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September 20, 1989 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-09-20

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ARTS
Wednesday, September 20, 1383

The Michigan Daily

Page 7

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The The
Mind Bomb
Epic Records
Knock me down with a feather
but I'll be damned if Matt Johnson
doesn't look like just like Salman
Rushdie on the record sleeve. You
have to squint really hard, but with
that bald head and that "I'm intense,
creative and on the edge" look there's
an unquestionable resemblance. And
like The Satanic Verses, Mind
Bomb brims over with politics, reli-
gion and some decidedly dodgy mo-
ments on love.
The album kicks off with the
Muslim call to prayer as we hear the
first chords of "Good Morning
Beautiful." Immediately, Johnson
and his band, now including old
buddy and Smiths guitar hero,
Johnny Marr, dig into the polemical
seam already mined on the Infected
LP. But where Infected had many
a comic grotesque image to make the
political commentary palatable,
Mind Bomb is a mite literal. It's not
over-the-top enough. The sense of
the absurd is weaker here. Johnson

has always had something to say
about the world, but now he's started
taking himself too seriously. His
songwriting now covers every con-
ceivable issue of importance. The
clash between Islam and the Western
world seems just another in the pa-
rade. He's done American foreign
policy; he's done Iran, and re-done
Margaret Thatcher (from the terrific
"Heartland" to the average "The
Beaten Generation"); next thing we
know he'll be covering China and
Palestine. What's worrying is that
The The may be turning into the
MacNeil/Lehrer Report.
Don't get me wrong folks; I have
a great deal of sympathy for Matt's
ideological point of view but that
doesn't mean it maketh a groovy
platter. All too often I'm left think-
ing that he's really a closet Judeo-
Christian moralist who's pissed off
with the world for not pulling its
socks up and getting into ethical
shape. Beneath that shaven head is
an ascetic's mind desperate for order,
even though it relishes cataloguing
the chaos. "Armageddon Days (are

here again)" is really a religious
man's disillusionment with orga-
nized religion - "The world is on
its elbows and knees/ It's forgotten
the message and worships the creed."
Another intriguing aspect of
Johnson's songwriting is his attitude
to sex. I'm sure he's trying to exter-
nalize all those ambivalent feelings
he has toward Judeo-Christian sexual
morality. On songs like "Gravitate
To Me" he sounds like a cross be-
tween Jimmy Swaggart and D.H.
Lawrence. Sex seems to be a painful
business for Johnson (or his per-
sona?); the act is essentially a great
deal of poking, male power, wound-
ing of the female, and spurting of
messy fluids. Like Lawrence, the
singer wants his cock to mean the
earth.
Love and sex are problematical
on much of Mind Bomb. "Beyond
Love" is plain grim and so is the
one great song on the album,
"Kingdom Of Rain." It's a slab of
brilliant despair, Sinead O'Connor
duetting with Johnson in an under-
stated arrangement with cutting

4

lyrics. The chorus could be straight
out of "sex, lies and videotape"-
"Our bed is empty, the fire is out/
The love we shared has all burnt out/
There's no more blood and there's no
more pain in our kingdom of rain."
Sinead O'Connor is beautifully
barbed when she delivers the finest
lines on the album; "You think you
know about love/ You think you
know about life/ But when you put
your hands inside me/It doesn't even
feel as if I'm being touched."
You can rely on The The to keep
making some of the most visceral
music in Britain, but the odd surreal-
istic wink (A la Bunuel) can some-
times get the point across just as
well as all this ball breaking stuff. I
just hope Johnny Marr can add some
lightness and breathing space on fu-
ture records. We don't want Matt
Johnson's mind to explode too,
often. After all, he is a decent bloke.
-Nabeel Zuberi
Tears For Fears
"Sowing the Seeds of Love" '
Polygram Cassette Single
Quite an auspicious comeback,
indeed! Ages, it seems, after ruling'
the world chart with thelOx-platinum
landmark Songs From the Big Chair,j
Tears For Fears return with the first
brilliant (soon-to-be) No. 1 single in
this year of Milli Vanilli and "Rock
On" - a six-minute floral protest'
number which just may be the miss-
ing track from the Beatles' Sgt.
Pepper album... and it's been such a
long time coming, these guys still
managed to miss out on 1987's
Summer of Love hype by two years!
Calling this cut a Fab Four pas-
tiche would be an understatement as
big as the expectations built up by
the English duo's gaping absence:
announcing their arrival with a tor-
nado of reverse-reverb drums, and a
bounding piano hook, divebombing
choral counterpoints, backwards gui-
tar and parade brass arrangements,
Tears For Fears nearly surpass their
predecessors on this sunflower-laden
territory - and at even at two-and-a-
half minutes past their welcome,
Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith are
still gorgeously laying on the vocal
melodies and instrumental breaks.'
"Sowing the Seeds of Love" is the
very best kind of retro excursion:'
guitarist Orzabal, whose vocals
(supposing it's even him) have al-
most unrecognizably transformed
over the hiatus into an amazingly
soulful growl, deliberately uses the
paisley sound to conjure his vision

of Harold Wilson's liberal '60s as
England's true social heyday - in
contrast to Margaret Thatcher's popu-
lar Victorian idyll. "It's high time we
made a stand/ To shake up the views
of the common man/ The love train
rides from coast to coast/ DJ's the
man we love the most," sings gui-
tarist Orzabal. And in its inspiring,
unabashed idealism, this is Tears For
Fears' most political - and delight-
fully commercial - shout to date,
getting in a rip on even Paul Weller
himself ("Kick out the Style/ Bring
back the Jam"). Hey: peace and love
in a primal scream - next the LP,
and then the universe, man!
- Michael Paul Fischer
Mammoth
Mammoth
Jive/RCA
Mammoth?
The title of the debut LP from al-
leged British music veterans would
lead one to believe this is dinosaur
rock. The album cover looks like it
should be dinosaur rock (it consists
of a drawing of the bones of a wooly
mammoth and a serious definition of
what this creature was). But the mu-

MIND BOMB

the opening chords (reminiscent of
Charlie Sexton's eponymous album)
to the echoing ending, this album
would have me believe that people in
England still listen to Journey.
Classically-trained lead singer
Nicky Moore is not his own person.
In every song, especially during the
choruses, he does the best Steve
Perry imitation since Steve Perry.
The chorus of "Dark Star" is a
rewrite of the "Don't stop believin"'
chorus (Dark star rising/ Don't stop
believin'), bringing back horrible
memories of the lame music industry
early in this decade.
In fact, each tune rings of some
hit from some other band. From
Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" to the
Knack's "My Sharona," such influ-
ences make for an album without
originality. The lyrics consist of ev-
ery self-centered rock clichd ever writ-
ten: the road/i wanna go home song
("Home From the Storm") to the lost
love song ("Can't Take the Hurt").
The chorus harmonies and boring
guitar solos add nothing to a sound
that has been done many times be-
fore, in better ways, and by much

. .... ... _._... ._ _ y L _ . _ ...

sic is not in the tradition of dinosaur more onginal bands.
rock as Led Zeppelin and the Who The only chance this band has of
were labeled in the late '70s. getting airplay is the song "Bad
Instead, these wooly dudes dressed Times," which has enough "atmos"
in black leather and beer bellies de-
liver a wimpy sound comparable to
your favorite arena rock band. From See RECORDS, page 9

Wearing authentic hides of their namesakes, the band Mammoth proves that small things come in big packages.

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College Republicans
Mass Meeting 7:00 pm

Wednesday,

Sept. 20

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9/21/8
Acceptn
Appicaions.fo r r ]fA "'"., 4

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