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November 13, 1989 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-11-13

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Spacemen 3
Playing with Fire
Praise the Lord! Spacemen 3's
latest album, Playing with Fire, is
available domestically. At last
America can hear the Gospel
according to Sonic, Jason, and Willie
for less than the cost of a Christy
Lane bootleg.
Spacemen 3 fuse drug and reli-
gious imagery to a sometimes gentle,
sometimes rough, repetitive music
structure. Now more than ever
before, the Spacemen rely on soft,
drifting music, strumming their gui-
tars, sometimes accompanied with a
heavenly organ, or a violin. Guest
horns bring attention to the
Almighty in the closing "Lord Can
You Hear Me?" Because of the drug
references, it's easy to exile these
Anglos to the realm of neo-
psychedelia, but the music owes just
as much to blues and gospel as it
does to Their Satanic Majesties
Yeah, this is a very pastoral al-
bum. These guys must be in love.
Why else would they forsake the
Holy Trinity excessive Stooges/
MC5/Suicide dials-turned-to-ten gui-
tar effects fests that dominated
earlier efforts? The first track on this
concept album, "Honey," drips with
*love for the owner of said proper
name. Smeared throughout the song
is organ that could have been stolen
from some church.
Spacemen 3 continue to walk
with Jesus through the fruited plains
of their (drug-addled) brains, like
they did all over The Perfect Pre-
scription, their 1987 LP. Of course,
when Jesus isn't around, these Sun-
day school rejects are trying to score
some more drugs, or else are plan-
ning their noisy "Revolution," the
great MC5-ish rave-up calling us
kids together in order to get the gov-
ernment off of our backs. Listen up,
promoters of the five dollar Ann Ar-
bor pot law!
The Spacemen fall out of love,
feeling abandoned by their love,
screwed up on their drugs, and re-
*noved from their Lord. They
explore "Suicide," Playing with
Fire's other loud track (and an
instrumental), a maelstrom, a
continuous climax, the ecstasies of
Saints Spacemen, what "Marquee
Moon" might sound like if it was
played on guitars that could only
play one note. Once on the other side
of "Suicide," the Spacemen float
ack into calmer musical regions.
*inally, through their trials and
tribulations, the Spacemen turn to
the Lord, hoping that it isn't too late
for their salvation.
Although the Spacemen may
have their personal highs and lows,
Playing with Fire is a consistent
high. They know how it feels. Give
,,your offering at the record store and
receive vinyl salvation today!
-Greg Baise

The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 13, 1989 - Page 11
Guild features new
American dreamers''
THE magic of the American Dream no longer holds most of us in thrall.
That captivating combination of "living off the fat of the land" and the
Puritan ethic just doesn't get you that "A," that job, or even get you pub-
lished these days. So why doesn't Horatio Alger's America assure you of
success after that grueling all-nighter anymore?
According to fiction writers Anne Redmon and Don Unger, you must
define your own terms of success. There's a new personality to the litera-
ture of Redmon, who, already having published Emily Stone, Music and
Silence, and Second Sight, is grinding away at her new "large" novel.
The book, which focuses on a "Russian family staying on a Greek is-
land," differs from Second Sight because, told from the third person, it
"deals" with a multiplicity of characters, rather than fleshing out just one.
"It's like Frankenstein," said Redmon, who paralleled the creation of
character with the motley patch job of the monster. "Run a lot of elec-
tricity through it and it becomes a person." Redmon constructs her char-
acters from pieces of the people around her, and sometimes even of her-
Don Unger, too, hints at life's larger complexities which we cannot
comprehend, but character is not the channel he chooses. Unger comes
from New York, the environment reflected in his works' "urban land-
Unger is working on his master's thesis and acts as a substitute
teacher at local schools. His various jobs have given him experiences that
complement the "large repertoire of environments" provided by his travel
experience. This is no couch potato of an American.
"There's something magical about travel experiences... because they
give themselves permission to be different," says Unger.
Unger has been published in The Quarterly and The Sun, and he also
writes non-fiction that serves to communicate ideological views. "It's
better to change things with (subtleties) than with neon signs," he says.
Now, what do you do to get published? Whatever Horatio Alger
would say, Unger insists on a "belief in self" and a "balance" between
writing and trying to get published.
ANNE REDMON and DON UNGER will read from their work at 8:30
this evening at the Guild House, 802 Monroe Street.

, :

Spacemen 3 form a trinity of their own to contend with that more popularly worshipped one. On Playing With Fire,
Spacemen 3 go to church, but only to get some organ lessons from the blue-haired choirmaster.

