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October 22, 1997 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-10-22

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8 - The Michigan Daily -Wednesday, October 22, 1997
Miss ackson gets nast inside her sexy 'Velvet Rop&.

Janet Jackson
The Velvet Rope
Virgin Records
Janet Jackson - you've come a long way, baby.
All right, I know your first name ain't baby, it's
Janet - Miss Jackson if I'm nasty - but it has been
a decade since you reminded everyone of this fact.
And in that decade you've changed immense-
ly as an artist and as a person: Starting as a
shy child star striving for "Control": then
becoming a confident dance drill
sergeant, leading the writhing masses
of your "Rhythm Nation"; and next
asserting your sexuality, your first
name and your washboard abs on
"Janet"
But now it's 1997, and you're talk-
ing about sadomasochism, spousal
abuse, masturbation and the all-around
hedonistic pleasures of sex.
Frankly, Miss Jackson, you're getting a little
too nasty - and that's, as you once sang, "alright with
me."
On the 15 songs and seven interludes of "The Velvet
Rope," Janet Jackson does get nasty, though it's all in
the name of reinvigorating her music and her artistic
persona, a renaissance of an '80s dance queen and
'90s sex object.
A rebirth is exactly what "Velvet" is. On the record,
Janet takes a new musical direction that blends her old
pop-harmony self with cutting-edge trip-hop instru-
mentation, combining perfectly in the title track.
"Velvet" kicks off with a decidedly Prodigy guitar riff
and soars into a surreal blend of Janet's poppy lyrics
and the crunching violin of prodigy Vanessa Mae.
From this song, one can see that by "Velvet Rope,"
Janet means to take us to the restricted areas of her
mind, body and soul, while inviting us to do the same
for ourselves.
And that's exactly what she does.
Taking the listener on a trip-pop journey beyond her
velvet rope, Janet continues the mood set by the open-
er with the one-two-three punch of "You," a rocking
wake-up call for being yourself; the first single "Got
'Til It's Gone," a funky collaboration with Q-Tip and
Joni Mitchell; and "My Need," a deceptively happy
melding of "Love Hangover" and "You're All I Need
To Get By."
But all this tripping hasn't completely overwhelmed
the Janet we all know and love, as is evident on the
album's guaranteed dance hit, "Together Again." A
poetic postcard to those she's lost to AIDS mas-
querading as a RuPaul-esque "Everybody say love!"
anthem, the song keeps it together artistically through
five booty-shaking minutes.
Another cut guaranteed to make it big is Janet's
cover of Rod Stewart's "Tonight's The Night."
Keeping the original's ode-to-deflowering lyrics, Janet
lovingly croons to a woman, which could possibly cre-

ate a hoopla and definitely creates an enticing lesson
in the art of seduction.
Seduction is merely the prelude to the shockingly
great "Rope Burn:' as she finds her true self as she
finds herself gently tied up. On this stellar song, she
even makes S&M seem inspirational.
Jackson kicks inspiration aside and just lets loose
with longing on the conventional yet intoxicating
quiet storm "I Get So Lonely." Janet also sidesteps
insinuation and goes directly for the jugular on
the explicit, tempo-shifting, woman-
scorned rocker "What About in which
i G she's walking along the beach with an
apologetic lover as thoughts like
"What about the times you hit my
face?" and even more explicit accu-
sations run through her mind.
Who's that thinking those nasty
thoughts? Nasty girl Janet Jackson,
of course. And being nasty suits Janet
- and listeners -just fine on the trip-
py, sexy, inspirational, invigorating and
impossibly seductive "The Velvet Rope."
Beyond Janet's "Velvet Rope" lies a place where
she may think nasty, act nasty or even eat that nasty
food - but no matter how nasty Miss Jackson gets,
I'll be right there waiting.
Who's jamming to her nasty grooves? That would
be me.
-- Bryan Laik
The Bouncing Souls
The Bouncing Souls
Epitaph Records
Twenty-six minutes of fury captured in sixteen
songs. That's the best way to describe the new, self-
titled release from the Bouncing Souls. From the first
adrenaline-injected track, "Cracked," all the way
through to the record's conclusion, the Souls rip
through an intense program of first-rate East Coast
punk rock.
A new record deal with Epitaph may finally draw
some attention to the self-proclaimed "most touring
band in punk rock." Certainly, their live shows are not
to be missed. An appearance at St. Andrew's Hall on
Oct. 24 should be sufficient proof of their prowess on
stage. What energy doesn't come across on record
pours forth in volumes when the Souls play a live gig.
If seeing The Who was like watching a "piece of pure
raw energy," then the Bouncing Souls have managed
to capture that excitement and take it to punk rockers
across the nation.
Full of up-tempo tracks suitable for a crowd full of
raised fists and chanting fans, two super-charged
melodies stand out on "The Bouncing Souls." "East

