The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 17, 1998 - 9
ans should give thanks
Sr Clapton's 'Pilgrim'
RIGHT Now, VAN HALEN IS FAILING ON 'III'
Thejourney is the destination,' Eric
torn once said about his constant
e.o push his musical talents to the
t.Athough "Pilgrim," Clapton's lat-
lease, is a testament to this, he may
be moving in the right direction.
:I, if not all, of this album contains
w 8ritten for Clapton's late son
r, who fell from a 12 story build-
and died in 1(91.
liough this album has the most
Sonagiy driven lyrics of his career,
>ton may need to find sonic new
iration for his future projects. It is
only the one-dinensional lyrics that
cnt the major problem with this
n. The modern-techno feel of the
'c is nothing like what we have come
xect from this legendary musician.
several songs on this album are
sure to be on
ui ' Clapton's next
;** greatest hits col-
Ic Clapton instance, "My
Pilgrim Father's Eyes," the
Reprise first single off the
album, was written
evewkd for the years ago while
arty by "Tears in I-leaven"
Ryan Malkin was still touching
his song is one of the only on the
nm with a classic Clapton feel, and is
e possibly the best song on
grim." Clapton then moves us into a
h slower paced song, "River of
s." This track has a rather repetitive
line, but is saved by the emotional-
riven lyrics Clapton sings so elo-
itly. "Pilgrim," the title song on the
has a techno-twangy feel and
)te its amazing lyrics sounds noth-
like a Clapton song. The other sure
hit on the album, "Broken Hearted,"
uch iore Clapton-esque and is rem-
iniscent of his work on "Journeyman."
"One Change," "Sick and Tired" and
She's Gone" all have classic-rock guitar
riffs with a modern beat. The lyrics are
all very emotional and sung in a bluesy
fashion reminiscent of Clapton's work
on 1995's "From the Cradle"
Classic Clapton acoustic work is also
prominent in such songs as "Circus,"
"Going Down Slow," "Needs his
Woman" and "Fall like Rain." These
songs have the bluesy-folk feel for
which Clapton is beloved. Borrowing a
Bob Dylan song, "Born in Time,"
Clapton keeps the Dylan-esque sound,
but adds the same nodern tinge that is
so prominent on the rest of the album.
The last song on the album, "Inside of
Me," has a very similar style to that of
"Pilgrim" in that it is very modern and
"Pilgrim" offers several hits and
great guitar work, but the techno-mod-
ern feel is what takes away from the
classic Clapton we all thought we knew
and loved. Although Clapton seems to
continually push his musical talents to
the edge, he may have slipped slightly
on this album. Once he regains his bal-
ance, he is sure to surprise fans and crit-
ics again in the future.
Van Halen, one of the most prominent bands in the rock music scene in the
past 20 years, is back, finally, with a new album. Here's the problem, though:
It's not Van Halen anymore - and it's not good, either.
Some people would argue that the band hasn't been Van Halen since 1985,
when Sammy Hagar joined the group after a less-than-amicable split with its
original vocalist, bonbastic David Lee Roth.
Van Halen started out in 1977 as the anti-punk band of the turbulent Los
Angeles scene. Roth, brothers Alex and Eddie Van Halen, and Michael
Anthony recorded edgy rock music with guitar solos, flair and an overall party
attitude - a contrast to the hardcore, political bands of the time like Black Flag
and the Dead Kennedys.
After Roth left the band and Hagar joined, many fans wondered what would
happen next. After all, beside the fact that Eddie Van Halen is a guitar virtuoso,
Roth basically made the band with his booming voice, elaborate stage pres-
ence, and catchy song writing. Some say his departure was the end of Van
Halen, while millions disagreed. With albums like "5150,' "OU812" and "For
Unlawful Carnal Knowledge," Van Halen found itself
consistently at the top of the charts, selling just as nnaniy
records as the original lineup ever did. Hagar was similar
to Roth in that he kept Van Halen's image as the party
Van Halen band, and although cheesy at times, he was always ready
Van Halen III Last year, after Hagar was apparently kicked out of the
Warner Bros. band, the Van Halen brothers looked for a new vocalist.
