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April 03, 1991 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1991-04-03

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Wednesday, April 3, 1991

Page 5

America shows Sisters

n

by Michael Paul Fischer
"W hen I'm at home - which is
kind of rare these days - I go to bed
very early," says Andrew Eldritch,
the Hamburg-based leader of British
gloom-meisters the Sisters of
Mercy. "That's because the clubs
and the bars operate very late. It
makes more sense to go to bed at
eight in the evening, and then get up
at three... then do the clubbing."
To American fans of the Sisters
- who perform tonight at De-
troit's Latin Quarter during one
stop on a 15-city U.S. tour that
marks their first live shows in six
years - the idea of the mystery-
shrouded Eldritch as an early-bird
type might come as a bit of a rude
awakening. Since gloom classics
like the droning "Black Planet,"
from the Sisters' 1985 LP debut
First and Last and Always, made
their way to the States ("Run
around in the radiation," gurgles
Eldritch in his lugubrious low reg-
ister, "tune in, turn on, burn out in
the acid rain..."), vampire-worship-
ing types have revered the ever-
ironic Eldritch as some figurehead
of an imagined "gothic" movement.
But Eldritch himself finds the
foisted prince-of-gloom persona
tiresome. "Listen to any of our
records," he insists dryly, "and then
listen to Judas Priest. I can tell you
which sounds more gothic."
Given the rather wordly lyrics
of 1990's Vision Thing, the Sisters'
most brash, rocking, political album
to date, Eldritch's image problem
may soon be a thing of the past.
Abetted by Generation X / Sigue
Sigue Sputnik bassist Tony James
and former All About Eve guitarist
Tim Bricheno, as well as axe-man
Andreas Bruhn - a total newcomer
out of the Hamburg scene - long-
time boss Eldritch has built a new
Sisters lineup whose punkish ap-
proach offers a marked contrast to
the symphonic dance-floor apoca-
lypse of the group's 1987 U.S.

i ne sisters oT iviercys newest line-up - bassist lony James, guitarist
Tim Bricheno, mainstay and boss Andrew Eldritch, and guitarist Andreas
Bruhn - will have to settle for less on their first tour in six years.

) mercy
(Morrison) had just quit. And it's
nice to have someone in the band
who's more despised than you are,
y 'know?"
Eldritch's own sense for irony in
rock-and-roll is well-witnessed by
the epic cuts he's recorded with
former Meat Loaf producer Jim
Steinman, songs like Floodland's ti-
tanic, choir-packed 11-minute singa-
long "This Corrosion" and Vision
Thing's "More." They're about
bombast," states Eldritch plainly.
"So they are bombastically pro-
duced."
Given their scale, it's not sur-
prising that Eldritch chafes against
the size of the venues he has to play
them in here in America - in con-
trast to the 10-15,000 seat arenas the
Sisters play in Europe.
"I look at the size of the venue,"
Eldritch elaborates, "and I say
"What, you want me to get excited
about 1,345 people? It's very hard. I
think the band's much more effec-
tive on that (arena) kind of level.
We get off on it, y'know? There's a
kind of charge there that happens so
very rarely in a club."
Eldritch, indeed, does want more.
"I think we're perceived as being
something 'alternative,"' he says,
regarding their lack of U.S. hits. "I
really don't see why that is. I mean,
in musical terms we're not."
"(Floodland) did about
150,000," laments Eldritch.
"Pathetic. We can do 150,000 in
countries that have a tenth the popu-
lation of the United States of
America."
I warn Eldritch, in passing, that
the bars in Michigan close here at 2
a.m. "I know," the star acknowl-
edges, "it's useless. That's why I
don't live there. Also, I speak Ger-
man better than I speak American.
American is just like English - ex-
cept you have to shout louder."

breakthrough Floodland. And
although the outlook here is hardly
any more optimistic than before, the
words are the most specific Eldritch
has written - the 1988 campaign
reference of the title track, in par-
ticular, is a pointed jab at our cur-
rent U.S. President.
Eldritch isn't exactly expecting
the song to make it as a single on
this side of the Atlantic. The way he
applies a couple of choice expletives
to the man in the motorcade won't
help it at radio - but Eldritch is
still coy enough not to refer to Bush
by name. "He's got lawyers!" ex-
plains Eldritch, in wise jest. "More
lawyers than I do." And given his
affinity for Middle Eastern themes
- from the 1986 offshoot EP The
Gift under the Sisterhood moniker
to the threatening, Arabic-indus-
trial dirge ofVision Thing' s
"Ribbons" - the new album's cri-
tique of American military and cul-
tural imperialism has taken on a
poignant relevance in light of the
war in the Persian Gulf.
"Whenever there's something

very political happening in the
news," reckons Eldritch, "a lot of
stations and their people don't play
anything at all touchy." The hard-
revving "Doctor Jeep," especially,
equates classic-rock radio and arms-
dealing middlemen as part of the
same scam. "It's very hard to get
records on the radio which are un-
constitutional," suggests Eldritch
with palpable sarcasm, "whereas
arms dealing is about as constitu-
tional as you can get. This nation has
a right to bear a lot of bad music."
The President's aren't the only
lawyers Eldritch has to worry
about: he's currently involved in
litigation over his sacking of bassist
Patricia Morrison, as well as the
former Always -period bandmates
who now perform as The Mission.
But in prankster supreme Tony
James - reviled by the British press
for the way he took them to the
cleaners with the hype of his Sput-
nik enterprise - Eldritch has found
a new soul mate. "I needed a bass
player," he explains. "There's only
two I knew, and one of them

