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December 10, 1990 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1990-12-10

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The Michigan Daily - Monday, December 10, 1990 - Page 7

'D oes he like me? Will I get regnant if I kiss him?" Such thoughts race through the confused mind of 15-year-
old Charlotte (Winona Ryder) on a fishing trip with Joe (Michael Schoeffling) in the new film Mermaids.
Myife withWoe WI inO Ryer

RECORDS
Continued from page 5
Eno/Cale
Wrong Way Up
Opal/Warner Bros.
When Brian Eno and John Cale
say they've "Been There, Done
That," you know it's true. These
two musicians/producers/whatevers
have indeed done quite a bit of work
in their 20-plus year careers, the
former with the likes of Roxy Mu-
sic, David Byrne and U2, the latter
probably best known as a member of
The Velvet Underground.
Nonetheless, despite a few break-
throughs, e.g., Eno's production
work on The Joshua Tree and Cale's
collaboration last year with former
bandmate Lou Reed on their tribute
to Andy Warhol, Songs For Drella,
these two have remained largely
commercially (not artistically) un-
successful. I mean, when's the last
time you bought a John Cale record?
Or even one by Eno, for that matter?
If America's musical tastes wake
up any time soon, which seems in-
creasingly unlikely, Wrong Way Up
could change all that. Although col-
laborations between "has-beens"
have a major tendency to become
pure garbage, this is an obvious ex-
ception. Wrong Way Up, while a bit
uneven as a whole, has some great
songs.
The stand-out track here is "Been
There, Done That," a three-minute
blast of pure pop that seems almost
strange coming from these kings of
experimentation. Driven by a happy
piano riff and an arpeggiated guitar
line (did Eno hang around The Edge
too much?) this tune alone makes
the album worthwhile.
Although "Been There, Done
That" might make Eno purists
cringe and wonder if their hero has
sold out, rest assured that the rest of
the album is much more sophisti-
cated. Eno and Cale and a battery of
studio musicians make nearly every
song an interesting (and different)
experience. From the "little Nigerian
organ" of "Crime in the Desert" to
the country-ish "The River," vari-
ation is a major theme. Although
Eno goes overboard on the country

stuff once in a while, Wrong Way
Up is a great record. Coming from
these guys, that's not really surpris-
ing.
-Mike Molitor
Brand Nubian
"Wake Up! Drop the Bomb"
(12")
Elektra
My neighbors from New
Rochelle, New York have just re-
leased the latest in state-of-the-art
Black-militancy-as-fad product. With
quasi-Native Tongue mellow
grooves and "tricknology" passing
for turn of phrase on the lead cut,
Brand Nubian is only able to prove
that they have read Elijah
Muhamad's "Message to the Black
Man."
Like the Poor Righteous Teach-
ers' record earlier this summer, Brand
Nubian's attempt to drop science and
"unify the Black community" ulti-
mately fails because they are capable
only of repeating Black Muslim
rhetoric verbatim without wrestling
with its shortcomings as an ideol-
ogy.
This single is riddled with
"Assalaam Alaikums," "third eyes"
and "peace Allahs" uttered with a
sense of vague commitment, but not
one that came from a rigorous exam-
ination (see Public Enemy, even if
they are only in it for the money).
Where Q-Tip's proclamation that we
have to "wipe the crust away from
the third eyelid" is a creative phras-
ing of a true spiritual awakening,
Brand Nubian's is suggestive only of
rigid obeisance to dogma.
The musical background for this
pontification is a fairly monotonous
collage of smooth samples from the
disco era. This is clearly an attempt
to tap into both the market and legit-
imacy of A Tribe Called Quest, Jun-
gle Brothers and De La Soul. What
sets the Native Tongues apart from
these posturers is that their aural
landscapes piece together the frag-
mented elements of the Diaspora
into a shining, soaring message of
Afrocentric positivity and unity.
This is in direct opposition to com-
piling a few subtle grooves that sets
it sights on dance floor hegemony,
not philosophic underpinnings.

Mermaids
dir. Richard Benjamin

1

by David Lubliner
I had planned this moment for a
long time. I remember walking out
of a movie theater after seeing the
g film Heathers, all dreamy-eyed over
an actress whom I had never seen be-
fore. I knew nothing about her and
her name even confused me. But
now I was just a few short minutes
away from meeting Winona.
Working at a public relations
company had its own special advan-
tages. Sure, I became rather familiar
with Xerox machines, fax numbers
and lunch errands, but every now and
- then a famous somebody would strut
.through the office and I would be
able to catch a glimpse out of the
corner of my eye.
This time I gathered up enough
courage to say something.
"Hi. My name is David Lubliner.
"I just wanted to say hello to you," I
stuttered as Winona came around the
corridor.
"Hi," was her only response.
- "I... I just wanted to tell you that
I went to a screening of Mermaids
last week and I thought you were re-
ally good. Really."
m "Thanks. That's very nice of
you... good-bye."
Okay, so that's not the way it
happens in the movies. But I

