1 The House of Love
The House of Love
Words are neglected these days in rock music. Since Bobby Dylan spilled
Blood on the Tracks there have been only a handful of truly obsessive,
confessional lyric writers who have welded words to music successfully -
Patti Smith, Elvis Costello and Morrisey immediately spring to mind. Guy
Chadbourne, singer-songwriter of The House of Love, belongs in the above
company. The group's stunning debut cements the fact that they are the best
new band in Britain. They've just signed a deal with a major label and should
be stateside soon. The group takes its name from Anais Nin's novel "The
Spy in the House of Love," and like that book their songs deal mainly with
the fragmentation of the self in love.
The eponymously titled album contains finely crafted guitar lines, some
,heady adrenalin rushes and some moments that scare you shitless with
wonder. The opening "Christine" reminds of the luscious melancholy of the
Beach Boys' Pet Sounds coupled with the instrumental swirl of The Jesus
And Mary Chain. It draws on a broken love affair and how the memory of a
lover still haunts. Most of the record dwells on fractured relationships,
fleeting liasons, self-doubt, faith and growing up. These lads mean serious
"Hope" is about the violence in a relationship; the victim cries, "Hope is
a dream and it screams in your head/ It's a lie..." The song "Road" is a boy's
yearning for freedom. It's Kerouac on hot coals, Springsteen without the
macho blue-collar mythology. "Sulphur" is wordplay to rival the great
Costello. The singer proclaims, "Metaphors cut ignorance to pieces/ Just
watch me crawl out of love." This all sounds self-indulgently depressing,
here in print, but works brilliantly on vinyl. "Man to Child" is about a
middle-aged guy reassessing his loveless life. Not a barrel of laughs!
"Salome" has the tensile strength of Zen Arcade HUsker DU, and is sung by
Jesus as he walks on water. "Love in a car" is about everything you've had
but couldn't keep, romanticism to almost match the Velvets' "Pale Blue
The remaining songs are strange tales of doubt and loss of faith. In
"Fisherman's Tale" and "Touch Me," the protagonists both seem to be
waiting for Godot to show up. The album is littered with references to Jesus,
and the predominant image is that of someone drowning in the ocean. Time
and time again, Chadbourne uses the symbol/image of the sea to describe the
emotional states of his personae. Freud would have a field day!
The lyrics kill and the music perfectly complements their mood in every
song. There's not one dud. The House of Love is as powerful a debut as
R.E.M.'s Murmur was in its day. It belongs with all those other odes to
self-destruction that you should have in your record collection.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
I'm a sick man, Lord. I'm a spiteful man. I'm not pleasant at all. There's
something wrong with my heart. I've done wrong and now I'm gonna pay
for it. That's fair enough, Lord. I've tainted these parts with my crimes, and
now I have to pay. I knew that the day of reckoning would come, and I
shoulda known that I had to prepare for you, Lord. In the car, just before
they got me, I had me that tape of Nick Cave songs. I played those songs
loud and often and I heard them deep in the empty pit of my black heart.
Those songs bear upon me, Lord. They speak of the boat I'm in. Sometimes
they speak the unspeakable.
I'm making my peace, Lord. Like in the song, "The Mercy Seat," I want
to burn in your holy cleansing fire, Lord. Those wires to my head will bring
me deliverance from this hell on earth. I want to hear that celestial cascade of
violins, and I want to fall with it to the place where there are no more
judgements. "Up Jumped The Devil" was like those kid rhymes me and baby
brother sang in the yard; its righteous rhythms made Mary Lou skip, and she
looked so fresh and young and pretty in that blue cotton dress she got Easter
time. Lord, she looked fine.
When I heard "Deanna" over and over I just thought of her. It wasn't her
fault, Lord. I was to blame. But "Deanna" rocked so fine, it reminded me of
the good times, and what we had. It was deep, what we had. We were one
soul, Lord. This Nick Cave fella, he sings of the sad and the good. He sings
of the cleansing, too. "Watching Alice" had such pretty piano playing on it
that every time we'd hear it, she'd put her head on my shoulder and close
those deep blue eyes. It felt so natural, her leaning on me like that. When he
sang "Slowly Goes The Night," I'd remember the times we lay together, and
I would awake with her asleep beside me, and the thick, sweet smell of hon-
eysuckle filling the morning air. She looked so peaceful then, Lord. The way
I never was. This Cave guy musta loved someone pure and hard to have
written a song like that.
"Sunday's Slave" made me think of those stories Grandpa told about the
old days, how things was different back then. He'd tell us about the whip-
pings and the pain and the killing, and we'd be glad we weren't born in those
hard times. But Lord, what really got me about these songs of Nick Cave
was how they spoke to me. It was like he knew me and the things that I
done, and was telling me the truth and setting me straight on the righteous
path. That song "City of Refuge" shook me into belief, Lord. Every time I
beard it, the big, thick vein in my neck would throb. You were talking to
me, Lord. This Cave boy sure sings a song heavy and full, the way Elvis
did. His voice is deep, rich and holy. The last song "New Morning": it was
written for me, Lord! Tonight it's dark and the ground is cold but I know
that at dawn you will take me from this sorry place and deliver me, Lord. I
ain't running scared no more.
