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January 25, 1996 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-01-25

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88 -.The Michigan Daily - W te., a. - Thursday, January 25, 1996

Hall of Famers Velvet Underground, David Bowie finally get their due

By Heather Phares
Daily Arts Writer
Afterwhatseemslike an eternity, rock'n'
roll legends and alternative music pioneers
the Velvet Underground and David Bowie
into the Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame
earlier this month.
While both are un-
questionably great
artisticforcesin rock,
Bowie and the Vel-
vets had very differ-
ent approaches to
their respective in-
ductions into the
Rock and Roll Hall
of Fame.
At the awards
ceremony, the Vel-
vet Underground
was all over the
place. Not only did
they appear to pick
up their award, but The enigma calledt
Lou Reed, himself a place in I
Maureen Tucker
and John Cale also debuted a new VU
song in honor of their late rhythm guitar-
ist SterlingMorrison, andpunk rock priest-
ess Patti Smith performed a moving ren-
dition of the group's "Pale Blue Eyes."
Morrison's death in particular added a
special poignancy to the band's induc-
tion, for while the Velvet Underground is
revered by rock critics and die-hard fans
worldwide, the group never achieved
much commercial success during their
existence. It's been said that while the
Velvet Underground never sold many
records, everyone who did buy them
started a band of their own.
To a certain extent, that's true. The Vel-
vets still seem vital and necessary in today's
rock scene; their droning, minimalist sound

remains fresh nearly three decades later and
influences curentbands such as Luna,Pave-
ment and Yo La Tengo. Their devoted
legion of fans and induction into the Rock
and Roll Hall of Fame prove that immediate
commercial suc-
cess isn't necessary
that cutting-edge
music can age
gracefully and
achieve timeless-
leased box set
"Peel Slowly and
See" (Polydor) is
most complete
collection ofVU's
- recordings to date.
It includes all four
of the group's
seminal albums-
"The Velvet Un-
derground and
avid Bowie eamed Nico," "White
eHall of Fame. Light/White
Heat," "The Vel-
vet Underground" and "Loaded" - and
an extra disc of outtakes and rarities.
Well-known classics like "Sweet Jane,"
"I'll Be Your Mirror" and "Beginning to
See the Light" get their proper due and
odds and sods like "Prominent Men" (a
Dylan-esque demo) and an early version
of "Satellite of Love" (which Lou Reed
recorded on his own later) show the ver-
satility and innovation of the group -
and why their induction into the Hall of
Fame is long overdue.
As for Bowie, he remains an enigma
wrapped in a mystery within a riddle,
even after a long career of disseminating
his moon-age daydreams. Opposed to the
idea of having a museum forrock'n' roll,
he refused to show up to recieve his own

award. Instead, Madonna collected his
award for him, mentioning that not only is
Bowie a talented musician but also a
"beautiful man."
And at its best, his music is also apropul-
sive mix of style and substance. The major-
ity of his catalog is impressive; his musical
scope is as deep as it is wide. He started out
in the mid'60s as a family-oriented cabaret-
style performer with curiosities like "The
Laughing Gnome," and then shape-shifted
into extraterrestrial rocker Ziggy Stardust,
the disco and soul-influenced Thin White
Duke and other musical personas. In songs
like"ZiggyStardust,""John, I'm OnlyDanc-

ing," "Boys Keep Swinging," "Fashion"
and "Blue Jean," Bowie melded theatrical-
andsophisticatedstylized electronic music.
In the light of his feelings about the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it's ironic
that Bowie's new album "Outside" (Vir-
gin) is museum quality rock-almost all
style with very little substance. While
songs like "Hallo Spaceboy" keep aglim-
mer of the infectious wit and style of
vintage Bowie, for the most part the al-
bum, with its "Segues" and rehashed in-
dustrial music, takes itselftoo seriously to
be thoroughly enjoyable.

While his most recent releases have
been somewhat lackluster, Bowie's in-
fluence on scores of artists from contem-
poraries like T. Rex, Iggy Pop and John
Lennon to current artists like Elastica,
Spacehog, the London Suede, Supergrass,
Pulp and Frank Black is undeniable. His
changeability and eccentricity also set the
blueprint for such superstars as Prince
and Madonna. For an artist with so many
different phases, his material has a unity
of sound and vision that two anthologies,
"Changesbowie" and "Bowie: The
Singles 1969 to 1993," both from
Rykodisc, testify to.

