The Michigan Daily
Wednesday, December 12, 1990
by R6nfn Lynch
it's not often possible to spend an
evening catching a serious cultural
event, and managing to have a rol-
licking good time. But Irish folk
group the Chieftains are coming to
town on their Christmas tour, and
they won't be happy if feet aren't
I have had a long standing love-
hate relationship with the Chief-
tains, who have been in the business
for 26 years and have released 22 al-
bums. On a professional level, the
Chieftains have long been Ireland's
most successful musical ambas-
But the Chieftains are not just
the best ambassadors of Irish music
- they have raised the music to an
art, and their traditional arrangements
pint improvisation in favor of a far
richer and no less exciting sound.
Tfiey have also scored films
(including Barry Lyndon, for which
they won an Academy Award), and
recorded with musicians ranging
from Chinese folk artists to Mick
Jagger. The Chieftains produce some
of the most beautiful music you will
ever hear, rich in melody and
thythm. The instruments are unusual
- two fiddles, a bodhrin (a goatskin
stretched over a wooden rim),
uileann pipes, a harp and flute, and
the individual members are renowned
musicians in their own right.
"There's lots of solos for each of
the fellas," says Paddy Moloney,
chief Chieftain. Moloney must be
the happiest musician on the planet.
In all the years I have watched the
This time, disease is the cure
dir. Penny Marshall
by Mike Kuniavsky
T he sneak preview screening of
Penny Marshall's new film Awak-
enings was sponsored by Du Pont.
Although kind of odd at first blush,
this is really not so illogical: the
whole film is really about chem-
istry. The main plotline is inspired
by a chemical; there's lots of talk
about chemistry and, ultimately, it's
a film that deals with the chemistry
between people. This does not mean,
however, that Du Pont is not slimy
for attaching its name to a film laden
with positive emotions in an effort
to improve the public opinion of
chemical companies (which are all,
by definition, pure evil).
The basic idea behind the film
comes from a book by Oliver Sacks,
the doctor who wrote The Man Who
Mistook His Wife for a Hat. The
movie is about an unsocial doctor,
Malcolm Sayer (a real nerd, played
by Robin Williams), unused to clin-
ical practice, who is assigned to a
chronic mental patient ward in a rela-
tively poor hospital. Utilizing his
research experience, he realizes that
several of the patients have not only
similar symptoms - total immobil-
ity unless a ball is thrown to them
- but similar histories.
Sayer then makes a huge
intellectual leap and realizes that his
patients have a disease that's similar
to Parkinson's Disease, an affliction
which causes its victims to lose
control of many of their muscles and
have constant ticks. This leads Sayer
to conclude that a new drug (the
chemical L-DOPA) could possibly
help them. He administers the drug
to a single patient, Leonard (Robert
DeNiro), who miraculously "wakes
up." Heartwarmingly, as the other
patients are "awoken," the doctor
reveals the real purpose of life.
The film at times rings much
like previous Mental Ward stories:
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
and, especially, Flowers for Alger-
non. The resurrection, enlightenment
and eventual let-down theme of the
latter book/film is heavily empha-
sized here though, I guess, it's hard
to see who did it first, since Sacks'
book came out in 1973. In any case,
the film ultimately falls into that
basic "noble savage" genre where the
alien/outsider shows the people in
"our" world what life is all about.
Maybe if the theme wasn't sq
tritely treated, or the science was ex-
plained more, the film would be
more satisfying. Much of the science
is not shown, most notably the
techniques involved when Sayer fi-7
ures out that the patients' conditions
are related to Parkinson's. But the .
film is clouded in pseudo-scientific;
almost mystical, jargon making it
even more confusing. Furthermore,
because of its tear-jerking themes,
and purely emotional appeal the
story looses touch with reality (it's
part of Sacks' autobiography, aftet
all). The believability and power of
the idea is traded for the schmaltz add
melodrama of the film.
One of the worst things about the
film, though is that, even though it
attempts to give the patients port
trayed in the film some dignity
(DeNiro's performance as LeonardO
the patient who wakes up first and
who takes his new freedom the most
See AWAKE, Page 11
Paddy Moloney and the Chieftans display their instruments here.
