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July 07, 1981 - Image 10

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1981-07-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Page 10--Tuesday, July 7, 1961- The Michigan Daily

4

The Stranglers

Landscape

The Stranglers - 'The Meninblack'
(Stiff America) - Some people don't,
know when to quit. It's been a long time
since the Stranglers have made an
album of the unrelenting force and
aggressive conviction that typified
their first two records. Since then, their
albums have become more and more*
split between good and bad, with the
ratio of good to bad getting more and.
more out of balance in favor of the lat-
ter.
Black and White- was pretty much
half-and-half. The Raven (which was
never released in America) had two'
great cuts. Unfortunately, that trend
has continued with The Meninblack.
There's one great track on this album,
"Just Like Nothing on Earth," with its
tricky alliteration and munchkins on
back-up vocals. None of the other stuff
is really bad - they're far too amazing
as musicians for that - but most of it.
really lacks that fierce spark that
enlivened their first two albums.
The' point at which the Stranglers
seem to have lost their power was in
their decision to do away with basing
their songs on the agile, thunderous
basswork of Jean Jacques Burnel in
favor of a more balanced ensemble

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format. Dave Greenfield has risen to
meet this challenge; his synthesizer
playing has improved markedly and
diversified unbelievably from the days
that he played it like a souped-up hot-
rod organ.
But heisn't a strong enough player to
mtake up for the restrained Burnel.
Without the hammering pound of Bur-
nel's playing to force it down your
throat, the Strangler's brand of
professional misanthropy begins to
sound as arrogantly ignorant as it truly
Is.
-Mark Dighton

4

Landscape -'From the Tea-rooms of
Mars ... to the Hell-holes of Uranus'
(RCA) -- Rest easy; this album isn't as
bad as the title ... of course, that's not
saying much.
It'd be easy to dismiss this album as
derivative, if that didn't sort of miss the
point. Sure, every song sounds like stit-
ched-together leftovers from other
bands, but I'll be damned if some of it
doesn't work despite that.
The highlights of Tea-rooms are the
four dance tunes, the least of which is
"Einstein a go-go" (a hit in dance clubs
and on the English charts). "Shake the
West Awake," by far the best cut on the
album, has the snappy symphonic pulse
of the Yellow Magic Orchestra with
vocals that glide around like the best of
10 c.c. It's a great cut, imminently dan-
ceable, but nothing Landscape will ever
make a name on since it's continually
reminiscent of someone else's sound.
THE OTHER STUFF doesn't hold up
as well. There are a couple of synthetic
pop-jazz tunes (sort of like a cross bet-
ween Walter Carlos and Chuck,
Mangione) that never quite get off the
ground and a horribly trivial synthetic
ballroom section divided into a
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Bowner, in Mason, 12 mi.
suh of Lansing. Growing
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"beguine," a "mambo," and
"tango." Only the spoken voiceove
(entreating the listener to "Let th
band play while you swing and sway"
is more embarrassing than the musi
itself.
The only "artsy" cut that even come
close to succeeding is "Norman Bates,
a tune highly reminiscent (again) of th
broodingly powerful stuff that the Ala
Parsons Project did on their firs
album. But once more, the voiceove
ruins the song as we are forced to s
through a lengthy psycho-analyti
analysis of Psycho.
I guess we shouldn't count th
failures of Tea-rooms of Mars, but jus
'be pleased with the handful of grea
dance tunes that have come from thi
bunch of guys who don't seem to be a
that immaginative.
--Mark Dighto

Stephanie Mills
Stephanie Mills - 'Stephanie' (20th Century Fox) - Stephanie's ready for the
big time now. On this album she proves that she ranks up there with Diana
Ross: she's just as smooth, slick, and sometimes just as shallow.
This is apparent even on the cover. The chic close-up of a wind-swept Mills
opens to a full-length shot of her perched on a horse in a rhinestone-studded
gown with matching stockings. It also shows off her new svelte figure and nose
job, demonstrating just how much she has changed from her Wiz days.
e
r
e
n
it
.it
c
s
e
St
t There's nothing on this album that really stands out and that's a shame. Most
s of the songs are ballads that are nice, but don't showcase her true talefnt. Mills
11 often gets lost among the strings and other orchestration. "Two Hearts," her
current hit duet with Teddy Pendergrass works because they seem comfortable
together after several unions such as these. However, only on "Winner" does
she rise above her surroundings and let her voice take control.
Stephanie Mills has the potential to be another Aretha, given the evidence on
The Wiz and her three previous albums of her superb vocal ability. Hopefully, she'll
return to her powerful style and decide against the Las Vegas route. Stephanie
is good, but Stephanie is capable of much better.
-Elizabeth James

4

4

4

U NIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES
CONCERTCHORUS
Place: irst TURSDAY
Pice: The First Presfrterin ChurchJULY9
14'23 Washtenaw
(Between S. University & Hill Streets) 8 P M
A CONCERT OF PILIPPINE TRADIIONAL,
PHILIPPINE POPULAR, AND
INTERNAiONAL SACRED AND FOLK MUSIC.
TICKET INFORMATION: Phone 662-5529 or 971-5723
CONTRIBUTION: $3.00 (students, $1.00). Tickets available at
the concert. Proceeds for student scholarships.

0

Twen ty/ Twen ty

20/20 - 'Look Out' (Portrait) - As
some updated Shirley Temple might
say with a luckered face, "I'm soooo
bummed out!" I hadn't expected a lot
from this new 20/20 album, but I had,
expected something (anything !?).
Their debut album was way too over-
blown to be consistently appealing, but
a few-of its songs really connected with
an unexpectedly genuine symphonic
pop slam. Sure, it was showy and
shallow, but occasionally it worked.
Now 20/20 seem to have dumped their
symphonic pretenses in exchange for a
simpler, (sub)urban new wave sound

that rings even more pretentious and
shallow. Sheared of their stunning glit-
ziness, 20/20 show themselves to be
pretty boys without an idea or lick in
their heads.
Actually, they make a couple of -at-
tempts that don't fare too poorly. There
are two almost-salvageable pop tunes
and a couple of artsy things that work
surprisingly well on Look Out. But if
these guys hope to rate alongside The
Shoes or Nervus Rex or Phil Seymour
as the Golden Boys of Pop, they're
going to have to try a lot harder than
this.
-Mark Dighton

4

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