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October 09, 1990 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-10-09

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Tuesday, October 9, 1 990

The Michigan Daily

Page 5

*Tabor is fine folk
with her own twist

African film series is
first for Ann Arbor

by Greg Baise "

June Tabor has an incredibly
beautiful voice and great taste as
*well. Her readings of traditional and
contemporary songs, such as songs
by Charlie Mingus or Lou Reed
which she selects herself, certainly
have won over her native British au-
dience, as she consistently wins
awards from the British music press.
And although she is often referred to
as the finest traditional folk singer
performing today, Tabor's tastes are
so wide that a listing of tracks from
her past few albums would appear as
anything but traditional (Note that
both Mingus and Reed are not filed
under folk). She will perform in Ann
Arbor tonight as part of her second
tour of North America.
Tabor's latest release, Freedom
and Rain, is a glisteningly produced
collaboration with contemporary Bri-
tish folk-rockers the Oyster Band. As
*usual, Tabor draws upon great mate-
rial to cover and dominate, to make
her own. For instance, she and the

Oyster Band transform Richard
Thompson's "Night Comes In" from
the spare and bare original into an
almost assaultive, danceable song
that is both propulsive and melan-
Another great track is Tabor's
cover of the Velvet Underground and
Nico's "All Tomorrow's Parties."
Tabor's deep voice definitely recalls
the late Nico's voice, although Lou
Reed's composition flows smoothly
from Tabor's lips, without the
roughness of Nico's Teutonic inflec-
tions. Accompanying Tabor's rendi-
tion of the Ice Queen's majesty is
some intense string and bow work
from Oyster Band bassist/cellist
Chopper and Oyster organist Ian
Telfer, doubling on viola. The song
catalogs of the Pogues, Billy Bragg
and Si Kahn are also visited on
Freedom and Rain, and some tradi-
tional territory is covered as well.
June Tabor began her vocal career
as an unaccompanied singer. Soon
she collaborated with Maddy Prior of
Steeleye Span, who were one of the

June Tabor 's folk music means blending sounds from all over.

first groups, along with Fairport
Convention, to fuse the musical
worlds of British folk and rock 'n'
roll. Since then, Tabor has built up
a large following among music fans
who have penchants for heartfelt,
beautiful vocals singing excellent,,
diverse material.
And if following a Velvet Under-
ground song with a traditional folk
song like "Dives and Icarus" isn't,
diverse enough for you, just bear in;

mind that Tabor's previous record,
Some Other Time, is a collection of
jazz songs. On that record, Tabor
collaborated with pianist Huw War-
ren. Warren will accompany Tabor at
tonight's performance.
will perform at the Ark at 8 p.m.
tonight. Tickets are $8.75 for
students and members and $9.75 for
others. Call the Ark at 761-1451 for
more information.

by Jen Bilik
Tonight marks the beginning of
Ann Arbor's first-ever African film
series. Organized by the University's
Program in Film and Video Studies
under the guidance of Dr.
Nwachukwu Frank Ukadike, the se-
ries will span a wide range of
African countries. Ukadike, probably
the world's leading authority on
African cinema, came this fall to
teach in both the Program in Film
and Video Studies and the Center for
Afroamerican and African Studies.
Originally from Nigeria, Ukadike
has written a forthcoming book,
Black African Cinema.
The films in the series hail from
Senegal, Ethiopia, Mali, Burkina
Faso, Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, offer-
ing a privileged opportunity to see a
wide variety of African films, illu-
minating both the pan-African expe-
rience and that of individual cultures
of the African continent.
"What this series is doing," ex-
plains Ukadike, "Is correcting the
misconception whereby critics have
tended to lump every film from
Africa and say this is African film.
Films here reflect a plurality of
works from different cultures making
up what we now know as African
film instead of bringing Xala [the
first film in the series, by Ousmane
Sembene, one of the best known
African filmmakers] to a museum to
show as 'African cinema.'"

