The Michigan Daily
Wednesday, July 15, 1981
The Plasmatics-'Beyond the Valley of 1984' (Stiff America)-
"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been one month since my last
"Go ahead, my child."
"Uhm.. . I got angry at my parents twice and had impure thoughts three
times . : . and I listened to the new Plasmatics album, Father."
"I know it's hard to keep a pure mind today with the influence of the
media, my son. There are greater sins, after all. Have you done anything to
resist the temptations of this record?"
"No. I ... enjoyed it, Father."
"Heaven help us."
"It's not like that, Father. I didn't want to enjoy it. Sure, I listen to new
wave now and then. But the B-52s never prepared me for anything like this. I
couldn't stop myself. I didn't want to like it, but all those chainsaw guitars
and that pulse-rate beat. They really know how to get a rock and roll fan at
Devoto, lyricist and vocalist for
Magazine, slyly prefaces the first song
on Play with the understatement, "And
now, three little words," then the band
launches into a scathing version of
"Give Me Everything." For Devoto
everything means much more (and at
the same time less) than it might seem
on the surface. Words, images, and
events are pulled into and out of shape
as Devoto fiddles with the concept of
"real life"- playfully but always with
an underlying sense of desperation.
Play functions both as an excellent
introduction for those unfamiliar with
Magazine and as an interesting
restatement of Devoto's themes/ob-
sessions for those familiar with their
first three studio albums (a fourth,
Magic, Murder, and the Weather has
just been released).
FOR A START, Play
sound than almost a
have ever heard. The1
and clear, the instrum
present but unobtrusiv
In "A Song from 1
boards," a 1980s
lashes out in a mixtu
helplessness, "I know
life/It doesn't help me
the answer doesn't pro
just makes reality tha
keyboard, like dry ice
over the ground. Devo
and slippery, a sugar.
around bitter words w
system and begin to h
effect only after t
dustrialization, is anot
song. While indicting
indulgence and pa
mockingly comes to te
weaknesses: "I'm no
'hegemony./I know tl
look after me." The
melody while the' k
In a world with few
ts, Devoto manages to
it's better to keep our e
one step ahead of reli
fronting our own inef
this is real life.
y has a far better
ny live album I
vocals are strong
rents are distinct
the audience is
Under the Floor-
ire of anger and
the meaning of "Yes, my son, the devil always knows our greatest weaknesses."
a bit." Knowing "Yeah, it really gets me there."
vide a way out, it "Where is that, my son?"
t much harder to "You know, down there, Father."
"Uhh .. . wash yourself in holy water and say three Hail Mary's."
a with an eerie "But that's not all, Father. I have dreams at night after listening to this
vapor spreading record."
to's voice is sleek "Do they trouble you, my son?"
-coating wrapped "Not exactly, Father. I can't get over the lines in 'Sex Junkie' that go
hich seep into the
ave a deleterious 'Yourflesh is hot.
hey have been You cringe with fright.
You perspire through your clothes.
3," a paean to in- Your thing, it grows and grows and grows.
her double-edged Sex hormones drop out of the sky.
himself for self-
ssivity, Devoto Millions orgasm until they die.
rms with his own Squirmingflesh ... '
t too worried by "Un-huh. That's quite enough, my ...."
hat Reagan will "But I was just getting to the good part, Father."
bass carries the "I've heard enough to understand how these words could easily inspire
eyboards cavort impure thoughts in your young mind. Are there any other verses that trouble
genuine comfor- "Not really, Father. I can't make out most of the words"
convince us that "Well, thank the Lord for small favors."
eyes open, to keep - "What's that, Father?"
ef while still con- "No ... nothing, my child. It seems to me that saying an Our Father
fectualness. Now every time you want to listen to or think about these Plasmatics creatures
would solve most of your problems. Perhaps you could put on another
-Karen Green record, instead ... something that will draw your attention away from the
weaknesses of the flesh. .. say, a nice Anne Murray album or some Bob
Dylan ... ?"
"Uh, I'm afraid that it's not that easy, Father. I bought tickets to see the
f e r Plasmatics this Friday at Masonic Auditorium. I'm so excited ...."
"Try a cold shower and a Hail Mary."
"No, I mean I'm excited ... like anticipation ... about going to see them.
already one step I can't wait to hear Wendy 0. retch her way through 'Headbanger.' And I can
ng music. They just see myself ripping those little pieces of electrical tape off her... Oh,
material wasn't sorry, Father."
heir disco songs "That's alright, my son. I was just thinking that we may have to see this
use some funky trying period through together. Maybe you'd better come back on Friday
em come across) and we'll pray together until this whole Plasmatics trial is over. But, for
de-clawed and your penance now, I want you to say three Our Father's and pray for guidan-
ce out of this quandary of turpitude. I'll be back to discuss this with you fur-
step out of their ther ina minute."
-on their salsa "Yes, Father. Pater noster qui es in caelis, sanctificetur nomen tuum; ad-
nd the Coconuts, veniat regnum tuum; fiat voluntas omni maximus tua sicut in caelo et omni
Alive"-they end maximus Plasmatics omni naximus Plasmatics omni maximus . . ."
ly self-righteous -Mark Dighton
ts only. Thanks to Schoolkids Records for the use of some of the albums
-Mark Dighton reviewed in our records columns.
Manhattan Transfer-'Mecca for
Moderns' (Atlantic)-This is a really
impressive album. But that only makes
it harder-not impossible-to dislike.
What Manhattan Transfer have
achieved on Mecca for Moderns is an
unbelievably wonderful mixture of the
Andrews Sisters, Phil Spector, and
disco. The harmonies are so forcefully
produced that their heights will find the
center of your head no matter where
you're located in relation to the
BUT MAYBE their failures are im-
plicit in their successes. These kids are
so damn fresh-faced and clean-
sounding that they're
removed from exciti
could be Abba if their
so weak, but even t
(which could really
nastiness to make th
The only time they
tribute to Kid Creole a
"(Wanted) Dead or)
up sounding affected
instead of spontaneous
For premature adult