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February 15, 1994 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-02-15

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's

'Crazy' still has Gershwin groove

By JASON CARROLL
The musical "Crazy for You" has recently
been called "The All-American Musical." That
label fits it well because the quintessential Ameri-
can maid, Ann B. Davis (better known as Alice
from "The Brady Bunch") even has a cameo
appearance in the current touring production.
"Crazy for You" began to take shape a few
years back when Ken Ludwig ("Lend Me A
Tenor") revamped the book to the Gershwin clas-
sic musical "Girl Crazy."
Originally, "Crazy for You" was intended to
be a revival of "Girl Crazy," but after the discov-
ery of four new Gershwin tunes and numerous
plot changes, they ended up with a virtually new
show. But die hard Gershwin fans fear not! While
the show is different in many ways it still contains
musical theater standards like "Embraceable You,"
"I Got Rhythm," "They Can't Take That Away
From Me" and "Someone to Watch Over Me."
Set in the 1930s, "Crazy for You" tells the
story of Bobby Child, a wealthy playboy who is
sentto Nevada by his overpowering mother (Davis)
to foreclose on the mortgage of a decrepit theater.
When Bobby arrives, he falls for Polly Baker, the
only girl in a town of 157 men. (He sure beats the
odds.) In typical musical fashion, mistaken iden-
tities and confused situations cause tension within
their relationship.
"It's a very good show ... it's three hours of
finales. It's just incredible singing, dancing and
staging. The music is absolutely out of the world.
I can say all this because I only have a brief on
stage appearance and get to see the show a lot,"
Davis commented. "It got three Tonys you know
- Best Musical, Costumes and Choreography."
Theoretically, Davis has been retired for the
last few years, but her phone keeps ringing. "I'm
at a point in my life when people are looking for
funny ladies, I'm one of the first people they think
of," Davis quipped. Prior to her role in "Crazy for
You," Davis performed on stage in Canada, North
Carolina and near her home in Pittsburgh for the
past three years.

Many people are unaware of the fact that Davis
graduated from the University in 1948. She has an
extensive background in theater here starring in
University productions of "I Remember Mama"
and "You Can't Take It With You." Davis thinks
that her name may have gotten lost in the shuffle
over the years. "At the time I graduated and began
to make a name for myself it was in television, and
they just weren't anywhere near as impressed
with that as they were with people who made a
name for themselves on the stage."
Davis has been nominated for an Emmy four
times and won twice for her role as Schultzy on
"The Bob Cummings Show." She is not ashamed
of her television work, but prefers the theater.
"The stage is much more fun to do because the
audience is right there, where you can get your
hands on them. I think anyone who has ever done
the stage prefers it, but it's not always economi-
cally feasible.
"The things that are known the best are not
necessarily your best work or the thing you like
the best, but you go out and do the job you have.
I've done other productions that I've cared more
about (than 'The Brady Bunch')."
Davis hasn't seen the theatrical incarnation of
her television show ("The Bradys Live"), and
stressed, "I never had any particular desire to see
it, to tell you the truth. Satires are not usually
kind."
But don't think Davis doesn't have a sense of
humor. This summer, movie audiences can see
her in "The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult."
Davis explained her part: "The perfect man mar-
ries the perfect girl and they have the perfect kid.
They come home to the perfect house so, of
course, they have to have the perfect maid -- who
has to be Alice. It was just one days work, but it
was fun to do."
Okay "Brady" fans -- hold your breath ...
Davis said that a "Brady" film is in the works as
you read this. Paramount is going to re-cast the
Brady kids and audiences will soon be able to
revisit the clan at their local movie theater. Davis

