Page 8 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 26, 1988
Negotiations and Love Songs
Before I tell you why this record
is about as exciting as kissing your
sister, let me say that I genuinely
like Paul Simon. Call me a wimp,
call me ethnocentric (New York
metro area white Jewish male sports
fan), call me whatever you want. I
can take it. My feeling is that Paul
Simon, when he looks at something
other than his own despair, is a fine
songwriter and his attempts at rock-
ing out are so cute and endearing that
I fall for for 'em.
Simon's solo work is full of
great semi-rocking songs ("Me and
Julio Down By the Schoolyard,"
"Kodachrome," "Late in the
Evening," Graceland, etc...) but is
also peppered .with cloying lame
saccharine sensitive singer song-
writer bullshit ("St. Judy's Right,"
"Something So Right," etc...). I
think that Simon's solo albums
stand up very well, where, except on
the overly introspective Still Crazy
After All These Years and the just
plain bad Hearts and Bones, the
rockers outnumber the plodders.
That said, here are ten reasons
why this record is like kissing your
1. This is holiday season product
filler designed to suck more money
out of your pocket. If you're hesitant
about getting into Paul Simon, then
I recommend you get 1977's Great-
est Hits, Etc. and 1985's Graceland.
2. The mix of songs here is half
rock/ half shit, and out of their orig-
inal album context, the shit here
stinks worse than ever.
3. There are no liner notes, no
photos, etc... None of the cool stuff
that should be included on a double
album retrospective are present.
4. The sequencing blows. They
should have mixed it up chronologi-
cally to make things fresher.
Great Jones/Island Records
Certainly one of the strangest records I've ever
experienced. I would call the Pigmies the Picasso of
avant-garde music, though it's probably giving
them too much credit - abstract, surprising, and at
times annoyingly confusing. It's a mediocre record,
but god, is it strange.
The record/project as a whole can be summed up
as a cross between the work of William S.
Burroughs, the Residents, and Saccharine Trust. The
Pigmies co-produced the record with Moris Tepper
of Captain Beefheart, and I expect that's part of the
reason for its consistently weird vein. The spoken-
word fragments by playwright Charles Schneider
that they call drama are the most grating part of this
record. Who needs a surrealistic dramatic twink
popping up every five minutes to spew boring
ideals and anecdotes? It really doesn't work.
The music is, surprisingly, pretty good at times,
spotlighting the only redeeming quality of the band,
vocalist Louise Bialik. Her silky smooth/no
nonsense, Roberta Flack/Siouxsie Sioux voice
undermines the predominantly carnival-style musical
glop the rest of the band has fallen into, and the
only songs of merit are the ones on which the
instruments are lost behind her voice. The band is
trapped somewhere in the vast regions of Celtic
folk, carnival tomfoolery, and techno-pop sewage,
and the whole idea behind the album creates a
pathetic attempt at tying together too many "artsy"
The construction and collection of Negotiations and Love
Songs make Paul Simon's latest his lamest.
5. The title of this is ridiculous.
Negotiations and Love Songs ?
How's about "Wimpy Jewish Kid
From Forest Hills Who Wants To
Be Black Writes Some Pretty Good
Songs"? It's much more telling and
a whole lot less pretentious.
6. This album crams two discs
The Personal Column
MICHIGAN DAILY CLASSIFIED ADS
into one very flimsy and cheap
sleeve. Let's see some gatefold ac-
tion, and some nice heavy cardboard
instead of this piece-o-crap.
7. The vinyl itself is very thin
and weedy. While it sounds better
than the harshly "correct" compact
discs and useless casettes, I'd like to
have a heftier platter to heave
8. Nowhere on this album am I
thanked for my contributions to
Paul's art and career.
9. The cover photo of Paul in
Sam Spade type getup makes him
look goofier than Mike Dukakis in a
10. Go to number one...
Toots in Memphis
Toots will always be known as
one of the great voices of reggae.
He's a legend in Jamaica, where he
and his Maytals began popularizing
the island music and its
accompanying ganja culture more
than a quarter century ago.
His classics, "Pressure Drop,"
"Monkey Man," and "Reggae Got
Soul," are some of the most exciting
and successful reggae/soul fusions
The idea is that Toots got soul,
right? The idea is to fly him out to
Memphis, soul's hometown, where
he can belt out some of the standards
that have influenced his music for so
long. At first, he seems to have a
ball with them, his rocksteady take
on Eddie Floyd's "Knock on Wood,"
and the tricky hi-speed curves of (the
soul singer to which Toot's sweet
gravel is most frequently compared)
Otis Redding's "Hard to Handle," are
rollicking blasts of Funky Kingston.
Unfortunately, even the best are
never so good as to rise above weak
material. The other tunes he has
selected are less famous, less
inspired readings, and one mediocre
original. Stodgy, unsoulful horn
arrangements drag down much of the
remainder of the album, and Toots'
own glee with these songs
sometimes dissolves inexplicably
into Vegas-like show biz sludge.
Even Sly and Robbie, reggae's Duke
and Earl of rhythm seem relatively
tame. A disappointment.
A soulful country-folk band with
a modern outlook, Chicago artists
Souled American seem seriously
dedicated to their country roots. They
flesh out their sparse arrangements
with traditional country instruments:
acoustic guitar, bass, harmonica,
drums, some electric guitar, and
occasionally lap steel guitar. The
loose playing never gets downright
sloppy and is the perfect
accompaniment to the raspy, raw
vocals and honest lyrics. "She Broke
My Heart," a straight forward
country lament with a standard topic,
and the humorous "Feel Better,'
with its cynical, self-effacing lyrics,
are great songs to be listened to over
and over. -Chuck Skarsaune
Bain & Company, Inc.
The University of Michigan
Classes of 1989 & 1990
to a presentation and reception on
Associate Consultant Career Opportunities
and Internships in
Corporate Strategy Consulting
" San Francisco
The Michigan Union-Anderson Room