The Michigan Daily - Sunday, July 15, 1984 - Page 11
shakes & rolls
By Jeff Frooman
TAMBOURINES to Glory, the
musical comedy by Langston
Hughes, will be playing at the Michigan
Theatre Saturday, July 21.
The play is about two women, Essie
and Laura, who live on the edge of
poverty in the squalors of Harlem.
Down and out, the two seem to have no
future until Laura hits on the idea of
starting a street-corner church.
The two may seem like an unlikely
pair to be founding a church, but that's
where the fun starts. Essie is somewhat
lazy and is content to live off her
welfare checks. Laura is street-wise
and greedy with a weakness for alcohol.
However, Essie can sing and Laura can
preach and play the tambourine, and so
the church becomes a reality. A reality
that they call the Tambourine Temple.
The play has a simple theme: good
versus evil. Essie, who gets caught up
in the mission of the church, becomes
truly devout. She represents the good.
Laura, however, falls under the spell of
her boyfriend Buddy, who is a per-
sonification of the devil. Buddy sees the
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alternating leads, fills, and rhythm in a
wash of metal noise.
And while most of the songs here fit
that pattern, none of them seem to
much like one another to count. "Mind
My Have Still I" has a surfer-like aura,
thanks to Ventures-inspired guitar, and
"My Head Is A Drum" fill sup holes in
the cacaphony with added percussion
from visitor Michael Tempo, turning it
into a bastard calypso drum-off.
Easily the prettiest song on Squeezed,
"Days of Reflection" floats along on a
clipped, Robert Frippian rhythm, with
Johannes doing his best Adrian Belew
imitation. Yet that's not fair - while he
does sound like Crimson's Belew,
Johannes' voice is rich and effortlessly
full - in other words, this is no mere
copy, but a compatriate.
Lyric-wise, What Is This' main
songwriters, Slovak and Johannes,
don't come up with any intricacies, and
most of ther words are casually unim-
portant. Yet there are moments. In "I
Am A House," Sovak writes, I am a
house/with too many doors open,
an image that saves the song from
lyrical mundanity. And "My Head Is A
Drum," intentionally or not, is the best
masturbation song since Jackson
Browne's equally-subtle "Rosie."
The best thing about this record is
that nothing's overdone. Dave Jerden's
(engineer for Herbie Hancock, David
Byrne and Brian Eno, Burning Sen-
sations, etc.) production brings out the
basic instrumental interplay, and he
makes sure that the songs all have a
bottom to anchor into. That, and the
great musicianship, make Squeeze a
notable debut for What Is This.
One final note: this is the premiere
release for MCA's new "alternative"
label, San Andreas. Thankfully, the
pressing seems leagues better than
the usual shoddy MCA job, so don't fret
church solely as a profit-making
scheme. Essie, Laura, and Buddy
quickly find themselves in a struggle
for the soul of the church.
Perhaps the simple theme is ap-
propriate for a musical comedy. And
while the performance probably won't
leave you deep in introspective thought,
the humor, the dramatic dancing, and
the lively gospel singing will more than
hold your attention.
The presentation of Tambourines to
Glory is part of the 1984 tour of the
Detroit Center for the Performing Arts.
The musical has already received
favorable reviews from the Detroit
papers, which praise its acting, dan-
cing, and above all-its singing.
Tambourines to Glory features a cast
of 25 who sing the traditional and
original songs written by Jobe Huntley
and Langston Hughes.
The Michigan Theatre is located at
603 E. Liberty in Ann Arbor. Showtime
is at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 21. Tickets
may be reserved by calling the
Michigan Theatre box office at 668-8480.
Tickets are $8 and $7 for the general
public, and $6 and $5 for students,
senior citizens, and groups.
Sheila Everette and Milfordean Luster sear in 'Tambourines to Glory,' a
gospel musical by Langston Hughes.
MTV director seeks
talented 'U' students
about sound quality 'less your turntable
happens to be an early model Close 'n'
Play ! - Larry Dean
Tommy Keene - 'Places That
Are Gone' (Dolphin)
Dolphin is a neat little label out of
North Carolina with a dandy track
record for signing up-and-coming pop
personages, and Maryland's Tommy
Keene is no exception. In fact, this may
very well be the best release I've gotten
wind of yet from Dolphin.
Places That Are Gone is a six-song
EP, and of the sing songs, there's nary
a dud. Masterfully produced by Keene
and bassist Ted Nicely with ears peeled
for big-beat drums and jangly acoustic
and electric guitars, this is a pop fan's
Listen to the crisp resonance of the
12-string acoustic playing arpeggios at
the beginning of "Baby Face"; Gasp in
awe at the powerful drumming of Doug
Tull leading into "Nothing Happened
Yesterday": Find your feet uncon-
trollably tapping to the basic A-E
progression in Alex Chilton's "Hey!
Little Child," the sole cover tune on
Places That Are Gone!
While my criticism may sound pain-
fully unornamented, it's that very sim-
plicity that lends Keene's songs their
punch. Like Wonston-Salem neighbor
Mitch Easter - producer extraor-
dinaire and leader of his own band,
Let's Active - Keene instinctually
keeps his music free of clutter, and goes
for the gutsiest reaction possible. In the
end, he's all the better off, since the
emotion pounds through the sleek
veneer of guitars, bass, and drums, and
right into our ears and hearts.
As a debut, Places That Are Gone sh-
ines. It shows all the strengths of small-
label know-how by coming complete
with good packaging, pressing, and
none at the sake of music. - Larry Dean
A TTENTION all you closet actors
out there. If you're one of the
millions of Americans who secretly
wishes for a chance at stardom, read
on-this could be your big break.
Mike Beckman, MTV video direc-
tor, is coming to town. Beckman will
hold an open casting call at the
Stasheff Television Studio in the
Frieze Building on Tuesday, July 17 at
1 p.m. He will be directing the video
for All Systems Go, who sing "Then
The video for "Then Came You"
requires a woman who can play a
stern-looking judge who can later let
down her hair to become stunningly
beautiful. Beckman also needs two
men for police and one man to portray
a bald lawyer. Ten extras will also be
Beckman is working through the
Detroit Film Commission for the
video, which will be filmed in and
around the Motor City July 21, 22, and
23. So if you're one of those persons
who wants to take a shot at stardom,
be at the Frieze Building on Tuesday.
WOOD WORKING CLASS
Tuesa July 17, 1984
7:00 - 10:00 p.m.
STUDENT WOOD & CRAFT SHOP
537 SAB - Phone 763-4025
SHOP HOURS: MON. - THUR. 3 - 11 P.M.
FRIDAY 11 A.M. - 5 P.M.