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September 20, 1990 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-09-20

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Page 8-The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 20, 1990
Wilderness hits our Arbor - -

by Mike Kolody
These days, the seemingly innocent
question,"Ya wanna go see a play?,"
is often met with harsh responses.
Many imagine radically experimental
art forms, featuring depraved
individuals shouting Marxism into
megaphones and rolling their
scantily clad bodies in chocolate
pudding. Though certainly thought
provoking, this probably wouldn't
be a good first date.
Not to worry. Besides the off-
beat, Ann Arbor has entertainment
that would appeal to just about any-
body. Eugene O'Neil's only true
comedy Ah, Wilderness!, playing
at the Ann Arbor Civic Theater, is
just that kind of benign work. As di-
rector Susan Morris attests, "I'd rec-
ommend this play to anyone, of any
age. It provides a nice perspective,
illustrating multiple vantage points
on family life from characters of all
different ages."
Set in the early 1900s, Ah,
Wilderness! is O'Neil's nostalgic
look back at family life in the ideal
American fashion. We follow the
Miller family through a typical
Fourth of July holiday that has all
the ordinary ups and downs of any
good-sized family gathering. The
eldest male, Nat, rules with a loose
grip, and a loving touch - presiding
over a hoard of sisters, uncles,
cousins and kids with cheerful pa-

tience. Nat's sister, Lily, a self pro-
claimed spinster, has flirted with
Nat's brother-in-law Sid on and off
for years. This year Sid is bound and
determined that he will marry her,
while she is just as set on reforming
him. Adding to the confusion, Nat's
16-year-old son Richard gets entan-
gled in a love relationship of his
own, as a series of events plops him
into the lap of a wanton woman.
Meanwhile, Essie, the ever-patient
mother, takes each crisis one at a
time, never taking any one of them,
too seriously.
O'Neil makes sure the play al-
ways has a soft romantic edge - it
never descends into the blackness his
later works did. One gets the feeling
that all the family members love
each other, and that no matter how
rough the roller coaster ride gets, ev-
erything will work out in the end.
"The play doesn't really fit into
O'Neil's lexicon per se," says Mor-
ris,"The most we ever see [of his
more dramatic works] are glimpses.
It's just kind of a little nostalgia at
mid-life."

World Party
Goodbye Jumbo
Ensign/Chrysalis
As the current retrograde slouch
of radio nostalgia has all too clearly
pointed out, there are artists who
write classic songs - and those who
write songs that are merely classic-
sounding.
Usually, the difference between
the former and the latter amounts to
about 20 years in age. But World
Party, mercifully, is one of those
rare new groups who belong in that
first category. Goodbye Jumbo, the
second release from this loose
English collective led by former Wa-
terboys keyboardist Karl Wallinger,
gives ample evidence that - as far
as songwriters working in the '60s
idiom are concerned - its creator is
as close to the real thing as we've
seen in a long, long time.
"I've got rare '69 Beatles," sings
Wallinger in "Sweet Soul Dream,"
and you'd better believe it: working
on his own protracted schedule in a
self-built London studio, the multi-
instrumentalist has spent the last
three-and-a-half years building his
sprawling vocabulary of pastel chops
by rehearsing the entire catalogues of
groups like the Fab Four, the Beach
Boys and Bob Dylan.
Sometimes, Wallinger's immer-
sion in these old sounds results in a
low-tech sound that can grow te-
dious, at least compared to the
band's stunning 1986 debut, Private
Revolution - whose Prince-like
funk gestures bridged a certain gap
between the '60s and the '90s. But
even without the modern trappings,
new songs like "Show Me To The
Top" distinguish World Party from
retro-designer copies like the Black
Crowes or the Front. The scope of
Wallinger's musical influences out-
stretches the obvious "classic" (read:
white)-rock staples (The Rolling
Stones, The Doors) to embrace un-
sung heroes like Sly and the Family
Stone.

