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August 05, 1988 - Image 9

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1988-08-05

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The Wild Swans
Bringing Home the Ashes
"Days braving the wild winds/
and years building this ark/...Bring
back that spark/ to Northern England
soon/ how much longer must we
mourn for you?"
These lyrics, looming omi-
nously over the bandmembers' faces
on the portentous cover of Bringing
Home the Ashes, clearly herald The
Wild Swans as a Northern English
band. Their name, too, promises
(and, indeed, rewards us with) sounds
of fleeting energy tempered by con-
summate grace. Such "heavy" sen-
timents are but one trademark of the
brand of '80s pop music that has
originated in this industrially-de-
pressed region. The band's organic,
guitar-based sound suggests Scot-
land's Waterboys and Lloyd Cole,
artists furthest removed from trendy
industry-capital of London to the
south. Although The Wild Swans'
richly pastoral melodies recall The
Smiths, they rely on drone-like
arpeggios, much like the Bunnymen
and New Order. And in a song called

The Michigan Daily - Friday, August 5, 1988 - Page 9
"The Worst Year of My Life," the provide such clear-cut evidence of
singer's warbling Morrissey/Cole rock plagiarism. All the elements of
tone might well be expected to be- the Echo sound circa 1981 have been
tray a world-weary cynicism. mastered here: ambiguous, existen-
But lines like "In the old days/ tial lyrics; staccato guitar figures
My life was good/ I walked with laden with apocalyptic effects; and
God" - and song titles such as droning basslines pushed by a rapid-
"Archangels" - reveal a surpris- fire, tom-tom-riding drummer. In-
ingly Anglican beatitude, a stately deed, cuts like "One by One" suggest
provincialism closer to George Her- that these Lemons have dropped
bert than Johnny Rotten. The Wild straight down out of Heaven Up
Swans make unexpectedly upbeat Here.
music, ten gorgeous songs of an But at least the Drops cop from
unabashedly major-key warmth. Like McCulloch and Co.'s most stylisti-
a home-team chant in a Manchester cally challenging period - and their
soccer stadium, Bringing Home the more Echoesque songs here are also
Ashes offers an unforgettable green the most exciting.
oasis of robust beauty - a brief The real charm is how MLD
sparkle of communal hope amid the augment the tuneless rhythmic
coal-greyed bleakness of England's questing of Heaven with potent
forgotten North. melodic craft, as in the punchy Eddie
Cochran chorus and Byrds-style gui-
The Mighty Lemon tars of "Inside Out."Why should one
Drops accept imitations? Because, ulti-
mately, the lackluster sound of
World Without End Echo's 1987 LP suggests that World
Reprise/Sire Without End is actually a new -
Yes, the Mighty Lemon Drops and improved - version of what
do, at times, sound exactly like "the real thing" once was in the first
Echo and the Bunnymen - not even place.
Led Zep rip-offs Kingdom Come -Michael Fischer

TIle Style Council
Confessions of a Pop Group
Listening to the Jam/Style Council over the past several years has
been like watching a loved one waste away with some slow, terminal
illness. The symptoms were at first subtle: a couple of didactic duds on
The Gift; the comically lame "Money Go Round" on the otherwise-
excellent TSC debut; the rape of the better-left-un-messed-with
"Headstart for Happiness" on My Everchanging Moods.
Then the band's condition turned critical. The music grew more
bland as the liner notes grew more pretentious and preachy. On In-
ternationalists and last year's embarrassing The Cost of Loving, the
apple-cheeked vitality of everchanging mod Paul Weller's brash, chipper
pop melodies had taken on a ghostly pallor. As I listened to their latest,
I sadly expected to hear the straight line on the Style Council's musical
EKG. And while Confessions shows a few hints of recovery, it by no
means ends the band's death throes.
Confessions of a Pop Group is an ironic name for this lengthy (56
minutes-plus) album, since the only time it really succeeds is when the
band drops all pretense of being a pop group. On the album's second
side, titled "The Piano Paintings," Weller and songwriting foil Mick
Talbot take an all-out jazz approach for the first time, which works
surprisingly well, notably on "It's a Very Deep Sea," a soulful tale of
self-confrontation ("Perhaps I've come to the surface and come to my
senses/ But it's a very deep sea around my own devises"). But side one
is no more than an overproduced morass of soapboxing and
unimaginative synthesizer programming.
Oh, and the liner notes are still pretentious as hell.
---Jim Poniewozik

