Wednesday, September 19, 1990
The Michigan Daily
Real rock and roll returns
by Forrest Green III
D emographically, Barrence
Whitfield and the Savages are a
mixed band, one that has white and
lack making music together just as
hey play a consummate blend of
rock and R&B. General consensus
will tell you that they put on a damn
good show. But what exactly Bar-
rence Whitfield and the Savages are
(which is so desperately extinct
now) is rock ' n' roll.
Rock 'n' roll - the lunacy of
Chuck Berry's duckwalk; the un-
ruly spirit and rage of Little
ichard's "Tutti Frutti;" the me-
thodical madness of The Killer
pounding his piano. This was rock
'n' roll, back when it was about co-
ordination rather than disintegra-
tion; rhythm rather than distortion.
This is what the much-lauded Bar-
rence Whitfield and the Savages are
about. When asked about the band's
origin, Barrence deliberates, "Long
story. We got together with Peter
,Greenberg... (and) sounded like a
garage-type rhythm and blues band,
like taking all kinds of old, obscure
R & B artists... you know, people
and songs that no one had ever
heard of... and just rock out. Just
immediately grinding out music."
F.G.: Okay, when was this?
B.W. This was 1983... (we) pro-
ceeded to play out all over New Eng-
lend, Boston... our first record was
*distributed by Rounder, Dig Your-
That raw type of rock 'n' roll
pound, garage-y, stinging guitar and
wild, rolling saxophone. Took a
while for a lot of people in Boston
to listen to. Because at first, people
were coming in - 'oh, my god.
The band has gained a mean
reputation for itself by acting as a
Break the Grip of Shame (12")
"We are here today to address the
black agenda; an agenda that deals
with the needs and sufferings of our
people." The words of Malcolm X
suddenly transform into an explosion
of unearthly plastic bass staggering
in its dimensions and intentions. It
is a jolt of sound that is hard to
come to terms with because it is so
impalpable, so antagonistic and so
utterly inhuman. It has the snarl of
machinery that abounds in the work
of Einsturzende Neubauten, or more
precisely what Kraftwerk would
sound like if they had been formed
by Johnny Rotten or Iggy Stooge or
But the sonic boom lasts only
momentarily before imploding into a
heavily rhythmic guitar lick that
stabilizes the song throughout. This
endlessly repeating guitar pattern
makes great use of the not so latent
militancy of the classic J.B. riff that
he tried to make obvious in "Say it
Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud"
without needing to. The rhythm is
indeed the rebel, a fact made more
obvious when the beats collapse into
a maelstrom of scratching. Mad
Mike's onslaught even outshines
Terminator's on "Bring the Noise"
in terms of a blatant, all-out whirl-
wind attack on white male power.
Fuse these elements with the most
understated drumming on any recent
hip hop record, and it becomes obvi-
ous that this is no dance floor fodder;
Paris and crew drop some serious
Paris imparts knowledge without
venturing into KRS-One's overly di-
dactic metaphysics lessons. Granted
the rhymes pale in comparison to
Chuck D.'s best (read more cohe-
sive) songs because they suffer from
a lack of focus, but one simple mes-
sage shines through both the alien-
ation effect and the excess verbal
baggage: "Uplift and be free."
- Peter Shapiro
Lead Into Gold
Age of Reason
Given the inordinate amount of
influence that Al Jourgensen seems
to have over Ministry, one might
find it interesting to see what the
other half of the duo, Paul Barker,
does with his solo project, Lead Into
Gold. NOT! Most of the tracks of
this record will leave the average
listener who is acquainted with most
forms of popular music (not to
mention the frenetic pace of
Ministry), wondering if the record is
being played at the wrong speed.
Surprise! Yes, 33 rpm is the
correct speed. Not, I repeat, not 45.
A pitch adjuster on your turntable
may help, but what if you have the
CD (God forbid you spent that much
money on this) or the tape? Then
you're stuck. This is not to suggest
that only something as rockin' as
Ministry would do for Barker; on the
contrary, it's almost always good to
see someone branch out. But this?
