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March 02, 1995 - Image 23

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-03-02

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The Michigan Da

ail Weekend etc. - Thursday, March 2, 1995 - 11

In the Sun box set, feel as one

Jerry Lee Lewis is a fine artist, even if his taste in women runs a bit out of societal norms.

Continued from page 9
Hopefully nudity won't bother you
at one point or another, all of the
men are partially or fully naked. But
that won't detract from the storyline.
A truly moving, hilarious, biting, up-
lifting, timely, intelligent work - do
* hear a Pulitzer for McNally?
"Smokey Joe's Cafe" ...
Everyone's talking about "Smokey
Joe's" because it's one of the two new
musicals this season, along with "Sun-
set Boulevard" (excluding "A Christ-
mas Carol"). The. show was still in
previews when I was in New York, so
my friend and I called for half-price
preview tickets. We were told there
vere none. When we questioned that
unorthodox procedure, we were told
by a snippy box office worker, "Well,
this is going up against 'Sunset Bou-
levard' for the Best Musical Tony
Directed by Jerry Zaks, and com-
ing from a highly favorable Los An-
geles run, "Smokey Joe's" is enter-
taining - but by no means is it a
threat to "Sunset." The show is a
Wodge-podge of over 40 songs by
Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller that you
know and love: "Stand by Me,"
"Jailhouse Rock," "On Broadway,"

"Poison Ivy," "Yakety Yak," "Hound
Dog" and "Love Potion No. 9," to
name just i few. The versatile cast of
nine sings a nd dances their way through
the material with vim and vigor, and
there's never a dull moment (a Zaks
trademark). The show also offers some
great African-American roles, which
is quite a rarity on the Great White
Perhalps the greatest feature of
"Smokey Joe's" is Joey McKneely's
choreography, a shoo-in for that Tony
award. While there are no real flaws
with theshow, it remains just a revue,
and whNe it may heat up the Virginia
Theatre for a couple hours, you won't
leave smokin'.
"Jack's Holiday"... Riding on the
success of the "Phantom of the Opera"
and "Jekyll & Hyde" musicalizations
comes this dark and intriguing gem
about - you guessed it - Jack the
Ripper,, Don't let the blood scare you
- this is perhaps the best thing hap-
pening off-Broadway and better than
much !n Broadway. The whole thing
has sort of a "Les Misdrables"-esque
quality I - and that's why it's so fasci-
nating ;.
Director Susan Schulman ("The
Secre t Garden") directs, and a lot of
other big names are at work here. The
sets (Jerome ["Kiss of the Spider
Won ian"] Sirlin) and lighting (Robert

Wierzel) are on par with most anything
we've seen on Broadway - we espe-
cially liked the cinematic use ofprojec-
tions. Music and lyrics are by Randy
Courts, book and lyrics by Mark St.
Germain. The book scenes could use a
little trimming, but the music's solid
and it all makes for a compact 2 1/2-
hour evening. Schulman makes great
use of the small stage at Playwright's
Keep an eye out for "Jack" - a few
workshops and this musical could very
well make it to Broadway. Our fingers
are crossed.
"Les Miserables" ... The only
place I had ever seen "Les Miz" was at
the Fisher Theatre in Detroit, but it was
fitting that my 10th time should be at
the intimate Imperial Theatre on Broad-
way. If you're going to see "Les Miz,"
you might want to wait until Catherine
("Loving") Hickland is out of the role
of Fantine. The soap star is one-dimen-
sional and programmed. Suffering
through Hickland is worth it, though,
to hear pop singer Shanice belt out "On
My Own" (and Fantine dies pretty early
in the show anyway). You'll also want
to catch Craig Rubano as Marius; of the
seven men I've seen in this role, Rubano
is the first one I believed.
Still ahead and eagerly antici-
pated ... The revival of "How to
Succeed in Business Without Really
Trying," directed by Des ("Tommy")
McAnuff, choreographed by Wayne
Cilento, fresh from the La Jolla Play-
house in San Diego and starring Mat-
thew Broderick. The buzz from L.A.
is that the show is hot, and so is
Broderick. Though it doesn't have a
shot at the Best Musical Revival Tony
(not with "Showboat" around), it
should have a healthy run (Frank
Loesser is just so revival-friendly -
example, 1992's "Guys and Dolls"
which just recently closed) and might
cash in for Broderick. Investors are
gutting out the Richard Rodgers The-
atre in preparation; previews begin next
week. ... "Hamlet" starring Ralph
Fiennes. It's slated for just a few
months (April 14 - July 22) at the
Belasco Theatre, but Fiennes is hot and
Broadway is holding its breath.
University graduates on Broad
See BROADWAY, Page 12