Gangstarr
Step In The Arena
Chrysalis
DJPremier and the Guru's
newest offering since the ground-
breaking "Jazz Thing" will leave
supporters of the group without a
10 spot, but fortunately, not with a
bad piece of work. Step In The
Arena continues the duo's eclecti-
cism in sampling and rapping, with
exuberant results (there are 18
tracks within, only one an instru-
mental).
The provocative "Who's Gonna
Take The Weight?" raises a question
of responsibility for African
America's burgeoning movement
for revolution, with DJ Premier
cleverly exploiting the "Rebel
Without A Pause" whistle effect.
The tracks "The Meaning of the
Name" and "Here today, gone
tommarow" utilize both percussive
electric fusion and straight bebop
samples, with much the same effect
as Terminator X's unique sonic
landscaping in "Buck-Whylin"' or
Mister Cee's scratching James
Brown's "Ain't it good to ya?" in
the break of Kane's "Raw." For DJ
Premier, the source used for the
sample is quintessential, just as
relevant as the act of sampling
itself.
Still, with the production re-
maining rather lackluster at times,
Gangstarr's album ultimately de-
pends on the vocalizing of the Guru
to carry it to the bridge. Yet his
laid-back style of dropping lines is
almost the equivalent of a jazz
maven like Mose Allison or Harry
Connick Jr. The Guru's rapping
plays the somber expression of
Ornette Coleman's saxophone, as
compared to Chuck D.'s reflection
of Miles Davis' voice of cataclysm.
-F. Green III
Meat Beat Manifesto
"Psyche-Out" (CD single)
Mute

It always seemed like Meat Beat
Manifesto was too weird to become
popular. Their extremely dense
dancesound, replete with hyperac-
tive drum machines and synth bass
lines and more obscure samples than
you could shake a stick at, was (and
still is) directed by minds that
could only be doing one thing: tak-
ing lots of drugs. In short, Meat is a
cerebral dance party that defies
most explanation.
As such, it didn't seem like the
band had much of a chance to succeed
in this conservative era. Yet since
their first record a few years ago,
they've toured with Nine Inch
Nails, graduated from Wax Trax!
records to have their second album,
99%, released by Mute, and watched
their new single, "Psyche-Out,"
currently nestle itself onto the
dance tracks chart. Meat Beat
Manifesto is not huge in any way,
but at least a few people have heard
of the band by now.
This batch of "Psyche-Out"
remixes seems to represent a step
backward in their creativity, how-
ever. The three remixes included
here do nothing to improve on the
original. For example, the first
remixed version has more in com-
mon with Inner City's "Good Life"
than with the album version of
"Psyche-Out." The song is fairly
decent as far as the beat goes, but the
fatal flaw is that it doesn't go any-
where, repeating the same riff over
and over for nearly six minutes and,
as one might guess, becoming more
than a trifle boring. The second
remix is much better, but neither it
nor the "Sex Skank Stripdown"
version are work worthy of the
Meat Beat name.
See RECORDS, Page 8

THE SISTERS OF MERCY, with
DANIELLE DAX opening, perform
tonight at at Detroit's Latin Quar-
ter.

Color Printing
Color Printing
Color Printing
Color Printing

r

I

New World Symphony trains, entertains

by Liz Patton
Although Michael Tilson Thomas
is sometimes said to have special in-
terests in modern and American mu-
sic, he strongly believes in keeping
alive the traditions of bygone eras.
Under his dire'ction, tonight's per-
formance of the New World
Symphony includes music of 19th-
century Europeans (Mendelssohn's
incidental music from A
Midsummer Night's Dream and
Tchaikovsky's Symphony no. 6, the
"Pathdtique") and a 20th-century
American (Aaron Copland's Billy
the Kid).
Originally Copland's suite from
The Red Pony was planned, but
since Copland died last fall, ex-
plains Thomas, "I wanted to play

something more serious and soulful.
I wanted that lyric and mournful
spirit that he was especially known
for."
That's not to say that Billy is
nothing but a tear-jerker. Though
essentially following the tragic
story of a young man gone bad in the
Old West (the music was originally
written for a ballet), there are
plenty of light-hearted moments.
You may recognize some of the
cowboy songs quoted in the music.
Clearly a great admirer of Copland,
Thomas remarks, "He really was
one of ou: great American masters
- he created an American musical
mythology out of his own imagina-
tion."
The mythology of the Old West
remains a powerful influence on

American culture. In addition to
drawing on existing myths of the
West, Copland contributed to the
American national sports culture.
Few Americans today would fail to
recognize Fanfare for the Common
Man, which has become almost
obligatory at most important ath-
letic events.
The other two works on the pro-
gram, by Tchaikovsky and
Mendelssohn, are both long-time
favorites of concert-goers.
Performing these older pieces is not

just a matter of dusting off old
works of art, says Thomas. He
rightly observes that our apprecia-
tion for classical music rests on
many other art traditions, such as
theater and other visual arts.
"Classical music keeps these tradi-
tions alive - it awakens our hearts
and souls," Thomas says. On this
tour, Thomas has the opportunity to
put his ideas into practice.
. Thomas' special project, the New
World Symphony, is a unique insti-
See SYMPHONY, Page 8

F,

C

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Friday, April 51

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