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May 16, 1981 - Image 9

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1981-05-16

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The Michigan Daily Saturday, May 16, 1981 Page9
More dance music
for reckless youth

More ear candy
for tastefulpeople

Kate and Anna McGarrigle - 'Fren-
ch Record' (Hanibal) Kate and Anna
McGarrigle's French Record is easy-
listening music of a very high order -
even so, as with most everything
capable of fitting into that category, the
listening is finally too easy, too
smoothed-over to be very interesting.
The McGarrigles are a pair of Fren-
ch-Canadian sisters who were modest
East Coat legends until a self-titled 1975

tunes was a revelation. Pronto Mondo,
however, found the sisters submerged
in heavy production, reduced to facile
French Record is a conscious at-
tempt to return to the basics. A press
release- by Kate and Anna hints at a
disenchantment with the WB efforts as
'a partial rationale for this all-French
LP, released by the minor company
who gave us Defunkt and other
definitely un-folksy creatures.
IT'S AN improvement from the
sticky, too-sweet Pronto Mondo, but the
bad lessons learned there linger here,
blunting the effect in pleasantry. The
McGarrigles' vocies remain common-
sensical and charming (if in-
distinguishable), their songs likeable -
usually in a tone of howdown
playfulness. The old melancholy seems
to be gone for good. The general effect
is, still, on the bland side; even taking
into consideration the necessary
language-barrier jump, there's little
emotional immediacy on this record.
There are few exceptions. "Complan-
te Pour Ste-Catherine," direct from the
first WB album, remains happy,
seesawing pop. "Excursion A Venise"
applies, sweetly but without coyness,
fiddle and banjo to its on-the-farm
melody, arriving at something akin to
an Irish reel. "Naufragee Du Tendre,"
in a version different from Dancer's, is
now relaxed and ethereal, as satisfying
in its own way as the original.
The McGarrigles have successfully
skirted genuine commercial success for.
years; French Record is a contented
LP, devoid of pressure. Perhaps that's
the problem. Kate and Anna may be
happy, but I'm not - niceness isn't
much to settle for when you might have
had greatness.
-Dennis Harvey

Was (Not Was) 'Wheel me Out'-Coati
Mundi 'Me No Pop I' -- Kid Creole and
the Coconuts 'Mister Softee' (Ze/An-
tilles) - An encouraging response to
the current interest of new wavers in
dance music is the increasing in-
dication that popular dance music (i.e.,
disco) is beginning to explore new in-
fluences. Ze/Antilles records are once
again at the forefront of that cross-
breeding with their current set of disco
The Was (Not Was) selection is by far
the best of the grouping. The credits
alone should impress one with the
eclectic foundation of this studio
amalgamation. Playing behind Don
and David Was, two "studio
masterminds," are Wayne Kramer
(guitatist for the MC5), Larry
Fratangelo (percussionist for
Parliamentary/Funkadelic), Bruce
Nazarin (keyboard player for Brown-
sville Station), and Marcus Beigrave
(trumpeter for Charles Mingus, among
What this diverse group has produced
is a truly odd and undeniably danceable
fusion of funk, jazz, rock, and out-and-
out weirdness (heavy on the funk). At
times, it may seem more than a bit
reminiscent of David Byrne and Brian
Eno's My Life in the Bush of Ghosts in its
unalterable dance momentum and un-
predictable vocal vollets, but it is cer-
tainly a more accessible foray than the
more intellectual venture of Byrne and
Eno. "Wheel Me Out" and-its B-side,
"Hello Operator ... "are both trained
on DANCE!, but not at the expense of
inventive instrumentation and equally
imaginative production.
Creole and the Coconuts singles are
fairly similar, which shouldn't come as
much of a surprise since Coati (alias
Andy Hernandez) is a Coconut, and Kid
Creole appears on Hernandez's single.
These two releases may ,be more
typical dance fare than Was (lIot Was),
but there is an unmistakable air of
humor and spontanaeity to these
A rts Sta ff
_i ann arbor
film cooperative'
Cheech & Chong
7, 8:40& 10:20-MLB 3

singles that easily separates them from
most disco product.
The instrumentation is composed
almost completely of shrewd 'little
hooks fueled by an irrepressible salsa
feel. Likewise, the lyrics are almost ex-
cruciatingly clever. "Mister Softee"
may be a phallocentric, one-joke exer-
cise, but you can't deny that it has its
moments of double entendre-derived
charm. (When the female background
chorus of female vocalists charge that
the male lead is a "softee," he replies
disiraughtly, "Don't make an issue/of
something that's as small as this;".
To be sure, none of these offerings
compare to the exaggerated irreveran-
ce of James White and the Blacks or
Lizzy Mercier Descloux, but theywill -
at the veryleast-giveyousomething
worth listening to while you dance.
y AieDscouT b t teyl
Tuesdo sutck Da
Dra y a wzaa
Forged by a god. SHOW-
a 7ig :15
© 4:45a

debut LP for Warners made them
slightly (if not much) more visible.
That record is still perhaps the only
fully successful example of the sort of
Jill-of-all-trades musical showcase
Maria Muldaur, Bonnie Raitt, et al
have attempted. Carefully produced
yet touchingly eccentric and down-to-
earth, it could skip from the disarming
schoolgirl pathos of "Tell My Sister" to
the stark "Go Leave" without skipping
a beat.
The follow-up, Dancer with Bruised
Knees, was a bit more coldly churchy in
its production, but the quirkiness sur-
vived, and the climactic medley of
traditionally arranged French folk

SHOWTIMES: 1 30 C330
5:20,7:30 9:30
SHOWTIMES: 1:15, 3:15 5:15,
7:15 9:15
1154:108:15 (5)


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