But the quality that truly puts
Wallinger in a class with the greats
- and sets his potentially trendy
environmentalism apart from the
neo-hippie "love, man" musings of
anachronisms like Lenny Kravitz -
is the unexpectedly apocalyptic vi-
sion of his lyrics, compounded by
arresting clues out of musical his-
tory. "There's breeding in the sew-
ers.../ all the sheep will have two
heads/ And Thursday night and Fri-
day will be on Tuesday night in-
stead," sings Wallinger with palpa-
ble dread over the ironically uplift-
ing, Stones-in-Waikiki guitar loco-
motion of "Way Down Now." And
as the song barrels to its conclusion,
the band fades by be-bopping the
haunting "woo-woo" chorus from
"Sympathy for the Devil." A chord-
sequence quotation from the Byrds'
"Turn, Turn, Turn" suggests that the
major-key optimism of "When the
Rainbow Comes" may not be so
naive after all; and atop the ploonk-
ing machine percussion of the album
opener, "Is It Too Late?," the bluesy
vocal phrasings borrowed from Van
Morrison's "Baby Please Don't Go"
imbue a global lament with personal
implications - before Jeff Trott's
careening slide-guitar sirens bring
the track to a powerful climax.
Unfortunately, the second portion
of Goodbye Jumbo - by and large
lacking such rocking highlights -
sinks into a rut of well-written, but
tepid ballads. Out of World Party's
mellow moods, though, emerges a
classic: "Ain't Gonna Come Till I'm
Ready," a languid, plodding master-
stroke of falsetto vocals and staccato
brass which recalls vintage Isley
Brothers. In his finest moment,
Wallinger sets off a timeless groove
with lyrics of mysterious reproach
and an ominous admonition ("But
sometimes you have to be nice/ Or
there'll be hell to pay").
Unlike Private Revolution's
seamless conception - every song
standing as a complete idea on its

0'

AH, WILDERNESS! will be playing
at the Ann Arbor Civic Theater,
1035 S. Main St., Thursdays thru
Saturdays, Sept. 20 - Oct. 6. Show
time is 8 pm. General admission is
$6, with Thursday tickets two-for-
one.

Karl Wallinger and World Party appear tonight at St. Andrew's Hall in
Detroit Tickets are available at Ticketmaster for $12.50 (plus evil service
charge). Tickets at the door are $15 and the doors open at 9 p.m.
own - Goodbye Jumbo is a bit too T
mellow overall to fully initiate one
in the musical breadth of Wallinger's
urgent visions. But these shortcom-
ings are most likely due to the sub-
jectivity of extended studio hiberna-
tion. If World Party's past live
shows are any indication, the sup-
port of Karl's cohorts will indeed
demonstrate that he can work it out,
on the stage.
-Michael Paul Fischer U

STATE
Continued from page 5
poisonous venom. The Enlighten-
ment ultimately failed because it ne-
glected the power of myth in its
quest to rationalize the world. Myth
is able to strike chords in the human

unconscious, a much more powerful ::". {. {
impulse than drumming in dictums r .
through dogma. Hls id
The campaigns of HelmsWild-..
mon, Gore, Pierce, etc. against the >',:: <?r ,{ r r
human spirit will eventually backfire
for the same reason. As James Agee r:."
said, "Every fury on earth has been
absorbed in time, as art, or as reli-
gion, or as authority in one form or
another. The deadliest blow an en-
emy of the human soul can strike is
to do fury honor... Official accep .r
tance is the one unmistakable symp-
tom that salvation is beatn again
and is the surest sign of fatal misun- r-.,
derstanding, and is the kiss of Ju-
das."

Where7CiA e

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OPEN
'TIL
1.00 A.M.

1140 South University
Above Good Time Charley's
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Ph: (313) 663-5800
Normal Mon-Sat: 9 am-10 pm
Hours: Sun: 11 am-8 pm
FREE
POSTER
(While
quanities last)

TONIGHT.. .

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with
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