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November 24, 1998 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-11-24

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, Noveber 24, 1998

STARR QUALITY

In rock music, covering a Beatles song is like
trying to repaint the Mona Lisa.
Anything you change is likely to be seen as
blasphemous and anything you keep the same
has almost certainly been done better in its orig-
inal form.
That being said, we find before us the strange
case of Ringo Starr, who, though he played
drums for the Fab Four through most of their
existence, wrote only a handful of their songs.
And although his name does not appear
beneath most of the Beatles'
songs, it certainly seems
that he should have more of
a right to reinterpret the
Ringo StOrr Lennon/McCartney catalog
VH1 Storytellers than numerous other artists
Mercury Records (Fiona Apple's recent
butchering of "Across the
Reviewed by Universe" springs to mind)
Daily Arts writer who are constantly pillaging
Brian Egan it.
On "VHI Storytellers,"
Starr plays two Lennon/McCartney songs,
"With A Little Help From My Friends" and
"Love Me Do."
On the latter, the arrangement of the song has
a souped-up, classic rock feel that does not suit
the song particularly well at all, and as a result,
one of the catchiest tunes of the Beatles' early
period loses much of its appeal.
"With A Little Help From My Friends" finds

writing/recording/performing of the song.
Beatles fans will delight in his often irrever-
ent stories about his former band and band-
mates, and will no doubt find it refreshing to
glimpse a human side of a band whose reputa-
tion has been elevated to appropriately mythic
heights.
As he introduces "Octopus's Garden," Starr
tells the audience, "We were working on the
'White Album,' the Beatle buddies. Let's hear it
for the 'White Album' - I loved it. Let's milk it
for all we can get."
Starr's backing band, the Roundheads, which
features Joe Walsh on guitar, is impressively
tight, and the songs sound solid, but vivacious.
Several members of the Roundheads were
involved in the writing of material for "Vertical
Man," and the tracks from that album, such as
the first single, "La De Da" show that Starr con-
tinues to improve as a songwriter.
These newer songs boast melodies that, if not
equal to, are at least reminiscent of those creat-
ed by his Beatle counterparts, which is no small
feat, as bands have been building careers from
the same skill for more than 30 years.
Ringo Starr will, of course, always be remem-
bered as the drummer for the Beatles, and not as
a songwriter. But the performance captured on
"VH I Storytellers" shows him to be not only a
perfectly capable frontman, but, more happily,
an artist who is comfortable with both his role in
the creation of and lasting place in rock history.

Starr playing it pretty much straight off of "Sgt.
Pepper's," and the results are more successful,
possibly owing somewhat to the fact that Starr
actually did sing on the original recording. The
music offered on "Storytellers" spans nearly 35
years, from "Love Me Do" to songs from Starr's
most recent album, "Vertical Man," and includes
a sampling of his past solo work and songs that
he did write for the Beatles.
Starr's dry sense of humor is well suited to the
Storyteller's format, in which the artist intro-
duces songs with anecdotes about the

