The Michigan Daily
Saturday, June 12, 1982
Not your typical reggae group
10"IRNPOPPOP" WRIP-m- P., --- -------
By Robert Weisberg
SOMETHING A BIT unusual will
hit Ann Arbor this Monday night
when Steppin' Razor, New York's (and
possibly the world's) only all-female
reggae band brings its act to Second
Reggae is known for its sexism, even
more so than other forms of pop music.
This would seem to discourage female
musicians, but in the case of Steppin'
Razor, it merely provides motivation.
The group, which writes its songs in-
dividually and in collaboration, has
simply shifted to a woman's point of
"Reggae is a great format" for
dealing with woman's rights, says lead
vocalist and guitar player Sherry Lutz.
The paradox, she says, "blows people
Lutz, a native Detroiter who was once
advertising director at High Times and
later manager of The Reggae Lounge in
Manhattan, will be joined by German-
born keyboardist Aus Byla, who has
published as a poet, author, and
playwright; drummer Katie O'Looney,
who has worked as a theatre designer;
and newest member Geet Van Cook,
the bassist, one of London's early punks
who later formed the Innocents and
wrote for various rock and roll papers.
The band also does a sizeable amount
of covers, among them Bob Marley's
"Want More," the Wailing Souls' "We
Gotta Be Together," and the Police's
"The Bed's too Big Without You." But
at least half of what they'll be playing
will be originals. '
Lutz considers that Steppin' Razor
performs "a socially relevant form of
music." She says that they hope to
"make people aware of things going on
that are not really quite right." Turning
people onto reggae with the unusual all-
women group, she says, is a good way
of doing it.
"We get quite a cross-section of
people when we play", she says.
"Blacks, whites, poetry people, gays.
It's good to see a mixed crowd, with
people dancing together." And they do
dance - their live set has'been
described as "uptempo, very dan-
ceable, and highly intoxicating."
The band naturally would like to do
some recording in addition to playing
live, but the departure of their original
vocalist and addition of Cook kept the
Steppin' Razor, a reggae group from New York will play at Second Chance Monday night.
band in limbo long enough to make that
The band, first brought together over
a year ago through a Village Voice ad-
vertisement, plays in a roots-reggae
style developed under the tutelage of
veteran Jamaicans such as Mickey
O'Brien and Roland Alphonso. There's
still a touch of rock and roll and funk in-
fluence in their music too, according to
Lyrically, the group deals with a wide
variety of subjects: Besides the
women's rights issues addressed in
songs like "Reggae Women," which
writer Lutz describes as a rather "sar-
castic" attack on traditional female
roles, they also confront the arms race
in "November Tango," which gets its
name from two nuclear war code
phrases. Byla's "Chaos" discusses the
problems of living in a chaotic world,
not surprsingly, reminding that "the
sound of the drum you hear is your
"Tourist," says writer Lutz, is just
about "feeling more at home in a
reggae band." A couple of other less
hard-hitting numbers that are likely to
be featured on Monday are Lutz's
"Triangle," about a love triangle of all
things, and Byla's "Dancing in the
Reggae Lounge," which Lutz describes
as "sort of the Frankie and Johnnie of
Opening for Steppin' Razor will be
local artists Black Market. Also
described as a roots-reggae band, the
group was formed a year ago after 12
winters of vacations in Jamaica rubbed
off on bassist Stuart Bruid.
Bruid describes what lead vocalist
and songwriter Larry Duncan, lead
guitarist Rich Purdy, his drumming
brother Mitch, and he himself create as
"our own version of reggae. Our band,"
he says, "has a totally unique sound,"
but its reggae no doubt.
Bruid lists among their principle in-
fluences Marley, Black Uhuru, Linval
Thompson, the Police, as well as none
other than the Beatles. What comes out,
he says, is sort of "an American Police
but with a much more reggae sound."
They'll be playing around a dozen
originals, according to Bruid. Their
lyrics explore such diverse subjects as
"love, spiritual evolution, bringing
people together, the economy, and God.
We're trying to talk about things impor-
tant to all of us," he says.
Black Market hopes to have a single
on a Detroit label some time in July.
"We're starting to get some acceptan-
ce," says Bruid optimistically. He says
that people enjoy what they play. Once
they hear what we play, he explains,
"they always like it."
Will the folks in Ann Arbor like these
self-confident locals and ground-
breaking New Yorkers? We'll find out
Fear -'The Record' (Slash)
There is really no need to fear this
record - it's quite tame, especially
considering what the notorious Fear
could have released.
Sure, the lyrics are offensive and an-
noying, but they are so offensive and
annoying they supersede anger and ac-
tually become humorous. I'm not
criticizing Fear, but if lines like "Let's
have a war/we need the space" are
supposed to evoke rage, they don't, and
rear is nothing more than a bad, un-
conscious parody. Instead, Fear comes
across as a reaction to the reac-
tionaries; an antithesis to the political
activist stars of the LA scene (Jackson
Brown, for one).
Musically, they have remained
somewhat closer to the La Punks and
haven't incorported rockabilly and pop
sounds like X, into their music. It's a
at-the-speed-of-sound attack,a perfect
accompaniment for the spitfire lyrics.
"I Don't Care About You" and "I
Love Livin' in the City" both sound bet-
ter than they did on The Decline of
Western Civilization soundtrack,
probably because producer Gary
Lubrow has harnassed Lee Ving's drill
sergeant vocals. Incidentally, Ving oc-
casionally hints at a rich blues voice,
especially the opening of "Beef
An unexpected highlight is Fear's
cover of the classic Animals tune, "We
Got to Get Out of this Place."
When the Animals sang it, they made it
seem they were trying to escape from a
bad party. Fear sings it as though they
are trying to avoid the gas chamber ina
With The Record, Fear prove that
they do have some talent, and deserve
to be considered as more than an ob-
noxious band that revels in homo
humor and impending apocalypses.