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August 13, 1981 - Image 7

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Michigan Daily, 1981-08-13

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Arts
Thursday, August 13, 1981

The Michigan Daily.

Page 7

The Raincoats

Dr. Feelgood
Dr. Feelgood-'A Case of the Shakes' (Stiff America)-Side one of Dr.
Feelgood's latest may well be over before you know what hit you. It'll pull you
along with nary a "please" or "thank you" through five slices of hot, fast
rhythm and blues.
The only chance you'll get to draw a breath is on the side's closer-a
hilariously underplayed version of Willie Dixon's "Violent Love." Only then do
you realize that you're sitting on top of the outrageous icing to an exceptionally
solid five-layer cake.
BUT I SUPPOSE this should be expected from Dr. Feelgood. They've been
doing this stuff for enough years now that if they haven't yet got it perfected
they might as well give up.
Luckily, they don't claim to be originals, 'cause I'd sure hate to call them
liars. They're still stuck-quite happily--back in the days whefi the English
music scene first discovered American blues and spawned groups like The
Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Spencer Davis Group, and (Dr. Feelgood's
most obvious progenitor) The Pirates.
Unlike most of these groups, though, Dr. Feelgood have never grown up.
They're still doing rock and roll based on traditional blues patterns-but they're
doing it well .. . and (more importantly) they're doing it FAST. You don't
really care to stop and recognize the repetitive chord progressions and
hackneyed themes they're laying out when you're bowled over by the rushed
onslaught of side one.
ON SIDE TWO, things slow down a bit, giving you the chance to realize that
most of Dr. Feelgood's stuff isn't all that great once you think about it. It's here
that you really begin to miss the scorchingly slow solos and mercilessly scrat-
chy rhythm guitar work of the defected Wilko Johnson. Gypie Mayo is so ob-
viously a lightweight in comparison that it's a little rude to mention it.
But even at its slowest and lowest points, A Case of the Shakes will never bore
you. It is consistently good rhythm and blues music with some great production
(and a few rockabilly tinges to boot) courtesy of Nick Lowe. And believe you
me, side one is worth it alone. -Mark Dighton
ONSDETOtinsslwdonabigiig3o7techne Moraliethat

The Raincoats-'Odyshape' (Rough
Trade)-
Round Two: Where The Raincoats
continue to prove that they are not just
another girl group and that they're
more than just holding their own:
They're winning! With their new
release, Odyshape, The Raincoats
demonstrate that they also are not just
ZE Ic
following in the wake of other women's
groups such as The Slits. They're doing
rock and roll their own way.
And Introductions: The Raincoats
are Ana, Gina and Vicky, with help
from Rough Trade's Shirley. This
feminist group is doing something that
women should be doing within the pop
realm: something new. Instead of
taking on stances that are related to
male-oriented rock and roll (as women
such as Chrissie Hynde and Joan Jett
do) they are making women's music.
ODYSHAPE is a celebration of
womanhood. It's fantastically emotive;
most often illustrating love as an ex-
perience common to all of us. They
know it can be both ethereal and power-
ful, sometimes singing softly to the
dream-like music and sometimes
singing with strong conviction to fierce
accompaniment.
The music is best described as an
asymmetrical lattice. Rhythms are
set by Gina Birch's sprawling yet
almost reticent bass with percussion
and drumming by Ingrid Weiss, Robert
Wyatt, and This Heat's Charles
Hayward. The melodies manage to cat-
ch a hold on the listener by the power of
suggestion. The nuances of the songs
can mostly be attributed to the
crystalline but dignified vocals. At
times, most impressive is the fact that
no one seems to be trying to lead the

band. Everything on the album seems
to ramble in one direction together,
rather than just controlled by one force
pushing it unilaterally.
Lyrically, The Raincoats are attem-
pting to express sentiments that are
simply not confronted in male-oriented
and -dominated rock. They see a strong
need for society's attitudes to change as
Gina declares, "I'm no ornament, it
could be my bodyshape, I wonder if I'll
ever look right. Blot on the lan-
dscape... " "Baby Song" expresses
the problems women encounter trying
to understand their needs and goals in
light of their feelings about their ability
to bear children. "Can I accept it as my
own? Animal function, motherhood in
culture . . .''
I appreciate the way that The Rain-
coats strive so honestly to deal with
women's issues yet never come off as
being heavy-handed. With Odyshape
they are pushing hard, and they make it
sound so easy. It's the kind of record
you find yourself thinking about as of-
ten as humming. -Regina Myer
Join
News Staff

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