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January 17, 1989 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-01-17

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Page 10 -The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, January 17, 1989

Continued from Page 9
own and a punkish recycling on
Edge riffs - but then faded away
strangely. Belfast's Silent Running
also left the gate with a burst but
faltered as well. In 1987, traditional
groups such as Clannad and The
Pogues moved into the pop main-
stream with success, but remained
either too subtle or strange to qualify
as "Next Big Thing."
Finally, last year, Sinbad
O'Connor went top-40 in our
Promised Land with a catalog of
bold Irish influences. The revival in
full swing, Celtic soul hero Van
Morrison united with traditional-
music legends The Chieftains for a
brilliant sign-of-the-times LP, Irish
,Heartbeat. The Waterboys, in search
of new inspiration, moved west from
London to Dublin and then to Gal-
way, releasing the joyously Irish-
sounding Fisherman's Blues, which
invokes two of the Emerald Isle's
greatest poetic champions: Van
Morrison ("Sweet Thing") and W.B.
Yeats (an adaptation of "The Stolen
Back at the turn of the century,
this country only as populous as
metropolitan Detroit contrubuted
three of the literary giants of our
age: Yeats, Joyce, and Shaw. Hope-
fully this new creative surge won't
end at one. These are three more
bands who released album late last
,.year who seem most likely to hit it
big in the post-U2 era.
The approach of The Foun-

tainhead is immediate and simple.
Eschewing the communal influences
of their national comtemporaries in
favor of engaging R&B grooves
which build intensity through
repetition, emphasizing the chunky,
flexible punch of guitarist Steve
Belton's textured rhythms and biting
leads. Drawing on Belton's exem-
plary playing, The Fountainhead's
real strong point is refined sense of
space and dynamics, as found in the
threatening Simple Minds-like cin-
ema of "In Future Days," piqued by
Belton's piercing notes of slide gui-
And the modern sounding
production, enveloping O'Donnell's
trebly vocal in a spiky fog, brings a
sexy, modern atmosphere to tunes
that basically derive from old-fash-
ioned rock and soul sources - a
Bryan Ferry-meets-Chuck Berry
blend that gives the record a consis-
tently satisfying edge. But, as the
title itself might suggest, the unpre-
tentious sound of Voice of Reason
(China Records) probably lacks the
sort of distinctive attitude or mystic
attraction that could make The
Fountainhead a real presence - al-
though the potential is clearly there.
Which is decidedly not the case
with the Hothouse Flowers -
their stunning People LP (London)
put this quintet right into the spot-
light, displaying a confidence and
maturity rarely discovered in a debut
record. At first glance, in fact, the
sheer nerve with which this group
declares it's utter soulful-ness bris-
tles with such a bravado that it's
hard not to come away incredulous.

Whether or not the Hothouse
Flowers' music is really more the
product of sincere desire than of
clever design, it cannot be denied
that these upstarts crash a party of
pop giants and clearly manage to
hold their own. Their plundering of
rootsy genres comes off as the real
thing - from the countryish cow-
bell and howling harmonica of "Yes
I Was" to the rollicking roadhouse
piano of "Don't Go." And the
shocker is the way the Hothouse
Flowers invoke the exciting djh vu
of legendary moments throughout,
as in the "Walk on the Wild Side"
boop-she-wop backing vocals and
narrative of "Hallelujah Jordan." "If
You Go" feels like a moving acous-
tic reversal of Pink Floyd's
"Welcome to the Machine."
The everpresent spirit here,
though, is that of Van Morrison,
godfather of Celtic soul, whose
voice and feverish poetic visions are
eagerly (and almost credibly!) esti-
mated by O'Maonlai throughout.
But although People's lyrics wear
the group's nationality and religion
on its sleeve, the group's Irish
influences only go so far back as

