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April 17, 1989 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-04-17

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Records
Continued from Page 10
bility is to style a more flexible ret-
rospective than the plain old
"Greatest Hits" studio LP, using an
updated sound and context to unify
stylistic variations in the band's
repertoire.
Somehow, though, A Show of
Hands - double-live-platter number
three from the unique Canadian trio
Rush - manages a rousing success
only on the third criterion - by
creating an engaging time capsule of
the very same new-found qualities
responsible for the record's marginal
failure on the first two counts
(spontaneity and variation).
In recreating the excitement of
Rush's original, state-of-the-art arena
shows, of course, the audio experi-
ence is severely handicapped by an
absence of the requisite visuals: fa-
natics and initiates alike are thus
urged to check out A Show of Hands
' stunning video counterpart.
Whereas U2's Rattle and Hum
movie attempted claustrophobically
to apply cinematic approaches such
as drawn-out takes and extreme
close-ups to the concert movie, di-
rector Larry Jordan has shot a 1988
Birmingham, England set from
Rush's Hold Your Fire tour in an
unpretentious and flashy MTV-style.
Avoiding its clichds, though, Jordan
brilliantly manipulates the genre's
quick pacing and swooping camera-
angles to capture all of the concert's
bristling colors, focusing attention
on the players' masterful flourishes
at just the right moments while reg-
ularly maintaining a comfortable
distance which recreates the audi-
ence's perspective.
Additionally, the film's wacky
"Rockin' Constructivists" cartoons
and the album's "Three Stooges" in-
tro to "The Big Money" spotlight
the healthy sense of humor which,
like Peter Gabriel's, helps to allay
their heavier philosophical tenden-
cies. But oddly, most of A. Show of
Hands finds Rush's spontaneous
urges straightjacketed in the pre-ar-
ranged structures of their current
style.
True to form, A Show of Hands
closes a four-album chapter in the
band's history: just as All the
World's a Stage (1977) segued from
their early Zeppelinesque crunch into
the sprawling, guitar-laden art-rock
of Exit... Stage Left (1981), A
Show of Hands summarizes Rush's
engagement in polyrhythmic new-
wave influences like Japan, Gabriel,

modular arrangement of separate in-
strumental figures in space to create
the "symphonic" 3-D effect of
Simple Minds' "Waterfront" or U2's
"Bullet the Blue Sky" - it's partic-
ularly conjured by the thundercloud
cinema of "Marathon." But Rush's
madly perfectionistic desire to ex-
actly recreate their intricate studio
sound-patterns on the concert stage
(even the voice of 'til Tuesday's
Aimee Mann glides into the live
"Time Stand Still"), compounded by
the stage's demands upon the amaz-
ing singer/bassist/synth-man Geddy
Lee, renders the group as slaves to
the rhythm - or, more accurately,
the sequencer-program: ultimately,
the players cannot alter speed or
course once the song's been
launched.
Granted, the analogue recording
here does yield a warmer sound than
the digital Hold Your Fire. But ver-
batim quotations of songs like
"Mission" make it too easy to take
the Rush's virtuoso abilities for
granted.
And so the only places where
Hands succeeds as a "live" album
per se are in the contrasts presented
only by two pre-1982 tracks -
which sound almost clumsily out-
dated next to the new songs - and
the lone new piece here called "The
Rhythm Method," an imaginative
drums-solo. The older, time-based
songs allow a certain improvisa-
tional flexibility, as in the jazzy in-
terlude fleshed out of 1977's "Closer
to the Heart." On the guitar-based
"Witch Hunt," Geddy Lee carries
over the guitar chords onto his key-
board at the song's coda - allowing
Alex Lifeson to solo brilliantly over
it.
Sure, one out of three ain't grand.
But only a live group this reliably
amazing can get away with it. And
as their big music faces the chal-
lenge of threatening times with a
wink in one eye, Rush's next turn of
the page may be their biggest yet.
- Michael Paul Fischer
fIREHOSE
fROMOHIO
SST
Sigh.
Guys, guys, guys. I went out on
a limb for you. Stuck my neck out
in front of all the hipsters who au-
tomatically hated you because Ed
wasn't D. Boon and you had videos
on MTV. "I'm sorry D.'s dead, too,"
I told them, "but, remember, it was
Mike who did the Minutemen's best
songwriting. And I know D. out-

The Michigan Daily - Monday, April 17, 1989 - Page 11
classed Ed in guitar playing and
sheer emotion, but don't try telling
me he was a better singer. Hell, I've
heard vacuum cleaners with better, '"
voices than D. Boon...."
I kept up my part of the bargain.
Your part was to make albums good
enough that I wouldn't sound ridicu- Artemage, the annual magazine
lous defending them. You let me devoted to artistic life of the
down. campus, has hit the stands. This
You teased me with the first cut, issue features an interview with
"Riddle of the Eighties."Granted, we novelist and visiting professor
could do without another fish-eye Charles Baxter, and pieces on
wide analysis of the most self-con- Eclipse Jazz, student chore-
scious decade in history, but the ography, poet and Residential
scratch-guitar intro and the invitation College faculty member Ken
to "hear me spiel and spout/ what Mikolowski, and the Black greek
the '80s mean to me" made me think system. In addition, the maga-
you were rolling the credits of that zine highlights the work of a
long-awaited grand tour of the De- number of diverse student
clining American Empire the I al- artists. Artemage costs $1 and is
ways thought you had in you. available through Wednesday in
Boy, was I wrong. Instead, I heard the Fishbowl and Art School.
a collection of lyrics more full of
themselves than invective. Mike,
your back must be powerful sore UM News in
from all that self-patting. Talking ' e Da y
about carrying on after D. Boon's
death because of "other's countin' on 764-0552
my clues"? Good Lord. And what's
this about "winkin' at my peers
(quotin' Thurston)"? I mean, gee,
Mike, do you actually know
Thurston Moore? Like, personally? H o p es
But at least you can still slap a
bass with the best of them. And, Continued from Page 10
George, your drumming is as mind- the big city for the first time.
boggling as ever, especially on those Mike Leigh's script is superbly
two solos. As for you, though, Ed economic and his direction is near
fROMOHIO - your soloing has faultless. High Hopes is a tender,
improved immeasurably, as on "In yet painfully hilarious, movie, and
My Mind," but aren't we Midwest- gives social satire a good name, once
erners stereotyped enough without again. It captures England perfectly.
you driving corncobs into our
coffins with lines about "pictures . hong Kong
that keep playin' in my mind" and and
acoustic hoedown instrumentals? I r-
feel so used.
I did my part, fellas. You're on
your own now.
-Jim Poniewozik

Although the Canadian trio Rush are known as masters of extravagant
riffs, the demands their newer style places on singer/ bassist/
keyboardist Geddy Lee limit the suprises of their new double-live LP.

and The Police - advances toward
an urgent, sleek futurism. Accord-
ingly, Peart's lyrics have meanwhile
progressed from an isolated Ayn
Rand-style individualism (2112) to a
mature world-view of the precarious
social net-work where freedom is
only held in place by threads of
individual responsibility. A far cry
from their old fantasy-rockers, the
swollen sympathy of "Subdivisions"
and strident heartbreak of 1983's

"Red Sector A" attest to a lyrical and
musical immersion in the drama of
the everyday.
Attempts to transform rock 'n'
roll into "art" (12-minute epics) have
given way to an acceptance of the
five-minute pop song as an art-form
in itself; in honing their extroardi-
nary chops to fit the melodic charms
of "Time Stand Still," Lifeson and
Lee have moved away from writing
on acoustic guitar towards a rigid,

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