The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, December 6, 1989 - Page 9
These Arizona sun devils become monsters for their perhaps eponymous recent album, but the beast in them
cuts loose in their live performance.
by Pete Davies
Random House hardcover/$17.95
It's a mad world after all. The
1980s have taught us that much at
least. Forty odd years after Hi-
roshima, Chernobyl showed us the
potency of nuclear power; Exxon
wreaked havoc and devastation in
Alaska; millions were afflicted by
famine in North Africa; and somone
has been adamantly chopping down
that South American Rainforest.
And that's why Pete Davies' lat-
est novel, an apocalyptical tale set in
the not-so-distant future, really hits
home. Out of the pandemonium of
the late 20th century, Davies has
created an absurdist Orwellian world
in which total destruction of the en-
vironment is imminent, violence is
endemic, and social injustice is ram-
pant and insurmountable. A world
that is not so very much unlike our
Fortunately Davies has a sense of
humor; if he didn't make us laugh
we'd have to cry. And for the most
part Dollarville is a razor-sharp
satire, laced with a biting wit.
Deftly, Davies creates a bewildering
labyrinth of people and places. He
sets out at a frenetic pace and with
mind-fuddling speed, he zaps us from
the "the split-surfaced, piss-stinking,
avenue where the cracklads lived," in
the corrupt, police-run Dollarville,
to the inner-sanctum of the corporate
world of high-finance, no morals.
A delinquent, alien rock beast, "a
cross between a cocker spaniel and a
coffee table carved of gneiss and
zinc," is sending erratic messages
down to earth portending his com-
ing. Mr Squalatush - former vil-
lage tale-teller, escaped mercenary
slave and fairground attraction -
takes it to be "The Second Coming."
Meanwhile, Grief, a self-described
"with profit Robin Hood," has got
wind of an unpublicized forecast of
The always unique sounding band
with a following as loyal as any
group of Deadheads (except with a
cooler name, Meatheads) has spewed
another grungy rock spawn onto the
world. Drummer Derrick Bostrom
once said, "A Meat Puppet is a hu-
man being," and human beings can't
k always do what everyone expects
them to. Monsters can be seen as a
wrong move. These three innovative
guys seem to teeter on the edge of
giving in to their influences of arena
rock, old ZZ Top, and such '70s
bands as Led Zeppelin, and to have
lost their sunfried perspective on
music. This effort is misplaced -
merely an aside proving not all mu-
sic influenced by this "formidable"
: era has to be atrocious like the cur-
rent crop of wanna-bes.
The album captures their live
sound at normal album speed. Fans
have become accustomed to listening
*to fairly mellow albums like Mi-
rage and Up on the Sun and then
'hearing them sped up 300% live.
'But what's unexpected, even after th,,
"fairly rapid Huevos, is an album that
grunges with Curt Kirkwood's live
technique of using a coin (either a
quarter or a peso) to add a heavier
edge and rapid pace to his guitar in-
,,stead of the lighter, jangley sounding
finger picking that he usually does
on albums. The album sounds hard-
ened only because little to no light
sprays of finger picked guitar lighten
up the harsher bass and drums. If
you want to hear an inkling of their
live speed, turn your rpm control
from 33 rpm to 45 during the guitar
solos. (Curt doesn't sing like a
chipmunk in concert, so hearing the
rest at 45 rpm would be ridiculous.)
Their weird edges remain though,
because, as Curt says, "We don't im-
itate anybody else" and "I like to
leave a lot to the imagination." They
scream their way through seemingly
nonsensical but always interesting
lyrics that require your own humor-
ous psychological interpretation. Try
to analyze this bit from "Light":
"Flaming River Burning in the sky/
Falls in silence/ Overland to dry/
Gathering Elephants/ Turning Light
to Day/ Beneath the Current." Lyrics
aside, they also forgo subtlety for
decent, hard rock that sounds loud
even with the volume down low.
The biggest problems lie in the
over-repetition of short choruses in
songs like "Light," "Meltdown," and
"In Love" which cause their endings
to drag. The Meat Puppets' one error
of inclusion is "Touchdown King,"
which sounds more like older Meat
Puppets than anything else but has
truly dumb lyrics and a loooong end-
ing that borders on self-indulgence.
Monsters cannot be described as in-
novative but will be appreciated best
after hearing them grind it live.
