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January 14, 1991 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1991-01-14

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The Michigan Daily - Monday, January 14, 1991 - Page 9 a


by Peter Shapiro



tres Chic

, *With rap's hyper-post-modern rep-
etition of musical history and "heavy
mtetal's" emulation of glam-rock
lteroes of yore without even a trace
Of embarrassment, the African-Amer-
iran blues continuum has apparently
run out of steam.
This slow and painful death of
America's most precious resource is
coupled with shit so thick in the
"inner city" that Black Eunuchs have
tesorted to the most brutal re-
enactment of the Stagger Lee myth
yet (Geto Boys, N.W.A., Ice Cube,
etc.), while white men everywhere
are so afraid of losing a
millennium's worth of hegemony
that they're grabbing their dicks like
Wile E. Coyote falling off a cliff and
catching a tree branch with two
fingers. In the majority of current
popular music, women are no longer
told to "close your eyes and think of
England," but to grin and bear it and
"just don't bite it."
In this social landscape of regres-
sive mores, it is no wonder that '70s
retro and African music ("the other"
as state-of-the-art disco) will send
fashion-conscious hipsters every-
where flocking to the nearest Value
Village in search of elevator shoes
and leisure suits. Disco doesn't suck
for one simple reason - it's the
most egalitarian music imaginable.
Growing out of a period of unprece-
dented prosperity in the Black com-
rmunity, during which powerless
African American men no longer had
to assert their magnified masculinity
to attain a semblance of power in a
racist society, and the gay dance
clubs of New York, disco eroticized
the entire body, not just the phallus.
In this climate of new-found
political voices, aggressively male-
associated elements of African
American derived music (virtuosi
guitar solos and the constant driving
4/4 rhythm) were downplayed to
emphasize a collective and unitarian
booty shake. Even in disco's most
demeaning sexual fantasies (see Ohio
Players), the focus was never that
"the bitch was gobblin' like a
turkey." The eternal groove was a
music of across-the-board liberation,
not merely a celebration of
alternative lifestyles.
Of course, the '70s were a period
of perilous decadence (for Reagan's
majority at least), but that's what
brought the liberating aspects to the
forefront. The lysergic, utopian so-

cialist worldview of the flower
power generation was replaced by an
aesthetic of conspicuous consump-
tion for everyone, even the most
economically disadvantaged. Casual
luxury was the new vehicle to cele-
brate, if not promulgate, social
change, relegating long hair,
patchouli and dancing nude to bongo
players in mud pits to the cultural
prisons of the Rockies and Ver-
mont's Green Moutains.
Nobody celebrated Studio 54 he-
donism with the undying optimism
that the Chic Organization (Chic and
Sister Sledge) did. The orgiastic ex-
cess centered around the only rhythm
section that could rival JB's Sex
Machine/Down in the Jungle Groove
band: Nile Rogers, Bernard Edwards
and Tony Thompson.
At their best ("Good Times" and
"We Are Family"), the individual
elements fused into one surging and
pulsating bodily undulation with
Nile's constant riffing and a hint of
phalanger on guitar (the guitar was a
rhythm instrument not a phallic
extension) taking Steve Cropper one
step further (no solos), 'Nard
dragging James Jamerson through
the "clams on the half shell and
roller skates" scene that his Motown
bass lines made possible and Tony
playing Ziggy Modeliste to
Bernard's George Porter Jr.
Around that foundation, they as-
sembled a group of female backup
singers to disseminate their revolu-
tionary program of unabashed de-
bauchery. On "Good Times," Alfa
Anderson, Norma Jean Wright and
Diva Gray sound as though they had
just spent a long, lost weekend at
Studio 54 with Hamilton Jordan,
daring you to deny that, even after a
five day hangover, their program to
"end this stress and strife" is the
only way to go.
Sister Sledge's approach, on the
other hand, was to communicate
their sensualism on the spot as it
happened. Their celebration of male
beauty on "He's the Greatest Dancer"
should have restructured centuries of
Greco-Roman proselytization, while
their "responsibility is a tragedy"
line from "Lost in Music" is not
only the lost summation of post-
graduate angst, but is as dangerous
to the workings of capitalism as any
saying in Chairman Mao's red book.
But their crowning moment, in
fact the whole organization's, is the
anthemic "We Are Family." De-em-
phasizing the only masculine ele-
ment in their music, Nile's guitar,
"We Are Family" focuses on the
greatest bass line in the history of
recorded music. The music grooves
so hard that the Sisters' ecstatic
hosannahs of "play that funky bass

Continued from page 7
never says anything as condescend-
ing about the Stones themselves
even though Keith Richards arguably
looks the worst of anyone.
But Hotchner doesn't do this
opinionated reporting often enough
to make Blown Away a book ver-
sion of the National Enquirer. He
uses rumors like that "newspaper,"
but he also explores them by asking
people who were involved or peers
of those directly involved. Take the
troubled lead guitarist and band
founder Brian Jones. Through inter-
views, Hotchner establishes that
Jones was totally paranoid, that Jag-
ger and Keith Richards were pushing
him out of the band. Jones may have
had had psychiatric problems. But
Hotchner lets the reader decide if
Richards and Jaggar were really try-
ing to get rid of him from the be-
ginning, depending on which of the
interviewees the reader chooses to

