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November 17, 1993 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1993-11-17

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, November 17, 1993 - 7

Machines of Loving
Grace
Concentration
Mammoth
So you like that Nine Inch Nails
stuff, do you? Well then, is there a
deal here for you. Well, not really, but
ou should probably pay attention to
this review anyway. Machines of
Loving Grace have many similarities
to Trent Reznor's group, but mostly
they have that sort of evil techno and
guitar feel. Don't get your hopes too
high, though, because Machines are
not as hard, as intelligent or as inter-
esting as NIN.
Not that "Concentration" is such a
bad album. It has been executed per-
*ectly for a standard evil techno and
guitar band. It has unexpected bits of
music and sound, its lyrics are weird
enough to keep most listeners inter-
ested and it's well paced enough to
not bore most people. It's a fine bag-
pipe / synthesizer / guitar-weirdness
experience.
The songs are a bit all over the
place, however. "Perfect Tan (Bikini
toll)" is potentially a cheesy theme
for a spy movie and represents the fun
side of the band. This compares fa-
vorably to the self-reflexively evil
songs such as "Albert Speer" that
seemjust a little too contrived. Some-
thing just isn't quite right when you
break into hysterics at the supposedly
intense lyric of "sleep with the fishes
tonight." However, the overall NIN
feel combines with an almost
'Therapy? sound on several tracks,
giving a nice, easy alternative to the
"Albert Speer"s of the album. It's
nothing groundbreaking, nothing spe-
cial, but you might like it anyway.
-Ted Watts
Various
Klezmer Pioneers
ounder Records
Spanning from 1905 to 1952,
"Klezmer Pioneers" resurrects some
of the rarest and oldest klezmer re-
cordings made in eastern Europe and
stateside. Violins and clarinets lead
the small ensembles and expanded
bands, mixing minormoods with reel-
ing frolics.
While early recordings pidgin-
holed much of the world's music as
*"ethnic music," relegating the music
to the historical wayside, Yiddish
klezmer music is one of the few tradi-
tions which keptitsheadabove water.
Because of its ability to mix with
other musics and its rebirth in the
1970s, klezmer music was not sucked
into anonymity by the whirlpool of78
rpm schlock spinning on most
people's Victrolas.
Tracing most musical traditions
ia vinyl fallaciously sets the histori-
cal vanishing point at the origin of
recorded sound. Yet, the popular pro-
duction of klezmer music shares its
conception with Edison's invention.
Only with the loosening of socio-
religious constraints through theJew-
ish Haskalah ("enlightenment") fol-
lowed by Socialist and nationalist
movements, could a secular form of
he klezmer tradition arise.
Most klezmer musicians did not
confine themselves exclusively to the
Yiddish tradition. Like the tremen-
dous cembalo and tsimbl player Jo-
seph Moskowitz, most klezmer-
smiths sampled liberally from Rus-

sian, Greek and Turkish songsters,
with peppy dashes of American rag-
time.
Joseph Cherniavski and his Yid-
dish-AmericanJazz Band's bridal ser-
enade shows klezmer's diverse influ-
ences. Beginning with a slow lament,
they jump into a rousing and delicate
instrumentation, blending old world
beat with classical proficiency, mili-
tary band flutters, and jazz syncopa-
tion.
Kandel's Orchestra juxtaposes
vaudeville theater and musical inter-
tldes into a wacky skit. Belf's Ruma-
nian Orch sounds like a John Philip
Sousa march played as a drunken
waltz, the clarinet and violin adding a
fiery attack that even Sousa's band
couldn't match.

