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April 24, 1990 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-04-24

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Page 8 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 24, 1990
Buffalo Tom

speaks the
language of
the guitar
Vy Kristin Palm
. . t
E wonderen zijn de wereld nog
pet uit: ruim 'n jaar geleden stuurde
het Amerikaanse rocktrio Buffalo
Tom demo-cassettes naar diverse
pltenmaatschappijen."
Thus begins one of the semi-ob-
scure articles about Amherst guitar-
based products Buffalo Tom. Don't
sbeak Dutch? Translated roughly,
this excerpt tells what the band's
fans already know: Buffalo Tom
rocks. Not convinced? Here's some
more tidbits: Their label of choice is
SST, the same folks responsible for
fMhEHOSE, Black Flag and other
power outfits, and their first and
:o' y album was co-produced by an-
otfier Amherst-area icon, Dinosaur
ft: .s J. Mascis, who kicks in on gui-
fatr for one track.
No, this is not thrash and bash
pqwer-chord music. Buffalo Tom is
acually a subdued little piece of
vinyl but, as with Mascis' own
group, the potential for a wild live
performance is undeniably obvious.
"And while Mascis and Co. had a
~chance to reach that potential last
year at one of the crazier gigs Ann
Arbor has ever seen, Buffalo Tom
have yet to prove their worth in this

Thee Hypnotics
turn the Page
by Greg Baise
HALLELUWAH! There's finally a Sub Pop band that knows Jimmy
Page's musical career prior to the Gandalfization of said guitarist's cranial
activities under the auspices of infamous child molesters Led Zeppelin.
Of course, Thee Hypnotics might ignore Pagey's dweebious
contributions to Herman's Hermits' session work, but they definitely
know their Yardbirds, Page, Beck, Clapton et al.
Just check out the live side of Live'r-Than God, and you'll hear all
that fuzztone and feedback that sent you running for the safety of the
womb back when the neighborhood garage band would do their white-boy
rip on "I'm a Man." You'll hear the obligatory song from the obligatory
Great Bluesperson, in this case "Rock Me Baby" by B.B. King, put on a
train which keeps rocking and a rolling all night long, until another
train, engineered by Iggy Pop and Ron Asheton, smashes into the
original train, thus creating some latter-day pre-heavy metal. And you'll
here some genuine L.A. blues at the end of the four-song live side.
All that's missing is the supposedly Jagger-like (as in December's
Children "Movin' On" live Jagger, backed by Wyman's fuzz bass and a
few hundred screaming fans, as in pre-Aerobicise aesthetics applied to
dancing Jagger) stage presence of James Jones, vocalist for Thee
Hypnotics. Looking at the back cover, though, you can tell what you're
in for: scowls, sunglasses, straight long hair. Some classic garage-punk
posturing. And bear in mind that Hypnotics guitarist Ray Hanson was
ripping the nickname off of some local Stooge by calling himself Ray
Action. Tonight, you'll have a chance to see Jones' antics, along with
some Action action, live, as Thee Hypnotics have left their native
England to tour America.
As for the studio side of Live'r Than God, don't worry because
they're on the same British label as Loop and just happen to have the
same producer as well. Take away Loop's Can influence (what are they
trying to prove anyway?) and you've got Thee Hypnotics' raw
Asheton/Hendrix fuzz 'n' feed that filled the ears and minds of hepper
musical consumers (like y'ri_, except older) around the time you were
being conceived.
Thee Hypnotics do the standard schtick of amalgamating all of your
fave '60s sounds, but when they say they're Live'r than God, you'd
better believe that they're also louder than love. Unlike 99 percent of
their Sub Pop (and ex-Sub Pop) stablemates, they've progressed
(regressed?) past the junior high school appeal of Zeppelin. Because of
this, Thee Hypnotics are about thee only band on said label I'd walk
across the street to piss on, but only if their equipment were on fire.
THEE hYPNOTICS play the Pig tonight with BUFFALO TOM opening.
Doors open around 9:30 and cover is $6.

0

Nothing like Buffalo predecessor Springfield, these Tom-boys make their point louder and less didactic.

area. Tonight could (and most likely
will) be their chance.
While all three band members
cite guitar as their main instrument,
Tom Maginnis and Chris Colbourn
branched out to form the rhythm sec-
tion, leaving Bill Janovitz to the
six-string duties. Maginnis and Col-
bourn have assimilated well, not to
mention loudly.
While it is impossible to listen

to Buffalo Tom and not hear the
Mascis touch, chances are not high
that he will be playing with the
group tonight. And it is doubtful
Buffalo Tom will be worse off for it.
They have a sound that is
(somewhat) all their own, mixing
lilting lyrics, spiraling guitar riffs,
elements of the psychedelic and even
the danceable with a bit of you-
know-what (it starts with g).

Not only that, but Janovitz was
once quoted as saying, "Geen bood-
schappen, no political shit; de tek-
sten zijn een aaneenschakeling van
indrukken."
Sounds good to me.
BUFFALO TOM open for THEE
IIYPNOTICS at the Blind Pig
tonight. Who will reach the loudest
decibel? That's for them to know
and you to find out.

The Buddha of Suburbia
by Hanif Kureishi
Viking $18.95
"My name is Karim Amir, and I
am an Englishman born and bred,
almost." So opens Hanif Kureishi's
first novel, a comic foray into the
nature of Englishness in the 1970s.
Like his screenplays Sammy and
Rosie get Laid and the Oscar-nomi-
nated My Beautiful Laundrette, The
Buddha of Suburbia explores issues
of race, class and gender. In the
hands of scholars and academics
these three issues may have become
a kind of reductive mantra, but in
Kureishi's work these often ab-
stracted notions have a comic con-
creteness; we're engaged primarily
with the characters and the comic si-
tuations in which they find them-

selves.
The novel traces the life of Karim
from frustrated 17-year-old suburban-
ite to TV soap opera actor in his
mid-twenties, just before the 1979
General Election. England is in a
state of chaos, decay and moral en-
tropy, just about to receive a
schoolma'am-ish smack on the bot-
tom by Margaret Thatcher and her
Tory government.
Karim lives in a lower-middle
class South London suburb with his
Indian father Haroon, English
mother Margaret and brother Allie.
Nothing changes in the suburbs, un-
til one day when his father returns
home from his lowly civil service
position to take up his yoga and
Eastern spiritualism once again. He
decides to present himself as a guru
of sorts, spouting sincere, spiritual

platitudes that carry a great deal of
philosophical weight with the '60s
casualties and suburbanites who lack
a center to their lives. These English
take to him, though his colleagues
at work resent his minor fame be-
cause he's a "Paki."
Kureishi has already written
much about England as a suburban
country, and about English values
being suburban values. Narrowmind-
edness, fear of the "Other" - a
lower-middle class snobbery festers
here; there's contempt for the work-
ing class and envy for the middle
class, prejudice against Blacks and
Asians. And the isolation and eleva-
tion of the nuclear family stifles
public or collective values. Keeping
up with the Jones's is the modus
operandi.
Kureishi exaggerates the neurotic

and materialistic aspects of this so-
cial milieu to hilarious effect. At
times we descend into a grotesque
world peopled by characters that
could have come straight out of a
Nathaniel West story. Kureishi never
sentimentalizes his characters; ever.
his narrator is presented warts and
all, and we feel the ambivalences
that the author feels as a socialist
writer of color living in England.
There's genuine affection for charac-
ters as well as revulsion toward their
excesses.
Kureishi is concerned with the
state of the nation in the years lead-
ing up to Thatcher's election vic-
tory. So many of his characters are
prone to the kind of political, social
and artistic delusions that plagued

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9

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