Reviewed Dy They picked Gary Cherone, formerly of Extreme. This
Daily arts Editor might go down as the worst decision in rock history. First
Colin Bartos of all, Cherone is an extremely weak vocalist. The vocals
on the entire "Van Halen Ill" album sound as if they've
been over-dubbed several times. Whereas Roth and
Hagar were both strong, dynamic vocalists in their own right, Cherone comes
across about as strong as a 98-pound wuss with laryngitis.
Several times, Cherone almost sounds like a pained version of Hagar It isn't
clear if this was an attempt to continue the Hagar-era Van Halen sound, or if it's
purely coincidental. At any rate, it's quite disturbing.
Roth and Hagar's voices were so different that the only thing that held fans
through that transition at first was the music. With this transition, though, the
listener has nothing to grasp. Eddie Van Halen has obviously lost his ability to
create interesting, catchy music. At best, the tunes are drawn out, boring, and
void of melody.
"Van Halen III" starts out with a two-minute long acoustic instrumental titled
"Neworld." For a strong Van Halen comeback, this, again, was not a good
choice. The song finally flows into the first single, "Without You," which is
unquestionably the best song on the disc, and probably the reason it was given
to radio. The song is about three minutes too long, though. This is a major prob-
len throughout the rest of the record, too, with no song less than five minutes
long, and the inclusion of two inane eight-minute yawners, "Once" and "Year To
The Day." The songs ramble on like grandpa telling a story. How appropriate.
"Without You" is a pretty tame rocker by past Van Halen standards, yet it is
just about the most intense offering one will find on the record. Cherone's lyrics
on songs like "One I Want" and "Ballot Or The Bullet" are completely trite and
bereft of creativity. Eddie Van Halen seems more concerned with showing off
new instruments rather than displaying the genius that made him one of the best
guitarists ever. Alex Van Halen's drumming seems sluggish and uninspired, and
the band doesn't sound like it's having fun anymore.
Supposedly, Cherone was hired to add some youth to this band. But with
him, Van Halen sounds older than they ever have. Sammy Hagar once sang
"there's only one way to rock," and "Van Halen Ill" definitely ain't it.
Cows graze new tu on 'Sony' a
pacehog gets weak on
feet and sour 'Chinese'
couple of years ago, the Leeds-
ts-New York band Spacehog came
of nowhere and scored a minor hit
its catchy, rollicking song, "In The
lie video for the track didn't hurt the
any, as it showcased singer
ston Langdon's glani-rock fashion
riings and included a cameo by the
*uy from "Kids" who loved to
e his crotch from side to side. As
,much hope abounded for this band
pparient style and substance to help
c the Candleboxes and Collective
s of-the day disappear.
ell, history has indeed pushed the
'mentioned rock gods into the used
CD bus at record
} stores, but
** S pacehog's
acehog Bros. debut, "The
Chinese Albur Chinese Album'
ire/Warner Brns. wind up there
Reviewed by quickly, too. With
Daily Arts Writer the exception of a
Aaron Rennie few soings, tine
iocre and all-too-forgettable.
]e first single, "Mungo City," con-
in i similar vein as "In The
1me' punIchy and bouncy, with
ie-esque vocal affectations by
don. Unfortunately, this track is
e of a musical exception to "The
iese Album" than your average, blab
. Another standout is the brief
New directions can be dangerous. When bands tinker
with their basic sound, especially when it's been a good
sound. cascading screw-ups too often occur when too
much happens too fast. But the Cows have taken it
slowly, their sound steadily changing througout their
last two albums and gaining momentum for the sling-
shot effect that is "Sorry In Pig Minor."
The Cows have always projected a unique independent
guitar sound, distinctive for continually surprising songs
and the occasional bugle bleat. But none of the band's
albums has deserved the term "experimental" the way this
The opening track, "Cabin Man," works as a typical-
ly Cowseian monologue, which is to say it is a bizarre
little story full of entertaining self-dissolution. The
music, however, is atypically restrained, until the last
portion of the song when it suddenly gets so loud and
distorted that you have to dash over to your stereo to
turn down the volume by about halfif you have neigh-
bors. Tile band hasn't changed that much.
If "Sorry" wasn't visibly an extension of the Cows
recent work, an observer might be tempted to assume
that the producer, King Buzzo of the Melvins, was
responsible for the avant character of the CD. It still has
enough affinities with The Melvins' brilliant "Stag" for
it to be more than mere coincidence. Would the Cows
have had the gumption to make a Bjork-sounding
instrumental track like "Dear Dad" without Buzz in the
studio egging them on? Doubtful.