'Liv' Hanson lives
on P guiltypleasure
When the tse squeaky-voiced,
androgynous-hed brothers of
Hanson stormthe music scene
with the relea of "Middle of
Nowhere," their ne was met with
mixed emotions.
While millions %oung fans fell in
love with the boytd their music,
many critics dissed Hanson's
efforts as talentless, eesy pop.
Whatever critics tAght about the
quality of Hanson's usic, no one
could deny that the te little kids
deserved at least son respect for
writing and performinl their own
music (perhaps placingem at least tric jams, "With You in You
a level or two above infsbus teeny- Dreams," a reaction to the death e
bop favorites Issac, Taylor and Zac's grandmothet
such5as The is the only acoustic tune on s
Backset Boys album.
and '3 Spice The song is absolutely beautifu
Hanson Girls). both lyrically - because of eme
Live from But 'Id the tional, soft vocals - and instrumee
Albertane teenage a live tally, because of the rawness of th
Mercury Records up to thchal- acoustic guitar and keyboard.
Reviewed by lenge of sting "Ever Lonely," the only new son
Daily Arts writer on a resp ble on the album, is very similar t
Amy Sarber live shotfor Hanson's previous work,
thousands of Itsis a song about friendship with
screaming fans? theme resembling that of "I Wi
In its latest release, "Live F Come to You," proclaiming "I
Albertane," Hanson proves that pr, you're ever lonely you can cast
tically growing up performing me." It has danceable beat an
various stages for whoever wou catchy melody indicate th
listen has paid off. Hanson's next studio album coul
The 12-track release contains prove the band is more than a one-h
mostly live versions of songs fromwonder.
"Middle of Nowhere," along with a Another highlight of "Live" is th
few Motown tunes the band per- :rformance of "MMMBop," the h
formed regularly before it got ng whose lyrically intelligent ver
famous and one original, new song. 'are too often overlooked by th
"Live" is one big party, packed smingly silly chorus. Han:
with adrenaline from beginning to cice to perform the song ele r
end, mostly through electric instru- ca turns out to be a good one, pr
ments and sincerely emotional dug an interesting variation froi
vocals. Hanson has made it obvious "Mile of Nowhere's" version.
that when these guys perform live, Tthree Motown covers on tI
they have fun. albu "Gimme Some Lovin
The most striking aspect of the "Shak Tail Feather" and "Mone
album is most songs are performed (That' hat I Want)" are fun, b
in a lower key than they are on don't liiup to the quality of the re:
"Middle of Nowhere." Although this of "Livt "Gimme Some Lovin"'
alteration probably came as an the best the three, but it's slihtI
unwanted reaction to lead-singer silly to he a 14-year-old askinP
Taylor Hanson going through puber- "Some Lin" from his "prett
ty, it only helps the quality of the baby."
album. The finf "Live" is one of i
Unlike the trend that develops strongest uints. "Middle c
throughout Hanson's previous work, Nowhere's" eus track, "Man Frot
on "Live," the guys actually sing the Milwaukee," . the perfect song I
songs rather than shriek them - and end with, as lyrics inspired bol
they even sound like boys. Only one the title of "Mile of Nowhere" an
song actually suffers for the change. "Live From Alttane" (Albertane
"A Minute Without You" just isn't as the fictitious hie planet of "
impressive without the high-pitched man from Milwaee.") W
chorus that leaves you wondering Although it don't offer much
how Taylor's voice can possibly go far as new matal, "Live Frot
that high. Albertane" provida wonderful di
The best song on the album is also play of Hanson's e talents, and
the one that stands out most - definitely an albu you'll want t
"With You in Your Dreams." have at your nextirty ... even
Crammed between two intense elec- your friends make I of you.

Plastikman goes for real thig

Subtraction and the absence of sound character-
ize the musical theories of innovative Detroit tech-
no artist Plastikman.
Through only the use of bare essentials
Plastikman avoids clutter, leaving ample space
within the context of each song for the listener's
mind to explore sensation and thought.
The songs found on "Artifakts (bc)" are meticu-
lously conceptualized 10-minute constructions of
deep sprawling basslines, mod-
ulating beats and sublime com-
puterized bleeps.
** The minimal ingredients
Plastikman immerse the listener with a
Artifakts (bc) sonic equivalence of extreme
Mias/NovaMte emotional sensation.
Records A consuming inhuman
atmosphere of computerized
Reviewed by drum convulsions and eerie,
Daily Arts Writer yet relaxing, synthesized
Jason irchmeier strings establish the foundation
to "Artifakts (bc)."
Each song becomes more and more complicated
before slowly subtracting each layer of complica-
tion slowly before drifting into the next song's con-
struction.
The first song of the album, "Korridor," builds
from nearly inaudible strings, adding an aquatic
bassline and eventually a layer of bleeping sounds
before fading into the second song, "Psyk."
Here, the bass flows a little deeper, hits a little
harder and picks up pace while some sparse funky
beats allow for both trance and dance.
This same motif evolves a bit further and more
intense with the next 10-minute epic, "Pakard,"

