Wednesday, February 22, 1989
The Michigan Daily
The Mighty Quinn:
not see nothing like this film
BY TRICIA ROBINSON
Yeah, mahn. This is what drama is all about, mahn.
Some action,va bit of comedy, a touch of mystery and
all the way live reggae music.
The Mighty Quinn opens with Rita Marley (Bob
Marley's wife) belting out a reggae tune, which helps
to set the tone of the entire movie. The setting is trop-
ical. No one needs to say it's Jamaica because it looks,
feels and sounds like Jamaica. The film moves slowly,
but like an island cruise, it's too enjoyable an experi-
ence to complain about the pace.
The title role of Xavier Quinn is played by Denzel
,Washington (Carbon Copy, A Soldier's Story). This is
-his first role as leading man, and deservedly so, because
he carries this movie. Quinn is a police chief destined
to solve a murder mystery, in which his childhood
friend Maubee is the chief suspect. But the plot is only
incidental because this movie is really about Quinn. It
is about Quinn's relationship with his friend, his wife,
his family and his community. It is about Quinn
defining who he is.
Through Washington, we get to know and like
Quinn; we see that he is a multi-dimensional human
.being. A real treat is seeing Washington playing the
piano and singing the blues in a memorable nightclub
scene. Through this song, we see that Quinn is work-
ing through his problems. As he sits at the piano, he
finds some release. He realizes that he can be chief of
police and still get down to sing the blues. The people
in the club join in, seeming to say: it's okay, we un-
derstand, and we respect what you are. Not a word is
spoken. All of this is done through song and
Washington's tremendous acting. After this scene, it is
impossible not to like the man.
Sheryl Lee Ralph plays Quinn's wife, Lola, an as-
piring singer. Even though she only has the part of
love interest, Ralph makes us see how important that
role is in Quinn's life. And this lady can sing; she per-
forms an upbeat reggae rendition of Bob Dylan's "The
Mighty Quinn." Her talent is not surprising, since
Ralph was in the Broadway production of Dreamgirls.
Or maybe you know her from the TV sitcom, It's A
The reggae music in this film is exceptionally
good. There is not enough to consider Quinn a musi-
cal, but you get a sense that reggae is a way of life.
The Melody Makers (minus Ziggy) add authentic Ja-
maican richness as Lola's backup singers. The sound
track encompasses old and new reggae from Bob Mar-
ley to UB40.
Robert Townsend (Hollywood Shuffle) breezes
through this film as Maubee. Maubee is sort of a liv-
ing folk hero, the mischievous boy/man that everyone
loves. Although Townsend is not believable as a living
legend, he contributes a genuine recklessness that is
The casting of Washington and Ralph is superb,
because they are not only sexy, but extremely talented
actors. Washington's acting ability commands our un-
derstanding and holds our attention, so the director does
not need to repeatedly shove close-ups of Quinn in our
faces. When you can see his scalp and the razor bumps
under his neck, it's time to pull the camera out.
Quinn's plot is tired, but it is just like any other
cop/murder mystery movie in that respect. The unique-
ness and absolute strength of this movie is Washington
as Quinn. With the possible exception of Rodney
Dangerfield, no one walks around joking 24 hours a
day, so don't expect non-stop comedy. You will be
disappointed if you can't live without continuous gun-
fire action. But if you enjoy watching a true picture of
life that incorporates comedy, action, mystery, music
and romance, then this film is for you.
THE MIGHTY QUINN is now showing at Fox Vil-
lage and Showcase Cinemas.
BY "BLUES" BUTTERBY
W HEN Joe Ely (Ee-lee) played Ann Arbor a year
ago, kiosks across campus hailed his music as "shit-
kicking Texas rock and roll." Sources at the Blind Pig
say Ely and his band "stunned" the audience in their
last engagement. Well, Ely returns to the Blind Pig
tonight and he means to please again. "It's fun to get
out there naked (nekkid)," says Ely, adding quickly,
"without a band behind you."
