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March 28, 1996 - Image 23

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-03-28

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The Michigan Daily - Wu W , 4c. - Thursday, March 28, 1996 - 9

6o, 49P

Musicians solve 'Mysteries of Life'
Little-known band is a 'Secret' worth revealing

is ageless

e either cleaning up or resting up for a night
eater has started the party early. The child-
)ws there - one at 3 p.m. and one at :11
male vocalist Monifah and singer/rapper

garnered a fair share of popularity with their '94 hit
the recent release of their newest LP "We Got It (MCA,
B are certainly celebrating their new growth spurt of R&B
a vast menu of both fast- and slow-paced songs will

at Ticketmaster.

- Eugene Bowen

By Victoria Salipande
For the Daily
A band like The Mysteries of Life
requires a family tree to explain its
long, complex history. They repre-
sent another branch in a line of bands/
musicians that traces back to the start
of a band almost a decade ago called
the Blake Babies at the Berklee Col-
lege of Music in Massachusetts.
Consisting of Juliana Hatfield on
bass, John Strohm on guitar and Freda
Love, known then by her infamous
full name Freda Love Boner, on
drums, the Blake Babies grew up to
be one of the more popular bands in
the legendary Boston music scene that
included the Lemonheads and Dino-
saur Jr. When they broke up in the
early '90s, Hatfield pursued a solo
career while Strohm and Love formed
the noise-pop band Antenna with fel-
low Indiana native Jake Smith. Years
later, Strohm now fronts the band
Velo-Deluxe while Hatfield remains
successful at her solo career. As for
Love and Smith, they married, had a
baby, and eventually started The
Mysteries of Life.
Along with marriage and childbirth,
Love and Smith had gone back to
school during a period where they had
stopped playing music. Boredom soon
set in. Through that boredom, Love
and Smith formed The Mysteries of
Life as a local side band occasionally
playing shows and releasing singles.
"We'd have more control that way,"
Smith explained. The Mysteries of
Life stayed a secret until the people at
RCA Records heard about those
singles and signed the band to their
label after hearing them. Their debut
album, "Keep a Secret" was released
in February.
While not a complete departure
from Love and Smith's previous
bands, "Keep a Secret" reflects the
loose atmosphere that created it. The
pretty pop melodies found in the Blake
Babies are still there, but while they
masked Hatfield's depressing, often
disturbing lyrics, Smith's lyrics seem
more laid back and less angst driven.
(He actually seems happy for the most
The lush, warm melodies created
through the use of a cello on "Keep a
Secret" replace the noisy guitar sound
of Antenna. Love and Smith have a
more direct approach to pop music
than their former bandmates.
Smith cites early REM and the Vel-
vet Underground as influences. They
seem happy with that change in style.
"We kind oflost touch with the music
we were making before since we were
away from it so long. It was nice to
start from the ground up," Smith said.
While they'vealready made a video
for the song "Going Through the Mo-
tions," Love and Smith aren't in a
hurry to make their band known. They
do plan to play some shows including
the South By Southwest conference
even though there are no plans for a
national tour at the moment. Smith
would like to do a national tour, but
the problems of touring with a child
may have played a factor in the deci-
sion not to rush into it.
At their recent show at the Shelter
in Detroit, Love and Smith's year and
a half old son was in attendance be-
cause they were late due to car trouble.
"It can be hard," Smith said. "There
are times when Freda and I don't

Lack of sleep may be the only thing
Love and Smith are worried about.
While they could be considered vet-
eran musicians, Love and Smith never
really got as big as Hatfield did when
she went solo. They've quietly gone
about making music they enjoy with
littleconcern for commercial success.
"There was a change in motivation
,'_is time. We've had a certain amount

The Mysteries of Life is a complex band with a complex history. Their unique
sound may soon draw the kind of fame ex-assoclate Jullanna Hatfield acquired
when she went solo.

of success in the past and were really
lucky that way. You could say the
pursuit of success kind of lost its tug.
We're doing it now because it feels
good. We needed to prove to our-
selves that we could do it on our own,
terms, " Smith said.
That "doing what feels good" ap;
proach the Mysteries of Life take to
music, like the band itself, is a secret
worth revealing.