The induction of the Velvet Under-
ground and David Bowie shows that big,
glamorous rock stars and relentlessly in-
dependent iconoclasts both have their
places in pop culture warehouses like
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While pW
ing something as fundamentally unstable
and rebellious as rock in a museum may
be paradoxical, any attention that the Hall
of Fame brings to David Bowie's and the
Velvet Underground's music is a good
thing. Their work is truly classic rock-
just as exciting and meaningful asit was
when it first surprised and revolutionized
rock 'n' roll. "

America says: I want my MTV .. back!'


By Tim Furlong
For the Daily
If you're anything like me then over
the long winter break you found your-
self logging a great deal of couch time
and you quickly became an expert at the
art of channel surfing. Well at least I
thought I'd get to catch up on all the
latest videos. But while flipping be-
tween "It's a Wonderful Life" and the
Clint Eastwood anthology I noticed a
very disturbing fact ... MTV isno longer
showing any videos.
At first I thought it had to be some
strange coincidence, butthe moreI flipped
to MTV the worse it became. Instead of
the latest from Smashing Pumpkins, I
was watching Cindy Crawford jet around
the world and show us how the other half
lives. Instead ofseeingwhy Joan Osbourne
was nominated for five Grammys, I
watched"SingledOut,"an extremely lame
version of "The Dating Game." In its

quest to remain the beacon of pop-cul-
ture, MTV seems to have forgotten why
we flipped to it in the first place: the
Take a look at an average day's worth
of programming for the music channel;
you won't find that much music at all.
Between re-runs of "The Real World"
and "Road Rules," MTV just doesn't
have the time for videos anymore. Hon-
estly, wouldn't you rather be checking
out the newest Alice in Chains video
than watching some ridiculous program
about six spoiled brat kids living in a
London mansion and arguing over who
gets to use the phone next? MTV has
even taken a stab at melodrama with
"My So Called Life," which looks like
a group of rejects from 90210.
Then there's all those damn award
show re-runs. Sure it's nice for the first
few weeks in case you missed the live
telecast, but do we really need to see

who won the award for best new artist
almost a year after the fact? I honestly
have no clue how MTV plans on giving
away video awards this year, since they
aren't allowing us to actually see any of
The worst part about it is when MTV
finally does break down and show us
videos, it's either a top 20 list, or the
same videos by the same artists we've
seen amillion times before like Michael
and Janet Jackson, Madonna or the "Jer-
emy" video from Pearl Jam. With that
line-up, it's truly amazing any new art-
ists are breaking at all.
The main reason for all of this is, of
course, money. Advertising dollars and
ratings are the reason MTV is begin-
ning to look more and more like net-
work programming. Since ad time is
sold in blocks of 30 and 60 minutes,
MTV has to build its programming to
fit in with the market. MTV can't tell
the makers of Bubble Yum that it is
simply showing 30 minutes of the hot-
test new videos because no one will buy
the time. But if they tell them, "Oh, and
by the way the program will be hosted
by Beavis and Butthead and it's going
to be called "Videos That Don't Suck,"'
then the cost of the ad time will go

through the roof. t-
Don't look for things to change irithe
near future, with the return of adoles-
cent hero Pauly Shore to the -mriuqc
channel, it is apparent that MTV -
targeted the 12 and under market for the
latest money making ventures. It's easier
for Pam Anderson-Lee traipsing around
the bases on "Rock -n- Jock" to sell
Sega Genesis to the junior High kids.of
America than it is for the Flaming^Lips
or Radiohead.
You may not be a big fan of V$ l r
either of the Country Music video chan-
nels, but at least they are being. trueto
theirfans and still showing video . I '
has become so pretentious that it feet
can abandon the people that helped put
it on the map. They must feel as though
they can feed the general publie'his
garbage and that we will lick our prates
and beg for more. Well I for one do'not
feel we should have to give up -6ur
music channel without a good fightsIt
is time for all of us to get on the hpee
and fax lines as well as the internet.and
demand MTV to put an end to all .
nonsense and go back to what they o
the best, play videos. Call them up and
use the rallying cry, "I want my vtTV
... BACK!"


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