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October 27, 1989 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-10-27

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, October 27, 1989 - Page 9

Funk

angelic

Lyle Lovett and his large hair

:

But does it fit in a cowboy hat?

George Clinton follows
Parliamentary procedure

BY FORREST GREEN III
"ALL around the world, I'd rather
play in a band; playin' my funky
music, loud as I can"
-George Clinton, "Bulletproof'
Sure it's vague, but very soon,
the unquestionable Doctor of Funk
will be making good on this line,
without question. Over a string of
mind-blowing and groove-checking
albums, as well as originating and
redefining the music form, funk, un-
til it becomes almost mythical, Ge-
orge and his band/movement, the
Parliament-Funkadelic have left a
blazing trail behind them. The
Mothership might land at Royal Oak
Music Theatre this Friday. But let
me explain.
Paralleling Clinton's own record-
ing hiatus of three-plus years, funk
has recently declined as a musical
form, but his definition is a tough
act to follow. The uninitiated lis-
tener might find concepts, albums
and songs like Maggot Brain, One
Nation Under a Groove, The Cin-
derella Theory or Trombipulation
to be nonsensical tripe set to a
meaty groove, but Clinton's lyrical
content has always been layered with
symbolism, psychological meaning
and a certain sub-species of mantra
thang. Lyrics like "out to lunch with
lunch meat" and "everybody's got a
little light under the sun," like stan-
dard funk, can always function as
asides, but given a little open-
minded assimilation, they hit you on
a subconcious level and leave you
sweating for more, because as Clin-
ton himself says, "Funk is its own
reward."
Following his last album in
1986, R & B Skeletons in the
Closet, Clinton took a break from
recording, as did the Funkadelic and
its mild-mannered other half, Par-
liament. It wasn't until late last year
that a certain fan, Prince, for whom
George penned the classic "Erotic
City," offered to give Clinton a spe-
cial deal: a contract on his Paisley
Park label as well as an unlimited
freedom in production that other
companies were more than unwilling

to give. The resulting package, Cin-
derella Theory, is a welcome return
of the funk that places George back
where he belongs musically, on the
tip of his own iceberg, still light
years ahead of his contemporaries
but on the right track in his own
personal race. Although songs like
"Airbound," "Tweakin," and "There I
Go Again" will not magically tele-
port Clinton to the top ten, Clinton
himself freely states that he doesn't
care about contemporary music stan-
dards. Whole droves of sub-pop per-
sonalities live off of the ideas that
Clinton has thrown to the side, like
a bone.
Clinton would proceed
to lead the band into a
sweaty bout of groov-
ing, chanting, moaning
and groaning psy-
chotropic jungle melee,
inciting the audience to a
fever pitch, and finally,
the mothership itself, a
huge custom-designed
space vessel, would
hover down over the
stage and land there, to
the awe of the bedazzled
crowd. Amid the fog and
blinking lights, Doctor
Funkenstein himself
would strut out over the
ramp, and the band
would slam into another
groove session...
As for the show you can expect,
imagine this. In the days of the
Clones of Dr. Funkenstein and
Trombipulation albums, Funkadelic
blatantly taunted all of their musical
contemporaries to out-play them,
following the record and challenge,
"Let's Take it to the Stage." Clinton
would proceed to lead the band into a
sweaty bout of grooving, chanting,
moaning and groaning psychotropic
jungle melee, inciting the audience
to a fever pitch, and finally, the
mothership itself, a huge custom-de-
signed space vessel, would hover
down over the stage and land there,

