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November 14, 1995 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-11-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

You've been flirting again
The Flirtations, a gay andlesbian a capella group;-play the Ark tonight
at 8 p.m. Tickets for the concert are $13.50 in advance at Schoolkids'
Records; call 763-8587 for more information.

Page 8
November 14, 1995

. .,


Ben Harper fights with his music

By Jennifer Buckley
,Daily Weekend Editor
When Ben Harper opened for P.J.
Harvey at the State Theater last month,
he sat in darkness for most of his set,
shouting from the shadows, alternat-
,ing between acoustic strumming and
fierce, squalling electric slide. The
stage lights caught Harper's thin
'braids whipping from side to side as
he sang ofoppression, ignorance, rac-
ism and Rodney King to a theater full
of white people anxious to hear the
British diva howl "Me-Jane."
From the audience, the brief but
ferocious set seemed deliberately
confrontational, powerful and an-
gry, an attempt make sure that while
his music might go in one ear and
,out the other, his message would hit
the gray matter in between. It
sounded like a wake-up call.
But it wasn't.
"Nope," said Harper when asked if
the had chosen his angriest songs for
those reasons. "You know, 45 min-
utes is the amount of time it takes to
get warmed up to play another hour
and 15 minutes ... set lists are sci-
ence. We just kick into a groove."
And a mighty groove it is. In con-
cert and on his latest record "Fight for
Your Mind," Harper and the Innocent
Criminals deliver a particularly funky,
forceful blend of rock, folk, reggae
and gospel powered by both acoustic
guitar and soulful slide playing.

Where: Blind Pig
When: Tonight. Doors 9:30 p.m.
Tickets are $11.75 in advance.

his 1993 debut "Welcome to the Cruel
World") Harper sang of a "legal lynch
mob/Like the days strung up from the
tree/the LAPD."

Harper's songs celebrate love and
denounce hatred with equal convic-
tion and passion, revealing a deep
personal strength and a profound spiri-
"I believe in a few things/God and
the devil and love/'cause I've looked
up from the bottom/and I've stared
down from above," he sings on the
album's first single "Ground on
Harper also believes in "the power
of music," he said. He spent his child-
hood surrounded by it, learning folk
and blues acoustic and slide guitar
playing. "There was so much acoustic
music in my family growing up, I was
always picking (guitars) up as a kid,"
he remembered.
He's become something of a rare
instrument collector as well. "The
Weissenborn guitar that I play was
made in the late 'teens, early '20s.
They're rare and I look out for them
wherever I go."
He also learned that music can de-
liver powerful social and political
messages. On "Like a King," (from

His lyrics on his latest album also
dwell on issues of racism and repres-
sion. "Oppression/to divide and con-
quer is your goal ... you may have the
dollar on your side ... but the gospel
truth you cannot hide," he sings on
the rumbling, bass-heavy opener "Op-
On his albums and in performance,
Harper stands as a strong black man,
proud, intelligent and sensitive. The
music, he maintained, is his form of
political and personal activism.
"Every time I sing, I'm active.
There's a lot of unactive activism
going on. These words are my words,
and my words are the foundations for
my actions as a man," Harper stated.
But "Fight for Your Mind" also
reveals a softer side of Harper, bal-
ancing politically-oriented songs like
"Excuse Me Mr." and the title track
with the sweet, grooving love song
"Gold to Me" and deeply spiritual
ballads like "God Fearing Man" and
"Power of the Gospel."
Harper, however, refuses to align
himself with any one religion. "Orga-
nized religion is a sin," he insisted.
"My belief is in the spirit, and the
spirit is what I believe moves us all
and has brought us to where we are
and who we are."