You see, this time he isn't bringing the band -
just long time friend and fellow guitarist Butch Han-
cock. Ely, who has opened for the Stones, Tom Petty,
and the Clash, says he likes to play apart from his band
for a few shows each year. These acoustic shows, he
explains, give people a chance to hear his songs the
way they were written. "It feels like (the lyrics) were
recently written down, with a ballpoint on the back of
a napkin," he says. "It's got that rough edge."
Joe Ely grew up in Lubbock and began playing in
rock and country bands during junior high. Hancock
and Ely played together on an album in 1972, calling
their all-acoustic band the Flatlanders. Inspired by Jack
Kerouac's novel On the Road, Ely had been a drifter
before the Flatlanders - having visited London, New
York, and California, guitar slung across his back -
and resumed his travels after the group's album fizzled.
Following a stint with Ringling Bros./Barnum and
Bailey Circus as the custodian of two llamas and the
world's smallest horse ("a mean little bastard about
knee high; every day I had fresh bites on my knee," he
recalls), he settled in Austin.
Since the mid-'70s, Ely has released seven albums.
Last year's Lord of the Highway created legions of new
converts to Ely's camp, and he's quickly followed it up
with Dig All Night. His hard-driving music hasn't en-
joyed much commercial success in the Midwest, per-
haps because of the music's country roots, but Ann
Arbor audiences won"t be tossing bottles at chicken
wire while Ely pounds out "Rawhide" all night long.
It's rock, Texas-style, not country.
Some of his recorded songs are reminiscent of live
Tom Petty, only more coarse. And he sings with the
leery, angry delivery of T-Bone Burnett. Comparisons
aside, Ely and his band put on a powerful show. Asked
if a solo show will mean a more laid-back style, Ely
responds, "No, I try not to pare down the energy."
That's no small task, considering the sweaty,
relentless, and loud performances he gives with his
band. But there can be little doubt he knows his way
around the guitar - not "just" country guitar.
Ely feels that playing alone puts more emphasis on
lyrics, most of which he writes himself. They're better
than might be expected from the fiery brand of rock he
plays. Hancock, who will also play a couple of sets,
writes some of Ely's songs. "Plain and simple," says
Texan Joe Ely returns
tonight without his band.
Ely, "he's the best songwriter in America."
Clearly the "Lord of the Highway" isn't prone to
understatement, and he's not bent on soothing his lis-
teners with mellow acoustic guitar. When Ely rides
into town Wednesday in his '57 Chevy, he'll be pack-
ing a different guitar than last time, and his Texan band
won't be behind him. But if you've never seen an
acoustic guitar smoke, this may be your chance.
JOE ELY will appear at the Blind Pig tonight at 10
p.m. Tickets are available at all TicketMaster loca-
p p p p
Pass You By
When I was young, my mother
told me never to judge a book by its
Lover. In a fit of irresponsibility, I
ignored that sage advice and chose
"this record to review.
The cover of this E.P. looks in-
tense. On the front we have a wasted-
looking fellow resting his head
against a wall. On the back we have
the band in all their glory, going at
rwhat looks to be the show-to-end-all-
shows. This looked good to me.
So I listened to the thing. My
mother was right. Although some
cuts aren't total crap, the album as a
whole is dazzling in its lack of
originality. The songs consist
mainly of inane lyrics over a few
over-worked punk/heavy metal
chords. "I reached out my hands/ In a
grasp that turns to dust/ And watched
the snakes crawl as they may" from
the poetically-named "Poison in My
Sweat," is one of the more notewor-
thy examples. If the band took
p advantage of the stupidity of what
they're saying, they might be able to
have a little fun with it, d la the
Butthole Surfers. But they don't, and
the result is a ridiculous assortment
of psycho-poetic garbage.
