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September 20, 1991 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-09-20

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ARTS

'The Michigan Daily,

Friday, September 20, 1991

Page 8

Don't dream, it's over: house is
crowded, but nobody's home

by Andrew J. Cahn
A fter a three year wait, another
Crowded House album has hit the
streets. Sort of. Woodface is in the
stores, waiting for people to come
in and buy it, but it's not exactly
leaving with many customers. This
problem plagued the band's previ-
ous release, Temple of Low Men, in
many aspects a much better record
than their blockbuster debut, but
lacking hit singles to carry it over
the top.
No one knew how to market
Crowded House, either. Many of the
band's songs are too abstract for
Top 40 radio, but because of their
two Top Ten smashes, "Don't
Dream It's Over" and "Something
So Strong," many college-radio
programmers also tend to shy away,
thinking the group is too main-
stream. While Temple can indeed be
classified as a lost album which just
could not find its niche, Woodface,
is a legitimate disappointment.
Every time I listen to the record,
I do my best to give it the benefit of
the doubt. You're right, I should be
more objective. But precedent
proves Crowded House makes great
discs. Each song on the first two re-
leases can stand on its own as well-
made pop, filled with creative im-
ages and catchy hooks. Songs like
"Mean to Me" and "Better Be
Home Soon" did not receive a great
deal of attention, but many House
fans would say they're both much
better than "Don't Dream It's
Over." "Now We're Getting
Somewhere" and "Sister Madly"
show the jazzy side of the band,
without alienating those who con-
nect better with the more straight-
ahead tunes.
So what's wrong with Wood-
face? The songs are good, but there
is really nothing on the album.
which makes a listener get up and
say, "Now THIS is a great tune."
"Chocolate Cake" has been getting
decent amounts of airplay and
MTV-time, but the band's assault
on American culture gets a bit over-
done by the end of the song.
Furthermore, coming from inhabi-
tants of the land down under (home
of Australian Rules Football, 25-
ounce beer cans, that "Oi" guy from
the Energizer commercials and
Crocodile Dundee), the point of the
song is almost ironic. Then again,
Im not a big fan of the current
grandiose/bombastic musicals, and I
find truth in the song's opening line,
"Not everyone in New York would
pay to see Andrew Lloyd Webber."
The best songs on the album are
the collaborations between ban-
dleader Neil Finn and his brother
and new House-mate, Tim. The men
write well together, and most of

Just Before Dark
Jim Harrison
Clark City Press
If English professors were
werewolves, a full moon might
turn them into Jim Harrison - a
wild yet oddly refined and articu-
late werewolf whose collection of
essays, Just Before Dark, obsesses
over food, death and the northern
Michigan outdoors. He's been com-
pared to Hemingway, but there's no
secret code of manhood here. Har-
rison is a sportsman and poet from
whom stories gush unstoppably,
even when he's trying to write non-
fiction. Reading these essays, then,
becomes something like going to a
hockey game. You can attend in
appreciation of technique or gore.
Harrison's essay on revenge, for
example, seems to aspire to a sort of
broad social commentary, but really
takes flight as a patchwork of vari-
ous cold-hearted payback stories
overheard in saloons across the
Midwest. Harrison lets the original
storytellers speak for themselves,
as seen in one anecdote of a cuck-
olded surgeon who finds his wife
and her lover together and castrates
the unfortunate man. It's all gross
Stephen King-type fun, except for
the victim. "My buddy had to move
to Detroit, because now everybody
knew. The nuts and bolts of the
story is, he is now a girl. He sits
down to pee and has taken up reli-
gion, becuase the simple fact is, the
boy will never fuck again."

At its nerviest, Just Before Dark
is reminiscent of Hunter S. Thomp-
son's travel stories, as if gonzo
journalism had relocated to Walden
Pond. Harrison has surrendered
himself utterly to the minute plea-
sures of an appropriate cooking
spice, an acid trip or the well-turned
poetic phrase. The book is studded
with detail: imprecise recipes sug-
gested by a few crucial ingredient,
or a prime Florida fishing spot de-
scribed by the blueness of the water.
For a castration-poet, Harrison
never seems far from food.
"Blood," he concludes, "is antis
erotic except in a steak."
Harrison seems to cherish detail
for the noblest reasons. He knows
life is short. For a poet under the
shadow of the Upper Peninsula (hq
seems to see it cresting out of the
Great Lakes like some half-mythical
incarnation of Hell), the Chateau
Margaux tastes more poignant, the
tales of Key West charter fishing
more enthralling. But these side-
trips are ultimately memories.
Though you may be transported by*
the essays on travel, Harrison's
prose invariably comes back to that
shadow - the wintry desolation of
northern Michigan and the U.P. -.
as a place in which to tell us his best
stories and serve us his best food and
wine. And with autumn coming on,
that seems as good a definition of
home as any.:A

-Joseph SchreiberI

It's a goofy back-drop, but Crowded House (clockwise from top, Neil Finn, Tim Finn, Paul Hester and Nick
Seymour) is just a bunch of goofy guys. If only they weren't trying so damn hard to look so damn serious then
they probably wouldn't look so, well, goofy.

