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October 11, 1989 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-10-11

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ARTS
Wednesday, O ctober 11,1989

The Michigan Daily

Page 5

*Unrepentant
Ellison to
s peak his mind
YOU'VE got to hand it to him - Harlan Ellison is
one of the few people who have a lot to say and say it
well. This determined writer/social critic/all-around gad-
fly has, to put it bluntly, a big mouth, which he
should be putting to good use tonight when he speaks
at Rackham Auditorium.
H-ow can his writing be described? His stint as cre-
ative consultant for the new Twilight Zone series a
couple of years ago should give you some sort of idea.
He's a master at what he does: working biting social
critique in the midst of some often bizarre, always
gripping short stories, he has a distinctive voice in the
literary world. A lot of his writing is intended to stir
up controversy. One of his best-known pieces,
"'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman" is a tale
of gleeful subversion in the face of Orwellian oppres-
sion; the pre-Roe v. Wade "Neither Your Jenny Nor
Mine" describes, in graphic detail, the harrowing pro-
cess of getting an abortion in Mexico, while his later
story "Croatoan" managed to offend both pro- and anti-
choicers with its depiction of grown-up aborted fetuses
*living like alligators in New York's sewers. Favorite
targets of his include television (he was a critic for the
L.A. Free Press), censorship (he resigned from The
Twilight Zone after CBS tried to get in the way of an
episode concerning racism which he was writing and di-
recting), the Moral Majority and the general human
phenomenon he incisively calls "arrogant stupidity."
His books are rarely entirely fiction - each typically
contains at least one essay, most often concerning the
sick state of American society.
Ellison is also an iconoclastic film critic who has
been featured in countless publications, most recently
in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Last
month, Underwood Miller published Harlan Ellison's
Watching, a collection of reviews he has written in the
past 30 years. He comes up with some uncommon
assessments, justifiably saying of David Lynch's al-
most universally condemned Dune, "... for those
whose brains have not been turned to guava jelly by
special effects and cartoon plots, Dune is an epic ad-
venture as far ahead in its cinematic genre as 2001: A
'Space Odyssey was in 1968."
Unader the title "Luke Skywalker is a Nerd and Darth
Vader Sucks Runny Eggs," he boldly trashes Star
Wars as childish drivel. Throughout his reviews, Elli-
son has no qualms about criticizing, by name, the var-
ious Hollywood money mongers who are responsible
for the dismal state of Amnerican movies. When a
movie turns out badly, he is as likely to put the blame
_on studio executives as on the director or writer. This

guy knows the business from the inside as a result of
his not always pleasant experiences as a film and TV
writer. His reviews are a lot of fun to read as they con-
stantly digress from one subject to another; as in his
stories, Ellison almost always peppers his reviews
with a heaping dose of social and cultural criticism.
As for what Harlan Ellison will talk about tonight:
who knows? He might talk about this book, or movies
in general, or flag burning, or a hit-man buddy of his,
or... Whatever the case, he will certainly mean exactly
what he says.
h~arlan Ellison will speak tonight at 8 p.m. in Rackham
Auditorium. Admission is free. The event is sponsored
by Stilyagi Air Corps, MSA, and the English Depart-
ment.

Jonathan sings!
Ricliman provokes juvenile behavior

BY NAB EEL ZUBERI

T HE Russians have a word for
it: ostranenie - making strange.
And this is what Jonathan Rich-
man has always had a gift for; the
ordinary and mundane have been
transformed into art through the
music of his Modern Lovers for
over 13 years. Richman's songs
of hot dogs, bikes and summer
vacations possess enough slip-
page to make us see our common,
everyday experience through a dif-
ferent prism.
The legendary debut album
The Modern Lovers (Beserkley)
went against the grain of punk
rock with its romanticism and
plea for common sense. Although
"Roadrunner" became a punk an-
them of sorts, songs like "I'm
Straight" and "The Modemn World"
introduced Richman to us as the
offbeat innocent we either love or
hate. This writer isn't ashamed to
admit that he sheds tears every
other time he listens to "Hos-
pital."
The Modern Lovers was a crit-
ical success, but drummer David
Robinson went on to join the
Cars and organist Jerry Harrison
left to join Talking Heads. Since
then the Modern Lovers lineup
has changed as often as the sea-
sons. However, Richman's sensi-
bility has remained essentially the
same, untainted by rock 'n' roll's
overpowering cynicism. Richman
has gradually stripped away his
sound so that his sparse poems
stand like haikus devoted to inno-
cence. The New York Times
called them "rhymes worthy of
Ogden Nash,' but Richman at his
best seems closer in spirit to the
e.e. cummings who writes about
spring, balloons and puddles. De-
ceptively simple songs like "That
Summer Feeling" have so much

