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December 06, 1996 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-12-06

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14 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, December 6, 1996

Explosive New York
artists The Last Poets
release hot new book

UMS Choral Union
to perform 'Messiah'

By Stephanie Jo Klein
Daily Arts Writer -
By any means necessary, The Last
Poets have always had their say.
Since they first performed their lyri-
cal style of spoken-word poetry and rap
on May 19, 1968, at a celebration of
Malcolm X's birthday in Harlem, New
York, members of The Last Poets real-
ized the power of their often explosive
words. Almost 30 years and many
incarnations of the ,member list later,
Abiodun Oyewole. and Umar Bin
Hassan, two of the original members,
have set out to document the history of
the words and sounds that have made
them true originals with their new book,
"On A Mission."
With "On A Mission," (***, Owl
Books) Oyewole, Bin Hassan and co-
author Kim Green don't give your regu-
lar, run-of-the-mill musical memoir.
There are no lurid backstage tales of
crazed groupies; instead they provide a
brief, but detailed history of the group's
formation and give an inkling of the
awesome power behind their artful
utterances.
Most of"On A Mission" is their poet-
ry, the actual lyrics they have performed
on stage in the past, and in a recent inter-
view with The Michigan Daily, Oyewole
said that just as it is with their stage
shows, their mission is being accom-
plished with the new publication.
"The mission is to raise levels of con-
sciousness," said Oyewole, known to
friends and fans alike as just 'Dun.' "To
actually empower those who felt so
powerless for so long is the mission.
And not only to empower these people,
but to secure from that empowerment a
lifestyle that we can all look forward to
receiving benefits from."

The lifestyle Oyewole and Bin
Hassan are trying to lead the black com-
munity away from is one of violence
and needless struggle, Oyewole said.
Having grown up in the projects, getting
involved in the Black Panthers, Islamic
Nationalists, and other groups, Oyewole
serving a term in prison for a weapons
charge when he wasn't in the group for
a while, and Bin Hassan battling crack
and cocaine addiction for years, by now,
they know the score, and they use their
stark images to empower others.
One of their most famous poems,
"Niggers Are Scared of Revolution,"
included in the book, is an example of
the watchful, thought-provoking autho-
rial eye the Poets have. The beginning
of the 1969 poem / song: "Niggers are
scared of revolution but niggers should-
n't be scared of revolution because rev-
olution is nothing but change, and all
niggers do is change. Niggers come in
from work and change into pimping
clothes to hit the streets to make some
quick change ... Niggers kill other nig-
gers just because one didn't receive the
correct change."
The Last Poets have been able to
describe life like few rappers or writers
can today; while they describe life on
the streets, they don't advocate the vio-
lence of gangsta rap, but show the real
truth of why one needs to overcome it.
When N.W.A. sampled their song "Die
Nigga Die" in the mid-'80s, Oyewole
said he was surprised to see the term
used so much in a negative way when it
countered the meaning of their words:
"Die nigga die, so black folks can take
over."
"That's the key, the heartbeat of the
whole thing, to get away from (the term)
and avoid putting ourselves down," he

By Jack Schillaci
For the Daily
The rich musical tradition of the
University shows itself in the dozens of
musical groups - both professional
and amateur - associated with the
University. The holiday season is a time
when most of these groups come to life
as the kiosks around campus became
cluttered with concert announcments.

breadth of work is complemented by
the numerous musical education pro-
grams it sponsors. In its 68 years it has
grown from a small volunteer orchestra
to being Washtenaw County's largest
arts employer.
Handel was born in 1685 in
Germany and later moved to England
where he became the royal composer
for King George I. He composed

One of the
classics of the
season is George
Fredrich Handel's
"Messiah." The
University
Musical Society
Choral Union has
a long tradition of

PREVIEW
Handel's Messiah
Hill Auditorium
Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $8 - $16

numerous operas,
oratorios and
concerti for vari-
ous instruments
and voices.
Toward the end
of his life, he
began to go blind
but still contin-
"Messiah" - his