The illuminary clarinet fervor of
Dave Tarras and, his predecessor,
Naftule Brandwein provide some of
the brightest moments on the CD.
Their mocking clarinet snickers and
facile fingerings have inspired gen-
erations. Where would Spike Jones
be without them?
- Chris Wyrod
William S. Burroughs
Spare Ass Annie And Other
Tales
Island Red Label
Once again, folk anti-hero Will-
iam S. Burroughs has released an al-
bum of readings with the backdrop of
(mostly) borrowed music. This time
out he is accompanied by the Dispos-
able Heroes of Hiphoprisy as well as
"Dead City Radio" producer Hal
Willner.
This new mix of music makers
lends a distinct change to the feel of
Burroughs' work. The previously
mentioned "Dead City Radio" uti-
lized archival tapes of the NBC Sym-
phony Orchestra and had a strained,
almost painful feel to it, which was
not unrelated to the material at hand
but it was not all that accessible to a
younger audience. "Spare Ass Annie"
valiantly overcomes this by mostly
using a sound backdrop of either im-
mediately recognizable classical
hymns or friendly beats. Happily, the
music is entirely unrelated to the
dreadful Kurt Cobain guitar track on
the Burroughs single "The Priest They
Call Him." Instead, it lends an opti-
mism to the album that is happily
accepted after the strung-out feel of
Burroughs' other recent recordings.
Burroughs' gritty, ancient voiceis
thrown into sharp contrast against the
music on this album, giving his words
greater force than would be the case
with melodies of the same mind-set.
His surrealism is given the clarity it
deserves, and the listener cannot help
. but stare at his freaks. The often
present character Dr. Benway makes
an appearance in a bathroom per-
forming open-heart massage with a
plunger, and is well-accompanied on
the album by people with names like
Centipeter and Fish Cunt Sam. The
ever-popular "Did I Ever Tell You
About the Man Who Taught His
Asshole to Talk?" is infinitely better-
performed by Burroughs than by Pe-
ter Wellerand satiates those who know
Burroughs only from "Naked Lunch."
Many musicians try to give deep
lyrics to their music. William S.
Burroughs makes musicians try to
give music to his deep words.
-Ted Watts
Nick Cave and the
Bad Seeds
Live Seeds
Mute/Elektra
Nick Cave has come a long way
from the all-out screaming attack of
the country-thrash act the Birthday
Party. In between that band's last
effortandhis latestwith the Bad Seeds,
Cave has worked his way from the
minimalist sound of "The First Born
Is Dead" to the twisted covers of
1986's "Kicking Against the Pricks"
to the straight rock & roll of "Tender

Prey" to the more acoustic and lush
stylings of "Henry's Dream." "Live
Seeds," recorded during Nick Cave
and the Bad Seeds' European and
Australian tour of 1992-93, concen-
trates primarily on material from his
last four years. From a performance
standpoint, this is prime Cave. Ever
the showman, he howls his way
through 1985's "Tupelo" and rants
like a storyteller gone mad on "John
Finn's Wife." The strings that origi-
nally sweetened the interludes of "The
Good Son" have been replaced to
great effect by an eerie keyboard.
Cave's usual cast of outcasts, mis-
fits, killers, lovers and drunks popu-
late "Live Seeds"just as much as they
do his studio works. The condemned
death-row criminal of "The Mercy
Seat" gives way to the twisted boy-
friend of "Deanna." Likewise, the
adulterer of "John Finn's Wife" rubs
elbows with the pathetic drunk of
"Brother My Cup is Empty" and the
hopeful soul of "New Morning." His
voice has mellowed a bit with age and
he fairly croons "The Ship Song," but
can stillmarshal upenough of a frenzy
to make "Jack the Ripper" sound genu-
ine.
As it dishes up many of his best
post-Birthday Party songs, "Live
Seeds" can serve as either a good
introduction/greatest hits compilation
for Nick Cave initiates or as a testi-
mony for the already converted to the
fury that the man can whip up on
stage.
- Dirk Schulze
PJ Harvey
4-Track Demos
Island
Polly Harvey, the iconoclastic
British rocker, has managed to shock
the listening public twice this year,
first in April with her stunning second
album "Rid Of Me;" she now scan-
dalizes everyone's ears with the re-
lease of the demos she cut for the
album at the end of '92. Unhappy
with the way producer Steve Albini
garbled some of her best singing and
playing on "Rid Of Me," she has now
revealed that album's songs in their
stark glory on "4-Track Demos."
Far from being the more "acces-
sible" release that most expected, the
demos are in fact far nastier than
many of the final versions of the songs.
Now the listening public can clearly
hear such lyrics as "Robert DeNiro sit
on my face" from the B-side "Reel-
ing," and "No need for God/No need
for him," from the album track
"Snake." The songs are now raw and
skeletal, stripped bare of the intrusive
production techniques that muddied
Harvey's voice and guitar playing.
Her keen sense of rhythm playing
almost makes drums and bass obso-
lete; they're notmissed on this album.
Her voice, too, is showcased in
this spartan format: on these tracks,
particularly "Legs" and "Snake,"
Harvey commits to tape some of the
most agonized shrieks, howls and
groans ever recorded - they sound
more painful than dying, in fact they
sound like being unborn --and some
of the most subtle vocal nuances as
well. All of the songs are starkly beau-

