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July 18, 1980 - Image 9

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Michigan Daily, 1980-07-18

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, July 18, 1980-Page 9
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y pro ion,
'Yachts becal m-ed b duct*

YachtsWithoutRadar
The Yachts
PolydorPPD 1-6270
By MARK DIGHTON
Where else could The Yachts go after
their perfectly incendiary self-titled
debut album of last year? Down, that's,
where. Of course, that's not necessarily
traumatic given the exceptionally high
quality of The Yachts, but to deny that
there are problems with the recently
released Yachts Without Radar is to
overlook some minor-but
unavoidable-faults.
The Yachts have always tread a fine
line between endearing and annoying,
but that was always part of their ap-
peal. "Cheeky" is probably the only ad-
jective that properly describes their
peculiarly British brand of brash
charm. Like a successful con man, The
Yachts was impudent, but so un-
deniably pleasing that you rarely noticed
its harsh qualities. It had something to
do with playing the game to the hilt,
which The Yachts don't do on Yachts
Without Radar. In fact, the first album
was so overwhelming in its momentum'
that one never got a chance to judge the

songs relative to each other. Once it
started, it was impossible to stop. Not
so with Yachts Without Radar, on
which it is possible to not only recognize
but even cue out the less memorable
songs.
THIS FACT is partially due to the
slower pace of the latest album. Unlike
their first album, Without Radar allows
the listener time to think about the
songs and thus recognize their deficien-
cies. The beat is just too slow, though it's
hard to say why. It certainly can't be
due to the rhythm section, Bob Bellis is
an essential pop drummer in the
Clement Burke (of Blondie) mold. The
new bassist, Glyn Havard, is not par-_
ticularly amazing but is a clear im-
provement over their previous bassist.
The only other possible cause of the
trace of lethargy displayed on this
album is its producer, Martin
Rushent-most known for his produc-
tion work with The Stranglers and The
Buzzcocks.
Unfortunately, this faultfinding
seems to fit. A major factor in the more
abrasive sound of this new album is the
downplayed importance of the
keyboards in defining the group's
sound. The Yachts was produced by
Richard Gotteher (who also produced
Blondie's first two) who, being a '50's

songwriter-producer, understood the
importance of a full orchestral
keyboard sound. Rushent seems to be
more influenced by The Cars and The
Stranglers in removing Harry Priest-
man's souped-up, devil-may-care organ
from the driving position to a safer and
more cynical position on the sidelines
where it provides little more than at-
mospheric fill and satiric comments.
The only problem with this is that The
Yachts were already on the verge of
being alienating, and this change may
well have pushed them over the line.
If you think that this review has
become overly obsessed with a few
minor production problems, you're ab-
solutely right. Part ot it is the usual
critics' need to find cause and effect
fect relationships for every misplaced
sound on an album so that they can
make it sound like they know what
they're talking about. But mostly it's
just the Yachts fan in me that wants to
know what went wrong. I listened to
The Yachts non-stop and repeatedly.
Not only did Yachts Without Radar not
impress me at first, but even once I got
comfortable with it and started to
really love most of the songs, I found
that I couldn't listen to even one entire
side without it grating on my nerves.
AS I SAID, though, this album is not
lacking in good songs. In small doses, it
is an enjoyable and powerful set of
songs. "Now I'm Spoken For," the
single that preceded the album, is not
as instantly memorable as most of The
Yachts, but it soon becomes another
one of those Yachts songs that you find
yourself humming everywhere.
"I Couldn't Get Along Without You"
is a simple-but simply perfect-punk
rave-up. "Ghost in My House" is

perhaps the best Motown adaptation in
quite a while. It is not as wild as The
Slit's "Heard it Through the
Grapevine," but is less forced than
Magazine's "Thank You (Falletinme
Be Mice Elf Agin)" and more
memorable than Elvis' "Getting
Mighty Crowded." In fact, "Ghost" fits
so well into the Yachts sound with its
mysterioso gospel organ that it's hard
to believe that it wasn't written with
them in mind.
The real surprise of the album,
however, is "Revelry," a fast-paced
and convincing call to total abandon. It
was written by Bob Bellis and Martin
Watson, the drummer and guitarist
respectively, who have emerged on this
album as a songwriting duo every bit as
engaging as the (previously thought)
inimitable Harry Priestman. Another
nice surprise is a few really nice mid-
tempo tunes afforded by the slower
pace of this album. (See, every cloud
does have its silver lining.)
"Lifesaving's Easy" is perhaps the
best, allowing plenty of space for the
listener to marvel at the exceptional
vocal clarity and control at the Yacht's
command.
This review is somewhat problematic
in that I can't given the simple black
and white judgment that most critics
want to give and most record buyers
want to hear. I'm afraid that if I can say
the album doesn't work as a whole
(which I think is a fair statement) a lot
of people will avoid it and miss out on
some great songs ... because the
songs themselves do work, in the whole.
Perhaps the solution is to buy the album
and only play selected cuts when you're
listening to singles. Ultimately, it's up
to you to decide.

The slide guitar king

By MARK COLEMAN
Veteran Chicago bluesman and slide
guitar virtuoso J. B. Hutto put in an
impressive performance Wednesday
night in front of a disappointingly small
audience at Rick's American Cafe.
Hutto is one of- the few remaining
practitioners of the older, Elmore
James-inspired style of guitar playing,
eschewing the pyrotechnics and
complex arrangements of more recent
Chicago blues for the mind-shattering
stream of bent notes provided by the
slide technique.
Hutto's whole approach to the blues
gains its strength through simplicity.
After fingering the rudiments of each
riff, he resorts to the slide for solos;
scraping harsh metallic drone and
blending clean, shimmering highs.
Hutto made no attempt to engage the
audience's attention apart from his
restless activity on guitar. Not even
bothering to announce song titles he
would turn in-between tune-ups into
introductions, at times even catching
the band off-guard.
THE BAND provided appropriate
accompaniment, bashing
enthusiastically behind Hutto's
straightforward assault. Second
guitarist Steve Coveny followed J.B.'s
leads nicely, playing some snaking solo

lines that complimented Hutto's slide
work nicely though his rhythm work
was all but inaudible. The traditional
opening sets performed by the band
alone were surprisingly lackluster,
especially the misguided blues remake
of "Flip, Flop, Fly." Why young blues
sidemen feel obligated to play rodk and
roll remains a mystery.
Btit the band's heavy-handed (at
times ham-fisted) rhythmic assault
worked wonderfully behind Hutto's
penchant for up-tempo shuffling. They
stayed loose and relaxed through
originals like "Fifteen Cent Phone
Call" and "Too Much Alcohol" as well
as honoring audience requests like
"Sweet Home Chieago." Nothing
outrageous or earth shattering here,
just an evening of solid boogie broken
up by J. B. Hutto's psychotic slide
breaks. What more could one ask for?
The RC/BRECHT COMPANY Presents
The
Resistible
Rise of
Arlure Ui
July 16-20
East Quad Auditorium
Wed.-Sat. 8p.m., Sun. 2p.m.
TICKETS $3 & $4 AT DOOR
C 0763=0176 for information

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