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May 13, 1988 - Image 80

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1988-05-13

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Three New LP's
ew album titles describe their contents
as well as We Got a Party! The Best of Ron
Records, Volume One (Rounder). This
rhythm-and-blues collection from a short-
lived (1958-62) New Orleans record compa-
ny rollicks along in typical Crescent City
fashion. The singers belt, whoop and cajole
to jackhammer piano, torrid sax and
springy rhythm sections. Not everybody on
this record is well known; as a small inde-
pendent label, Ron had the services of such
legendary singers as Professor Longhair
and Chris Kenner only on occasion. But
even the lesser lights shine brightly here.
And the "Soul Queen of New Orleans,"
Irma Thomas, sets the blistering pace on
"Don't Mess With My Man" when she
sings, "You can have my husband / But
please don't mess with my man."
With the exception of an occasional
anomaly, such as Suzanne Vega's "Luka,"
you don't hear much folk-rock with politi-
cal overtones these days. But Tracy Chap-
man isn't afraid to take on larger issues,
such as poverty and injustice, or smaller
subjects, such as the emptiness of small-
town life. Her self-titled album, Tracy Chap-
man (Elektra), brings these problems to life
with clarity, simplicity and directness.
"Fast Car" describes a woman trapped in
a dying community, whose only escape is
her lover's automobile. Chapman brings
out the despair with very plain lyrics: "I'd
always hoped for better / Maybe together,
you and me, fine / Got no plans, ain't going
nowhere / Take your fast car and keep on
driving." There are some moments when
Chapman seems naive, but the utter con-
viction of her husky alto brings it off.
Lester Bowie is a reconstructed decon-
structionist. A jazz trumpeter who has
delved without compromise into free-form
improvisation with the Art Ensemble of
Chicago, Bowie has found a way to work
within conventional song structures on
Twilight Dreams (Venture / Virgin). His band,
Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy, consists
of four trumpeters, two trombonists, a
French hornist, a tubist and a drummer.
The clean, sumptuous brass arrangements
range from straight to subversive on tunes
as diverse as Michael Jackson's "Thriller"
and band member Steve Turre's Ellington-
inspired "Duke's Fantasy." The interac-
tion between soloists and brass choir on the
hoary standard "Personality" makes the
tune come alive. And the overlapping of
sustained notes on the title track gives the
piece a somber, impressionistic feel. This
metal is truly heavy. Also truly light. Also
truly exhilarating.
R. G.

ALAN NIINUtA(-iN]5
Show your stuff: Students who stay up to catch Dave and others will finally be rated
TELE VISION
No More Stupid Net Tricks
Nielsen promises to count late night's hidden fans

Richard Nixon had his "silent major-
ity." Pat Robertson has his "invisible
army." Now David Letterman has
his "corps of the uncounted." NBC has
long argued that the all-important Niel-
sen TV ratings underreport college view-
ers of its hip programs, primarily "Late
Night With David Letterman," "Saturday
Night Live" and "Friday Night Videos." So
the network decided to pay for its own sur-
vey. The results demonstrated what many
already assumed: a large number of col-
lege students weren't getting measured.
Add them to Nielsen estimates for the Let-
terman show and viewership jumps from
3.7 million to nearly 4.5 million.
The survey has stirred a ratings in-
dustry already shaken by controversy.
The replacement of diaries, filled out
by Nielsen families in their homes, with
"people meters"-which automatically re-
cord viewership-has muddled the ratings
picture. NBC's survey has prodded Niel-
sen into admitting that its procedures
miss "out of home" viewers in places like
hospitals, hotels and dorms. Nielsen has
pledged to include college students in its
official count soon, giving NBC a sense of
vindication. "We knew there
were college students watch-
ing the Letterman show in P
dorms," says George Hooper,
NBC's vice president of audi-
ence research.
Emboldened by the bigger
numbers, two of the three ma-
jor networks are looking to UNIV
expand their late-night line-
ups. Next January CBS will
introduce a 90-minute talk
show with Pat ("Wheel of For- Proof: NB(

tune") Sajak. David Poltrack, vice presi-
dent of marketing for CBS, insists Sajak
has more than just a deft touch with the
wheel. "He has the kind of appeal that
Letterman has. He's irreverent, humor-
ous, self-deprecating." NBC, meanwhile,
will make late night even later. Starting
Aug. 22, they'll trot out sportscaster Bob
Costas on week nights to host "Later with
Bob Costas," from 1:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.
ABC, though, will be to bed comparative-
ly early; the network plans nothing more
for late night beyond the more sober
"Nightline."
Hip viewers: Advertisers have taken the
NBC data in stride. David Marans, vice
president of media research for Young &
Rubicam, says NBC's survey "is not news
because we always assumed this type of
viewing was going on." Indeed, advertis-
ers recognized Letterman's student fol-
lowing by their willingness to pay more
for commercial time than the Nielsens
would justify.
No one had to tell students, of course,
that they tune in to the hip shows. "Every-
body watches Letterman," says Columbia
senior Sharon Bowden. Georgetown sen-
ior Holly Hagen says parties
ground to a halt during Let-
t terman's February prime-
time special in humble obei-
L K 4 sance to Dave. But tepid
response to other offerings,
like Joan Rivers's late "Late
Show" on Fox, proves that
SITY 2 late night remains a tricky
market to tap. As for Sajak's
chances, Hagen offers this
NBC rating: "Good luck."

T11DI
T~
I-
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TODD BARRETT

48 NEWSWEEKONCAMPUS

MAY 1988

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