The Primitives
RCA Records
I think Tracy Tracy dyed her hair
to avoid all the comparisons to Deb-
bie Harry. When the Primitives re-
leased Lovely, probably the most
underrated album of 1988, the press
had a field day with the Blondie
thing. Sure, they looked a lot like
Blondie - the blond singer backed
by the brunet guys - and they may
even sound a little like Blondie: irre-
sistable melodies driven by the
band's punk influence. But the
whole episode was unfair.
So now Tracy has red hair and
the Primitives are looking to set
things straight with Pure, their
second stateside release. While not
quite as outstanding as Lovely (but
who could do that well twice in a
row?), Pure is just that: pure pop
songs written with all lofty1
intentions cast aside. You're not,
going to hear any philosophical
discussions of the nature of time or
the universe here, but who really
cares? If Tracy chose to sing about
what she used to dye her hair, I'd
still be perfectly content.
For those of you who have heard
Lovely, rest assured that things
haven't changed much. "Way
Behind Me," a track from the second
printing of that album, is even
included here. The band is still
playing songs that are just so catchy
you could swear you've heard them
before. The melodies soar above the
driving rhythms and leave an
indelible impression on your mind.
Most of the songs clock in at under
three minutes, which is the way this
kind of stuff should be. If you took
early Beatles, crossed it with The
Clash and gave it a female singer
with an unearthly voice you'd have a
rough approximation of the
Sometimes the sweetness can get
a little too thick, as on "Shine,"
which is sung, interestingly, by gui-

tarist P.J. Court (who bears an un-
canny resemblance to Blondie's
Chris Stein - hmmm). But then
again, there are 11 other songs to
choose from. The key to liking the
Primitives is to leave your preten-
tions at the door. Sure, this is no
groundbreaking or important work,
and you've probably heard it all your
life, but the Primitives do it better
than just about anyone else around.
-Mike Molitor
Continued from page 9
down-to-earth artist who dresses
with trendy panache and who, until
Janeen's death, was still advising her
to let go and not worry what people
think. Yet it is Laveer who is also
unable to deal with the fact that
Panzi and Janeen had sexual rela-
tions, perhaps because she blames
herself for pushing Janeen to be in-
dependent. Michelle Wilson's Panzi
is a bitter, angry woman in a slim,
grey suit that sets off her cold facial
glances with fiery intensity. She re-
sents being ignored by the family at
the funeral and not being asked to
help with the arrangements.
It is the end of the play, a series
of flashbacks involving Janeen
which alternate between Laveer and
Panzi, that brings the story to its
climax. Each bit of information
serves to implicate one character
over the other in Janeen's suicide in
a rather bland fashion. Laveer and
Panzi's grief has made them
unaware that each is projecting their
own guilt onto the other.
Torya Beard is exceptional as
Babbs Wilkerson, a perceptive, sar-
castic journalist who is not beyond
telling her friend Thelma to "fluff up
some." But the light exterior has
given over to alcohol dependency
and a foiled suicide attempt. She still
loves her ex-husband and longs for
safety that does not rely on her being
a token Black woman in the white
male establishment. Still, Babbs
adds comic relief to the most tense

moments with Beard's quick wit and
Robin Murphy and Angela Peaks
give capable performances as Alisa
and Thelma, despite the obvious
limitations of the written characters.
Alisa is a cool-minded arbiteur
pleased with having overcome her
impoverished childhood. Thelma is
the rational mind for the group and
its spokesperson against Panzi's
sexual liaison with Janeen, or rather
the group's image of Janeen as an
impressionable, sheltered girl who
cannot act on her own. Having seen
the flashback of what is termed the
"seduction" by the other four, the
audience decides just how accurate
its view of Panzi is. Despite the bad
psychology of Panzi's final mono-
logue which works to absolve her by
blaming her homosexuality on her
abusive mother, it is her society that
really brought on Janeen's downfall.
As she reveals to Laveer, Janeen en-
visions the eyes of the posh social
club "The Trees" - which aims to
better the position of family-oriented
Blacks regardless of the emotional
cost - staring at her in disapproval.
This, coupled with the torturous
abuse her husband gives her after
walking in on her and Panzi, is the
cause of a distress that resulted in
the taking of her own life.
The uncredited set, with its abun-
dance of lifelike trees outside the
home and painted on the living room
walls, lends perfectly to the image of
the destructive "Trees" and to the
emotional forest in which the charac-
ters find themselves.
-Jay Pekala

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By Univers Designs


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