The Michigan Daily - Friday, January 27, 1989 -Page 9
Czech Alice: It's
surreal as it gets
creates film wonderland
BY MARK SHAIMAN
THE film Alice is touted as a "surrealistic"
version of the Lewis Carroll classic, Alice in
Wonderland. This led me to wonder about the
original book: wasn't that a bit surreal itself?
Whether Carroll was just tripping or actually
treating Alice Liddell to a story is still debated,
but when you see Alice, you'll instead be won-
dering about the mental state of Czechoslavakian
filmmaker Jan Svankmajer.
The film is comprised of two types of
cinematography, which adds to its enjoyable
eccentricity. In addition to the usual live-action
footage, there is stop-motion animation, the kind
that brought Gumby to life. And with all the
thought that obviously went into this film, it is
clear that Svankmajer is no blockhead.
However, he has added a few odd additions of
his own to the original story. The White Rabbit
is now stuffed with sawdust, Alice shrinks and
literally becomes a (loll, and the portal to this
new Wonderland is a desk drawer. There's very
little dialogue, and all the lines are spoken by a
single voice followed by a close-up of Alice's
lips which say "said the rabbit" or "said the Mad
Hatter" for whichever character is speaking. This
is a bit disconcerting, especially because it's
originally in Czech with English dubbed in -
the lips don't even match the words. But it does
have the effect of drawing you into the fantasy
world that is being created, and that's the strength
of the film.
Since Alice speaks all of the parts, it becomes
clear that the story takes place in her imagin-
ation. But this point becomes fuzzy as the White
Rabbit opens the desk drawer by clapping while
Alice imitates the gesture to no effect. In fact,
she winds up pulling off enough desk drawer
handles to fill... um... a desk drawer. Thus, the
delineation between the real and imaginary is
blurred, causing you to think more about the
film as an intellectual medium than as a piece of
For those of you who understand Surrealism,
you may even be able to get more out of these
films than this. But if you don't and want to,
then this is as good a place to try as any, and in
conjunction with the Surrealistic print exhibit at
the Museum of Art, you can make it one hell of
And if you have no idea about Surrealism and
don't care about it, then this can still be a fun
film. You liked Alice as a child, and you can't
honestly claim to have understood it all then. So
why as an "adult" should you do things that
always have to make sense? Take a voyage into
your childhood, or finally find your way out, but
make the trip to Alice.
The Ann Arbor Film Coop presents ALICE
tonight at MLB 4 at 7 p.m., 8:40, and 10:20.
Admission is $2.50.
Montreal Orchestra, Dutoit dazzle Az
BY TONY SILBER
"The MontrealdOrchestra came,
saw, and conquered." That's how the
Boston Globe described a 1986
concert by the ensemble under the
direction of conductor Charles Du-
toit. The same thing happened Wed-
nesday night at Ann Arbor's Hill
Auditorium. The orchestra came to
town for one special show sponsored
by the University Musical Society
and captivated a packed audience of
The program began with a soft
rendition of Claude Debussy's Jeux,
a dream-like impressionist work
which stressed a rich string section
with assistance from the eager
woodwinds. The next selection called
for world-famous pianist Radu Lupu
as he and the orchestra powered
through a terrific Schumann Piano
Concerto in A minor.
Following intermission, the
orchestra took the stage for the
dazzling Variations on a Theme (En-
igma) by Edward Elgar. "It's cer-
tainly an emotional piece which
always affects me on stage," Dutoit
said later. It is a piece which mixes
the dynamic with the subtle, the
bombastic with the tense, and Dutoit
and The Montreal players did the
brilliance of Elgar's work justice.
After five ovations, Dutoit returned
for an unscheduled work by Hector
Berlioz which drew four more
Following the moving perform-
ance, I found a smiling and sweating
Charles Dutoit in his dressing room
signing autographs and telling jokes
in his thick French accent. "I'm
working just as hard now as I did
when I started out. Fame hasn't
really changed me," he said. Of his
relationship with his players, he
commented, "Oh, it's very good. We
often all go out for coffee together
and enjoy ourselves. They're a
wonderful group to work with."
However, Dutoit said he does not
see himself in the role of teacher or
mentor with respect to the orchestra.
"(I'm) neither really, I'm more of a
trainer. I help them along, that's
Dutoit also had praise for Lupu.
"He is so wonderful," he said. "I
can't be objective."
Dutoit described himself as very
emotionally attached to the music he
performs. "I'm looking for a mess-
age in the music, so in that respect,
I'm very affected by it," he said. The
effect is certainly visible. Dutoit is a
very physical and animated conductor
who does a sort of dance in his
conducting. It is as wondrous to
watch as his energetic players.
The Orchestra planned a day of
shopping in Ann Arbor yesterday be-
fore they continue their four-week
tour in Lexington, Kentucky. Dutoit
said he would like to bring his orch
estra back to Ann Arbor. Let's hope
so. A talent like theirs is a gift td
any city able to enjoy them. We did.
ARE A GREAT'
WAY TO GET
8:40 pm _;
For just $49.50 each way,
you and your friends can
afford to pile on Greyhound.
Whether it's the beach, the
slopes or your hometown,
going Greyhound won't
cramp your style.
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