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November 02, 1990 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-11-02

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Page 8 -The Michigan Daily - Friday, November 2, 1990

10,000 Maniacs
haunt Ann Arbor

by Philip Cohen
t mst have been sometime in '86
or '87, before In My Tribe came
out, that 10,000 Maniacs showed up
at a really gruesome club called The
Haunt in my Upstate New York
hometown. The club's promoter
John, a big, burly guy with a tiny
white dog smaller than your fist,
gave us the usual run-down.
"These guys are great," he told
us. "They're going to be the biggest
act I get in here all year."
"That's a funny name," I thought
to myself. But my friend Kenny and
I diligently packed a notebook and
beat it on down the block to the
A rags to riches history in the
making, of course, but we had no
idea. John was (and still is) the
biggest crier of Wolf (or in this case,
Star) for miles.
The show was not especially
crowded, though the band already had
a small but dedicated local follow-
ing. They hit the stage hard, as if
they weren't in the middle of a grind-
ing club tour from Jamestown east
across the great wildernesses of New
York - or as if they were just sea-
soned, determined, and used to work-
ing hard.
We were caught off guard.
There are dressed-up garage bands
on the club circuit, there are
pompous original bands whose
"unique" sound deteriorates into
headache music after a few tunes -
and then there are those few bands
who are working a new angle, play-

ing off a regular feel, and pulling off
a show with real self confidence and
a deep-down body approach to their
own sound. This was10,000 Mani-
acs, and particular the woman who I
must admit struck me as somewhat
The music was less-than brilliant
in itself - somewhere within the
realm of over-done minimalism
which was pretty prevalent on col-
lege radio at the time. But Natalie
Merchant moved - or pulled -
the band through the set with an
amazingly unforced fluidity.
They were and still are heavy
dependents on the charismatic leader
model of star development, which is
why (for all the original skepticism)
I was not surprised to hear when In
My Tribe broke out into a platinum
success. They had a leader with an
ironic self-image and a mystical sex
appeal. And this is what moves the
apparently arbitrary star-making
machine. No ill-will for that - they
deserve it, as do lots of others who
don't get it.
She's carried the band since, her
untrained sound and dynamic,
passionate performances climbing
beyond the still somewhat mundane
instrumentation and arrangements
which occupy the rest of the band.
By no means blind to the world,
Merchant has penned some lyrics to
hold on to, not least among them
the poetic rendition of the tragedy
which underlay the Ollie North
charades, "Please Forgive Us" on
Blind Man's Zoo: "There'll be more
trials like this in mercenary hey-

Continued from page 7
with music as a way of reaching
G.S.: No, not as much as I be-
came disassociated with Arista,
which became a part of RCA. RCA
has a different set of policies which
didn't serve my purpose.
F.G.: Were they trying to hold
you back? Censor you?
G.S.: Well, you talk to them
about your own career. I'll say what
I want to say about them. (Laughs.)
F.G.: Is there any truth to the
rumor that you are planning or
recording a new album?
G.S.: Yes. There are a lot of
people who didn't buy the older ma-
terial. We have a lot of material, like
twenty albums out there altogether.
So there's no shortage of material,
unless you have all twenty.
F.G.: Your records and the Last
Poets' records...
G.S.: Have nothing to do with
each other. I play music.
F.G.: Right. Well, what I was
saying was that neither are really
available, now. I mean, I gotta look
in the used records bin... but, yeah, I
don't see any similarity between you
and them.
G.S.: Well, I know them... I'm a
piano player. That's the difference. I
write poetry. That's another differ-
ence. I write harmonies' and
melodies, arrangements. They do po-
etry on congas.
F.G.: What made you decide to
move from writing novels to writing
lyrics? Was it that you could reach
more people with music?
G.S.: Writing novels?
F.G.:Writing lyrics.
G.S.: I wrote songs before I
wrote anything else. I like to write

novels. But the first things I wrote
were poems and songs.
F.G.: How do you feel about
some of the rappers out here that are
taking from your influences, musi-
cally and lyrically?
G.S.: I haven't heard any of them
that take from my influence. They
sound like the Last Poets.
F.G.: Yeah. I agree. But someone
might sample the bassline fron
"Revolution," or someone might
quote you..
G.S.: Well, I don't call it sam-
pling. I call it stealing. A lot of:
people who create get upset by pe6-
ple who steal. I haven't heard any-
thing to keep me, up all night.
F.G.: Some newer groups like@
Public Enemy...
G.S.: What about 'em?
F.G.: They get into the whole
revolutionary frame of mind. How:
do you feel about that?
G.S.: I like a revolutionary frame
of mind.
F.G.: You aren't jaded?
G.S.: No, I'm Gil. I don't know
where you're coming from... I think
people who consider themselves
part of that become jaded.
I felt that it was imperative to
ask Scott-Heron for his particular
perspective on "The Revolution,
but when Gil Scott-Heron is irked at
you, you shut the hell up. At this
point, I can only recall a particular
verse: "The revolution will not be
televised, will not be televised, will;
not be televised; the revolution will
be no rerun, brothers, the revolution,
will be live."
GIL SCOTT-HERON appears ae
Alvin's, 5756 Cass Ave. in Detroit
tonight for two shows, 8p.m. and 11
p.m. Tickets are available for:
$12.50 plus an evil service charge
from Ticketmaster.

Natalie Merchant displays her best waif-like look. Perhaps she is
wistfully dreaming of a prime venue for her band - Hill Auditorium,

days./When they're so apt to wrap
themselves up in the stripes and
stars/ and find that they are able to
call themselves heroes/and to justify
murder by their fighters for free-
And "Who caused my mother's
tears/ was it Washington or the Viet
Cong?" she has a Vietnam vet ask at
the memorial in D.C., before leading
him in the song "The Big Parade,"
"away from the black granite wall/
toward the other monuments so
white and clean."
What does stardom make of a

hard-working touring band who paid
their dues up and down the highways
of New York through the Reagan
years? "That's how the wealth's di-
vided/ among the lambs and the king
of beasts," Merchant answers in the
song "The Lion's Share," "It's so
one-sided./ Until the lamb is the
king of beasts we live so one-sided."
10,000 MANIACS appear tonight at
Hill Auditorioum at 8 p.m. JOE
LOMBARDO opens. Tickets are
available at Ticketmaster for
$18.59 plus an evil $2 service

"The black vote and the female vote
rightfully belong to Kurt. Probably
no lawyer in Ann Arbor has done
more for civil rights for minorities,
including blacks and women. He's a
real caring and sensitive person who
has spent his life fighting injustice on
behalf of the poor and less fortunate.
Ann Arbor will be a better place with
Kurt Berggren on the district court
bench." Blondeen Munson

"Kurt's no politician. He's too honest
and straightforward. I met him four
years ago on a trip to our sister city in
Nicaragua. I have never met a lawyer
with greater passion for justice and
fairness. His ethics and sense of right
and wrong are welcome assets in a
profession often known for greed and
lack of candor. As a person of intel-
lectual largesse and total integrity, he is
indeed worthy of our support."
Ed Pierce

Save the LP!
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.eA theFt


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Paid for by Kurt Berggren for Judge Campaign Committee, 121 W. Washington, Suite 300, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104

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