to the awe of the bedazzled crowd.
Amid the fog and blinking lights,
Doctor Funkenstein himself would
strut out over the ramp, and the band
would slam into another groove ses-
sion, chanting:
We love you, Dr. Funkenstein,
your funk is the best;
Take my body and give it a mind
to funk with the rest.
As this sort of theatrical bravado
might seem dated, George's recent
show at St. Andrews Hall proved
that the stage is still a magic show
for the funketeers. Clinton brought
along a nineteen piece band and pro-
vided an incredibly crowd-pleasing
set that spanned the band's career
from the early '70s through the pre-
sent.
Or perhaps you might have
caught Clinton's appearance on Sat-
urday Night Live about two years
ago, where he and the band exercised
their freedom of groove and grinded
through a vaguely inspired version
of "Call My Baby Pussy," followed
by "Do Fries Go With That Shake."
Although Clinton himself seemed
somewhat dazed, the band was won-
derfully tight and energetic, and
when the last bass guitar popped and
the groove ended, there was a mo-
ment of silence, perhaps even awe
from the audience at the spectacle
they'd witnessed. Considering the
sterile, predictable fare that SNL has
lapsed into, George must have been
as shocking as a flashlight for sub-
terransan cave dwellers. But alas,
these are the circumstances that the
standard music-goer can become
caught in:
(a) Why not wander over to
(anonymous bar) and check out the
subhuman fuzzbox trio of power?
(b) Nah, maybe I'll just head
over to (generic new music club) and
zone out on techno/synthoid/ pro-
gressive Eurodrone. Yeah.
(c) .Better yet, head on down to
Royal Oak Music Theatre and pre-
pare to get off your ass and jam.
GEORGE CLINTON will be per-
forming tonight at the Royal Oak
Music Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Tickets
are $18.50.

BY MARK SWARTZ
THERE'S a simple formula in popular music: the
cooler the haircut on the record cover, the greater the
lack of originality inside. So what's the deal with that
eraserhead over there? Well, Lyle Lovett's never been
too strong on formula.
Lovett grew up and still lives in Klein, Texas, a
small farming community named for his great-great
grandfather. Occasionally, a stray fiddle or lap steel gui-
tar shows up on his records, so- you'll find him in the
C&W bins of your local record emporium. But that
doesn't stop him from working with a full horn section
on Lyle Lovett and his Large Band, trading jazzy dou-
ble-entendres with Francine Reed on "What Do You
Do/ The Glory of Love," or mumbling sentences on
"'Here I Am" that either place him firmly in Beat poet
territory or else in the company of comedian Steven
Wright - depending on who you talk to.
Like Ray Charles before him, the quick-change act
from style to style means more for Lyle Lovett than
showing off. The fact is the man is enormously tal-
ented as a songwriter, arranger, and singer. He simply
can't be contained. So when he creates a lush ballad
like "Walk through the Bottomland" for 1987's Pon-
tiac, the way to go is a crushingly beautiful, tradi-
tional C&W duet with Emmylou Harris. The title track
on that album is a character piece, sung from the per-
spective of a psycho, so he strips everything away and
leaves us with disturbingly casual isolation.
Little by little, the word on Lovett is getting
around. Lou Rawls sings his "Good Intentions" and
"She's No Lady" ('The preacher asked her/ And she said
I do/ The preacher asked me/ And she said yes he does
too/ And the preacher said/ I pronounce you 99 to life/
Son, she's no lady, she's your wife") on his new
record. Stewart Copeland has been heard to say
"America needs this man." And, grab your sickbags,
Elton John's lyricist Bernie Taupin has remarked,
"Lyle's writing mixes real warmth and humility with
an earthy Americana." (Question: Should I even bother

Lyle Lovett: A country & Western balladeer with a lot
on his mind.
to refute Bernie Taupin? (a) I sure hope Taupin isn't on
a first name basis with Lyle Lovett. (b) Does someone
with "real warmth" cover "Stand By Your Man"? (c)
John Denver is "earthy"; Lyle Lovett writes lines like
"And if I could forgive/ the temporary weight gain due
to excess water retention/I could forget the rest too.")
I'm more in agreement with Leo Kottke who says
simply, "great music, great hair."
LYLE LOVETT and blues singer BONNIE RAITT ap-
pear at the Fox Theatre in Detroit Saturday night at 8
p.m. Tickets are going for $20.

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