before being interrupted by the wake up call of
"Hypokondriak."
For the next 10 minutes, a phasing sound swerves
through the gaps of a sparse convulsing percussive
rhythm interrupting any sense of tranquillity estab-
lished. After this spastic song, the relaxing serenity
of the album returns with a slow-evolving song
titled "Rekall," reaching an intense moment of
ecstasy before once again being interrupted by
another spastic percussive song "Skizophrenic."
The album then concludes with a song called
"Are Friends Electrik?" which progresses from
minimal elements to moments of intense rhythmic
density.
The songs on "Artifakts (bc)" consist of the rem-
nants of an unfinished Plastikman album known as
"Klinik."
This album was to be the third installment of the
Plastikman project began back in 1993. Problems
arose in the creation process when Richie Hawtin
- a Windsor native - ran into legal problems, get-
ting thrown out of the US. Without the urban land-
scape of Detroit and its innovative techno under-
ground as his muse,
Richie Hawtin pursued other projects, leaving the
songs finally released as "Artifakts (bc)" to collect
dust in favor of his latest album, "Consumed."
The four albums of Plastikman consist as indi-
vidual works of art. Within the context of each pro-
gressing album, there is an evolving motif differen-
tiating it from the other albums in the Plastikman
series.
As the partially completed precursor to the
recently released relaxing cerebral serenity of the
"Consumed" album, "Artifakts (bc)" minimizes the

innovative attributes used by legendary Detroit
techno artist Derrick May 10 years ago.
Plastikman's minimal thematic re-interpretation
of classic underground Detroit techno on "Artifakts
(bc)" polarizes him from the unintelligent, generic
"electronica" currently being solicited by major
labels.
Perhaps the only weakness of"Artifakts (bc)" lies
in its understandable lack of polish relative to the
other well-crafted Plastikman masterpieces.
For the first half of the album, things evolve very
precisely in the form of relaxed minimalism before
shifting gears abruptly with the last half of the
album.
The revision or exclusion of the two out of place
percussive convulsions, "Hypokondriak" and
"Skizofrenik," would smooth out the thematic pro-
gression of the album, remaining consistent with
the serene nature of the album.

Boredoms
releases
album
The Boredoms keep evolving; on
the band's last several releases, the
champidn of noise rock from Japan
have been moving away from its
anarchic roots and towards an almost
ambient sound. "Super H" is the
group's latest flavor of Darwinian
monkeyshines.
Finally, released in America after
being out in Japan for half a year, the
album has a surprisingly small num-
ber of songs.
T h e
B Boredoms'
faceted sense of
Boredoms "song" magni-
Super i fies the actual
Birdman/Reprise number of
sounds on the
Reviewed by recording, and
Daily Arts writer its new interest
Ted watts in repeating a
theme and tak-
ing longer to
express a musical notion on excur-
sions like "Super You" result in
longer track times.
"Super Going" is a surprisingly
happy entry for the Boredoms. The
first part of the song effervesces like
river rapids filled with seltzer; the
repeated lyric, "Shine on," combines
with two conflicting guitar parts in a

Seal should have abandoned third release

.:;.
way that somehow or other mimics
the joy of a warm summer day. That's
pretty unexpected from a band
known for fractured craziness, albeit
upbeat fractured craziness. But the
band hasn't totally changed; there
are a couple of dissimilar sections at
the end of the track. Itsis the way
these sections blend into the rest of
the song that is testimony to the
band's maturation.
More evidence is "Super Coming,"
the tune you'd get if John Philip
Sousa wrote "Hurdy Gurdy Man." A
strong, not-quite-marching beat, a
spooky undercover vocal and a
supernatural energy make it a
bizarrely enchanting song. The
Boredoms have not really written
catchy songs before; the catchy parts
in their music are normally not pre-
sent long enough. This is something
you could end up humming.
"Super AE" ends up sounding
almost like a soundtrack for a movie
about an insane king.
It rolls back and forth but with a
rich and rising regal undertone. And
the album has a solid sonic axis that
it swings around.
Don't get the impression that this
is what all Boredoms' material
sounds like; it is all just as super.