Filmmaking activity in Africa by
Black Africans began, in each indi-
vidual country, after independence
from colonial rule. For the most
part, one can see the beginnings of
African cinema in the '60s. Unfortu-
nately, most African filmmakers
have not gotten support from either
their governments or outside
African governments have tended
to mistrust the- cinema, because of
the extent to which the colonial
powers appropriated films both, as
propaganda for themselves and the
ways in which blacks have been
misrepresented in foreign films.
Says Ukadike, "Unfortunately,
African governments are not trying
to make propaganda films that really
explain the African issues to- the
outside world."
That means, for the most part,
that African filmmakers have had to
raise funds for their films by them-
selves. Ukadike characterizes the
African filmmaker as the cinematic
jack-of-all-trades: script-writer, diec-
tor, cinematographer, editor and fi-
nally, a projectionist bringing his or
her film to any facility that will
have it.
The roots of the colonial legacy
still affect the filmmaker because )he
colonialists controlled distribution
and exhibition of films. The colonial
powers had no interest in production
because they didn't care to develop
See SERIES, page 7

Was (Not Was)
are you okay?
Chr salis
ne of a very few exotic plea-
sures in popular music today is the
anomalous Was (Not Was), a group
that truly deserves its unanimous
crowning with the dangerous acclaim
of genius. In a place where some
critics really do attempt to erect
racial boundaries in music, Was (Not
Was) don't give a damn.
Many critics like to segregate the
qualities of white and Black musi-
cians into two attributes - the word
and the groove. This multi-racial
band, mostly the same, from the pre-
ceding album, What up Dog? de-
stroys all sorts of barriers of funk
and rhythm. And credited with sar-
donic gems like "The Party Broke
Up," "Walk the Dinosaur" and
"Shake Your Heads," the Was broth
ers' lyrics remain stingingly ironic.
The most notable piece is the hip
hop-wary remake of the Tempta-
tions' "Papa Was a Rolling Stone."
Sir Harry Bowens and the eminently
fashionable Sweet Pea Atkinson de-

liver the tune's original theme credi-
bly, while a guest rapper, G Love E,
adds a contemporary anger to it.
The groove, reinterpreted through'
nasty rhythm guitar by Randy
Jacobs and the simply brilliant
tamborine-laden beat that the Stone
Roses used for "Fool's Gold,"
smokes furiously. Between the
ending wah after the verse and G
Love's indignant delivery, there is an
ingenious tension that very few
musicians, white or Black, can
touch. Classic rock and soul brown-
nosers won't like "Papa," but I'm
glad that these lunatics went for it.
Tracks like "Earth To Doris" and
"Dad I'm In Jail" from What Up
Dog? have evolved into truly mania-
cal jive like "I Feel Better than
James Brown." In his laughably mo-
ronic voice, Was streams on about a
fluked relationship, "When we were
in love, I pretended that you didn't
exist/ That way, I loved you more."
For these dancin' fools to jeer at J.B.
this way is such bittersweet irony.
"In K Mart Wardrobe" is a
tongue-in-cheek, working-class criti-

cism that will have many sneering
uncomfortably: "Baby, this is love/
Discount coupons floated from
above/ Broiled chickens sang us love
songs from the skewer/ Have you
ever been this close to going down
the sewer?"
The knuckleheadedness continues
with tracks like "I Blew Up The
United States" and "Dressed To Be
Killed." Utterly notable is the out-
of-control "Elvis' Rolls Royce." A
cheesy saxophone blows through the
white fog, while guest vocalist
Leonard Cohen romanticizes in his
usually droll murmur, "There they
were - the gates of Graceland/ my
eyes got kind of moist/ Home sweet
home to rock 'n' roll! and Elvis'
Rolls Royce." Iggy Pop and Down-
town Julie Brown contribute backing
Finally, "Look What's Back"
turns outrto be a quick guitar-and-
moanin' return to the timeless an-
them, "Out Come The Freaks." The
freaks are back, bless their misbegot-
ten hearts.
-Forrest Green III

Save the LP.
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