The Last Poets (left to right): Umar Bin Hassan, Don "Babatunde" Eaton and
Abiodun Oyewole have a long legacy of powerful spoken-word poetry.

said, adding that N.W.A. obviously did-
n't read into their words carefully
enough to pick out the meaning.
The potent poetry of "On A
Mission," on issues ranging from
Malcolm X, the Million Man March
and the talk-show sensationalism of
America, in the book and their recent
album, "Holy Terror," makes it plain to
see The Last Poets are still as much a
powerful force today as when they start-
ed out. When they hit the Magic Bag in
November, the crowd of Detroiters
enjoyed the bare words against a back-
ground of bongo beats, jumping up and
cheering as Dun led them in a chant of

"If We Only Knew What We Could
Do," urging them to rise above their
place in society.
"I'm still a revolutionary," Oyewole
said, adding that his current writing is
less about struggle but, often more
motivational now, with poems to his
children and to show the beauty of
black women.
"I will always be a revolutionary," he
said. "Now, I want to deal with the fact
that I believe in my family, the black
family, the black people, my folks, my
kin, my tribe. I have much love for my
people."
And it shows.

performances of the Christmas classic
spanning back 118 years. They will be
joined this year by the Ann Arbor
Symphony Orchestra to once again ring
in the season.
Joining the Choral Union to perform
the "Messiah" this year are four soloists
with a vast breadth of backgrounds to
enrich the production greatly. The four
soloists - soprano Janet Williams,
mezzo-soprano Malin Fritz, tenor
William Watson and baritone Kevin
McMillan - bring years of musical
experience that includes collaboration
with the Metropolitan Opera and per-
formances of such famous works as
Mozart's "Requiem" and Carl Orff's
"Carmina Burana.'
Thomas Sheets is the conductor and
musical director for the Choral Union.
He will lead the group in their produc-
tion of the "Messiah" this weekend. He
is the 10th musical director since the
Choral Union's founding in 1879 and
has held the position since 1993.
The Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra
is under the direction of Samuel Wong.
It has a reputation of excellence and its

most popular work - every year.
The "Messiah" is a two-hour long
dramatic work staged without costumes
or action. It is a religious story whose
lyrics are made up of Biblical verses.
Originally written for a small ensemble
in Dublin, many people do not know
that it was intended to be a work for the
Easter holiday when it debuted in 1742
- only becoming a famous Christmas
season work later.
The work contains the famous
"Hallelujah Chorus." This song is one
of Handel's most recognized pieces and
has been used in numerous movies and
commercials to the point that it is
almost like a sing along.
With the caliber and experience of
the musicians, the performance prodis
es to be excellent. Even if you don't lik
classical music, it is worth listening to
Handel's masterpiece because of the
sheer power and beauty of its sound.
Saturday and Sunday performances
promise to bring the beauty of his work
to Hill Auditorium.

ued directing the

Sophomoric 'Party of Five' soundtrack flails with Tori Amos, Rusted Root on tap

Music from "Party of
Five"
Various Artists
Reprise
The new soundtrack for Fox's formu-
laic evening soap / drama "Party of
Five" is exactly what you might expect

from a show that follows the failing
"Beverly Hills, 90210." After listening
to the album a few times, I hoped that
most of the songs had been specifically
commissioned to fit the theme of the
cheesy genre. But, alas, I was mistaken.
The album only has four new songs out
of 15 tracks.
The CD starts out with the BoDeans'
"Closer to Free," the show's adopted

theme song - the producers' "Friends"-
esque marketing ploy to convince people
to watch their annoying show. The rough
electric guitar riffs at the song's opening
sure are catchy, but once played on the
radio 15 times daily, the song gets a
little tiresome.
Having tried hard to
avoid watching the
show, I can only guess
where some of the
songs might get
placed. Howard
Jones' ephemeral "If
You Love'" with its tin-
kling synthesized key-
boards is a good possiblity
for the generic post-breakup
scene - in which the main character
looks forlornly out the window of a
Greyhound bus, rain pouring down the
windows, with flashbacks galore of bliss-
ful times on the beach in the summer.
A prime candidate for a first day of

