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December 11, 1989 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-12-11

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44

Page 12-The Michigan Daily-Monday, December 11, 1989

Chet Baker
Let's Get Lost: The Best of Chet
Baker Sings
Pacific Jazz
Guys, this record brings out the woman
in you; or rather, it will make the two
halves of your androgynous self sigh for
each other; but then again, it may just
arouse the primal need to suckle at your
mother's breast. At the very least, this record
will get under your skin and dissolve your
gender.
Let's Get Lost is not the soundtrack to
Bruce Weber's fetishizing documentary but a
compilation of vocal recordings from the
1950s. Chet wraps his larynx around some
of the finest American standards by the likes
of the Gershwins, Rodgers and Hart, Cahn
and Styne. Chet purifies these songs to ex-
tract their cold, sad essences. "It's like being
sweet talked by the void," noted critic Jim
Hoberman.
Chet's voice is empty. He sounds as if

he's lost all hope, all purpose in life. Chet's
persona is supine and passive in the face of
cruel fate. The razor to the wrist isn't an op-
tion; all he does is slowly drown in honey,
and it's completely beguiling. Every obses-
sive, pathetic, and twisted love affair is
dwelled upon. "They're writing songs of
love/ But not for me./ More clouds of grey/
Than any Russian play could guarantee,"
coos Chet on the album's pice de ta resis-
tance "But Not For Me." He's a Romantic,
reciting his confessions with the angst of
Goethe's Werther. On the first side of the
record, Chet sings slow, brooding ballads to
his lover. His androgynous, innocent voice
seems to beg the central question, "Why
must I be a teenager in love?"
Ornette Coleman once remarked of Chet,
"Have you ever heard someone who couldn't
sing, but did something to you emotion-
ally." His voice sounds like the soft breaths
of his trumpet playing. And though he
doesn't have the technique of Sinatra singing

"My Funny Valentine," his version is more
affecting and eerie. Even when he sings
"optimistic" songs like "Look For The Sil-
ver Lining" and "Daybreak" (inspired by Ni-
etzsche's book?), there's still an overwhelm-
ing sense of despair.
The aptly titled Let's Get Lost is a suit-
able placebo for solitude and romantic deriva-
tion. Angst and the bending of genre and
gender have rarely been so captivating.
--Nabeel Zuberi
Rush
Presto
Atlantic
"Don't ask me/ I'm just improvising,"
pleads front-man Geddy Lee on the title track
of Presto, the Canadian super-trio Rush's
16th and newest album.
It's hardly a sufficient excuse, though, for
the artistic indecision behind the group's
least impressive record of the closing decade.
At a point where these celebrated rockers

should have come up with a bold new stroke
- having closed the third chapter in their
stylistic evolution with last year's live A
Show of Hands album and video, and now
debuting on a new record label after 15 years
with Polygram - Presto instead wavers
miserably between an ill-advised return to
the now-outdated hard-rock riffs of 1980's
Moving Pictures, and a continuation of the
urgently modern direction charted on recent
albums by bassist/synth-man Lee's fluid
melodic instincts.
Presto 's clever title (as well as the al-
bum's amusing cover art) seems at first
somewhat promising - suggesting a revival
of the live spontaneity which had begun to
suffocate onstage lately within the pre-pro-
grammed constraints of Lee's burgeoning
keyboard sequences. Those cinematic figures
had built the framework of an expansive, fu-
turistic minimalism which set off 1986's
Power Windows and 1987's Hold
See RECORDS, page 13

Not the soundtrack to the film, Let's Get
Lostfocuses on the intriguing voice of the
trumpeter Chet Baker.

ROSES
Continued from page 10
The ability of Douglas and
Turner to keep an audience glued to a
story is mind-boggling. Barbara, at
the end of her rope, asks Oliver for a
divorce. Dumbfounded, he demands,.
"You owe me a reason that makes
sense." Her eyes narrowed, her voice
low and hateful, she replies, "When I
look at you, I want to smash your

face in." He taunts her in masculine
fashion and she responds with a right
cross that sends him to the floor.
The film becomes uncomfortably
bitter as it progresses. The harsh na-
ture of the humor is almost not
funny, yet the audience continues to
laugh at such a tragic relationship.
In divorce proceedings, the Roses
cannot compromise on who receives
their palatial mansion, so through a
clause in the law, he moves back in,

and they draw lines of his side and
her side. Predictably, a total war
breaks out. He runs over her cat so
she locks him in the sauna. He ruins
her dinner party so she destroys his
car.
Although in the end the film be-
comes silly, it is no less powerful.
The War of the Roses is a angry
film, slapping the face of a divorce
culture. Throughout the film, lawyer
DeVito tells his story of the Roses

to a prospective client and when he
reaches the end, he offers the man a
chance to go home and reconcile his
differences with his wife. After hear-
ing this horror story, the client's out
the door. The film is also a criticism
of marriage itself, depicting it not as
an institution of love and happiness
but of competition and scorn.
Amazingly enough, it all works.
Comedy, social criticism, drama, in-
novative story telling, incredibly

well-honed acting, and DeVito's di-
rection make this film one of the
most creative motion pictures in re-
cent years. The War of the Roses is
a blunt film, a tragic comedy more
than anything else. It's not afraid to
be disgusting and appalling. Plain
and simple, it's honest, true to life,
and after this performance, the new
Hepburn and Tracy have a long mar-
riage in film ahead of them.

THE WAR OF THE ROSES is play-
ing at Briarwood Mall and Show-
case Cinemas.

I

d " bi
4
ti
- ' S
'

REVIEWS
Continued from page 10
sion of meaning-loaded oohs and
aahs. A Marie Antoinette mask with
a gargantuan hairstyle primped itself
as various possibly dangerous li-
aisons were initiated. In the comic
but poignant "Body Parts with Sto-
ries," students and masks spoke
about their anatomical hangups:
"I've got this terrible throat," said
someone; another woman bemoaned
her breast size; and another dwelt on
the angst caused by a double chin.
Drawing on the tradition of camp,
"Mermaid and Coral Reef Singers"
incorporated the touching "Mer-
maid's Song," which sounded like a
meeting between the Andrews'Sis-
ters and Esther Williams.
Economical in gesture, move-
ment and word, Haunted Houses
worked as a smart, funny, and fitting
expression for the gorgeous masks
on show, and it showed that the any
cient art/craft of mask making still
has an aesthetic relevance.
-Nabeel Zuberi
Express yourself
in Daily Arts
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