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January 12, 1995 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-01-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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'Unplugged,
By TOM ERLEWINE
MTV has been responsible for many
great things, no matter how much any-
one would like to deny it. Without
MTV,neither hip-hop or alternative
rock would have become house-hold
names. Of course, without MTV we
wouldn't have had "MTV Unplugged."
Over thepastthree years, "Unplugged"
has made rock "mature," "responsible"
and "adult;" it's the perfect solution for
people over 30 that feel embarrassed
listening to rock 'n' roll.
Naturally, there have been several
shows that have been quite stunning -
particularly Nirvana's moving perfor-
mance-but the majority of the shows
are bland and predictable. At the begin-
ning, the show was genuinely off-beat.
After Paul McCartney's "Unplugged"
performance, the show began to ignore
lesser-known artists and concentrated
on old favorites. Eric Clapton's
Grammy-winning "Unplugged" album
cemented that tradition. After his suc-
cess, other veteran rockers lusted after
a spoton the program. Rod Stewart was
the most offensive of all, scheduling
the release of his album before the
show had even aired.
Now, that's standard operating pro-
cedure. "Unplugged" has become an
essential part of any aging rocker's
marketing strategy - it's where the
whole comeback starts. It's easy -the
album is usually comprised of old ma-
terial. It's an event - old fans feel
compelled to pick up the record be-
cause it's unplugged, so it's also prof-

' over the hill and far away

itable. For bands that haven't sold
records in years, there's no reason not to
do an "Unplugged"- in fact, it's even
a reason to re-form.
That's exactly what the Eagles and
Led Zeppelin (in the form of Jimmy
Page and Robert Plant) have done in the
past year. Under the guise of artistic
renewal, both bands have regrouped for
an album and a tour, beginning their
whole campaign with an "MTV Un-
plugged." While the Eagles' program
aired after the first leg of their tour was
completed, it was shot before they hit
the road; by the time the record was
released, tickets for their second North
American tour were on sale. It was
conceived as a financial operation, it
was performed as financial operation.
Even the titleoftherecord, "Hell Freezes
Over," with its clumsy allusion to the
tensions between Don Henley and Glenn
Frey, gives the album the appearance
of a truly special occasion.
Of course, "Hell Freezes Over" isn't
a special event - it's an attempt to
provide retirement funds for the band.
The Eagles may be crass and cloying,
but they're smart; instead of acting like
rockers on "Hell Freezes Over," they
act like fine country gentlemen. But no
matter what they do, they are still sleep-
walking through these songs. The songs
are unplugged, but that doesn't make a
great deal of difference with songs that
have acoustic roots. Never once do the
Eagles re-invent their sound; recording
"Hotel California" on acoustic and
Spanish guitars doesn't constitute a re-

interpretation of the song, it merely is a
re-recording of the song. And that's all
"Hell Freezes Over" is - re-record-
ings. When Chuck Berry records the
millionth version of"Johnny B. Goode"
no one buys the record, so why should
the Eagles be praised for doing exactly
the same thing?
Page and Plant avoid this problem
on "NoQuarter"byusingabitofimagi-
nation. "ThankYou,""That'sthe Way,"
"The Battleof Evermore"and "Friends"
all sound essentially the same as the
original versions, but the duo actually
break some new ground on the album.
"Nobody's Fault But Mine" becomes a
mideastern dirge, the English folk roots
of "Gallows Pole" come to the forefront
and new songs like "Yallah," "City
Don't Cry" and "Wonderful One" are
filled with Arabic and Indian flour-
ishes. Page and Plant aren't strictly
unplugged-there's electric guitars all
over the place - but they fulfill the
original intention of the program: they
reinterpret their material in a fresh way.
Not surprisingly, "No Quarter" has
been acommercial disappointment, fall-
ing out of the top ten the week after its
release. "Hell Freezes Over," which
was released the very same week as
"No Quarter," has been an overwhelm-
ing success, debuting at number one
and going m'ulti-platinum. It could be
argued that the Eagles were more suc-
cessful because their record cost less
("No Quarter" retails for $19.98, which
is $5 more than average), but that would
be slightly misleading. The fact is,
people would have bought "No Quar-
ter" had it fulfilled their expectations.
Page and Plant didn't give the usual
"Unplugged" and they suffered the con-
sequences.
What the Eagles did right was they
acted the way aging boomers and
yuppies want their aging rock stars to
act - as conservative as them. For a
public that just elected the Republicans
leaders of Congress, it's not surprising
that they would choose the conserva-
tive Eagles over the mildly adventurous

101

As this photo shows, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page had their respective lemons squeezed dry a long, long time ago.