It's so dull.
The slow tempo of most of the
songs isn't the only thing that
makes them dull, either. The ar-
rangements are minimalistic, often
built around two guitar chords and a
slow motion drum machine. Barker's
voice is usually buried in the mix
and sounds like Gary Numan with a
nasty flu. Jourgensen and Revolting
Cocks drummer William Rieflin
help out on a few tracks, but they
don't exactly save the day.
Side two isn't quite as bad; songs
like "Faster than Light" and
"Lunatic/Genius" pick up the pace
enough to become listenable. And I
must say that Barker's lyrics show
much more imagination than Jour-
gensen's have been lately.
The Lion For Real
This former nominee to the
Supreme Court-turned stream-of-
consciousness rapper has outdone all
See RECORDS, Page 8
Barrence sees himself naked in the mirror. The Savages seem amused.
slightly (more) deranged Happy
Days house band. Songs that vamp
and thump and bump recklessly like
"Madhouse" and "Rockin' the
Mule," both from their third album,
Ow! Ow! Ow! Or tunes that undu-
late wildly, like the utterly groovy
"The Girl From Outer Space" and
the vulgar, venomous "Big Fat
Mama," from Live Emulsified.
Barrence cites his influences
sparingly, including, "Little
Richard, James Brown, Otis Red-
ding, Black artists of the day. Some
gospel influences like Five Blind
Boys of Alabama, Dixie Humming-
F.G.: You get up there and do a;
pretty wild show.
B.W.: Especially up in Ann Ar-
bor. We were very fortunate the first
night we played to have George
Thorogood show up and jam with
us. It was pretty wild for the people
who were there. That night, I guess
they weren't expecting too much.
The place was jam-packed."
When asked about his and the
Savages' general attitude, Barrence
replies, "Just play, man. Just go up
there and have a good time. Bash."
And on a forthcoming album,
Auditions for the Basement
Arts production of Seascape With
Sharks and Dancer by Don Nigro
will be held tomorrow Sept. 20th
from 6-8 pm in the Frieze Building,
Room 2528. Sign up sheets are in
the Green Room on the first floor. .
Shows will be performed on Oct.
25-27, and scripts are available in
the Theater Office, 2541 Frieze.
"We're looking for a release next
year. No title for the album as of
yet, but all the songs are done. With
a guy named Jim Dickinson."
F.G.: Who worked with Mojo
B.W.: He worked with Mojo. He
did his latest record, Otis. With that
wonderful tune, "Don Henley Must
Die." Other than that, I'm just glad
to be back to Ann Arbor... Sorry
about the Notre Dame football
Tonight's show promises to be
a raucous ruckus far from the status
quo of rock: long, blond-haired
harpy-'men,' whacking off their
Yamahas and Fenders, shrieking pa-
thetic metaphors to their gonads.
BARRENCE WHITFIELD AND
THE SAVAGES appear at the Blind
Pig tonight. Show starts at 9:30 p.m.
and cover is $8.
# The U of M Gilbert and Sulli-
van Society is holding auditions for
the fall productions of Princess Ida
today and tomorrow from 6-10:30
pm in the Michigan League Studio
(basement.) For more information
call the UMGASS office at 761-
* Comedy Company, the Univer-
ityActivities Center's sketch
comedy troupe, will be holding audi-
tions on Sept. 24th-26th for actors.
Call the UAC at 763-1107 for more
information, or look for more no-
tices. Comedy Company is also
looking for writers, and encourages
all interested writers and performers
to attend the first writers' meeting
on Sept. 24th at 7 pm in the UAC
reading, writing and arithmetic
Featuring: HERE'S WHERE THE STORY
ENDS CAN'T BE SURE - MY FINEST HOUR
DAVID GEFFEN COMPANY T ,
DGC Records, Cassettes, and Compact Discs.
Bring in Sunday's ticket stub and get
$2.00 off Sunday's Cassettes and CD's.
Now thru October 5th, 1990.
Brought to you courtesy of p j
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 20
ANGELL HALL AUDITORIUM A