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May 21, 1980 - Image 9

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1980-05-21

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The Michigan Daily-Wednesday, May 21 1980-Page 9
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The heavy metal meltdown

Women and Children First
Van Halen Warner HS343
One look at the cover art for Van
Halen's new disc, the politely titled
Women and Children First, and it's ob-
vious that these guys mean business.
Like, they're not wimps, man. On the
front, the four group members are
sprawled about in orgasmic ecstacy,
. playing with their favorite instrument.
Shame on your filthy mind, it's just a
On the back cover, each member af-
fects his own unique stance. Lead
singer David Lee Roth is gesticulating
hard, probably begging for his daily
ration of raw meat, with his ever-
present take-me expression-does this
guy ever shut his mouth, or are the con-
stantly pursed lips an important part of
that subite VH sexual mystique? Lead
guitarist Alex Van Halen has apparen-
tly discovered that coming up with an
expression demands some measure of
intelligence, and seems to have given
up the struggle. Drummer Edward Van
Halen, however, comes up with the
really neat idea of pointing en-
thusiastically at us. If there were an
appropriate comic-strip balloon above
his head, it might read something
clever like, "YEAH! BOOGIE! HEY!"
But the real proof that these men (golly,
I wouldn't want to get caught calling
them "boys"!) are sooo tough is basist
Michael Anthony. Is he really smoking
marijuana? A "doobie"? A "joint"?
Catch me before I faint.
WHO ARE THESE clowns? Are they
examples of teen-age brain damage? Is
this what happens when you spend too
many hours listening to Black Sabbath
at an impressionable age?
Alas, with their third album of
screeching jams, Van Hale.. confirms
that they're nothing quite so interesting
as any of that. They're another Kiss for
a new audience of psuedo-delinquents,
just as cartoonish and monotonous, and
perhaps even a little dumber in their
appeal-if Casablanca had had the
chance to market them, they might
have been named Slobber, or Blow Job.
As any self-worshipping beery macho
men would, they innocently believe that
the majority of the female population
woild die for the chance to throw them-
selves at the muscular mercy of such
he-men. There's something almost
inanely charming about a group so
overjoyed about their own grunt-and-
groan idiocy. Yes, they're really ob-
noxious, but clownish enough to be
amusing from a comfortable distance.
Women and Children First has been
produced by Ted Templeman with his
usual brisk efficiency. The sound is the
usual VH sonic din, but it's a lot tighter
and passably more entertaining than it
was on their laborious second album.
Templeman makes Good Product-not
necessarily good music, but digestible
commercial stuff-and cuts such as
"And the Cradle Will Rock .. ." and the
representatively titled "Everybody
Wants Some!!" are quite tolerable,
such as they are. They don't make you
want to dance, exactly, but you may
start to churn a little to the thick, heavy
OF COURSE, the album does take the
standard we-gonna-GET-DOWN-and-

so-COOL stupidity to new and wondrous
extremes. Singer Roth indulges in his
usual, frequent trademark shrieks,
which sound eerily like the noise one
might emit if brusquely kicked ina par-
ticularly unfortunate place, or like the
yelp of a puppy whose tail has been
stepped on. The guitars wail, the mix
squeals, and songs like "In asSimple
Rhyme" just sink into the din, hopefully
never to emerge again. When VH does
sonic distortion a la "Revolution No. 9"
at the beginning of "Tora! Tora!"
(cruising around and making out takes
on the significance of a world war for
these people), you may feel as though
you've been shoved into the midst of a
grade-D motorcycle flick-it's all v--
rrooms and squeals. One suspects that
the group would just love to do their
stage act in loin cloths if Ted Nugent
(another active participant in the Male
Supremacy Sweepstakes) hadn't
already beaten them to it.
Some of the nonsense on this album
could pass asa parody of juvenile dum-
bness, like Roth's scintillating come-on
to his chickadee on one song: "Ah've
always liked those kinda high heels
... Yeah, that's it ... a little more to the
right." This is just too brainless to be
offensive; Van Halen doesn't have the
smarts to be smug about their sexual
conquering-hero image, the way the
Knack is. The single exception from the
generally inane noise level is "Could
This Be Magic?," a passably amusing
piece of carbon-copy Allmann Bros.-
like Southern slide guitar work, with
lyrics like "you got wimmens on yer
Admittedly, these blow-dried
blowhards do have a few good riffs up
their sleeve. Well, at least one or two.
As an added bonus (or laugh) for those
who get all tingly listening to the
group's wittily suggestive lyrics and
muscle-of-love sound, the album in-
cludes a very large (sorry, girls, not
quite life-size) poster of singer Roth by
none other than that master of chic S-M
photography, Helmut Newton. In
glorious black-and-white, Roth expands
his take-me image to mind-boggling
lengths. Wearing black leather pants
(and lots of rolled-up Kleenex, no
doubt) and tough boots, baring his
hairy chest (and armpits, unfor-
tunately) and spreading his legs for
some purpose other than exercise, he is
chained prettily to a metal fence by his
hands-mouth open, of course. (He
doesn't appear to be salivating rabidly,
but you never can tell.) Gee, this may
be the most exciting thing to happen to
a lot of record buyers since David
Cassidy posed almost-nude for Rolling
Women and Children First has been
released just in time for everyone to
play it while cruising down the main
drag as they swill their 13th beer.
Perhaps, somewhere around the eight-
beer mark, even Van Halen begins to
sound good.

Progressions of Power
Triumph RCA Afl1-3524
Triumph is like a three-man Van
Halen with less emphasis on the bass
guitar. Each band plays loud,
sledgehammer rock and roll and alot of
it. The essential problem for this in-
dustrial strength rock trio from Toronto
is that while some of their material can
pass for good, hard driving rock, too
much of it is irritatingly repetitive.
From song to song, on their new album,
Progressions of Power, it sounds as if
guitarist Rik Emmett, who is the main-
stay and focal point of the band, is
playing only slight chord mutations
from previous songs.,.
Triumph, now three albums old and
on a grueling 100-city promotional U.S.
tour, has all the necessary energy a
power-rock band needs. It comes
through both on vinyl and in live per-

formances. They turn up the amps, trot
out the flashing lights, explosions and
flashy pods and commence to partying
down, barely giving one a chance to
breath. Emmett and drummer Gil
Moore handle the vocal chores while
trying to keep their audience as lively as
BUT THEIR amateurism also peers
through the transparent curtain of
professionalism. While these guys are a
pretty hot act for our neighbors to the-
north, and have been for a few years,
one gets the impression that too much
showmanship and not enough musical
prowess comes through.
The perimeter of the stage, as well as
the amps and drum platform are
surrounded by white light bulbs. They
use strobe lights, explosions and flame
throwers at various times in their set.
And their name screams out at you in
bold capital letters behind the stage. All
any of this does is distract the audien-
See HEAVY, Page 10



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