The Michigan Ddily-Saturday, August 9, 1980--Paoge 9
Pop! goes the Commander
By MARK DIGHTON
Who says that power pop is dead? If it
is, no one told the Commander. Mike
"Commander" Chapman (who brought
you such modern wonders as Suzi
Quatro, Sweet, and Blondie) baas just
undertaken a one-man crusade to put
pop music back where it belongs-in
our hearts and on our radios. As part of
that struggle, his new label, Dreamland
Records, has just released an album by
a group that has been one of the most
talked about unsigned bands in
America, Nervus Rex.
It is clear from Chapman's produc-
tion job on Nervus Rex, though, that;
The Commander may well be as much
of the problem as he is the solution. It
must be painfully obvious to anyone
who fell in love with Rex's first self-
produced single, "Don't Look," that
Chapmadi has taken this intelligent but
unassuming pop-band-next-door ana
given them his production counterpart
to processed cheese spread. Cbapman
even has the gall to sneak in a few
obligatory (and thankfully ignorable)
bows to the pop-disco sound he
pioneered with Blondie. It is clearly a
sign of this band's talent-and perhaps
even Chapman's- good sense in picking
them (Let's give the guy a break)-that
even when they succumb marginally to
Chapman's sound, they still manage to
come off as intelligent and witty
processed cheese spread.
IT WOULD take a lot more than
misguided, pre-packaged production to
even slightly mar the pop sensibility of
Nervus Rex. With their roots firmly in
The Beatles (circa Help!), they
manage to equal, if not surpass, most of
their modern colleagues. Shaun
Brighton can sing as sweetly as The
Shoes without sounding as dry and
hollow as they do on occasion. In ad-
dition, he plays a biting guitar that
gives an edge to his compositions that
The Shoes usually lack. Lauren Agnelli
also plays her hot-rod beehive Farfisa
well enough to rival The B-52's, though
she doesn't get enough attention on this
album. Maybe next time, eh Lauren?.
Did I forget to mention that she also
sings as well as Kate and Cindy of The
B-52's? Well, she does. Of course, you
should have guessed by now that Dian-
ne Athey plays bass almost'as well as
Tina Weymouth in the early days of
Talking Heads, and Jonathan Gilder-
sleeves combines the rhythmic pop per-
fection of Clement (Blondie) Burke
with the unexpected force of Terry
If it sounds like Nervus Rex is-merely
a "Best of ..." collection of all the
other power pop groups around, that is
only because they are working within a
relatively limited genre. At least they
strive to test the boundaries of opo,
unlike some of their compatriots who
merely seek to perfect one limited style
(i.e., The Shoes or the B-52's). This
album runs the gamut from the strictly
Beatlesque ballad, "Nobody Told Me,"
to the neurotically Devoesque sci-fi
tune, "The Incredible Crawling Eye."
More than that, each song on this
album contains enough of its u,%n
quirky energy to make it uniquely in-
teresting. Just try to imagine
"Go-go girl is gone gone gone.
She left her cage to carry on.
Hanging from the ceiling
Wasn't that appealling.
Now I'm lonelyfor The Pony.
Now I'm listless for The Twist.
Now The Jerk don't seem to work.
Not since my go-go girl is gone.:. .
She's found a new position;
Her boyfriends' names are John.
She's made a big decision,
And now my go-go girl is gone."
WITH HIS ironic outlook, Shaun
Brighton also manages to capure some
of the most common moments of our
lives in the most unusual light. My
favorite is his picture of the almost
poetic dumbfoundedness of love in
"Your eyes are ...
Are just like ...
Just like eyes.
That's what they're like."
In between those two extremes there
remains a wide range of beautiful,
thoughtful pop tunes, the best being
"Start from the Start" and "Don't
I wouldn't blame anyone for feeling
that Chapman has gone a bit too far in
seeking to turn this group into an In-
stant Sure-Fire Product, but I can't
help but feel that this group deserves
that kind of success, too. I guess I'm
just a sucker for a good pop
album ... and this may well be a great
'ousting is one of the many Medievel diversions that will be featured at the
11th annual Ann Arbor Medievel Festival this weekend. The celebration of
the middle ages will also include authentic works of drama, art, and music
and is free to all interested members of the public.
Middle ages live on
By PERCIVAL SMITH
Ann array of knights and damsels,
peasants, monks and fools will inhabit
Ann Arbor this weekend, celebrating
the 11th annual Medievel Festival. The
festivities will take place on the Scbool
of Music Lawn on North Campus both
today and tomorrow.
Strolling players will perform four
plays on the open-air stage: Abraham
and Issac, an English mystery play
taken from the Book of Genesis, The
Miracle of Theopile, a version of the
Faust legend from 13th century France,
The Miracle of the Blind Man and the
Cripple, anther French work that
combines e form of the traditional
miracle play with broad farce, and Will
Wat, If Not, What Will?, a history of the
Peasant Rebellion which took place in
England during 1831 under the guidan-
ce of Wat Tyler and the preached John
Ball. This final drama is especially
unusual as it presents the events from
the Peasant's point of view.
The Festival will also feature. the
morris dancers and court dancers, an
-art fair with demonstrations of
medieval crafts, and concerts of
medieval music played on the shawm
and other original instruments. The
Festival opens at ten both mornings,
runs until dusk, and admission is free.
"THE MARRIAGE 1W
CYJIARJAlBRAU " (R)
Sat, Sun-1:00, 3:0s, s:20, :2s, 9:30
M , Tus-7:259:30
5th Ave. at iberty 761-9700 DISCO FUl
GREATEST IN '
( PG) OD. ,
Sot, Sun-12:5. 2:5, 5:00, 70, 900
Mon, Tues-:00, 9:00
RICH KIDS .Tonight at 7:3089:30
Divorce is examined with particular emphasis on its effect on
two particularly astute kids. (They are lovable even though they
Sunday: NIGHTS OF CABIRIA 7:30& 9:30
Guiletto Masina stars as a prostitute living near Rome. Fellini
portrays her as both a touching waif and a symbol of humility,
trust and hope.
CINEMA GUILD ATO*DAu "re