This is not to say Hotchner does
not have an argument. He sets out to
prove that Jones was murdered.
Through conflicting statements to
the police of the four present At
Jones' house when he died, and -
interviews (something like that of,
Deep Throat), Hotchner uses his
evidence to establish a contested fact.
His conclusion, if you believe what;
he has found, is quite plausible.
Like Jones' "murder," the whole
premise of Blown Away seems logi-
cal enough. In a sense, the Stones-
represented their decade in that both
became violent and a parody of
themselves by the end. Hotchner
solidly supports his theory in an en-
joyable outline of the Stones in the
'60s. However,Blown Away only
gets into detail about a few aspects
that are limited to the memories of
those interviewed and limited in the
structure he chose to write in. For
what it is, Blown Away is fine to
read but is not as grand as the subti-
tle suggests.
-Annette Petruso

Tony's wearing the leather jacket that he stole from George Michael,
'Nard's doing his best Quincy Jones impersonation and the rest of Dis-
tance look like the computer geeks who discovered the gutbicket soul of
Europe that they are. So what if they've got better hair than Chic?

boy" sound like the epiphanies of
new converts, not the false exhorta-
tions of Wild Cherry or 'Nilla Ice.
In the mean time, concert master
Gene Orlovsky's strings give the
song the flavor of luxurious pleasure
that it needs to be completely
convincing, as any Soul II Soul fan
could tell you. The glorification of
sisterhood by Kathie, Debbie, Kim
and Joni are so shamelessly
orgasmic that if feminists had
chosen this to be their theme song
instead of Helen Reddy's "I Am
Woman," the Equal Rights
Amendment would have passed with
relative ease.
In Reagan's America, it is no
wonder, then, why no rap artist has
picked up on the legacy of Chic
since Grand Master Flash and the
Furious Five used the bass line from
"Good Times" to anchor their dance
floor assault on Blondie and Queen
in "Adventures on the Wheels of
Steel." Pock-faced white teens from
the rust belt stopped wearing "Disco
Sucks" t-shirts when Reagan inaugu-
rated a new era of puritanical white
heterosexual male privilege, coinci-
dentally the same time that Luther
Campbell and his gang of python-
totin' homies started to lie about
cock-whippin' pussy up and down
the coast of Miami-St. Pete.
The subsequent re-assertion of the
male genitalia as the locus of sexual
and musical "pleasure" forced the

world's premier groove band to dis-
integrate after the brilliant Tongue in.
Chic, forcing Nile to become the
most sought after producer of am-
biguous rockers' cross-over attempts
and Bernard and Tony to pursue such
heinous projects as the pre-pubescent
girl slickness-and-sexual-ambiguity-
as- machismo masturbation product
Power Station and the woeful art-
rock technical wizardry fizzle Dis-
tance. The failure of Chic's music to
remain socially relevant through the
'80s is as strong a testament to the
failure (or success) of the neo-con-
servatives as the S&L fiasco.

A feeling of comfort...
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. . . . .
T O...... 75......


announcing the
1991 Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium
"King: Making His Dream Our Reality"
a commemorative symposium and related events, January 15-30, 1991,
at the University of Michigan
Tuesday. January 15. 1991
7:00pm, William Monroe Trotter House, 1443 Washtenaw Ave.
Sponsor: Commemoration of a Dream Committee
Monday. January 21, 1991
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium "'4'. 'i.:
OPENING PROGRAM: :. ",{ ?4.}"{' "r
9:00am, Rackham Auditorium, 915 E. Washington St.
"The Interdependence of the Races of Humankind", performed by Kevin Locke, Lakota Sioux
folk artist, 1990 recipient of the National Endowment of the Arts National Heritage Fellowship.
KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Ms. Adelaide Sanford
Regent, State University of New York
---a very moving and informative speaker, Ms. Sanford has been honored by the NAACP and
the Congressional BlackhCaucus for her outstanding achievements as an educator in inner
city New York public schools.







Michigan League and other campus locations


1. Race and International Affairs: The Impact of the Gulf Crisis on American
Intergroup Relations
2. Environmental Racism: Issues and Dilemmas
3. Resisting Assimilation: The Psychology of Self Identity - featuring
psychologist Dr. Francis Cress Welsing
4. The Future of Poverty in America: Local and National Perspectives
ANNUAL UNITY MARCH - begin corner of Washtenaw and South University
Tony Brown, of Tony Brown's Journal. See program brochure, available
January 17th for details.
CLOSING PROGRAM: Rackham Auditorium,
Musical Performance: University of Michigan Gospel Chorale
closing address: Dr. Molefi Kete Asante, author, Afrocentricity --- founder of
the Afrocentric philosophical movement, Dr. Asante is the creator of the first
doctoral program in African American Studies in the United States. He is
currently Professor and Chairperson of the Department of African American

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poles and accessories

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