tiful and powerful, particularly "Rid
of Me," "Hook," "Driving" and
"Easy." And as if hearing PJ Harvey's
songs as she intended them was not
important enough to make "4-Track
Demos" a must-buy for fans, the five
"new" tracks are so astonishingly good
that it is criminal not to experience
them. By releasing the4-track demos,
Harvey has only increased the de-
mand for her uncompromising, intel-
ligent and strikingly different talent.
- Heather Phares
Naked Soul
Visiting Your Planet
Scotti Bros. Records
If albums could be judged by their
covers, then Naked Soul's "Visiting
Your Planet" should never even be
looked at, let alone bought. Fortu-
nately for this three-piece from Cali-
fornia, looks can be deceiving. The
front cover features ajack-in-the-box
clown and the back, which lists such
song titles as "Reflections," "Heaven"
and "You, Me and Jack Kerouac,"
suggest that what Naked Soul has to
offer is nothing more than mindless,
spineless college rock (i.e.
Lemonheads, The Wonder Stuff). This
feather-weight rock is indeed present,
but within limits.
Some songs are, in fact, quite good.
The powerful opening track "Heli-
copter Man" shows some initial prom-
ise, and the second, "Wishing Again"
(which brings to mind Catherine
Wheel), lead to the belief that Naked

Soul may be building to the climax of
a fantastic album. Then, suddenly,
with the third track it all comes crash-
ing down.
The rest of the album is an adven-
ture into a dark abyss of boredom and
mediocrity. Songs like "Wound" and
"Heaven" are, quite simply, chores to
listen through, and others, such as
"Dizzy" and "A Little More," are
unspectacular excuses for pop songs.
There is a slight reprieve in the
middle with the aforementioned "You,
Me and Jack Kerouac," which has
guitar hooks that attack and pierce the
senses (after some introductory Sonic
Youthian feedback shenanigans). The
vocals on this fine song are aggres-
sive and accentuate the need for the
listener to pay attention to the song.
However, this one song sits atop a
high mountain - a steep climb to
reach and a sharp drop-off afterwards.
Perhaps as an EP or a single, with
the four or five decent tracks, "Visit-
ing Your Planet" would be worth-
while to check out. However, as an
album, it is nothing more than a vast
desert with a smattering of oases.
- Matt Carlson
Scorpions
Face The Heat
Mercury
It's a sad state of affairs when we
need an aging hard rock band to point
out what's wrong with the world. But
this is what the Scorpions' "Face The

Heat" largely attempts to do. And
why not? The political "Wind Of
Change," from their 1990 "Crazy
World" album, was their biggest hit
ever. The problem is these songs lack
the type of melodic hooks which dis-
tinguished earlier Scorpion anthems
and power ballads such as "No One
Like You."
Indeed, these songs teeter on the
brink of rocking like a hurricane, but
too often fall short. For instance,
"Alien Nation," a futuristic chorus-
heavy rocker, discusses the violence
and the hate permeating our society
but it thunders forgettably without
that undefinable musical punch that
pushes a rock song to anthem status.
Ditto for "Unholy Alliance," a weak,
robotic-sounding statementon today's
troubled times. That is not to say,
however, that this album is without
merit.
"Someone To Touch" incorporates
melodic energy and pulsing rhythms
in true Scorpions style. "Under The
Same Sun,"alighter, Beatlesque song
of peace, showcases a deeper range
and gets across its political message
more effectively: Unfortunately, too
many of the songs ("Hate To Be Nice,"
"Taxman Woman," "Nightmare Av-
enue") are mere repetitions of the old
standby hard rock formula of slick
rhythms, fast guitars and screaming
choruses. All of which doesn't make
"Face The Heat" a bad album - just
not a great one, either.
- Kristen Knudsen

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