And as if the lyrics themselves
weren't bad enough, the band makes
it worse with their two-person deliv-
ery of them. This isn't an inherently
bad idea, as the work of the venerable
Lennon/McCartney duo attests to,
but these guys don't pull it off. The
combination of the two voices,
which doesn't even approach har-
mony, makes Apology even more
unlistenable. Ironically, the only
song they don't sing together, "Pass
You By," is the best song on the
The Bambi Slam
The Bambi Slam
That name tells much about this
record.nBambi Slam. These boys
have a hard enough sound. There's
not enough whining to call it metal,
nor enough writhing to call it hard-
core, so I'll just tell you it's slam-
min'. But on the cover there's a big,
pink peace sign. This group leaves
behind the typical content of hard
rock lyrics ranging from gangrene to
decapitation and carries on about
peace, freedom and the pursuit of
So there's almost a self-
contradictory content .here. The first
few songs are relentless, lending
themselves to a certain mentality,
for sure. But as the mayhem contin-
ues, the music abandons its hardness
for softer things, namely "The Aw-
ful Flute Song." There's a sense of
humor here, and a philosophy as
well. Rest assured, if they tell you
it's awful, you can believe it.
Believe me, this record is raw in
every way. Underproduced, musically
inept, and half-thought out. It's too
incomplete, too banal, and too naked
to achieve any purpose. On the lyric
sheet, the first two to three lines to
each song are scrawled out, but it
doesn't make any difference. Bambi
Slam. Intellectual idiot-savants or a
sick joke? You decide.
-Forrest Green III
MINORITY UNDER GRADS
PAID SUMMER INTERNSHIPS
Health Care Management
Call Dr. Lichtenstein,
University of Michigan
School of Public Health
---Wednesday, March 8
Basement Arts Production of
Catastrophe by Samuel Beckett. 1
woman and 2 men are needed. Audi-
tions will be held from 4-6 p.m. in
Rm 2518 in the Frieze Bldg.
...Sunday, March 12 and Mon-
'day, March 13
Open auditions for The Three-
penny Opera, by Bertolt Brecht and
Kurt Weill, will be held in East
Quad, Rm A-03 (Basement Anderson
House), Sunday at 2 p.m. and Mon-
day at 7:30 p.m. A prepared mono-
logue is optional but encouraged.
-or further info. call: 995-0532.
Auditions and Opportunities runs
Wednesdays in the Michigan Daily
"Arts section. If you have items for
BREADS CAKES . PIES PASTRIES
The Best Kept Secret On
State Street Is Now
Basil's features Danish,
Breads, Pastries, and
$99 ANYWHERE IN THE USA ON
NORTHWEST AIRLINESI Bring your
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Travel, 665-6122, ask for Ann, Dawn,nor
CANCUN SPRING BREAK. 2 roundtri
tickets Detroit-Cancun, Feb. 26-Mar. 5. 7
nights in 4-star Cancun Oasis. $659/person
regularly $879. Call 663-1338 after 5.
MARCO ISLAND, FLA. SPRING BREAK.
Waterfront, miles of white, sandy beach adja-
cent to famous Snook Inn, longest happy
hour on the island. Parasailgn-speed boats-
discos. Sleeps 4, $595 weekly, (212)472-
Rd. Trip Ticket Feb. 26- Mar. 5
$200 or Best Offer
Call Karen 995-3788.
ORIENT SUPERFARES SAVE 309+
Bangkok fr. $859, Beiji, fr.$1149, Hong
Kong fr. $759, Seoulfr 729 Shanghai fr.
$1099 Taipei fr. $751 Tokyo fr. $782. RE-
GENdY TRAVEL, 2139 5. State. Call 665-
6122, ask for Joanne.
PLANE TICKET: 1 way Detroit-Newark on
Feb. 25 AM. $110. Must sell! Price neg. Call
SOUTH PADRIL beach front condo-SPRING
BREAK. Bar, tennis, 1-800-527-7324 or
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