Thursday, July 23, 1981
Listening to the Look
By FRED SCHILL
Daily Arts Writer
"We don't go around saying, 'We
want this to be commercial' or 'We
think this is what people will like,' "
rasps lead singer Dave Edwards of The
Look. "We do it to please ourselves and,
hopefully, it'll please somebody else."
Now that's an interesting statement,
since commercialism is exactly what
this Detroit band's detractors have ac-
cused it of. Positive and negative
reviews alike agree that The Look is
midwestern rock in the vein of the
Michael Stanley Band and REO Speed-
wagon-even though their debut album
We're Gonna Rock was produced in
Birmingham, Alabama by Southern
rock impresario Johnny Sandlin.
APPARENTLY, no one has yet
reached the conclusion that The Look
sounds simply like The Look. The band,
for better or worse, has been classified
Which does not seem to bother the
energetic, effervescent Edwards. "I
think it's good to be compared to those
kinds of bands, and I think it shows that
we have a variety. This band is capable
of playing so many styles that it is
amazing to myself. Versatility is the
name of this band," Edwards insists.
Indeed, he was intrigued by the fact
that a Detroit Free Press review of the
band's debut album (on the indepen-
dent Plastic label), found the band too
versatile. "He said we were direc-
tionless. And yet Jim McFarlane of the
(Detroit) News said he would like to see
more versatility." Bemused, Edwards
shakes his head, then demands, "What
do you do?"
WE'RE GONNA ROCK has gotten
favorable reviews from most everyone
else, including such media luminaries as
People and Billboard, who included it
among their pick hits. Indeed, the ex-
posure (and praise) it is getting belies
that fact that it is on a small label with
no national distribution, a situation
Edwards hopes to remedy soon.
"Major label distribution," Edwards
muses dreamily. "If you want to get to
a lot of people at once, that's the way to
go, but you can definitely do alright on
an independent label. They're playing
our record in California, Connecticut,
Looking from left to right, The Look are Rick Cochran (bass), Dave Edwards (vocals), Randy Volin (guitar), John
Sarkisian (drums), and Sam Warren (guitar).
Rhode Island, Key West, in Bir-
The band hasn't even played in half of
those places, but the ever-buoyant and
ambitious Edwards wants to remedy
that. "We're trying to spread out.
We've played in New York, Chicago,
Fort Wayne" and most of the Midwest,
he says, in addition to some forays into
THEY HAVE already opened for
major acts like Cheap Trick and the J.
Geils Band in arena-sized venues. But
the band feels ready for the big time,
for the days when it can headline at
Edwards says the larger stages of
such venues will mean adding more
musical variety to the Look's sound.
Edwards plays the piano, but the band
has been playing on stages too small to
accommodate the instrument. When
that changes, he wants to incorporate
piano and horns into their show.
"If you keep going, the possibilities of
learning never end, really," theorizes
guitarist Randy Volin. "You get to the
end of the road of one thing, kinda,
maybe, and you go on to something
EDWARDS ADDS, "by doing that, by
being versatile, hopefully we'll develop
our own niche. I'd like to develop our
own. Maybe we have already-I can't
tell because I'm too close to it."
That was the only tentative note in
the entire conversation. Praise 'em or
pan 'em, this is a confident and en-
thusiastic band, and those traits come
across on stage as clearly as in conver-
"Keith Richard once said, I would
become a junkie if I didn't play.' That's
from his perspective. From
mine . . . well, I live for (claps his han-
ds) clapping," he says. "And, for-
tunately, (knocks on wood) we've not
had many problems with audiences."
CONFIDENCE. The band says it has
five albums worth of songs written
right now ("If I had the money to live
while I was doing it, I could write two
or three songs a day," Edwards says)
and finds itself getting better every
day. Nothing shakes their self-
assurance, not even labeling them as
merely one more band "from
America's heartland." And even
reminding Edwards of the constant
comparisons of his voice to Rod
Stewart's didn't faze his hyperkinetic
enthusiasm or charismatic puppy-dog
I left feeling guilty about hating their
album so much, not to mention having
said so in print. Not to worry. What
would Edwards do if everyone had
hated the LP? Simple. "I'd make
The Neville Brothers-'Fiyo on the Bayou' (A&M)-In a time when bands like
Talking Beads and Duran Duran are striving to rediscover their roots by laying
African rhythms onto rock and roll instrumentation like floral wallpaper
on ugly wood paneling, the Neville Brothers have no trouble finding their roots.
* l In fact, they quite literally never left them-New - Orleans-where they're
producing some of the funkiest soulful rock and roll heard in a long while.
Their tunes include plenty of funky bass and Stax horns to let you know that
they haven't been out of touch these past years, but the enthusiasm with which
they attack ,rock and roll makes it seem like they just discovered the medium.
In short, this is an almost unrealistically fresh crossbreeding.
TO BE CERTAIN, there are some faults with the album. Their
version of Jimmy Cliff's "Sitting in Limbo" is completely nondescript and their
cover of Carl Mann's rockabilly killer "Mona Lisa" is so stringed-up and
strung-out that it really does sound Like Johnny Mathis doing the vocals (with
his mile-wide vibrato and all).
But when it works (which is most of the time), this records sounds like the
record that the Ohio Players could have made if they weren't so modern, the
Busboys could have made if they weren't so self-conscious, or Little Feat could
have made if they weren't so white.
Do you need it spelled out any more clearly? ... The Neville Brothers' Fiyo
on the Bayou is HOT. . , --Mark Dighton