"I'm doing something and frankly I don't know
if I should," Seal sings in "Latest Craze," a song
off of his third album "Human Beings."
Frankly, I don't know if Seal should have
released this album, either.
Judging from the talent dis-
played on his first two
albums, Seal has definitely
Seal taken a turn for the worse
Human Beings with this release.
The majority of the tracks
wamer Bros. lack the catchiness and emo-
Reviewed by tion that his prior efforts dis-
Daily Arts writer played so eloquently. The title
Ryan Malkin track is a techno-driven song
with a melody that sounds
more like a James Bond video game than a Seal
tune. The repetitive nature of the chorus and lyrics
in general, do not come close to the poetics found
on earlier works by Seal.
During the slower ballads such as "State of
Grace," "Just Like You Said" and "Princess," it
seems that different lyrics were recorded over the

same melodies.
It is only in "Lost My Faith" that the Seal of
"Crazy" and "Kissed By A Rose" shines through
crystal clear. It is a shame that Seal could not sus-
tain the feelings of "Lost My Faith" on the remain-
der of the tracks. Instead, what we get is "Excerpt
From," which is merely that; Seal lays out an
introduction that sounds like the beginning of an
over-played radio song, but just as the song starts
to move into any recognizable chorus, the song
ends.
What we get next is an acoustic track, "When A
Man Is Wrong," that is more in the tradition of
Seal's first album than the lackluster tracks of
"Human Beings."
The remainder of the tracks on "Human Beings"
are absent of "Colour."
There is "No Easy Way" to put it, but I'll give it
a shot. Seal went from an emotionally charged
lyricist to a Grammy winner and now with
"Human Beings," Seal has gone one step forward
and two steps back.
Although a few of the songs off "Human

Beings" are definitely worth a listen, ipro y
a better idea to listen to them at the rrt d
and save a the money.

Tabernacle record disappoints die-hails

There's been a buzz in Detroit
indie country-rock circles surround-
ing 2 Star Tabernacle for quite some
time.
Playing infrequent live dates since
its inception,
the band's first
attempt at lay-
ing anything
2 Star down in the stu-
Tabemnacle dio is this 7-inch
Lily white Mama record and will
eloodsh likely be
Reviewed by snatched up by
Daily Arts Writer eager fans as
Gabe Fajai soon as it hits
the street. That
is, if they don't listen to it first.
Released on Chicago's "insurgent
country" label Bloodshot records,
this all-too-short introduction to 2
Star Tabernacle is not truly a show-
case of its songwriting talents.

Both songs on the record were
unfortunately written by non-band
members, and are sung, in whole or
part, by 50s R&B legend Andre
Williams.
The A side of the record, "Lilly
White Mama & Jet Black Daddy"
was written by Williams some 40
years ago, and it shows.
Putting this slab of vinyl on the
table is like a quick trip back in time.
As if the title weren't an obvious
enough clue, the song's lyrics deal
with an interracial marriage. The
child in that marriage, presumably
Williams, doesn't understand why
his parents are so different. He sings
in the chorus: "I don't know which
way to go/one of these colors just got
to go."
The tune is slow-moving, keeping
just above ballad tempo, and would
be perfect for National Public Radio,

Man."
Lead guitarist and sinr Dai
Miller (he of Goober and -
fame) trades off vocalist dus with
Williams on this side, 4 the
marked difference in voc style
makes for an engaging ctrast
Unfortunately, Williams rarles a
little too much for his own gd.
Overall, the record provideight
ning quick and frankly disappsting
introduction to one of Detroitnon
interesting bands. The work no
the Tabernacle's own, and not ;ool
representation of its @
Hopefully, 2 Star Tabernacleil
release a full length record of igi
nal material in the near fste
Hardcore fans of the locallie
country (or "insurgent coury"
movement will have to wait -ii
then to find something worthjle
from their hometown heroes.

lyrics aside. The vocals remind one
of Louis Armstrong from time to
time, and the band is competent,
although not well represented by
such a low-quality recording.
On the flip side, 2 Star Tabernacle
and Williams collaborate to cover the
Hank Williams classic, "Ramblin'

.

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