The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 24, 1990 -- Pagew9
reaction. The bigger the beat, the
more frantic the dance. What grunge
usually does not mean is sampling
The Last Poets. Or covering
Funkadelic. Not if you consider a
guitar band that utilizes the power of
funk without exploiting it.
Lead singer and frontman for Big
Chief Barry Henssler is not the loud-
est guy - just turn the record up,
he'd tell you. On the last release, he
was funking it up - or attempting
to scat, at least. Now he's gargling
his own bile as the rest of the band
does a death-and-destruction rompus.
Although the first release was better
at swinging the groove, the change-
ups on "Double Check" are just
great. There's another sample at the
beginning of this one, too - I
haven't figured it out yet.
Big Chief have the good sense
not to fall into regurgitation or mas-
turbation in their gutfests. On pre-
'cious wax, their production values
are very clean, while their live
shows are examples of the beauty of
brute force. The difference between
them and say, the Meat Puppets is
their willingness to jam. The differ-
ence between them and oh, the Stone
Roses is their funk subtlety. The
character that O'Brien voices his
bass with as "Ordeal" kicks off. The
attention to time that Mike Danner
pounds his skins with. Someone tell
Big Chief not to stick with Sub
-Forrest "pretentious" Green III
Carved in Sand
This is angry music. Mission
U.K.'s latest release features loud
drums and blaring guitars pitted
against Wayne Hussey's merciless
screaming. The third time around,
these Brits have decided to use a so-
cially conscious approach as the
Continued from page 8
the Left in Britain for so many
years. There's a resentment of middle
class liberals who romanticize the
workers and of Trotskyists who ped-
dle the doctrinal simplifications of
the Party; anybody with too much
faith in faith itself is fair target for
Kureishi's garrulous poison pen.
Karim fends his way through the
social cobwebs of suburbia and the
London theater, satiating his lust for
drugs, girls and boys and becoming
more and more confident. London is
a place of endless possibility. After
having an incomplete education and
no purpose in life other than having
sex with as many people as possi-
ble, Karim finds some sort of cre-
ative outlet in the theater; he devel-
ops an ambitious streak. Even this
is undermined, however, by
Kureishi, who never completely lets
his characters off the hook. Karim is
cast as Mowgli in a sparse, tactile
production of The Jungle Book, for
which he's forced to wear a loin
cloth and brown make-up to make
him darker. Karim's dad sums up the
production: "That bloody fucker Mr.
Kipling pretending to whity he knew+
something about India! And an aw-
ful performance by my boy looking
like a Black and White Minstrel."
The actors refer to the play as "The
Jungle Bunny Book."
Though he attacks middle class
liberals/artistes and white racists,
Kureishi takes pains not to idealize
the Indian community either. Reli-
gious fundamentalism takes the
shape of Karim's Uncle Anwar, who
goes on hunger strike when his
daughter Jamila refuses to have an
arranged marriage. Karim's father
concedes, "We old Indians come to
like this England less and less and
we return to an imagined India." At
their most vulnerable in racist Eng-
land, Anwar and Haroon transform
the Bombay of yesteryear into Bri-
Karim points out his difficulties
with Indian morals and mores but he
does feel a solidarity with his peo-
ple. He finally accepts the two
halves of himself, his double con-
sciousness as an Englishman and an
Indian. By the end of the novel,
Karim has arrived at some contin-
gent self-revelation about his iden-
I began to wonder why I was
strong - what it was that held
me together. I thought it was that
I'd inherited from Dad a strong
survival instinct. Dad had always
felt superior to the British: this
was the legacy of his Indian
childhood - political anger
turning into scorn and contempt.
For him in India, the British were
ridiculous, stiff, unconfident,
rule-bound. And he'd made me
feel that we couldn't allow
ourselves the shame of failure in
front of these people. You
couldn't let the ex-colonialists
see you on your knees, for that
was where they expected you to
be; they were exhausted now;
their Empire was gone; their day
was done and it was our turn.
The Buddha of Suburbia im-
merses itself in the smells and
sounds of the Asian community as
well as the hustle and bustle of Lon-
don life. Kureishi has a real love for
the capital city and the dynamics of
its protean popular culture. London
rocks to the sounds of reggae, ca-
lypso, bhangra music and all the pop
records that Karim has swimming in
his head: the Rolling Stones, Bob
Dylan, the Soft Machine. Kureishi
even recounts in fictional (and myth-
ical) terms the birth of punk in the
Nashville pub, West Kensington,
when a carrotty-haired youth with
bad teeth named Johnny Rotten first
took to the stage with the Sex Pis-
An ear for London and Asian ver-
nacular gives the comedy a rambunc-
tious energy. As in his other works,
Kureishi relishes his characters hav-
ing sex in as many different ways
and situations as they- possibly can.
Though somewhat gratuitous on oc-
casion (Kureishi wrote pornography
as a student), the sexual adventures
and lavatorial humour (a particularly
English strength) give this tale deal-
ing with the "big" issues of race,
class and gender an irreverent face.
The Buddha of the Suburbs is finally
a welcome palliative to all that terri-
bly middle class, polite, well crafted
but tedious, empty and very subur-
ban English fiction by the likes of
Anita Brookner and Penelope Lively.
The members of Mission U.K. look like they're cooperating well in this
picture but they don't seem to gel so well on vinyl. Cool gothic set-up,
background for much of the album's
material. "Amelia" tells the story of
a young girl's sexual abuse, and
though the band's intentions are pos-
itive, the message is actually blunt-
and painfully overstated. "Grapes of
Wrath" is an unsatisfying mono-
logue detailing the difficulties of the
lower class which falls quite a bit
short of the mark. The first single
released, "Deliverance," is a solid
hard rock offering that is so loud it's
almost good. Almost.
The one shining moment for
Hussey is the ballad "Butterfly On A
Wheel." His rough, cutting voice
handles the slow, flowing lyrics in a
way that is beautifully reminiscent
of Psych Furs' Richard Butler in his
better days. "Sea of Love" recalls the
wiry, reverberating guitar of "Lucy
in the Sky with Diamonds," and its
equally surreal lyrics manage to carry
the song well.
"Paradise," one of the last songs
on the album, has a strong guitar
line and good backing keyboards, but
somehow Hussey's voice seems to
get in the way. This is what is most
unsatisfying about Carved in Sand:
the band rarely works together. Ei-
ther Hussey is competing with the
amplifiers, or the guitars seem to
strangle the keyboards. The result is
that Mission U.K. goes nowhere,
and the listener is left covering his.
or her ears, trying to remember
whatever happened to those old Sis-
ters of Mercy albums. They were
around here somewhere...
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