The flat, atonal vocal songs
are also news, and provide some
of the most interesting music on
the album. "Life After Beth" and
COWS "Eureka! Funday!" are eerily
Sorry in depressing yet intensely engag-
Pig Minor ing at the same time. Shannon
Amphetamine Selberg's voice seems to vibrate
Reviewed Dy in new and exciting ways. It just
Daily Arts Writer proves that he doesn't have to
Ted watts sing with super strength all the
time to sound hypnotic.
There are still plenty of songs performed in the classic
Cows idiom to satisfy farty old fans who don't want to
listen to new sounding stuff. "Death in the Tall Weeds"
and "Saliva of the Fittest" are old style Cows songs, but
still innovative. "El Shiksa" is similarly situated, but with
a pseudo-mariachi feel and a bit more gentle rhythmical-
ly than past output. But with lines like, "Look I love you
I'm singing about you" and "It breaks my heart so, that
whenever you see me, whenever you see me your face
makes a fist" it is certainly on the right record.
"Sorry in Pig Minor" has some of the best of the
Cows' old style and some truly exciting new visions. So
get with the program, already.
"Almond Kisses," a sweet and melodie
tune featuring R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe oii
lead vocals.Problei is, despite all the
soing siierits, it otily niakes vine yearn
harder for R.E.M.s follow-up to "New
Adventures in Hi-fi." Langdon tries to
harmonize with Stipe, but the Athens,
GA, frontman's voice is just too pretty
and strong for the transplanted Brit to try
and match. Nevertheless, "Almond
Kisses" will have you humming and/or
whistling its chorus il no time
But the rest of the album is quite
weak. ILangdon and his brother/guitarist
Antony ran out of ideas quickly, but the
upside to this is they had the good sense
not to make a particularly long, Painful
albIumi; "The Chinese Albumri" can fly
right into and out of one's stereo in only
45 minutes or so, giving one ample
time to walk down to a used record
store and trade it in for "Revolver" or
"Dark Side of the Moon."
Rock would be dull ifWit weren't for meddling Mystery Machine
"What's that?" you may ask yourself
as a tantalizing sound vibrates your
eardrums "Is it Blur, Oasis, or Sonnic
Youthi?" None of the above.
The sound may not be completely
unique, but on Mystery Machine's new
album, "Headfirst Into Everything,"
each song sounds like oneofmy favorite
tracks firom another CD. After listening
to the CD once, the songs become
familiar and one can sing along with
It. would be an incredible task to
attempt homework while listening to
any of the two- to three-minute songs
without beginning to head bob or type a
paper to the rhythm.
Mystery Machine is Luke Rogalsky,
Bean, Shane Ward and Jordan Pratt. On
the band's two previously released discs,
1992's "Glazed" and 1994's "Ten
Speed," Mystery Machine seemed to
have perfected its formula.
The new album still contains ele-
ments that are trademark Mystery
'1mt.. Machine, such as
.*.*v.,i***** a Oasis' back-
*** ground sounds,
Mystery with Sebadoh-like
Machine and distorted
HeadfirstInto Everything sonic guitar rock,
Nettwerk yet the band has
Reviewed by grown nore
Daily Arts Writer mature and the
Marquinai1ev sm stemafdoth
songs steni from
more personal experience.
"A lot of songs on this record are
about having addictive personalities.
Even the title of the album is about emo-
tional extremes and their impact on rela-
tionships," Rogalsky said.
Throughout the disc there are some
remnants of left-over grunge-rock teen
angst. The tracks relate themes about
doubt, yet the chords, tonal changes and
breaks evoke strength and power.
In "Drone" Rogalsky cheerfully
sings, "When my head is caving in/I'm
a happy boy/with my spirit dripping
thick and slow."
"In the end, this album is really about
how much we take versus what we give
back; selfishness versus selflessness,'
reflects Rogalsky. "Where is the balance,
and when is it right to tip the scales? I
look for balance everywhere, but mostly
I end up headfirst into everything."
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Is it Christianity?
Is it both.
Is it neither?
An open lecture presented by Dr. Mark Kinzer
Executive DirectoroffThe Shoresh Institute for the Study ofJudaism & the New Testament
Wed. March 18, 8:00pm. SHORESH
Henderson room, 3rd floor A A
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