assured, "We (the original Bradys) will all be in
cameo roles, but I don't know what shape that will
take as of yet."
,Davis doesn't watch "Brady" re-runs often,
but recently she had to watch some episodes while
researching for a new cookbook she is writing.
"(The publishers) wanted me to come up with a
few anecdotes about what happened on the set and
I couldn't remember because that was 20 years
ago. I don't even remember a lot of the plots. My
fans know the show better than I do." Davis
wouldn't reveal any information about life on the
"Brady" set, simply stating, "You'll have to wait
until the cookbook comes out."
She did, however, reveal her favorite episode.
"It was the time when it was 119 degrees on the set
and part of the plot was that I had to get dumped
into a big tank of water in the backyard. Let me tell
you, I looked forward to that dunking all day long.
I was the only cool one on the set."
"Brady" popularity has soared over the years
and Davis has a feeling why. "People made a lot
of fun of the show at the time, but I really think that
the reason for it's popularity was it dealt with the
perfect family we all wished we belonged to, and
none of us do. Everybody wants to be in a family
where the parents love you enough to discipline
you, your brothers and sisters rally to you when
you're in trouble and, of course, you have a good
old confidant - the housekeeper. You know we
all wish we had an Alice. I wish I'd had an Alice."
What's next for Ann B. Davis? Since she is
technically retired she takes a laid back approach
to her career. "I haven't the foggiest idea. I never
know until the phone rings. I'm going to be with
this tour for a while and then go home and wait for
a call."

CRAZY FOR YOU will play tonight through
March 6 at the Fisher Theatre (3011 West
Grand Boulevard, Detroit). Performances are
Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays
at 7:30 p.m., plus Saturdays and Sundays at 2
p.m. Tickets are $32.50-$55.00. Call 872-1000
for more information, or 645-6666 for tickets.

Ann B. Davis (Alice in

Fanclub is all smiles and melodies

Alice in Chains
Jar of Flies
Columbia
Like its predecessor "Sap," "Jar of
Flies" is a stop-gap EP that is sup-
posed to show "another side" of Alice
in Chains while they gear up for a full-
length album. But that is a misleading
notion -- there is no other side to
Alice in Chains.
No matter what instrumentation
they use, their music is still gloomy,
black and heavy. "Jar of Flies" may
nothave the dark, harrowing distorted
guitars or gut-churning rhythms of
the epochal "Dirt," but the essence of
the band continues to burn. Alice in
Chains is not a good-time band; there
is no fun to be heard anywhere in their
music. Even in a deceptively light-
hearted number like "Swing on This,"
the surprisingly jaunty, swing-styled
music is undercut by the despairing
lyrics. "Jar of Flies" has nothing but
dirges -albeit mainly acoustic-based
dirges -- as if R.E.M. had recorded
"Dirt" for"Automatic forthePeople."
And "Jar of Flies" could not exist
without either "Automatic for the
People," "Sap" or "Dirt." It is the
hazy, druggy coda to "Dirt," the final
dope-dream of the junkie that suf-
fered through that album - someone
who made it out alive, but still craves
smack. "Jar of Flies" only appears to
be gentle. Underneath the surface, the
music is just as bleak as "Dirt." And
nearly as good.
- Tom Erlewine
Soulhat
Outdebox
Epic
With grunge music gasping for its
last breaths, it looks like the new rage

and style of music will be the peppy
and poppy "alterna-pop." Artists like
The Lemonheads, Gin Blossoms and
Blind Melon have all exploded into
the mainstream, creating an explo-
sion of new bands trying to clone their
successes.
The Texan foursome Soulhat has
released their major label debut,
"Outdebox," which combines this
breed of pop with their own personal-
ized style of music. Soulhat creates a
blend of absorbing rock with a splash
of Texas blues to give the album a
somewhat original feel.
The album's opener, "Prayin' for
Rain," sounds exactly like a Blind
Melon track and is an obvious at-
tempt to cash in on their success.
While even a few more songs are
very similar to "Prayin' for Rain" and
other Blind Melon songs, Soulhat
branches out their Texan roots on
some of "Outdebox"'s other tracks.
"Here" is a mellow amalgamation of
a southern rock sound with a sliver of
country. "Stink Pot" also has the Texas
sound, and a deep influence from
Stevie Ray Vaughan. "Stink Pot" is
one of the best on the album and has
a bluesy instrumental sound, but vo-
calist Kevin McKinney's vocals lack
the same raspy soulful sound that is
an essential part of the blues style of
music.
Soulhat's pop sound is probably
best displayed on "Things Aren't Like
That Anymore," which is the typical
Blind Melon or Gin Blossom song,
but with more soul and strength.