the songs feature lead vocals by
both of them, not as duets or har-
monies, but set in interesting

"Four Seasons in One Day," is a
sweet ballad cut from the same
mold as Temple's "Into Temp-

Coming from inhabitants of the land down un-
der (home of Australian Rules Football, 25-
ounce beer cans, that "Oi" guy from the
Energizer commercials and Crocodile
Dundee), the point of "Chocolate Cake" is al-
most ironic

sausage dog! And he can't stand
Beelzebub/ Cos he looks so good in
black...
The numbers, written by Neil
Finn alone, for some reason seem to
fall flat. "Whispers and Moans"
has an innovative bass-line, but is
undermined by the dullness of the
melody. "Fall at Your Feet" does
not make anyone drop to his or her
knees, and "Fame Is" is a forced at-
tempt at trying to sound like
"Radio, Radio." In fact, the only
solo writing job which stands out
on this record is drummer Paul
Hester's "Italian Plastic."
If you don't have either of
Crowed House's other albums, you
don't know what you're missing: go
See HOUSE, Page 10

Young Fresh Fellows
Electric Bird Digest
Frontier
I had never heard of Young Fresh
Fellows before I purchased They
Might Be Giants' 1990 release,
Flood. On the track "Twisting," the
Giants say, "She doesn't have to
have her Young Fresh Fellows tape
back." Naturally, after listening to
this passage day and night for more
than a month, I got to wondering
about these Fellows.
Who were they? Were they for
real? Moreover, were they any
good? I soon found one of their re-
cords in the alternative bin -
1989's This One's For the Ladies.
Since I had the utmost confidence in
TMBG's musical tastes, I decided to
fork over the $7.98 and take home
my very own copy.
As the piezoelectric needle in my
turntable bounced along the vinyl
grooves and made the paper in the
speakers vibrate in a semblance of
living sound, I found myself alter-
nately surprised, confused, inter-
ested and, finally, enamored: sur-
prised because of how downright
loud it was (another line in
"Twisting" mentions the dB's, so I
was expecting something similar);
confused because this didn't seem

like the kind of music TMBG would
like; interested because the tune-
were actually quite listenable; an(
finally enamored because this was,
when the plaster dust finally set-
tied, one hell of a good album. I
liked it so much I went out and
bought all the YFF recordings I
could find.
Their music - which I can best
describe as being punkabilly, sort of
like Johnny Cash meets the
Ramones - is catchy and inventive
while still being comfortably
familiar. They quickly became one
of my favorite bands. I became suce
a fan that I bought a whole greaten'
hits CD because it had one prey
viously unreleased track on it.
But what would have happened it
things had been different? For
example, what if Flood had been re-
leased in 1991 instead of 1990? In
that case, my first listen to YFF
probably would've been their latest
offering, Electric Bird Digest. A4
after that I may have decided that
they weren't worth my time. Aro
then I wouldn't have spent allny
money buying their albums.
As you may have already guesse'
I'm more than a little disappointeg
with the Seattle-based Fellows
See RECORDS, Page 9

point/counterpoint patterns.
"It's Only Natural" and "Wea-
ther With You" give the listeners
exactly what they want to hear,
while another combined effort,

tation." Finally, "There Goes God"
plays the part of the obligatory
weird-song-on-an-alternative-rock-
album. The chorus is just great:
Hey don't look now! There Goes
God/ In his sexy pants and his

I

1

1
University Activities. Center t k1 e a t r e 1991
6pm Monday 9/23
in the Michigan Union Ballroom
Impact Dance Theatre is for
Co-Ed Non-Dance Majors
For more Information, call UAC @ 763 1107

1

who what where when

F

Free movies on campus! Japan:
A History in Film, a series of
Japanese period films, kicks off
tonight with Teinosuke Kingusa's
Gate of Hell. Famous for its color
cinematography, the film won the
Palme d'or at Cannes in 1953, and is
playing at 7:00 in Lorch Hall. Also
tonight, the Program in Film/Video
studies continues its series of Race
Films with two all-black cast films
by Spencer Williams, Blood of Jesus
and Dirty Gertie from Hollywood,
beginning at 7:00 in Angell Hall
Auditorium A. Prof. Francille
Wilson from the EMU Department

of History will speak about Wil-
liams after the first film.
In association with its exhibit
Rembrandt and the Bible, the
University Museum of Art is
sponsoring a showing of Alexander
Korda's film biography Rembrandt,
tomorrow evening in Angell Hall
Auditorium A. Showtimes are 7:00,
8:45, and 10:15, and admission is
$3.00. The Rembrandt exhibit runs
at the Museum through October 20.
See WHO, Page 10

10

The Young Fresh Fellows (or, shall we say, four aging goons in
sunglasses) will fill many listening hours with excitement and joy.

I-

mm"

After Midnight . .
Since 1948 2Pd
Like pizz was meant to b.

.

LATE NIGHT SPECIAL-
Call after midnight, mention this flyer,
and get any pizza with 2 toppings for only
$6.95 (pius tax). Only at:
U-M Central Campus
546 Packard at Hill

AVOI RUSH!

You are already accepted at
=
CAMPUS CHAPEL
1236 Washtenaw Court

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