Ronan Lynch's ex-neighbor Martin Fay is holding the fiddle in the
upper left corner. His son with drums probably will not be at
Chieftains, I have never seen him
without a ready smile. And he loves
The Chieftains also draw on a
broad audience. "Our audience is not
geared towards the Irish-Americans,
but towards the mainstream audi-
ence," says Moloney. "It's right
across the board. We're having a
great time. It's absolutely brilliant."
On a personal level, I have never
quite forgiven Martin Fay (the fid-
dler, and my former next-door neigh-
bor) for buying a drum set for his
son. I spent my undergraduate years
in Dublin trying to drown out his
son's thumping with my electric
guitar, but I never had enough am-
plification. There is a lesson in there
somewhere, but there is no time to
dwell on it now.
The 15-city Christmas tour
which will bring the Chieftains to
Ann Arbor will feature the award-
winning Kennelly Irish dancers, who
do a seasonal performance of the
Wren Boys. Moloney tried to ex-
plain exactly what the Wren Boys do
(it's an old Irish custom), but it
wasn't very clear. "They cop on
when they see what's happening," he
The Christmas show will also
feature carol singing, which
Moloney expects the audience to par-
ticipate in. "We do some very spe-
cial carols, the Wexford Carol and a
French carol," he says, "and an acap-
pella group, Amazin' Blue, are go-
ing to join us for a few songs."
The Chieftains are consummate
performers, and their music is so ac-
cessible that even first-time listeners
are in for a treat. Ann Arborites
should look forward to a good show.
THE CHIEFTANS Christmas show
stomps at Hill Auditorium on Satur-
day. Tickets prices range from $22
to $15, available from all Ticket-
Master outlets, plus the evil ser-
Save the LP!
. Daily Arts
Bona Drag seems a pointless re-
lease, even in the United States. Ev-
ery song, save the new and simply
fabu "Piccadilly Palare," has been is-
sued here as a single or B-side.
"Everyday is like Sunday" and
"Suedehead" were even featured on
Morrissey's first solo album, Viva
Hate. The B-sides chosen aren't even
the best he has released; the exclu-
sion of the smartly whimsical "Girl
Least Likely To" from the back of
"November Spawned a Monster,"
while including the far inferior "He
Knows I'd Love to See Him," looks
What makes this album worth it
is not Morrissey becoming any more
brilliant thought-wise, nor the vary-
ing quality of the music depending
on the guitarist, but how adroitly the
songs are ordered, creating an an-
thology of Morrissey's favorite trea-
Theme #1: Love, Lust, Sex,
"I wonder why you're only half-
ashamed?" - "Interesting Drug"
"Could you even bear to kiss her
full on the mouth (or anywhere)?"
- "November Spawned a Monster"
"An inbuilt guilt catches up with
you and as it comes around to your
place at five a.m./ it wakes you up
and it laughs in your face" - "Will
"Most people keep their brains
between their legs (don't you find)"
- "Such a Little Thing Makes such
a Big Difference"
Theme #2: Self-pity and hero-
worship with clever touches of sar-
"Oh I can't help quoting you be-
cause everything you said rings true"
- "The Last of the Famous Interna-
"Would you help me because I
just can't find my way in the world"
- "Ouija Board, Ouija Board"
"You may be repressed but you're
remarkably dressed" - "Hairdresser
"They forgot to close down Ar-
mageddon - come Armaggedon" -
"Every Day is like Sunday"
"When I lived in the Arse of the
world" - "He Knows I'd Love to
"There must be something horri-
bly wrong with me? - "Yes, I am
"He couldn't get over your
Grandma's omen" - "Lucky Lisp"
"I'm so sickened now "
"'cause I spent my WHOLE
LIFE IN RUINS" - "Disappointed"
Though these subjects and wiry
comments have always characterized
Morrissey's work with and without
the Smiths, the careful order displays
his ponderances engagingly. The
songs are refreshed by their new jux-
tapositions. Bona Drag retrospects
the past four or so years, hopefully
to remind us where he has been so
he can move forward again soon;.
Then he can stop playing sill
"This is the last song I will ever
sing/ No I've changed my mind
again" - "Disappointed"
- Annette Petrusa
See RECORDS, Page 9
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