The Michigan Daily
Wednesday, October 28, 1992
Social Distortion: born only to lose?
by Jill C. Banks
About eight years ago, at a small backyard
high school keg party in L.A., a typical garage
band was setting up for their first gig. The four
young 'uns were nothing but a handful of the
many folk termed "punks." Social Distortion -
Mike Ness on vocals and guitar, Dennis Dannell
on rhythm guitar, John Mainer on bass, and Chris
Reece on drums, were preparing to entertain a
group of high school cheerleaders, the milkman
the gardener, surfers with long hair, and anyone
else that wanted a cheap mug of beer. From
there, they took it one step at a time, tattoos and
In a recent interview, rhythm guitarist, Dennis
Dannell, expressed the difficulty of building
Social Distortion's name. "(We) thought it was
going to be nothing but fun and games and real
glamorous all the time which wasn't the case,"
he said. "We found out real quick that it takes a
lot of hard work and perseverance. Don't get me
wrong, it is cool being in a band. Basically we
feel that it's 23 hours of bullshit everyday and
one more to go."
Social Distortion's songs are the stories of
their lives. Dannell explained why all of the
lyrics seem so depressing. "We can relate to
singing about pain more than how happy we
are," he said. "One of the reasons is that we've
been heavily influenced by the '30s and '40s
Delta Blues and even Chicago Blues. When these
guys are sitting around playing their songs on
their front porch and singing about how much
pain they're going through, we can really relate
to that and they're really believable.
"It's really not what we set out to do, that's
just the way it happens. It's easier for us to write
about the emotion pain than how happy we are or
how good our dinner was last night."
The quartet does not like to be classified into
'(We) thought it was going to
be nothing but fun and games
and real glamorous all the
It ain't Frankie and Annette, but the Comedy Company tries really hard.
Live comedyawth no
beach and no blanket
by Melissa Rose Bernardo
Comedy Company producer Dan Abrams offered me money to "make
Comedy Company look really good." He was very intent on plugging
their upcoming show, "Beach Blanket Big Show," as much as he could. "I
think we've got a good thing here," Abrams said. But people don't realize
that it's there.
Comedy Company began only 14 years ago as the vision of a group of
struggling sketch writers. They called themselves "The Sunday Funnies"
and performed in the U Club or the Union Ballroom. Abrams explained
that while comedians can be "self-gratifying" and in search of "ego-mas-
saging," all comedians have "an inherent need to make other people
happy." They were not actors, but "they had a thirst for comedy and a
need to express themselves," Abrams said. Eventually the University
Activities Center (UAC) realized this, gave them funding, and found them
a place to perform (Mendelssohn Theater). "The Sunday Funnies"
became "Comedy Company" - a bare stage became, a designed set, a
piano between sketches became a band, and a group of writers found a
cast of actors to bring their ideas to life.
Abrams explained that Comedy Company has gradually become more
and more of a production, along the lines of SophShow or MUSKET.
They now spend a large portion of their budget on set design to give the
audience more visual stimulation. "In this age of MTV, super-production,
'Terminator 2' special effects, splicing, and multi-media, people have
been conditioned to thrive on the active visual," he said. The show
includes a 10 1/2 by 14 foot television screen, which will serve as a
constant visual backdrop for the show.
As for the format of the show, it has a very wide range of comedy,
from low comedy and slapstick to farce and sophisticated humor. He said
that part of "the meaning of life" of Comedy Company is to paper the
show toward the student crowds. There is a bit of profanity (the standard
"fuck MSU joke"), but no gratuitous swearing. "Barring the occasional F-
word - and it is very rare - (the show) is anything that you would see
on 'Saturday Night Live,"' Abrams said.
If you were wondering about the title, "Beach Blanket Big Show" has
nothing to do with the theme of the show. It is just Comedy Company tra-
dition, Abrams explained, to include the words "Big Show" in the title -
past titles have included "Big Showdown," "Bright Lights, Big Show,"
and "I Stubbed My Big Show."
As Abrams said, "It may sound lame, but we're basically a bunch of
kids writing what we think is funny; we get no credit, people don't get
paid, we put in more hours here than for our classes - just for the love of
the genre." Comedy Company has a loyal following ("I don't know if
they're just desperate for comedy or what"), but they want more than that.
For the love of comedy, Abrams entreated, take a chance on this new kind
of live entertainment.
BEACH BLANKET BIG SHOW will be presented October 29, 20, 31 at 8
p.m. at the Mendelssohn Theater. Tickets are available at the Union
Ticket Office, $4 in advance or $5 at the door. Call 763-TKTS,
a particular musical category, they simply believe
that they are a good old rock and roll band.
"We have a hard time with people classifying
us because we're always trying to keep progress-
ing and keep growing and not just get caught up
in the same old rut," commented Dannell. "We
just basically figure music's music. There's only
two kinds of music and that's either good or bad,
or if ya like it or ya don't."
The band says that they have a lot of good
music still left in them. When thrown the ques-
tion of how long Social Distortion will be
A Strait shooter
Good golly! A new singing cowboy
by Carina A. Bacon
OK, I knew everyone was mak-
ing fun of a movie based on country
music, but I still wasn't prepared for
what I saw when I got to the movie
theater on opening night: 30 people.