Re-issues lend modern sound to classics

The Baltimore Sun
One of the frustrations of the CD
age is the repeated re-issue, deletion
and re-issue of recordings from the
LP era. Many listeners find them-
selves buying the same performances
*ain and again because of new cou-
plings Land more attractive packing
and;,im'st important;in hope of more
truthful transfers from the original
analogue master tapes.
The last of these promises often
proves more than a lost hope, how-
ever..New computer technology has
made possible retrieving more infor-
mation from master tapes, and the re-
sues in RCA's "Living Stereo" and
ilips' "Mercury Living Presence"
series sound almost as good as new
LPs on excellent playback equipment.
The latest in this series of improved
digital transfers of analogue masters
is Deutsche Grammophon's "The
Originals," 25 mid-priced, re-issued
recordings dating from the middle
1950s until the early '70s and featur-
ing such heavyweights from the DG
roster as conductor Herbert von
krajan, pianists Wilhelm Kempffand
eza Anda and violinist David
The good news is that these new re-
issues sound terrific. There is almost
none of the quasi-metallic scraping
and dry, air-between-the-notes sound
that so irritated listeners when the
new digital technology emerged in
the middle 1980s.
The bad news is that listeners may
d themselves, yet once more, buy-
ing new copies of their favorite re-
To take one example, compare the
new {transfer of the Karajan-Berlin
Philharmonic Schumann Symphony
No. 1 (coupled with Brahms' Sym-
phony No. I) to the 1990 transfer. The
opening horn call is more clearly fo-

cused, not shrill as in the 1990 trans-
fer, and the fanfare that follows has
the solidity and richness of the 1972
LP issue.
Concerto recordings fare particu-
larly well in this series. The first CD
re-issues of some of DG's famous
concerto recordings tended to over-
emphasize the soloist at the expense
of the orchestra. In DG's 1985 trans-
fer of Sviatoslav Richter's famous
1959 recording of Rachmaninoff's
Piano Concerto No. 2, for example,
the great pianist's opening chords
sounded uncharacteristically percus-
sive, and the orchestral framework
supplied by conductor Stanislas
Wislocki and the Warsaw Philhar-
monic all but disappeared.
In "The Originals" re-issue (in
which the Rachmaninoff is coupled
with the Richter-Karajan Tchaikovsky
Concerto No. I), the piano's opening
chords have the irresistible resonance
that has always been a feature of this
pianist's playing, and the orchestra
has an increased presence that reminds
the listener why many aficionados
consider this performance head and
shoulders above others.
Aside from refurbished sound, one
of the best things about this series is
the return of several great perfor-
mances to the catalog. The re-issue of
Martha Argerich's 1961 debut recital,
for example, includes a tender, melt-
ing Chopin "Barcarole" that should
illuminate the benighted listeners who
think of Argerich merely as a pianistic
David Oistrakh recorded the
Brahms and Tchaikovsky violin con-
certos many times. But in terms of
physical mastery, good recorded
sound and interpretive ripeness, his
1954 DG recordings with Franz
Konwitschny and the Dresden State
Orchestra (combined here with the

violinist's 1961 performances of the
Bach violin concertos) probably rep-
resent the violinist at his best.
And while Evgeny M ravinsky's
early 1960s recordings of
Tchaikovsky's Symphonies Nos. 4-6
with the Leningrad (now St. Peters-
burg) Philharmonic have been avail-
able from time to time, "The Origi-
nals" make accessible on CD for the
first time the Leningrad's 1956 set,
which startled the West with its dem-
onstration of a Soviet orchestra equal
to the best in Berlin, Boston or Chi-
cago. Mravinsky's Symphony No. 5
is similar to the one recorded a few
years later, and his No. 6
("Pathetique") may be even more sear-
But the major revelation is the Sym-
phony No. 4, which is conducted by
the then-44-year-old Kurt San derling.
Anyone familiar with Sanderling's
current interpretations - in which
fires are banked and tempos are slow
(sometimes to the point of seeming
interminable) - will be astonished
by the high-tension atmosphere, ve-
locity and ferocious personal com-
mitment of this performance.
This is not to say that everything in
"The Originals" is wonderful. It would
have been nice to have more long-
out-of-print recordings from the 1950s
and 1960s (such as Anda's Schumann
and Pierre Fournier's Dvorak) and
fewer recordings from the early 1970s.
And some of DC's choices are ques-
tionable. Richter's Rachmaninoff Sec-
ond, for example, should have been
re-issued with his great performance
of Prokofiev's Fifth Concerto, instead
of the tepid Tchaikovsky First Con-
certo that resulted from his 1963 col-
laboration with Karajan.
But we need not quibble. What we
really need from DG are more of "The

.1 -11*

- A L
.=.. .


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Sunday, March 31 at 2pm
Michigan Theater
Showcasing music from Phantom of the Opera,
Beauty and the Beast, West Side Story, Jurassic Park,
and works by Copland, Elfman, Tchaikovsky
z Come hear the University's newest orchestra!
S *$6 general admission / $4 students, seniors, children
Tickets available at the Michigan Union Ticket Office
Charge by phone: 763-TKTS
Sponsored by: UAC, Programming Grants Council, MSA, LSA Student Government, RHA, Rackham Student Government, KK'i'/TB

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at the
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Accredited MA., M. Div., D. Min.

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