations. Therefore, a song like Living Colour's
"Desperate People," which bears more more simil-
arities to Def Leppard than Def Jam, is excluded from
rock radio airplay by the color of the band's skin and
omitted from urban contemporary radio by the style and
decibel-level of the music.
And, despite their positive intentions, a number of
critics, like the Detroit Free Press' Gary Graff,
perpetuate this pigeonholing by portraying Living
Colour as a sort of novelty act, rather than as a
passing of the electrified baton blazed by osmium-
heavy jams like Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile (Slight
Return)" and Funkadelic's "Super Stupid" and the Bad
Brains Jah-with-an-Uzi hardcore approach. Or, as
Funkadelic decried on their One Nation Under a Groove
LP, "Who Says-a Funk Band Can't Play Rock?"
Ignored amidst all the attention paid to Colour's
color is the pyrotechnic guitar-playing of Vernon Reid.
After a decade spent playing with artists as varied as

Ronald Shannon Jackson, John Zorn, and Mick Jagger,
Reid has finally found a project to gain him more
widespread acclaim than the considerable respect he
commands from his fellow musicians. Despite the
slick production that sometimes dulls and blurs Living
Colour's debut,Vivid:, Reid's feedback-frenzied fret-
manship is scalding enough to melt the goods in your
grocer's freezer. Live, the studio shackles placed on the
band's sound and the glossiness gooped on singer
Corey Glover's voice should fall away to provide a
rawer rock thatVivid hinted at, and not the polished
stone the album provided.
In contrast to Living Colour, Soul Asylum are
familiar houseguests in this part of the country, having
appeared more than six times in the Ann Arbor/Detroit
area in the last three years. Constant gigging and tours
in which they wiped the stage with headliners the
Replacements and blew the flab off of Husker Du
brought scads of attention from underground fans and
critics alike, culminating in the Village Voice labeling
them "the best live band on the planet" and A&M
Records signing them to a big-bonus contract. Com-
bining their day-at-the-races, loud-fast-rules approach
with various musical forms (like acoustic balladry on
"Never Really Been," barroom blues on "Passing Sad
Daydream," and fiddle-stomping folk on "Twiddley
Dee"), the band has had no problem crafting memorable
songs; unfortunately, production problems make those
songs better to hum to yourself than to listen to. Their

first three Twintone Record releases,1985's Say What
You Will, 1986's Made To Be Broken , and last year's
While You Were Out suffered from that particular
fuzzy-sounding fungus called Moulditis (as in Bob, of
Husker DU, their first producer). Their most recent LP
and A&M debut, Hang Time , suffers instead from
production cleaner than the band's trademark flannel
shirts have ever been.
Live, however, Soul Asylum still play with the
urgency and velocity of a Saturday night reveler trying
to get to a liquor store five minutes before it closes.
Fueled by an energy part adrenalin, part Wiedeman's,
the band are the epitome of Don Quixote rock:
anthemic wind mill guitar-smashing, high-speed
windmill drum-flailing, and fly-away windmill hair-
throwing. Surrounded by the comfortable roar of their
Marshalls and the hum of a crowd, Soul Asylum can
kick like tequila and pound like a hangover, making
their sometimes Goebel's-quality recordings sound like
an Elephant. Danish Carlsberg, that is.
Minneapolis' Soul Asylum and New York's Living
Colour pair up tonight at Ann Arbor's Nectarine
Ballroom in an attempt to cram "New Music" back
down the throats offrequenters of the disco-danceteria
and give them a taste of what music is really like.
Tickets are $12.50 in advance, and doors open at 10
pan.

U
I

4

Ann Landers

says ...

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try the 1989
Michigan Ensian,.
U-M's award-winning,
all-campus yearbook.
They're having a
MASS MEETING
Tuesday, Sept. 20th
at 7:30 pm, Student
Publications Bldg.,
420 Maynard St.
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