He also draws inspiration from such
artists as Bob Marley (Harper's "Burn
One Down" recalls Marley's solo
acoustic work, and the Innocent
Criminals sometimes work "Get Up
Stand Up" into their live set) and Jimi
Hendrix (Harper included a wild but
soulful electric slide cover of "Voo-
doo Child" at the State Theater show).
"I love Jimi and Bob so much, be-
cause I always come back to their
music and hear and feel new things,"
he said.
But Harper's musical interests don't
end in rock, folk and reggae. "I love
Middle Eastern and Turkish folk mu-
sic," he said. "Music brings you to
more music, you know."
"I like classical a lot. I don't like
huge symphonies; that interests me
very little. I believe that sections of
one instrument weakens the power of
the individual instrument," Harper
"I'm interested in the smaller con-
figurations, quintets and quartets. I
like Mahler, Mahler's Ninth, espe-
cially. I like Beethoven. I very much
like Bach ... and Vivaldi."
Harper tried his own hand at classi-
cal music on "Fight for Your Mind,"
composing for and conducting a string
quartet on "Power of the Gospel."
"Music is ... emotion. I just commu-
nicated with them and conducted them
to how it felt," he said.
After a three-week stint with


Ben Hamer: A man and his music.

Harvey Harper began yet another leg
of the eternal tour that began with
"Welcone to the Cruel World."
"I've been on the road for over two
years now," Harper said wearily. It
hasn't been easy, he admitted. "Any-

thing that's going to bring you growth
is going to be tough. But it's not
because I get to play music almost
every night.
"That's what I need, like breath,
like water."

Der Shrimpkin
Prawn Song
In a perfect world, Eskimo would
be the kings of the music industry.
They would sit in high thrones atop
Mount Olympus, coming up with laws
and what not, eating yam fries and
swigging Yoo-Hoo Chocolate Drink.
"And the people would see this, and it
would be good.
This album is incredible. Released
on Les Claypool's label, one can see
adefinite Primus influence, along with
Frank Zappa, the Residents, Captain
'Beefheart, and anyone else who has
ever been described as indescribable.
The theme of the album is non-stop
fun, which Eskimo has in spades.
VBesides, how could a band not be
great with song titles like "Count
Rock(u-ass)ula" and "(The Assassi-
nation of) Principal Poop?"
From the opening drum/marimba
-beat of "Bones of the Saints," it's
r-obvious that Eskimo's ready to have a
good time. The music ranges from
slow lounge to crazed polyrhythmic
:jazz, often within the space of the
same song. "Dado Peru," with its non-

sense word sing-along chorus, de-
serves to be blasted at every frat party
from now until the next Eskimo al-
bum comes along. "Young Mr. Plum"
is downright scary, in an Elvira hor-
ror-flick sort of way. By the time the
Latvian folk of "Pumpkins" chimes
in, one asks themselves if there's any
thing this band can't do.
Although about half the songs on
the album are strictly instrumental,
when Eskimo sings, they do it right.
The lyrics are mostly brilliant gibber-
ish, like "Anytime you dig a hole/eat
your favorite marble/check the house
for mice and then/make Junior read
his bible." I get the feeling that these
guys could sing "The Declaration of
Independance" and make it danceable.
The two covers on the album -
The Residents' "Kill the Great Raven"
and Duke Ellington's "Blue Pepper
(Far East of the Blues)" showcase
their wide range of influences, and
both end up sounding like Eskimo
songs. This is the first time I've heard
a Duke Ellington cover sandwiched
between a thrash tune and a surf song,
and I love it.
By the time the last song, "Electric
Acid Pancake House" rolls around, a

ditty about Elvis in the jungle in which
Eskimo proclaims "The King lives,
and kills without remorse," you're
ready to start the disc over and hear it
all over again. But not so fast - after
3 minutes of silence, the song goes on
for another 10 minutes, ending with a
rockabilly tune that declares "When
that last taco rolls off the line/When
that last taco rolls, I will cry."
Buy this disc for yourself. Grab a
couple of copies for your friends and
parents. And while you're at it, don't
forget to pick up some Yoo-Hoo for
the boys in the band.
- Jeffrey Dinsmore
Souls of Mischief
No Man 's Land
Jive Records
Let's start by giving a brief history of
Souls of Mischief. They came out on
one of the dopest cuts of the time - the
Del B-sides, and had everyone jonesin'

