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June 22, 1985 - Image 8

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1985-06-22

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ARTS
Page 8 Saturday, June 22, 1985. The Michigan Daily
Overbearing guitarist makes true waste
By John Logie Tolman defers to McGrath because
he's not technically as "good" of a
guitarist, what I could hear of
HAVE NEVER seen a single band Tolman's work was terrific.
member torpedo a performance Tolman's straight-ahead hunky-
like Richard McGrath did Thursday chunk style (with intermittent jangle
night. McGrath is True West's lead breaks) is much more suited to the
guitarist, and obviously is an accom- songs he writes than McGrath's airy
plished musician. But musicianship style. McGrath is almost superfluous.
does not necessarily equal showman- I would really like to hear True West
ship, and technical proficiency in no some night when McGrath is too sick
way ensures musical enjoyability. to play.
Lead vocalist Gavin Blair makes
McGrath has mastered the sort of the case against McGrath even
airy non-descript solo diddling that stronger. He was emotive and strong,
proliferated in the '70s after feedback especially on "You Could Be Happy"y¢
and distortion went out of fashion. and "What About You."
There's nothing innately wrong with Blair is a solid vocalist with an
the sound, but it doesn't belong edge, but his work had to fight for
haphazardly strung over this band. It space with McGrath Thursday night.
The one criticism I have of Blair has
doesn'tfit. to do with the band's cover of
Worse yet, McGrath's technical Screaming Jay Hawkins' "I Put a
ability has so wowed the other band Spell on You." As anyone who has
members that they accorded him ap- heard the Hawkins version will at-
roximately half of the show. True test, this is not a song for singing. It is
West's studio recordings are pretty a song to growl, howl, and live. While I
good at the usual three-and-a-half the band's rendition was good, the
gminut lenth, sadthe t three-and- vocals definitely needed more fire.
minute length, and the first three-and I must admit that McGrath did add
a-half minutes of each song was pret- to the band's covers. On the
ty good Thursday night. But then, on aforemendspvers rOwte
liealaeeysnfcrt ould mentioned "Spell," he crawledb9
literally every song, McGrath would over the blues scale with verve, and
lurch into twiddly, spider-on-the- on the show-closing version of Pink
numbingly Mr. Clean son toatld Floyd's "Lucifer Sam" McGrath
numbgly edge the song toward the provided an appropriate wash of
dreaded eight-minute barrier. wailing distortion. "Sam" was the
During these outrageously in- band's first big single, and deservedly The members of True West from left to right are Steve Packenham, Gavin Blair, Kevin Staydohar,
would settle into non-descriptness, the West achieved demonstrates the Russ Tolman, and Richard McGrath. Look all you want at the first four guys, but don't look at McGrath
better to allow the audience to hear potential the band has live. Unfor- unless you've got four minutes to spare.
every crystal-clear sustained note of tunately this potential was, for the
McGrath's solose most part lost every four minutes for Just once I would have liked for West was with two. drix, Clapton, and Robert Fripp rolled
diddle breaks. McGrath to jolt me like guitarist into one it would be inappropriate to
I have no complaint with the rest of The opening act, Empty Set, Larry Miller did when he ground the Musical ability should expand a present him in this way.
the band. They don't look like they're demonstrated a better understanding mikestand across the fretboard. band's range. McGrath is clearly a Guitar solos need a sense of struc-
technically superior guitarist, but his ture. Musical phrases should build on
all in the same band, but who needs of the use of guitar solos. The group, Empty Set's whamming covers of contributions stifle True West, one another, not just exist. More im-
uniformity? Steve Packenham's made up of members from Non- the Byrds "Mr. Spaceman," and The preventing the band from ever portantly, solos need a reason to be.
drumming was very good, as was Fiction and Surreal Estate played a Beatles' "Rain" were terrific. Their generating the head of steam that They must not be mere filler.
Kevin Staydohar's work on bass. punchy set filled with driving '60-ish show closer, a rough 'n' tumble ver- they need to be a really good live act.
Russell Tolman on rhythm guitar rhythms, and solos with, if not pure sion of The Monkees' "Daydream McGrath hunched over his guitar,
provided stark contrast to McGrath. technical majesty, fire and showman- Believer" was enough to put Davey In smaller doses, McGrath might be staring blankly. He played with a
ship. What's more, the solos were not Jones in his locker. awe-inspiring, but when he takes the "This is my art. Take it or leave it."
McGrath fed his guitar through add-ons. They were sandwiched in spotlight every four minutes to play attitude, and I'll leave it. I just wish I
several effects boxes, but Tolman between verses, and had a definable Empty Set managed to be more en- virtually the same solo, he is didn't have to leave the other four
plugged straight into his amp. While length. tertaining with one guitar than True irritating. Even if McGrath was Hen- band members with him.
LESBIAN-GAY PRIDE WEEK '85 ANN ARBOR Records-- - - - -
June 16 - 22 1985 r e ce hChopin's F Minor Fantasy, and the Things just don't seem to get going
n ,Andre-Michel Schub- Mendelssohn F Sharp Minor Fantasy. until more than half way through the
"Unity Strength and Love" Piano Fantasies The performance of the Wanderer score, but overall it is an evolution
Fantasy, although at times deficient process for the better.
SATURDAY, JUNE22 (Vox Cum Laude) in driving excitement, is still a lucid The other two Fantasies on the
A new series of record is being put and brilliantly clear rendition of one album also show Mr. Schub's
2:00 pm: Pride Week March and Rally out by the Moss Music Group on the of Schubert's best known piano works. technical precision. Phrases are clear
Federal Bldg., Liberty at 5th Ave. Vox Cum Laude Label featuring a It is a difficult work too, yet every cut, crisp and always articulated
4-8 pm: Tea Dance great many of the standard classics at note that Schubert turned out of his straight to the pin-point. There are
Nectarine Ballroom, 510 E. Liberty reasonable prices. Recent releases pen seems to fall perfectly into place stormy passages that seem to almost
9:00 pm: Lesbian-Gay Pride Gala Dance have included a new series of compact under Schub's constantly excelling burst alive. My only suggestion is
p s y Gdiscs, the standard albums and tapes, technical hands. that perhaps overall throughout his
Michigan Union, Main Floor (Anderson) and a recent release made by pianist There are some nice moments when album he could insert more warmth.
Andre-Michel Schub, the gold Schub takes a melodic line, and stret- Nevertheless, his playing is dazzling
PRDE W EEK SPONSORS INCL UDE: GLF, MGU, MSA medalist in the 1981 Van Cliburn ches the crescendos up towards a high to say the very least, and it does have
Information: 763-4186 Piano Competition. The album is peaked climax, and then lets them its own marked personality.
made up of a group of Fantasies; taper out evenly. Schub has trouble,
Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy, however, generating momentum. -Neil Galanter

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