"Brian Waltz" is probably the most
impressive song on "Outdebox." The
track is a rich ballad with a cello
arrangement that displays the musi-
cal potential and emotion of the band.
The main problem Soulhat has is
their similarity to Blind Melon. A
good number of the tracks have the
same peppy, upbeat guitar that goes
along with the obnoxious dancing Bee
Girl. However, when they perform
theirown style, the results are impres-
sive, and it is their Texas rock influ-
ence which keeps the album fresh and
somewhat original.
- Brian Gnatt
John Michael
Montgomery
Kickin' It Up
Atlantic
John Michael Montgomery tip-
toed into the country scene last year
with good looks and the ballad "I
Love the Way You Love Me." His
newest single, the romantic "I Swear,"
follows in the same soft footsteps.
With the lyrics "For better or worse,
'til death do us part, I'll love you with
every beat of my heart," the song is
destined to choke up wedding-goers
for years to come.
However, one song does not nec-
essarily a good album make. "Kickin'
It Up" has its problems. Specifically,
the best songs on the album are the
ballads but there are only four, in-
See RECORDS, Page 8

By THOMAS CROWLEY
Teenage Fanclub has a reputation
for focusing all of their efforts and
energy into writing and performing

Teenage Fanclub
and Yo La Tengo
St. Andrew 's Hall
February 12, 1994
powerfully melodic pop songs. Their
entire performance at St. Andrew's
Hall on Saturday night was a strong
testament to the unique notoriety.
To begin with, there often exists a
barrier between bands and their audi-
ence -- one that keeps the fans grov-
eling at the feet of their stars. This
Glasgow quartet wants nothing to do
with such nonsense, however. Soon
after the doors of the Detroit concert
hall opened, drummer Brendan
O'Hare himself tended to the duty of
peddling concert t-shirts in the lobby.
In completely unassuming wit,
O'Hare revealed his expectations for
the night's show: "It'll be rubbish."
As it turned out, it was one of the
farthest things from rubbish, and
O'Hare's modesty enhanced the bril-
liance of the event.
Opening band Yo La Tengo's
frenzied folk ramblings was high-
lighted by the wild guitar and organ
pounding of Ira Kaplan, who shook
madly for the duration of the set.
Though some of the rhythmic phrases

became a bit tedious, the trio was
definitely successful in heightening
the excitement and anxiety of the
crowd.
An hour later, Teenage Fanclub
took the stage, all smiles and noncha-
lance. After Norman Blake's enthusi-
astic greeting and a few remarks in a
thick Scottish brogue, the Fannies
launched into the first three songs of
their latest album, "Thirteen," begin-
ning with the stinging T-Rexesque
intro-riff of "Hang On."
The band is privileged that it has
remarkable singing across the board
and, just as it is on the albums, vocal
responsibilities were shared between
Blake, bassist Gerry Love and guitar-
ist Raymond McGinley. Whenever
one took the lead, the other two pro-

vided the background harmonies.
When McGinley stepped up to sing
his own "120 Minutes," Blake
strapped on Love's bass as Gerry
plucked along on mandolin.
It was Love's 26th birthday that
night, and the blushing bassist re-
fused to allow the rest of the band to
lead everyone in a singing of "Happy
Birthday," but everyone was quite
content as the band instead turned out
ajingle-jangley version of"Mr. Tam-
bourine Man." This was the first of a
handful of covers as Fanclub later
asked the audience to "Take the
Skinheads Bowling" and in the en-
core delivered a deliciously giddy
"Goody Goody Gumdrops" amongst
a wealth of original songs from all
three of their releases.

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