for the record. In 1993 The Souls of
Mischief released their fist album, the
revolutionary "'93 To Infinity." It was
a solid album that was perfectly under-
rated and blew minds. Those who found
it bumped it daily, and some heads still
do. That was a good time for hip-hop:
Pharcyde came out, and Tribe and Del
La Soul dropped there latest albums.
Hip-Hop was thriving with creativity
and innovation, and some seriously dope
beats apd rhymes. Then there was a
calm, and all true hip-hop fans hoped it
was merely the eye of the storm, that
these great masterminds were hiding
out rigorously working on their new
mind-blowing projects. Maybe they
were meticulously devising plans to
take the tired stated of hip-hop and give
it new life.
So when there was talk of a new
Souls ofMischiefalbum there was hope
that they would come straight out of the
lab with anothermagical spell that keeps
hip-hop heads nodding. Well, although
"No Man's Land" will definitely make

heads bob, it's certainly not of the
caliber of their last album. Had this
album been released by anyone else it
would have been great, but S.O.M. had
"'93 To infinity" and they didn't even
approach it.
First ofall, kill theengineer. Why do
they sound like they're in a tin can?
The unisci vocals sound like a flimsy
wafer of sound. Throughout the whole
record tho y ruin vocals that should be
in your face by making them distant.
On the first album they had a for-
mula for bleats. It was simple and re-
petitive, but the shit was super clever.
I don't kncov what they're shooting for
on this record. Leave the "Oakland
Funk" to Too Short. They definitely
win the seriously wack award for"most
inappropriate use of Q-Tip's drum kit"
- yo, the snare should be lower in the
mix than the vocals, kid.
If you've heard their last album, you
know that S.O.M. can pack more
rhymes into one verse then most MCs.
This album ils no different. Their lyri-

cal style has a sense of clarity and proci-
sion. But their content has gotten a little
boring. They traded being fresh for be-
ing "real," whatever that means.
As harsh as this might sound, I wbuld
say that this album is an important part
of your collection. Just don't expect to
bring back the past.
- Kimberly Howitt
Def Leppard
Mercury Records
"Pour some sugar on me/In the name
of love/Pour some sugar on me."
Does life really get any cooler than
Def Leppard? I can still hear the thun-
derous electronic drums of Lep's 19g7
classic "Pour Some Sugar On Me" rat-
tling the walls of the gym at my junior
high prom.
Def Leppard's greatest hits package
"Vault" compiles all the band's great
cheesy-but-great classics into onebright
and shiny thrilling disc. With songs like
"Pour Some Sugar On Me," "Photo-
graph", and "Rocket," it's easy to think
back 10 or so years and remember when
a great music video was a video chock
full of pyrotechnics and scantily clad
women. Have we progressed or re-
Nevertheless, "Vault"throws together
14 Def classics and one new track to
make a good retrospect of the band's 18
year history. The album is overflowing
with songs from 1987's "Hysteria,!' but
rightfully so, with its status being one of
the best selling albums of all-time, Six
"Hysteria" tracks and a couple from
each of their other albums make up the
collection of Lep's beefy chorus and
electronic sounding songs.
"Vault" includes "Let's Get Rocked,"
"Love Bites" "Hysteria" and lots more
tunes with all the same drum beats. The
ballads "Two Steps Behind," "Have You
Ever Needed Someone So Bad" and Fa-
Fa-Fa-"Foolin"' are all here too.
The greatest thing about this collec-
tion is that all the Lep you ever need is on
one disc. Throw those old and worn out
tapes and records into a box and go out
and buy the CD. So get in the car, roll
down them windows, and blast "Arma-
geddon It" louder than Mom everiet you
in her car.
- Brian A. Gnatt

1 IQ
7 S
Complete Meals for under $5
Student Special includes- salad, entree, starch and pop or coffee

Ilsrael &Judaism
rexperience them together!
w & I

In a perfect world, Eskimo would be the musical kings of the universe.

See RECORDS,,page 9


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