I knew there was going to be
trouble when the movie opened up
to Dusty singing in front of millions
of screaming fans. Wait, I thought,
is that supposed to be the legendary
George Strait? It couldn't be; t
didn't recognize that greaseball with
the beard, mustache and ponytail.
And I called myself a country fan?
An immediate cut to a well-worn
brunette with bright red lipstick and
tight red leather dress told me she
Directed by Christopher Cain; with
George Strait, Lesley Ann Warren, and
was going to be someone important.
When the concert was finished, sure
enough, we saw the brunette waiting
outside, past the screaming fans (are
they for real ... or did they just get
paid a lot?), in a sensual pose with
two beers in her hands. It's Lula
(Lesley Ann Warren); Dusty's man-
ager, wife, lover ... ? (We never re-
ally find out.)
When Dusty suddenly gets fed up
with the glitz of his Vegas-like show
(complete with fog, flashing lights,
and loud music), he decides to take
off from his own tour and hitches a
ride with a cowboy hat touting truck
driver. But wait, what happened to
Dusty's snakeskin cowboy boots? I
know I think, as the camera inno-
cently pans to the truck driver's feet;
there they are. And I thought the
south was supposed to be the
friendliest place in the world - you
can't even get a free ride!
In the middle of nowhere Dusty
finds a barber shop, and minutes
later he emerges with a clean-shaven
face (oh my God it really-is George
Strait!) and no ponytail. Well,
finally a little action (at least in the
looks department). I was even
beginning to hear a few chuckles of
laughter - Wow! Was that me?
After getting words of wisdom
from his grandma, Dusty decides to
visit the first bar he ever played in.
Two thumbs up for the bartender
who gives him a beer on the house.
(Was that adoration I saw in his eyes
as he stared at Dusty?) Hm, subtext
- maybe it's all in the subtext.
After a fight to defend a woman's
honor at the local honky-tonk that
night, Dusty ends up at her house
(don't worry, nothing happens).
Eventually Lula tracks him down
and takes Dusty back home to Las
Vegas to do his last show on the
tour. Little does she know, Harley
(the woman Dusty fell in love with,
whom Lula lied to and ruined his re-
lationship with) has a big rodeo con-
test in Vegas the same day of
Dusty's concert. Imagine that!
Does Harley win the contest? I
don't know, but she and her whole
Isabel Glasser, George Strait, and Lesley Ann Warren in what we sincerely
hope is not a typical, pure, country pose.
Sophie B. Hawkins
tongues and tails
Sophie B. Hawkins' "tongues and
tails" is as diverse as the administra-
tion would have you believe the
University is. There is no song type
on the LP. Instead, the song styles
range from the radio pop of "Damn I
Wish I was Your Lover" to the Bob
Dylan cover "I Want You." There's
the danceable rhythms of "Mysteries
We Understand," a supple love bal-
lad called "Before I Walk On Fire,"
and "Live and Let Love" sports a
jungle beat introduction. Hawkins
utilizes a variety of keyboard effects
on many of the tracks. The only re-
curring entity on the CD is the se-
ductive delivery of her vocals. This
technique is at its apex on "Carry
The track is introduced with a
drum beat reminiscent of a military
march and quickly floats into an airy
simmering of the song's title whis-
pering about. Her voice sounds like
a woman mid-orgasm, the music
eventually catching up to her. All
this is followed by a chaotic inter-
lude that waivers for some moments
but briskly floats off, fallen limp.
The song is apparently a celebration,
but it is not clear of what.
If Hawkins were to have a trade-
mark, that would be it. She's myste-
rious, her lyrics shrouded in ambi-
guity. Perhaps you don't know what
she wants, but her method is un-
- Kim Yaged
Alvin Lee carved his niche in
rock history as the fastest guitarist
this side of the Hudson by dazzling
the acid soaked masses at Wood-
stock with his band Ten Years After.
(The masses were also dazzled by
Richie Havens, The Grateful Dead
and the guy running the P.A.) But
many people noticed that behind the
high velocity notes were dumb songs
and bad singing. So you'd think he,
would record guitar-based albums
focusing on his swift lead work to
capitalize on his reputation.
However, "Zoom" is no such
thing. On Lee's newest release, he
plays either watered-down heavy
riffs or bad blues, neither type being
very faithful to its source or interest-
ing out of that context. On all the
songs the main points are his indis-
tinctive vocals (he sounds like Bob
Dylan in his country period) and his
insipid lyrics. (Best line: "You better
watch out for that Chernobyl
Lee has slowed down consider-
ably since his glory days, and his
guitar lines are uninspired and
lugubrious; he sounds like Richie
Sambora. Even George Harrison's
lovely slide guitar on "Real Life
Blues" fails to spark a similarly
moving work from Lee. The only
excitement comes when Lee steals
Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Six-
teen" riff. For an alleged guitar
genius, Lee seems out of ideas.
Once upon a time, you could de-
pend on Alvin Lee for at least some
flashy licks. Now that he's lost his
touch, "Zoom" retains only the
weak singing and poor songwriting
that the critics slagged him for way
ARTICULATING THE FAITH
IN AN AGE OF TECHNOLOGY
A series of three evening discussions-
I STUDENT ORGANIZATION DEVELOPMENT CENTER