school scene would be Rusted Root's
hippie-rock anthem, "Send Me On My
Way." I don't know what scene Stevie
Nicks' brand new rendition of Tom
Petty's classic "Free Fallin"' would
qualify for, but if I had my way it
would have remained on the
cutting room floor.
f Nicks' vocals are thin
in comparison to the
original, mimicking
Petty's sound with a
sad backup.
The best two songs
on the album could
probably fit into one of
the wild scenes of high
school or college hijinks. "Blue
Skies," performed by BT and Tori
Amos, is actually a pretty nifty techno
song and might fit into a college dance
club scene, if Big Brother allows them
to go and doesn't drag them home. And
you can easily picture some yokel

lame "Party of Five" soundtrack.

Rusted Root is that groovy band on the

putting the moves on Neve Campbell at
a frat party while Big Bad Voodoo
Daddy's amazingly cool, jazzy muted
trumpets wail into the night on "Cruel
Spell."
Joe Jackson's "Stranger than Fiction"
seems ripe for a junior high-school
dance scene as he wails about needing
to deliver roses to his love at 3 in the
morning. The driving drumbeats start to
redeem this song, but it all goes to hell
when you hear the lines "I know that
sometimes love goes / but sometimes it
comes back to getcha / then when love
grows / it grows like a flower / it grows
like a tumor / love shows that God has a
sense of humor." I'm sure doctors
would love to cure this, but I'd rather
not get cancer from this album.
- Stephanie Jo Klein

Since 1948 * *

I

1 M* buseweo -~'~ t * *
LATE NIGHT SPECIAL
After 9:00 pm, get a medium l item pizza for $5.49!
(Never an extra charge for Deep Dish)
Valid only at Packard and Maiden Lane locations.
Not valid with any other offers or discounts. Expires 12/20/96.
Central Campus * Packard/Hill
769-5555 CASH
North Campus " 927 Maiden Lane CHECK
995-9101 "-

name that starts out with "Super," this
bubblegrunge is, for the most part, quite
distinctive.
Why will you enjoy Super Deluxe?
Because the band enjoys itself.
If Top 40 radio still meant something,
these three minute gems would be solid
gold smashes. Who can argue with the
endless repetition of "I'll do anythin
for her" at the end of "Holly's Dreary
Vacation?" It's a harmony-laden refrain
that mocks candy-coated pop so well
that one almost forgets that the song
itself is candy-coated. The album's
opener, "Lizadrin," is even better; it's_
the type of song that we all love to jump
up and down on our couches to while
no one is looking. This group just never
turns down the intensity for even one
second, even on slower tracks lik
"Smile" and "Flustered" the power ju*
overwhelms you. It's also very refresh-
ing to hear singer Braden Blake belt out
"I Wanna See You Smile" over guitarist
John Kirsch's dense power chords. The
Hollies would have killed for a song
like this.
Sure, many artists today combine
sweet melodies with the guitar feedback
necessary for any sort of radio play -
the Posies, the Stone Roses, Teenage
Fanclub and Matthew Sweet to nan
some. But few pull it off as well as
Super Deluxe, and even fewer sound
like they're enjoying themselves.
- Mark Feldman
See RECORDS, Page:15

....... .......

e

Q C

Super Deluxe
Famous
Tim Kerr Records

MICHIGAN'S PREMIERE
SWIMSUIT CALENDAR
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810-363-5500 or 7
etibbe@umich.edu
Work Across Differences
Dialogues among different groups:
- People of Color & White People

Super Deluxe is possibly the first
band ever from Seattle to have a photo
of its members smiling on an album
cover. Sure, it's the back cover, but it's a
step in the right direction. Imagine
Seattle style noise rock with a '70s AM
radio sensibility - or lack thereof -
and then you have Super Deluxe. In
spite of the fact that this is the
umpteenth band these days to have a

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