Nuclear Assault Chuck had once described a
Survive Megadeth album as perfect for "one
I.R.S. Records of those days when you want to kill
I have never quite understood the something." The level of anger in
} music on the cutting edge of metal my Deadhead soul was driving me
- like Metallica, Megadeth, and nuts, so I decided to see what Chuck
Motorhead. I always appreciated it a had in his pile of records. A few
little because it did rely on an elec- seconds later waves of trashy-novel-
tric guitar, but I couldn't relate to type hair-raising anger ran through
the downright violent effect of the me at the same speed as the lead
sum of the parts. guitar
But then until the other day my It was just as Chuck described:
life was pretty good. I was on track "death, awesome musical technique,
to get a degree from. da U, I had a death, speed-of-light guitar solos,
girlfriend, and my dope crop was death, crushing rhythms, and more
about to mature. Hell, I had finally death." The musical effect was the
even lost my virginity. Then my same, but the lyrics are about
girlfriend's insane mother kicked her (among other things), ridiculous
out of the house for refusing to foreign wars, no content media, and
empty the dishwasher at six in the Martin Luther King - not just
morning. And no, she would not be death. The next record in the pile,
getting any money to help her pay Metallica's excellent Kill em' All
for her first term of college or any probably would have fit my mood
other term. Ditto for her father who better, but after two headphone lis-
hasn't spoken to her in two years. tenings of Survive my ears cried
Watching someone's dreams de- uncle.
stroyed was probably the worst thing Survive got me through a diffi-
a pampered scion of the middle class cult night a few days ago. You never
such as I has ever dealt with. know when you might need a shot
My fellow critic/roommate of this. -Brian Jarvinen

Eric B. and Rakim perfection. Humble shoeshine boy?
Follow The Leader Forget it yo', Eric B.'s concave
UNI Records bass-dunking and record wreckin'
Last year Eric B. and Rakim scratching only make R akim's
Las yer Eic . ad Rkunamorphous tone ;nms that much
blew the lid off hip-hop with their morhuo ne ins Ratmuch
"serious as cancer" debut LP, Paid In more original. Rakim would
serl.ollowae aderLPPon say, put your hands together 'cuz
Full. Follow The Leader once this is a musical massacre,"
again sets the trend, as Rakim's 'knowhumsayin"?!
karma-kool vocals not only engrave
the rhythm but additionally follow
the groove of Eric B. s ill bassline Ziggy Marley
like a magnet. This new hip-hop Conscious Party
approach is guaranteed to spawn a Virgin Records
slew of sucker d.j. imitators, but as
Rakim says, "You can call the Produced by Talking Heads' Tina
paramedics/But that won't help Weymouth and Chris Frantz, Ziggy
ya'/Not even calisthenics ... Follow Marley'sConscious Party clicks and
the Leader. smacks with a seizure-iffic pan-
The dynamite-def title track con- World beat, as the smoldering en-
n se tropy in Ziggy's vagabond vocals
taems sublimoi samples of the and livication lyrics take on three-
traleymacabte s hecho; a spec drivendimensional effects with this admit-
by Eric B.'s bloodthirsty beats and tedly accessible rhythm.
enveloped by the sinister silhouette "Dreams of Home" is a swirling mild-mannered David Marley), Zig
of Rakim, as his rhyming, sneering Third World cauldron of transient takes off whooshing through the air;
couplets peel-off like snake-skin. vocal-clusters arranged by South slamming a vitriolic Black fist on
"Microphone Fiend" is a hip-hop Africa's Hugh Masekela. While the Fascist oppression and bending the
hurricane with a jack-beat bass/mace- young Marley sisters burn righteous bars of injustice in a not-to-shabby
line that will have half-assed D.J.'s steam with their sweltering African psychic jailbreak. On the title cut
trembling. Then out of nowhere doo-wop, Ziggy growls with the Ziggy's vocals snake their way
comes the ultra-P-Funk-y "Eric B. conviction of a conquering lion. The through an ambrosia of- .,rld beat
Never Scared." Eric B. spins out an beauty and essence of Black Ja- rhythm while the kerchunking bass
incandescent groove with deft splice- maican culture is right here, as chords throb relentlessly.
in's of disco, dancefloor love-de- "Dreams of Home" is based on the In essence, Tina Weymouth and
mands ("You're so fine, you're so Rastafarian goal of repatriation to Chris Frantz have produced a won-
right") and Bob Marley skank-snip- Africa - a return to the homeland derful example of mongrel-mixol-
pets ("God is a living man!") while where they can be free of the racist, ogy; a disparate assemblage of inter-
Rakim unleashes a machine-gun Babylonian blackball of the white national music stylings that is
burst of funky fricatives. Trust me, man's world. - sparked by the, purified soul of
your eyes haven't rolled this far back Many other songs on the LP re- Rastafari. And although Conscious
in your head since you snorted air- veal that the molasses-voiced Marley Party is as polished as the apple-of-
plane glue under the monkey bars, offspring often eerily evokes his fering of a teacher's pet to a scowl-
dig? Saintly father (Bob Marley in case ing schoolmarm, there is no doubt
Follow. The Leader proves that 'ya hadn't guessed) in both his style that Ziggy Marley eschews the
Eric B. is the catalyst to Rakim's and his lyrical activism. On Babylonian fairytale capitalism of
Afro-crunch raps. Like cartoon hero "Tomorrow People," Ziggy becomes the pop ideology in every note he
Under-Dog's super-power pill that he a super-hero for the underprivileged. sings. Long live the Marley music
concealed in his "U"-engraved ring, Assuming the guise of RASTA- tradition!
Eric B. is a hidden tresure D. -MAN (with the secret identity f -ToddAvery Shanker

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