By Dirk Schulze
Daily Arts Writer
If you had to name the one man
who mostdramatically changed the
course of popular music in America,
you doubtlessly would find your-
self tossing around the name of Sam
Phillips as a very distinct possibil-
ity. As owner and operator of the
Memphis Recording Service, later
to become Sun Records, Phillips
recorded some of the most exciting
and important music to emerge in
the '50s. That the career of Elvis
Presley was launched with his first
commercial recordings there only
hints at what was happening within
the confines of 706 Union Avenue
in Memphis. A three-CD collection
on Rhino Records entitled "The Sun
Records Collection" offers an op-
portunity to see not only just how
pivotal that studio was in the birth
and development of those wild
sounds that would become rock 'n'
roll but also how amazingly well
that music has held up over the last
40 years, and how fresh it remains.
Nearly all of Sun's diverse talent is
represented in this collection, from the
first recordings of B.B. King and
Howlin' Wolf to the wild rock of War-
ren Smith's "Ubangi Stomp" and from
the dark bluesofPat Hare's"I'm Gonna
Murder My Baby" to the rollicking
piano of Jerry Lee Lewis. Along the
way are scattered numerous brilliant
singles, recorded by bands that stopped
by the studio long enough to leave their
genius on acetate before disappearing,
their songs a legacy for any aspiring
garage rockers with the luck to have
stumbled across them.
"What I was attempting to do at Sun
was to get to a certain area, a certain
province, of human emotion," Phillips
said. Listening to Harmonica Frank
Floyd's "Swamp Root" confirms that
Phillips was more successful than he
perhaps dreamed possible. Floyd's
sound is pure, unadulterated country-
blues, the sort of thing other labels
would pass over as too real, too uncom-
promising. In a time when Nashville
was churning out only string-laden,
cheesed-out country records, Sun of-
fered passionate, stripped-down per-
formances that favored emotion over
professionalism. Howard Seratt's
"Make Room in the Lifeboat For Me"
just does not need any accompaniment
beyond his guitar and harmonica and
Phillips was smart enough to realize

studio, he recorded several landmark
tracks with Scotty Moore and Bill Black.
Four of them appear here: Elvis, Scotty
and Bill's first number. "That's All
Right," along with "Good Rockin' To-
night," "Baby Let's Play House" and
the still-amazing "Mystery Train."
Presley also spent some time with Jerry
Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins in a spon-
taneous session of harmonizing and
clowning around. Unfortunately, only
one song from that session, the spiritual
"Down By the Riverside" appears on
"The Sun Records Collection."
That Sun Records also launched the
careers ofRoy OrbisonJerry Lee Lewis
and Johnny Cash only further under-
scores its importance. Lewis's record-
ings, in particular, remain extremely
relevant today. Anyone interested in
energy and passion as a musical form
unto itself (see_"punk") needs to check
r ~____________________________- -____

out the Killer's renditions of "Breath-
less" and "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going
On." Lewis and His Pumping Piano
shook more than a few foundations
when he rattled through "Great Balls of
lire"and this collection leaves no doubt
that his contribution to the rock 'n' roll
attitude was immeasurable.
Ultimately, the only blemish upon
"The Sun Records Collection" is its
brevity. At three discs, each one of
which only instills a burning ache for
more, the collection feels somewhat
abbreviated. As an introduction to the
revolutionary music Phillips captured
in his studios, however, it is absolutely
invaluable. Blues, rockabilly, country
and rock 'n' roll fans alike need to own
this collection, not only for its impor-
tance but for its sheer listenability. Each
disc is a wonder and each track a trea-

Phillips' openness and concern for .
genuine music allowed him to capture
the wild, free sounds of rockabilly in all
of its honky-tonk glory while only the
slickest country was in style. Carl Carl Perkins is da man. He's a Sun Records type dude.
Perkins may have sung some incred-
ible, mournful ballads ("Turn Around"
and "Let the Jukebox Keep On Play-
ing" are included here) but when he cuts
loose in "Blue Suede Shoes" and n aJb
"Honey, Don't!" it's easy to see where
his real strength lies. The energy of Then don't miss the
these performances is overwhelming, a
death-defying adventure through un-
charted waters that left a trail to be Um m er Fair
followed a year later by Billy Riley and
His Little Green Men, easily the best of
the late-period rockabilly cats at Sun Tuesday, March 7
Records. Riley is found here in two Noon - 4:00 pm
songs, "Flying Saucer Rock and Roll"
and "Red Hot," both quite similar and Michigan Union
both brilliant slices of joyful abandon.
Of course, Sun Records and its Some of the participating employers include:
legacy cannot be mentioned without * AAA Michigan * Ad XL Promotional Advertising, Inc. * Airflow Research &
the simultaneous mention of Elvis Manufacturing " Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp * Bozell Worldwide " Camp Starlight *
Camp Wayne " Cedar Point " Enterprise Rent-A-Car " High/Scope Institute for
Presley. During his time at Phillips' Ideas * Iroquois Hotel *JP Morgan " Mackinac State. Historic Parks * The Michigan
Tl~lra AahcrnRir ri.. Gnn " 4ivFlaac(-ratAmoira U i ivoc of


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