Jonathan Richman's infectious smile and heartwarming sing-a-longs
aren't as innocent as they first appear. Lou Reed claims to have
created Richman but refuses to take the blame.

shared emotion and poignancy
lurking in their gaps. He acutely
understands the power of under-.
statement. And Richman does
make "wang danga dooga dang"
seem more important than "We
Are The World." Richman is
sometimes frighteningly naked
with his "childish" feelings; often
accused of being retarded and not
toilet trained yet, he actually
makes us see things in a clearer,
more necessarily oblique way.
There's happiness in remem-
brance of times past but there's
also a touching, melancholic note

to the music. It reaches those
parts which other musics cannot
reach. Whether happy or sad,
Richman is one of those yea-say-
ers to life. Up there with Danny
& the Juniors, Buddy Holly,
Frankie Lymon, pre-Velvets Lou
Reed, and Dick Dale, Richman is
supremely healthy and weird. It's
sometimes important to see like a
kid again.
JONA ThAN RICHMAN plays
tonight at 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. at
The Ark. Tickets are $12, slightly
higher at the door.

Records

Soul II Soul
Keep on Movin'
Virgin a
The title track, "Keep on
Movin',' is the single of the year by
way of its power, range, and scope.
*The beat is reminiscent of Eric B.'s
"Paid in Full" which is quickly be-
coming the blueprint for much o
pop music. "Keep on Movin"'
seems best suited for a Jeep: if your
system can't handle the bass, it just
flattens out. This is countered by a
jazzy, semi-sweet piano groove and
topped with violin undercurrents
from the Reggae Philharmonic
Orchestra - you've got something
really delicious here. Featured singer
Caron Wheeler's voice sounds like
positivity in motion. Scratch that.
*This is positivity in motion. Soul
doesn't get any better in purpose:
soothing, invigorating, pleasing on
all levels. "Keep on Movin'" is a
fascinating lesson in fusion - as far
as contemporary Black music, it hits
on all points. It also serves as a
blueprint for this innovative album.
"Back to Life," also with Caron

Wheeler, is featured a capella on the
album. The surprise comes when
you hear the remix in airplay with
another big beat and violins. Jazzie
B., the man behind Soul II Soul,
succeeds in creating some legitimate
excitement in the 12" department.
The club version that rocks from De-
toit to the N ectarine to London is
"akto Lf"segues into "azzie'
Groove," a brass-coated piece of
dance groove explainiga teconcept
"a happy face, a thunpin' bass, for a
Groove" is somewhat lacking iel-
evance, that's its hidden strength.
It's as easily accessible as any rap or
house remix.
"Feelin' Free"' is a live rap with
plenty of go-go flavor, while
"Fairplay" is nose-flaring, foot-
stomping, hip-swinging funk. Amid
all the soul searching by singer Ross
Windruss, one line stands out: "Soul
II Soul is a place you need to be/
'cause it's all about expression."
Keep on Movin' showcases all orig-

inal forms of Black music, from the
contemporary dance stuff to the
jazzy, fusionistic pseudo-groove of
"African Dance." "Holdin' 'On
(Bambelela)" is especially clever: it
features Zulu chants of a passionate
intensity over a particularly sterile
techno-hou se groove. The resulting
tension is exquisite.
Soul II Soul is not a band, Jazzie
says. It is a concept, consisting of
DJs, MCs, singers and musicians.
An interesting factor is the double
sided-ness of the record. The musical
range is wonderfully intricate, but
the titles and lyrics retain that classic
R & B sensibility of positivity
through simplicity: "I Feel Good."
What more is there to say? Soul II
Soul is sort of a double statement -
the first about Soul, the second that
Soul moves you. Should you hear
Soul II Soul on the dance floor or
down the hall, it'll find a place
within you. If not, check it out be-
fore it passes you by.
-Forrest Green III