POSITION OPEN:
CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH RESOURCE CENTER
Professional development support center to provide CVD health
resource materials, educational seminars and outreach
strategies, with a special focus on reaching African-Americans
and other minority populations. Three positions are open.
* Project Coordinator
* Health Educator
* Clerical Assistant
Please send a letter of application, resume of education and
experience and salary history to Michigan Public Health Institute,
2465 Woodlake Circle, Suite 140, Okemos, MI 48864,
or fax to (517) 349-7999.
MPHI is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
At University Towers,
we've got room just for you...
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Page and Plant. Although the duo hardly
act as wild as they did during the '70s,
when they slept with every under-age
groupie in sight as they took any drug
they could get a hold of, they aren't
acting their age, which is exactly what
the Eagles are doing.
"Hell Freezes Over" is the work of
respectable citizens, the kind that might
get slightly drunk on the weekends, but
nevertheless show up tochurchon time.
It doesn't take any chances and it is
certainly not embarrassing. It'sjust dull.
In that sense, the Eagles reunion and
"Hell Freezes Over" is the culmination
of a trend in popular music that began in
1986, with Paul Simon's "Graceland."
The success of "Unplugged" doesn't
signal rock's artistic maturation, nor its
stodginess; it simply shows that its au-
dience has become as relentlessly

middlebrow and conservative asjazzor
classical fans. Instead of accepting great
rock 'n' roll for what it is, most main-
stream rock fans have a deluded notion
that rock should conform to the most
rigid standards of high art - that it
needs to be intellectual, not emotional,
and that it has to respectable, not plea-
surable. The average consumer over
the age of 30 has to be enticed into a
record store to buy a record; they need
to feel what they are purchasing is im-
portant and worth the trip to the store.
"Unplugged" albums appear to of-
fer something that hasn't been heard
before-"genuine," rootsy versions of
old favorites. By recording these songs
in an acoustic setting, the artists are
giving the songs a supposed authentic-
ity that they lacked before. What nei-
ther the artists or the consumers realize
is how that very notion assumes that all
of the old records they cherished are

inherently worthless. What "Un-
plugged" leaves behind is a false re-
spectability and phony, artistic achieve-
ment. Only Clapton's and Nirvana's
records could be called great, but that is
because of the quality of their perfor-
mances, not because of their artistic
pretensions.
The most distressing thing about
this trend is the fact that it will continue
for years. All of the second-generation
rockers (Stewart, Clapton, Eagles) are
set in their "mature" ways, but so are
third-generation rockers like
Springsteen, Sting and Peter Gabriel;
even '80s artists like 10,000 Maniacs
and John Mellencamp show signs of
succumbing to the altar of maturity.
And all of these artists have the poten-
tial to be recording for decades, which
guarantees that the alleged artistic ma-
turity of "Unplugged" will make it the
old folk's home of rock.

I

STUDENTS
Give Walking Tours
Plan Parents Weekend
Network with Alumni
Operate AluMnet
Work on Tuition Raffle
Be Creat ive
You can do all this and more with SAC
Student Alumni Council
Mass Meetings: January 1 1 & 12 5:00 p.m
Membership Meeting January 29 12:00 p m
All at the Alumni Center

Changes are not to be feared but welcomed

FACE
Continued from page 3
them. These women are not stuck up;
they're about as down-to-earth as they
come. These women sing country
songs on long car rides. (They need to
try and fix up that dumb-ass "Achey-
Breaky Heart" song.) These are
women who love to bowl and watch
music videos. These are women whose
greatest fantasies, in the words of
Charisse Rose, revolve around
"bubble baths and candlelight."
And yes, both women are cur-
rently involved. If one of them breaks
up, remember, I get first dibs.
Changing Faces' greatest wish is
for people to know "how crazy we
are, how sensitive we are, on the in-l
side." Their hopes for the new yeara
aren't too much to ask for either.
"Hopefully in '95, we'll be ac-

cepting some award from somebody.
I pray for that."
Cassandra ain't got to beg; she
should know it's gonna happen. Who
in their right mind wouldn't want to
give one to them?
Charisse and Cassandra have more
immediate concerns, however, as they
prepare to tour with Boyz II Men and
to later have a tour of their own. With.
voices like theirs, accompanied by
the melodious sweetness of back-
ground music in their old-fashioned
love songs like "Lovin' Ya Boy,"
"Thoughts of You" and "Keep It Right
There," it can be guaranteed that not
an empty seat will be found at any of
their concerts.
Changing Faces is the duo to watch
in '95. Their debut release is all that.
Fame couldn't have come to two
people more deserving of it. They're
creeping up on R&B listeners all right,
and they're killing us softly.

1Univerity Towers Apatiment 536 S. Forest Ave. 761-2680 j

Auditions
for
Gilbert and Sullivan's
H.M.S. Pinafore
Tonight 6-10
Friday night 6-10
At the Student Theater Arts Complex
(behind Crisler Arena)
Performance Dates: April 6-16
Bring a prepared song and be prepared to dance
For more information call 996-1653
The Office of AcademiclMulticultural 9nitiatives
is now taking applications for
Student Leader
positions for the KingI(hdvez/Parks
College Day Spring Visitation Program
Application Deadline is 7anuary 27, 1995
Student leaders accompany visiting middle school
students throughout the day serving as guides
and role models while providing information about
the college experience. Student leaders usually
work in teams of three. They should be fairly

41

The University of Michigan Libraries and The School of Infor-
mation and Library Studies invite you to hear bell hooks, a social
and feminist activist. The professor at Oberlin College, is the author
of such books as Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black
and Yearning: Race, Gender and Cultural Politics.
Attention Graduate Students!!
The
is seeking Resident Fellows to teach and live in Pilot for
the 1995-6 academic year. The Pilot Program is
UM's oldest and largest living/learning program, offering
First-year students some of the advantages of a small liberal
arts experience in the context of UM.
Your responsibilities include:
" Teaching a 4 credit course of your design
" Living in a residence hall advising students

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