"Brown Eyed Girl," and only get so
deep as '60's American pop styles
treated with Gaelic inflections.
Which brings us to the triumph
of In Tua Nua'sThe Long Acre
(Virgin), probably the most promis-
ing Irish record out of the last year's
whole batch. This seven-piece
achieves a fusion of the lyrical
beauty and elusive spirit of tradi-
tional Irish music - including its
influences on American folk and
country - and the aggressive vi-
sionary power of post-punk rock-
and-roll - a fusion that lands their
music somewhere between the her-
itage of Mellencamp's The Lone-
some Jubilee and the hereafter. It's
not quite so timeless as otherworldly
mysticism of U2's Boy but rather a
style with its feet set in the past,
present and future at once, the
Chieftains, CCR, and the Cure
coming together for a thrilling mo-
The magic is amply conjured in
the opening track, "Woman on
Fire," as a thundering, oblique bass
riff and nervous drum line overlap
with the careening wail of Aingeala
De Burca's emotionally magnetic

fiddle, giving way to an anthemic
vocal reminiscent of U2. Indeed, the
ringing harmonic guitars of "Seven
Into The Sea" uncannily recall the
atmospheric thrust of U2's "Indian
Summer Sky," etc.; but the
similarities between Bono's gang
and In Tua Nua exist more in spirit
than in sound. The power and glory
is there, as found in the giant, beau-
tiful, and heart-wrenching ballad
"Wheel of Evil."
Ultimately, though, the remark-
able charm of The Long Acre is just
the lovely sincerity of it all. Leslie
Dowdall handles the vocals with
gorgeous power and grace, wringing
all the honesty from sensitive lyrics;
even the occasional clumsiness with
words proves endearing. This is real
music being made by people with
something to say, in a real place
with a culture beyond the instant
phoniness of MTV-land, the kind of
stuff that only rarely sneaks through
of the U.S. pop industry to the pub-
lic. If this is the new Irish main-
stream, I'd love to see its currents -
rising up in the wake of U2 - make
their way over to our shores.

Continued from Page 1
keynote address of the "Black in the
Arts: Resources for Diversity" Con-
Brooks began the University L'i-
brary-sponsored presentation wth
Amiri Baraka's powerful "S.O.S.".
"Times have certainly changeL,"
Brooks said, when the audience -
mained silent. "I remember the tin s
when people would say 'Yes!'a d
'Right on, sister' when I read this
Brooks' poetic tribute to King
followed. The poem climaxed with
Brooks' proclamation, "His woaso
still burn the center of the sun..
The word was justice, it was spok ,
so it shall be spoken, so it shall
Brooks is best known for lhr
poem "We Real Cool," as sie
admitted to the audience. "Mast
young people who know my poetry
at all know only this poem. I wish
those that wrote antholog s
acknowledged that I wrote other i -
ems." She said the audience codwd
see the poem written on buses oil
over the country, "between an ad fr
Ex-Lax and a Calvert whisky ad."
Brooks addressed the theme of the
lecture when she pulled out an article
on Otis Blackwell, the Black soif-
writer responsible for "Don't Be
Cruel," "All Shook Up," "Return to
Sender," and "Great Balls of Fire"-
all made famous by white artiss.*
The next poem, from her latest col-
lection, Gottschalk and the Grande
Tarantelle, related this inequity in
strong terms:
"Early he stole the wealth of
your art... whitened your art... lv
ing old music, embodying sav-
Brooks expressed her concern for
youth several times during the 40-0,
minute lecture. Before reading "Tb
the Young Who Want to Die" - a
poem about suicide - the 71-yew-
old poet declared that the topicis
"most upsetting to someone my a,
one who knows how precious lit
is," and her emotions peaked with
the line: "You do not have to die
this day... see here what the nelks
will bring tomorrow."~
Brooks also read from thesecspgd,
part of the recently-publishpe
"Winnie" - in which Winnie Man-
dela thinks of her imprisoned hs-
band and concludes, "Ours is the fa-
vorite truth.., but truth-tellers 4r
not always palatable. There is,. a
preference for candy bars.""f " ih
"In this day Martin Luther King,
Jr., would certainly approve of that
couple - Winnie and Nelson Man-*
dela," commented Brooks.
Brooks introduced her last selec-
tion - entitled "Infirm" - with ai1
observation of the audience.bAl
"Even so young as youae,
nicely-dressed, feeling so sophisti-
cated, you still have the sense tl}t
something is not right," she note ,
but left listeners with the reassuriri
conclusion that, "You are beautifi~

Read Jim Poniewozik Every

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Michigan Daily



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January 20, 1989
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