couldn't rid my mind of this mem-
ory when I saw Mermaids again,
this time at a free screening in An-
gell Hall. My friends didn't help the
situation any by cheering loudly
when Winona's name came on the
screen.
The year is 1963 and the popular
tune of the day is "Big Girls Don't
Cry" by Frankie Valli and the Four
Seasons. It is a time of innocence in
the United States, preceding the
chaos that accompanied the assassi-
nation of President Kennedy. Mrs.
Flax (Cher), a free-spirited indepen-
dent woman, packs up and leaves her
home whenever life gets tough. Ac-
cording to her, "Death is dwelling on
the past or staying in one place too
long." This time, she drags her two
daughters, 15-year-old Charlotte
(Winona Ryder) and nine-year-old
Kate (Christina Ricci), to their new
home in East Port, Massachusetts.
The film is presented, through
the use of voice-overs, from Char-
lotte's perspective. She suffers from
a severe identity crisis: even though
the Flaxes are Jewish, Charlotte has
a miniature figurine set of the nativ-
ity scene in her bedroom. Constantly
haunted by religious imagery, she
convinces herself that she will burn
in hell for thinking impure thoughts
about the sensitive but good-looking
Joe (Michael Schoeffling), a convent
caretaker.
The mermaids are as believable as
any true-life family. The three stars

all possess a real chemistry together
on screen, especially Winona and
Cher. It is Winona however (who,
me, biased?), who steals the show
away from entertainment superstar
Cher. Winona's every facial expres-
sion powerfully conveys the ambiva-
lence she feels toward her mother and
herself as well as the fears inherent
in growing up. Her success rests in
her ability to portray the average
adolescent honestly and without pre-
tension.
Unfortunately, Mermaids feels
too much like an ABC Dramatic
Movie of the Week. It's a highly
stylized soap opera with excellent
performers - overly sappy and con-
taining far too many unaffecting
tear-jerky scenes between Winona
and Cher. In fact, Winona is the
only saving grace in many poorly
written and melodramatic scenes be-
tween mother and daughter, but it's a
saving grace that makes the movie
worth seeing.
Too bad Winona didn't stick
around for a few minutes longer that
day last summer. Maybe she would
have given me her phone number,
and maybe I could have called her up
tonight, and maybe I could have told
her how much I enjoyed her light
Christmas picture with the funny di-
alogue and '50s soundtrack, and
maybe...
Or maybe not.

The second cut, their remake of
Trouble Funk's monumental Go Go
anthem "Drop the Bomb," subverts
its own flute sample bthe creation
of a persistent cowbell and timbale
rhythm. Unfortunately, Brand Nu-
bian insist on dropping their bomb
on the "ignorance crew," a target
which does not inspire the same an-
imosity or urgency as Trouble
Funk's"White House."
-Peter Shapiro
Phish
Lawn Boy
Absolute A Go Go
The cover of Phish's debut al-
bum, Lawn Boy , sports Jonathan
Fishman - drummer, vacuumist,
vocalist - tinted a grassy shade of
green and wearing a cloth skirt to
match, along with a worn-in vacuum
cleaner. It suggests that one not take
this band seriously, but if you can
get past that, you are in for a good
time and - no, I'm not kidding -
originality.
"The squirming coil of sunset/ I
keep within my reach" opens "The
Squirming Coil," the first song on
the album. There is a lounge-style
interlude that heightens into the
highlight of this song - Page Mc-
Connell's fantastic piano playing.
"Reba" consists of a folk-song
style that wanders into a potluck
jam. It's fun to listen to, but it's
much too long. "Reba" is probably
best- suited for a live show. If you
can't listen to the whole thing, at
least read the ingredients: "A little
scoop of plaster mix/ some coffee
ground and mud... a pot of melted
wax/ a forefoot and a hoof/ apple
core, worms galore/ and a can of
some corrosive/ coconuts and
chloroform/ some wicker and some
cork/ Toxic waste, some purple
paste."
McConnell lets loose again on
"My Sweet One," Phish's version of
a love song. Wouldn't you love for
your lover to whisper "for now I
must sit here and ponder the yonder/
Herbivores ate well cause their food
didn't never run... and if your dog or
cat ever dies, I'll buy you a ewe" in
your ear?
"Oh Kee Pa Ceremony" and "Run
Like An Antelope" are the two in-
strumental pieces on the album.
They verge on needing to be labelled
"Filler I" and "Filler II," except for
the fact that they are too good, espe-
cially "Filler II" (oops).
Phish is possibly the only band
that can live up to its diversity
claim. They consistently inject all
genres of music into their songs
along with a combination of serious
and silly that make you, well...
laugh. -Kim Yaged
WEEKEND
Continued from page 5
to no end. He was the voice of all-
knowing adulthood and reason, and
his suit served to reinforce his con-
nection to grown-up "real life" and
propriety. Similarly, Millicent,
dressed in overalls and Converse All-
Stars, looked the classic grade school
escapee. Ultimately, they decide that
she cannot stay in the fantastic world
of The Fabulous Fable Factory,
suggesting visually as well as ac-
tively that one cannot shun the re-
sponsibilities of real day-to-day liv-
ing.
- Mike Kolody

MERMAIDS
Showcase.

opens Friday at

A F- . MMM--"

I.

WRITE FOR ARTS!!! CALL 763-0379!!!!

I

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Brian Eno and John Cale made an
Way Up. Are you surprised?

excellent album together with Wrong

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December 10
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