Bonham
Th Diregard of Tmekeep-
ing
CBS Records
The Book of Matthew tells us of
the coming of a son, the Son of God
- the answer to our prayers, the one
to deliver us from evil, the one who
will die for our sins. In this modemn
age, we are also told of the coming
of a son, one whose father came
closest to God with his impeccable
drumming in rock's greatest group,
Led Zeppelin. In biblical fashion (if
not in biblical proportion), John
Bonham has left us his son, Jason.
It is impossible not to compare
the two drummers. Bonzo was
known for his hard-hitting style, his
brilliant simplicity, and his instinc-
tive feel for rhythm. Jason hits the
drums with deadly accuracy and
power, and has proven himself a pro-
fessional in a most important arena:
Led Zeppelin's. Jason played with
Zeppelin in their Live Aid Reunion;
eyes shut, he easily could have been'
Bonzo. But now Jason has his own
band and a new record. The compari-
son to Zeppelin ends there.
The album opens with the title
song, a wailing instrumental --
seemingly a lackluster tribute to
"Kashmir." The majority of the
songs on the album are filled with
fast-paced, tight semi-metal riffs and
a strong, pulsing drumbeat hi la Bon-
ham II. "Just Another Day" shows

off Ian Hatton's combination rhythm
and lead ability on guitar, while
"Don't Walk Away" vaguely echoes
Zeppelin's effective stop-and-go
style complete with Bonham's hard-
hitting, stacatto beats between mea-
sures. But the cheesy background
vocals in this song only serve to kill
any enjoyment one would derive
from comparison. "Dreams" is one
of the few slow tracks on the album,
complete with sappy keyboards,
sappy viola, and sappy lyrics. Daniel
MacMaster sings with such emotion
that one could almost overlook his
juvenile lyrical content, but with a
chorus like "Keep it up/ I'm so
high/ Reach for the sky/ Never give
up," any self-respecting teeny-bopper
would have to retch violently. His
voice is almost too clear; yes, you
have to miss the bold raspiness and

demonic screams of Robert Plant.
Finally, wading through the tor-
turous, "inspired" pleading of
"Room For Us All," you realize that
what this bands needs is some good,
down-home riffs matched with some
semi-human lyrics having to do with
anything but their immature yearn-
ings for their overly-commercial ver-
sion of adolescent love. What this
band needs is the guts to back their
music with a style of their own, to
break away from the commercial
choruses that we will assuredly hear
on schoolbuses across the country.
Let's face it, what Jason needs is a
Jimmy Page, a Robert Plant, and a
John Paul Jones. Jason, answer our
prayers. Deliver us from evil. Honor
thy father who art in heaven, and
spurn Satan - Casey Kasem.
-Wendy Raber

Aud *sadOpotnte
-Extras are needed for the University School of Music's upcoming produc-
tion of La Boheme. Street performers, caf6 crowds and 1800s loiterers are
needed If interested, call Alex Farmno at 747-8083. Interviews will be sched-
-Basement Arts and Playwriting 227 and 427 are looking for ten-minute/ten-
page one act play scripts to perform at their upcoming Second Annual
Sht Night. Anyone is welcome to submit a script. Scripts must have the
authors bne laddress and phone number on the cover, and can be left in Ani
-Basement Arts is holding auditions for three one-act plays from Orchards
toda iand tomorrow in the Frieze Building. Sign up in room 1501 for an
Auditions and Opportunities runs Wednesdays in the Daily Arts page. If-
you have items for the column, call 763-0379.

"Doesn't
every
Pre-med
deserve
a choice?"
Tom Garcia, M.D. (UAG '75)

Half Off I

After

100

Copies
After your first 100 copies of a single sheet original.
the rest are Half Price!

"The right choice was there when I
needed it. I made that choice, and now I'm
a physician. My alma mater may be just

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