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March 20, 1996 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-03-20

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 20, 1996

Jars Of Clay
Jars Of Clay
Silvertone Records
This unfortunate project began as a
bunch of college friends jamming for
fun on the weekends. Luckily for us,
Jars Of Clay is now armed with a
record contract, ready to assault the
unassuming public with music so
bland and uninteresting that Michael
Bolton sounds dangerous in compari-
Mind you, not everything on this
disc will make you pine for another
spin of"Time, Love and Tenderness."
Adrian Belew, prog-rock stalwart,
King Crimson member and general

all-around cool guy, appears to pro-
duce two of the tracks, "Liquid" and
"Flood," which are noticeably more
interesting than the rest of the record.
With an organic texture and hypnotic
groove, the opener, "Flood," is a cruel
teaser, for nothing else here ap-
proaches its quality.
Jars Of Clay appear to be going for
the sound that Tears For Fears have
been crafting expertly for a while -
rich, textured pop-rock with arty ele-
ments that add flourish without being
obtrusive. And while their musician-
ship is clearly first-rate, their
songwriting is nothing short of awful.
The pure Velveeta of "Love Song For A
Savior," with its endlessly repeating
chorus "I want to fall in love with you/
I want to fall in love with you," is

largely representative ofthe othertracks:
Cliche-ridden, painfully sugary and
guaranteed not to offend, or uplift,any-
Jars Of Clay is the kind of drivel-
they play on those lite-FM stations
you're forced to listen to in waiting
rooms, and should be avoided at all
-Dave Snyder
Steve Earle
I Feel Alright
E-Squared/Warner Bros.
In his most recent press photos, Steve

Jars of Clay Is just a bunch of heads.

Earle looks like a hillbilly Hell's Angel
- a big, long-haired, bearded badass
sporting a black leatherjacket and cow
boy boots. But his story's more inter-
esting than that. Earle's a singing.
songwriting, guitar-playing made-for
TV movie.
The Texas-born Earle blazed into
Nashville the mid-'80s, startling t
country establishment with his 19
debut "Guitar Town." He brought with
him a maverick musical style
(rock'n'roll fury combined with tradi-
tional country influences), an engaging
persona and a self-destructive streak
several miles wide. Nearly a decade
later, Earle had to his credit five al-
bums, five marriages, five divorces, a
debilitating drug habit and a prison sen-
Last year, out of jail, remarrico
sober and apparently back on the
straight and narrow, Earle released
the acoustic "Train A' Comin"' (the
title cleverly lifted from Johnny
Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues"), a tri-
umphant, bluegrass-drenched return
to the studio.
With this record, though, Earle re-
turns to the industry proper, and what
a comeback it is: "I Feel Alright" is
nearly perfect rock record featurin*
virtuoso performance from Earle, who
proves that he can still do just about
anything in his music. From the
"Gloria" riffing of the autobiographi-
cal title track ("Some of you would
live through me/then lock me up and
throw away the key"), to the hillbilly
blues of "Poor Boy," to the pristine
pop of "More Than I Can Do," to the
achingly lovely ballad "Valentine's
Day," to the fiery rocker "The Unr
pentant," Earle switches styles easi
and to great effect.
He also sounds like he's exorcising
some demons. On the wrenching blues
song "CCKMP" (or "cocaine cannot
kill my pain"), Earle describes a junkie
for whom heroin is "the only gift that
darkness brings." In "The Unrepentant,"
he sings in a hell-raising howl about a
man "standin' at hell's door/with a bad
attitude and a .44" facing down t
The album's best song, though, may
be the scrappy "Hard-Core Trouba-
dour," in which Earle gives advice to
a woman faced with a troubled ex-
lover who sounds remarkably like
himself. The song also gives a glimpse
of Earle at his best as a songwriter:
"Wherefore art thou, Romeo, you son
of a bitch?" He also slips a line from
Bruce Springsteen, an obvious infl-
ence: "Hey Rosalita, won't you co e
out tonight."
More polished and certainly more
mainstream than any of his previous
albums, the record won't thrill Alan
Jackson-style country fans, but then
Earle never did tailor his style to
Nashville's current flavor of the
month. It also won't bowl over long-
time Earle fans devoted to his more
traditional country work. But "I F
Alright" will gain Earle plenty of neW
fans ("More Than I Can Do" is al-
ready doing well on Adult Album
Alternative radio), and that should
suit the hard-core troubadour himself
just fine.
As he announces on the title track,
"I've been to hell and now I'm back
again." Glad he made it.
- Jennifer Buckley
See RECORDS, Page 9

Oh sure, it looks innocent. But it could be
wied to a no-name company that has no qualms about

Continued from Page 5




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works is for the laughter that invariably
comes with the experience. Indeed, one
of the most refreshing aspects to Neil
Simon's writing is that it seems effort-
less. It seems simple.
"There are so many levels to it, yet
doesn't feel complex," MillerexplaiW
"It feels very simple, actually, apd I
think that's what makes it such a great
play. I think that's what nmtakes
Chekhov's stories so great, their sim-
The stories told by the Writer have
incredible breadth. There is an in-
structional session on seducing
women performed by "the greatest
seducer of men's wives of all time,"
as well as stories about an inexpe
enced dental assistant, a con artist, an
audition, and many more.
"This is what theater is all about,"
Miller said. "It is incredibly hilari-
ous. I'm dying laughing still every
time I see these scenes. It's a fun play
to see." Miller went on to claim only
half-jokingly that you'll laugh and
you'll cry.
With a promise like that at the pric
it's being given, it's difficult to tuS
this experience down. You've got Neil
Simon - who, by the way, wrote
such renowned classic comedies as
"The Odd Couple" and "Barefoot in
the Park." Both of those plays were
successful in Hollywood, as well as

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