Martin Fry, founder and frontman
of ABC, was once a man of great
promise. He had made The Lexicon
of Love and it seemed like no other
group, except maybe The Style
Council, would better lead the New
Romantic movement of the early
'80s. Sadly, Martin Fry is now a
tragic figure. Tragic because of
ABC's latest lamentable effort, Up.
The album's eight songs (11 on
compact disc) are all good if you en-
joy that curious mix of house and
soul. InTIact, "Where is the Heaven?"
is a great song regardless of what
music you like or expect. But the
single "The Real Thing" is a nasty,
hopeless piece of clich6d pop sound-
ing like a poor advertisement for
Coke. But obvious clich6s, insulting
as they are, add injury to insult on
"Never More Than Now." Swiping
at Keats, Martin coos, "A thing of
beauty is a joy forever." To a club
beat these words seem laughable.
The entire album has as little origi-
nality as Michael Morales' cover of
The Romantics' "What I Like About
You." The occasionally interesting
song stands out very strongly, only
highlighting the album's weaker ef-
forts. And while "catchy" might de-
scribe the album's best efforts, it
also describes mononucleosis.
What Up and The Lexicon of
Love thankfully have in common
are Martin's pretentious and perfectly
inflected vocals. This alone is worth
some percentage of the album's cost.
The remaining amount is only well
spent by completists or those that
have remained faithful to ABC's
memory. Maybe it's simply that the
album lacks both feeling or dance-
able worth. Still, as much as Up
can't be recommended, Martin is
coming off a terrible illness and,
-R. S. Lee
Behind those shades lurks the mind
strange worlds not unlike our own.
acid rain and is about to offload an
of anti-pollutant synth-stuff umbrel-
las onto the unsuspecting public.
And Chester Gantry, super-exec,
phony-preacher, and man-without-
conscience, is rather disconcertedly
Dollarville is a novel born out of
the cynical '80s. It voices discon-
tent and disillusionment with the
strength of the conservative revival.
As much as Davies' first novel The
Last Election vividly prophesized
of Pete Davies, a mind that invents
urban apocalypse in England, so
Dollarville points to the potential
dangers implicit in the pervasiveness
of American social, economic, and
Yet beneath the despair Davies
can't quite conceal his belief that
there is more than a mere glimmer
of hope for humanity; he can't quite
relinquish the romantic notion that,
rid of the greed and corruption that is
an inescapable facet of the Western
world, most of us would probably be
Continued from page 7
Shanahan's blond Queck was deter-
mined yet vulnerable in her dowdy
maroon dress. Her innocence perhaps
made her too sympathetic for
Brecht's play, but it did permit the
audience that small emotional outlet.
Liz Harrell's Lieutenant Hippler was
frustratingly hypocritical behind her
mask of temperate, religious fervor.
In addition, the ten-member, unem-
ployed chorus was unmistakably
clear and understandable. Their uni-
son speech was remarkable because
one did not have to strain to catch a
single word, and the language was
still passionate. Aided by Dawn
Meyer's simple, evocative costum-
ing, the cast performed the muddled
tale with consistent aplomb.
THE BREADSHOP is playing at the
Residential College Auditorium in
East Quad Thursday through Sat-
urday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $5 and $7.
in Daily Arts
INFORMATION MEETINGS FOR:
1989-90 Study Abroad Programs
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" n.-,/f i
:"i~5 ' :4 rr.""". .
. 'ffy.} .r. / 4
Tired of Waiting for
Reserve One at NIB!
! eereamicro for three hours; .,,.i
tof uninterrupted work at the
Campus Computing Site, 400
North Ingalls Building, Room .'e
4210. (Sorry, no reservations '}'> L Y'."'
for LaserWriter Macs) r ; , r~.
8:00am- 0:00pm W. .
8.........m... ~ ..
Saturday-Sunday . .
SEVILLE, SPAIN (Academic Year)
Wednesday, December 6th
3201 Angell Hall - 7-9pm
SEVILLE, SPAIN (Summer)
Thursday, December 7th
4th Floor Commons MLB -5-6:30pm
OXFORD, ENGLAND (summer)
Thursday, December 7th
7th Floor Conference Room -Haven Hall
LONDON, ENGLAND (Summer)
Thurday, December 7th
3201 Angell Hall -7-9pm
(Spring, Summer, & Academic Year)
Monday, December 11th
Auditorium 3 - MLB -7-9pm