Coast! Fuck You!:' the Soul's glorious anthem of East
Coast pride has a chorus that echoes its title and is
guaranteed to piss off any parental unit within range of
the CD player. With a reputation for scamming free
meals while on tour, the Soul's sense of humor shines
through on "Shark Attack," a song that discusses the
band's freeloading. The lyrical brilliance of "Sha
Attack" can be summed up in a few short lin .
"Shark Attack! Shark Attack! J Quarter Pounder; and
Big Macs! / Bouncing Souls are on your block / First
we eat and then we rock! / Close your windows! Lock
your doors / We like food better when its yours!" The
track also includes guest appearances by Joe Escalante
and Warren Fitzgerald of The Vandals.
Hailing from New Jersey, The Bouncing Souls have
been through Detroit several times in the past year,
opening foi- the Descendents and Face to Facr, to
name two of their more memorable appearance~
Most recently, though, they came into town on t .
day-long Warped Tour, when it rolled into Pine Knob
on July 23. The Souls held down a slot on one of.the,
main stages in "competition" with bands like The
Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Suicide Machines,
Reel Big Fish and Social Distortion.
Of the three Bouncing Souls records in existence,
"The Bouncing Souls" is the most consistent effort to
date. One track aside ("The Toilet Song"), the album
maintains its intensity. speed and power throughout its
entire running time. An instrumental track, "Th
Screamer" adds the Hammond Organ stylingsW
Ronny King to the mix, which is a welcome break
from the power chord punk rock that characterizes the
rest of the album. I can recommend their other two
releases just as highly as I do this one. Both on BYO,
records, "The Good, The Bad and the Argyle" and
"Maniacal Laughter" will rock your world just as
much as "The Bouncing Souls."
Now on tour with labelmates The Pietasters, the
Souls are coming to a theatre near you, namely St.
Andrew's Hall. Hear the new record as it was mecnit
to be heard: live. Take a car, bus, train, bicycle, trie
ce or hijack some poor passing motorist if need be.
Just be sure to make it to Detroit on Friday.
-Gabe Fajuri

Her first name ain't baby - it's Janet, and she's one nasty girl.

I

Punk rockers The Bouncing Souls will eat your food
and piss off your parents.

Hirshfield shares her cure for common poems*

By Jason Boog
For the Daily
For anyone who sees modern poetry
as a personal, vague, and unreachable
form of writing, poet Jane Hirshfield is
the perfect remedy.
This evening at 8 p.m., Hirshfield will
bring an imposing
scope and energy for
poetry to Ann Arbor P
in a discussion of her
two new books, "Nine J
Gates" and "The
Lives of the Heart."
Hirshfield, whose
awards include a
Guggenheim Fellowship, has also writ-
ten three other books of or about poetry,
edited and translated anthologies of
poetry, and has been published in "The
New Yorker," "The Atlantic" and "The
Nation." Hirshfield is an ideal voice for

a
Jai

modern poetry.
"The great human joy is to lead a
known life and an interconnected life,"
Hirshfield told The San Diego Reader in
a recent interview, explaining that "poet-
ry, and the attentiveness that comes with
reading or writing it brings that kind of
knowledge (to)
me." "Nine
EV I E W Gates" is a col-
lection of essays
ne Hirshfield reflecting her
Tonight at 8 lifelong connec-
Shaman Drum tion and mastery
Free of poetry.
The book
intends to explore poetry's "mode of
comprehension," an important subject
for readers and composers of poetry.
Hirshfield moves slowly through the ini-
tial essays, carefully defining the basic
tools of poetry, from narrative style to
the poet's voice.
Each explanation comes with a gener-
ous sampling of illustrative poems by
poets from around the globe.
From these simple beginnings, the
essays move to more subtle topics, from
a discussion of influence and historical
poetic development to an essay on the
work of translating poetry.
Throughout this book, Hirshfield

reinforces the need for the reader or
writer to focus entirely to achieve the
"attentiveness" necessary for poetry. She
writes, "poems do not make appoint-
ments with their subjects - they stalk
them, keeping their distance, looking
slightly off to one side."
Finally, "Nine Gates" explores the
very creation of the elusive poetry
described above.
Hirshfield calls this act "facing the
lion,' and cries for modern poets to carry
on the quest to "look at what is difficult
to see; to press ... into the realms of sor-
row, chaos, anger; to seek out the places
where madness and imagination meet."
This powerful challenge is met in
Hirshfield's own poetry, as her other
book, "The Lives of the Heart" neatly
proves. In the title poem, she continues
her poetic study on a human level, writ-
ing, "Each (heart) opens and closes,
closes and opens the heavy gate-violent,
serene, consenting, suffering it all."
From that insight, Hirshfield explores
the human heart's interaction with the
many states of life, from her own experi-
ence and and from the experiences of
those around her.
The book holds a particular focus on
certain images and themes; for example,
the fearful "lions" of pain and desire,

sensual fruits, and the gates leading tar
knowledge. This last image is most cen-
tral, as she writes in the poen'r "Of
Durable Kindness," "Not that (a) huge
gate swung open, but (turn) the pin of the
hinge" This delicate balance of elusive
insights is where Hirshfield thrives.
Her study moves between genei
conclusions about human experience
like, "changed glass that is like the heart
after much pain," and very subjective
study, "there is more and more I tell no
one, strangers nor loves. This slips into
the heart without hurry, as if it had never
been.
Overall, Hirshfield's poetry is most
powerful in her shortest pieces, like
"Late Prayer." Here we see Hirshfieicl's
gentle prose compacted to a power$
sentence, and under her careful direction
the reader can see with a new."attentive-
ness" the beauty of experience's balance.
Hirshfield calls together all the pain-and
happiness examined in the book in a sen-
tence.
"Look: In the iron bucket, a single
nail, a single ruby - all the heavens and
hells. They rattle in the heart and make
one sound."
That sound is recorded in poetry,-a*-
Jane Hirshfield proves in her two books
just how well she hears.

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