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January 11, 1990 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-01-11

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Page 8 -- The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 11, 1990

The Psychedelic Furs
Book Of Days
Columbia Records
Have the Psychedelic Furs been
drinking a lot lately? In their early
days, as singer Richard Butler once
admitted, the Furs would get tanked
up before going into the studio to
(literally) pound out some tunes.
And if one listens to early records
like Talk Talk Talk, it's pretty ob-
vious that that was the case. Com-
mercialism (hence, sensibility and,
perhaps, sobriety) ensued, giving the
Furs their long line of hit singles.
But forget all that. Book Of Days has
the Furs slamming away again.
To call Book Of Days a return to
yesteryear would be misleading. The
new, (more) mature Furs take a
somber view of the world, as op-
posed to their former anger. The two
upbeat songs on the record are the
only ones that sound as if Butler ac-
tually has any desire to go on living.
Song to song, the theme never
changes much, from "this road is
poison" in "Book of Days" to
"burned down days like cigarettes" in
"Torch." In both fast and slow
songs, Butler's affect doesn't change
much, although his voice itself is in
fine shape. In fact, he's never
Producer Dave Allen (The Cure)
has provided the perfect background
for this misery. The mix is good and
murky, with Jay Ashton's guitar
wailing away well below the promi-
nent vocals. The band has dropped
almost all the keyboards and has
brought back the sax and even the
cello. Sometimes, though, they fall
into a rut. Several of the songs turn
into tuneless romps through feed-
back land with Butler's voice provid-
ing the only glue to hold the song
together. However, the highlights on
this record do shine.
The exquisite "Torch," a gui-
tar/cello ballad, finds Butler's voice
in fine form and is perhaps the most
heartfelt song the Furs have ever
done. Although the song frequently
goes out of tune, this only adds to
its overall effect. And both "House"
and "Shine" rival any of the material
the Furs have ever done.
All in all, one has to respect the
Furs for their integrity. Just a few
years ago, when Musician dubbed
them "hipper than the Cure and hot-
ter than INXS," it seemed that the
band was destined for multi-platinum
success. But instead of selling out

and taking the easy money path,
which they easily could have done,
they turned in an honest record. Un-
fortunately, Book Of Days ended up
too uneven and rough. But then
again, the Furs have been at their
best when they've been drunk.
-Mike Molitor
Please Don't Break My
Heart Again (12")
Alias Records
The Sneetches are the music
world's unholiest holy, try to figure
it out and you'll go insane as well.
They are the music world's deadly
Achilles heel, and unquestionably,
pop music's most lethally taboo
skeleton in the closet. They are
beautiful but deadly. This five-man
"pop" band is the reckoning of Eu-
robeat hedonists, rap militants and
alternative fanatics alike, for starters
because they lack the precious pre-
tentiousness, panache or pessimism
of all the aforementioned genres; all
that remains is pop perfidy, and
that's no joke.
Why are the Sneetches so danger-
ous? For one thing, they are the em-
bodiment of the worst nightmares of
the baby boomer generation, and
they personify your most acidic
post-regurgitation of Nancy Drew
references and out-cornball the most
hated bands of the Eighties: New
Kids on the Block, Expos6, Milli
Vanilli, and even Richard Marx.
Imagine that, a whole generation
that believes wholeheartedly in these
pedophiles as their sole salvation,
clinging vainly to their demented
cuteness, only to see the real thing
saunter along.
The Sneetches are named after a
Doctor Seuss tale, of creatures who
distinguished among themselves ac-
cording to stars on their bellies or
(god forbid) no stars. Their music, at
worst, evokes the same visual con-
notations of a long lost Benny Hill
segment, only without the endless
sexual innuendos, of course. The
Sneetches are thrice removed from
the Bangles, Danny Wilson, and
Elvis Costello. The difference is that
while Elvis and Gary Grimes know
how to pervert, modify and exploit
this candy sweetness to the approval
of a mass audience, it becomes
largely apparent as you listen on that
the Sneetches just don't get the joke.
Playing with a conservatism of
melody and instrumentation as well


The Sneetches have stars on thars, but they're not telling anybody, mostly because they were teased
mercilessly for it in the third grade. They channeled all of the hostility arising from this trauma into forming
a band that exemplifies demented cuteness.

as a classic rockabilly/pop swing,
the Sneetches don't make use of a
drum machine or sequencer, and they
never will. They'll most likely stick
to the classic rock formula instead.
Lead singer Mike Levy could be
Andy Partridge if he wasn't so wet
behind the ears. He would be Andy
Gibb if his socks weren't so loose.
But fortunately, Mike's cursed to
redo the third grade again and again,
for all eternity. And he's so clean
cut, he just might have been Mikey.
On song one, the Sneetches lay
down a square danceable blang-blang
jangle section with indolent aban-
don, confident of their staying
power. The only drawback is that if
you question the Sneetches' unques-
tionably Caucasian rhythm section
of Daniel Swan on drums and Alec
Palao on bass, much less the prereq-
uisite Pandora's Box guitar spectrum
of Matt Carges and Mikey, you'll
fall into the abyss, and that means
you'll never play this record again.
In this bizarre age when groups
hailed as "postmodern" win raves by

copping generations-old psychedelia
and beat philosophy, the Sneetches
rule. Quite possibly, years from now
when Seventies' disco sloth might
be regurgitated into popularity, the
Sneetches will still reign, like the
wind, the rain and the Earth. They're
headed nowhere, and so they remain
light years ahead and behind us, si-
-Forrest Green II
The Rustavi Choir
Georgian Voices
Warner Brothers
Encased in that land mass where
Europe mysteriously becomes Asia,
where the West and East meet,
trapped by the Caucasian mountains
in remote, snowbound villages be-
tween the Caspian and Black Seas,
the Georgian people and their music
have remained remarkably free of
Western influence over the past 600
years. And, until fairly recently, the
West has remained remarkably disin-

Encouraged, in part at least, by
the resoundingly enthusiastic re-
sponse of the West to Bulgarian folk
music over the past decade, the Rus-
tavi Choir of Soviet Georgia has just
recorded its first collection of choral
music for release in the U.S. The
recording is to be followed by an
extensive tour of the States and
Canada early this year.
An eclectic compilation of differ-
ing styles and genres distinctive of
various regions in Georgia, Geor-
gian Voices presents the unaccus-
tomed ear with a curiously confused
sound - a sound vaguely reminis-
cent of early church music that is at
the same time unexpectedly punctu-
ated by distinctive, intoned, solo
chants and exclamations. Character-
ized by interweaving and disarmingly
independent melodic lines, the pieces
reach the heart of rural Georgia. Rep-
resented are laments and marches,
plowing songs and riding songs,
healing songs and table songs.
Georgian folk music has, by cus-

tom, been split between male and,
female genres. The Rustavi choir is
an all male ensemble of ten voices.
Principally sung a cappella, the
songs are infrequently and sparingly
accompanied by exotic, stringed in-
The most renowned choral group
performing traditional Georgian folk
music in Georgia today, the choir is
celebrated for the way it has refined,
crude and untamed rural melodies for
concert presentation. But herein lies
the quandary. Whoever said that folk
music needs such refinement, or so,
much sophistication? The harmonies
may -be more brilliant, the music
more structured but with the polish
we lose some of the vitality of the
people which must lie at the core of
any folk tradition.
Nonetheless, this new recording
presents us with a striking and.
unusual collection ofnunconven=,
tional, yet soothing, sounds. Sounds
which in the words of Igor Stravin-
See RECORDS, page 9



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