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November 27, 1995 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-11-27

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 27, 1995

RECORDS
Continued from page 5A
Kenny Drew Jr.
Live at Maybeck
Concord
Jazz lovers have been waiting on
pins and needles for the Next Great
Pianists for some time now. After
the deaths of Bud Powell,
Thelonious Monk and Bill Evans
(among others), it seems like any
young piano player who comes
along with moderate talent has had
accolade after accolade thrown at
him. Blinding chops seem to be more
in favor these days instead of good
taste or hard swinging, which is
why someone like Kenny Drew Jr.
has become popular within jazz
circles.
How much do you love scales and
finger excercises? If you just can't
get enough, go get "Live at
Maybeck," as Drew has provided
for you the listener ten songs filled
with five million notes each. Tech-
nical facility impresses me as much
as the next jazz critic, but only if
there's more to one's playing than
that, and Drew sadly hangs his mu-
sical hat on playing things twice as
fast as anyone else, even on bal-
lads. Get ready for Horace Silver's
"Peace," the standards "Stella by
Starlight" and "Autumn Leaves,"
replete with all sorts of dramatic
flourishes and stops and starts that
sound impressive; in the end,
though, all of the showing off
doesn't matter.
Another thing: This man couldn't
swing if you gave him a rope and a
tree. He really should have sat down
and listened to a few of his father's
recordings with John Coltrane and
Miles Davis before embarking on

his solo career. In comparing Kenny
Drews Sr. and Jr., the two are al-
most complete opposites of each
other. Both are good players, but
the elder Drew made up for what he
didn't have in chops by swinging
hard and funky. Junior, on the other
hand, covers up his funk/swing de-
ficiencies by warp speeding every-
thing.
Bottom line: This guy is still a
good pianist, but until his playing
escapes its one-dimensionalism,
he's going to sound more like a
circus act than a serious artist. It
would be worth it to check him out
in an ensemble setting, where he
might feel like he has less space to
fill, because what talents he does
have just don't come through in the
solo arena.
- David Cook
Menswear
Nuisance
London
Menswear is a Britpop band with a
difference: They are more or less criti-
cally reviled in their home country, de-
rided for being copycat mod-wannabes
and trend-hopping posers in the Camden
scene, a clique that includes such (criti-
cally lauded) bands as Blur and Elastica.
More ink has been spilled in Melody
Maker and NME on who Menswear's
dating at the moment than on their music.
To be fair, their image and style are cer-
tainly more impressive than their
songwriting prowess, but "Nuisance"
shows that the group is capable ofmaking
more than just headlines. "Daydreamer"
is an enjoyable Elastica rip-off, but songs
like "The One," "Piece of Me" and "I'll
Manage Somehow" show enough talent
to make the band a timely, if passing
pleasure. Being a nuisance suits Mens-
wear; they wear it well.
- Heather Phares

Classic er dies
World mourns loss of French director Louis Malle

Los Angeles Times
HOLLYWOOD - When the great
director Ernst Lubitsch died, some-
one said, "How sad; no more Ernst
Lubitsch." Billy Wilder replied,
"How tragic; no more Ernst
Lubitsch films."
Just the same thing can be said
about the death from cancer Thurs-
day of Louis Malle, at the age of 63.
He was a slight, dark, vital, in-
tense and entirely charming man
who, with all else, loved American
films and was fascinated by the
American experience.
One year, during the Cannes fes-
tival, Malle hosted a radio inter-
view with Groucho Marx, who was
on hand to receive a medal from the
French government. ("How much
can I hock it for?" Groucho asked
the minister of culture, with a lift of
the famous eyebrows.) Malle proved
to know the Marx Brothers films
better scene by scene than Groucho
did (or, perhaps, than Groucho re-
membered).
As the obituaries will record,
Malle was born to great wealth in
provincial France, his industrialist
family being among other things
the largest sugar refiners in the
country. Malle reflected the family
ambience in "Murmur of the Heart,"
one of the best of his many superb
and sensitive films. He handled the
theme of a boy's incestuous love
for his mother with a sympathetic
delicacy that avoided any hint of
exploitation. Was it autobiographi-
cal, he was once asked. "Not ...
precisely," he said with a cryptic
smile, adding that his mother had
enjoyed the film.
What is beyond doubt his most
moving work, "Au Revoir, Les
Enfants," was unquestionably au-
tobiographical, born of his wartime
childhood years in a strict Catholic
private school where one or more
Jewish boys were given refuge but
betrayed to the local Gestapo.
Where fact and fiction parted - he
made the betrayer a kitchen helper
- mattered little; the sense of be-
ing a child living in a defeated land
with its particular horrific anxieties
was felt soul-deep.
So it was in "Lacombe, Lucien,"
his chronicle of a decent, not overly
bright youth fatefully seduced into=
German service.,

Malle's "The Lovers," controver-
sial in its time (1958) for its sexual
suggestiveness, proved eventually
to ease some of the legal restric-
tions on the content of American
films.
At that it is the range of his films
that seems so memorable about
Malle's work, from the joyous romp
of "Zazie Dans Le Metro" to the
somber intensity of "The Fire
Within," a portrait of a suicidal
alcoholic's last hours, and to "My
Dinner With Andre," controversial
in quite a different way for its fea-
ture-length recording of two men
having a meal. His capacity for sur-
prise, in form and content, never
left him: His last film, "Vanya on
42nd Street," found a unique new
way tolook at the play by seeing it
through the eyes of a company pre-
paring it.
Like other filmmakers from
abroad, from Billy Wilder himself
to John Schlesinger, Malle brought
a freshly perceptive eye to this coun-
try. His portraits of Burt Lancaster
as an aging small-time hoodlum in
"Atlantic City" and Brooke Shields
as a hooker's daughter and hooker-
in-the-making in turn-of-the-cen-
tury New Orleans in "Pretty Baby,"
were sympathetic and non-judgmen-
tal toward the subjects, but unspar-
ingly candid about the milieus in
which they had their being.
Having begun as co-director of
"The Silent World" with Jacques
Cousteau, he was always the ob-
server, and his monumental docu-
mentary "Phantom India," was the
observer at his most insightful. But
there, as in his fiction films, he was
never remote or coolly detached.
The watcher cared and felt and
wanted to share what he was seeing
and feeling.
Malle loved the medium with a
passion - a uniting characteristic
of the otherwise disparate talents of
the New Wave. But at last he was
neither a conjurer nor a glossy, big-
budget entertainer; he was first and
last a wise recording witness to our
times.
He was still at the peak of his
gifts when illness struck him, and
as Wilder suggested alout Lubitsch,
I mourn the loss of a friend and of
films now never to be seen.

Ann Magnuson's solo album "The Luv Show" is a campy hoot. Live, you vIxen!

Ann Magnuson
The Luv Show
Geffen
Actress, musician and all-around cool
person Ann Magnuson has finally re-
leased hersolo album on Geffen Records.
Those in the know will remember
Magnuson from theperformance-art/rock
duo Bongwatershe cofounded withindie-
guru and producer Kramer, her recurring
role on the TV show "Anything But Love"
and her unforgettable cameo in the block-
buster "Cabin Boy."
Those completely unaware of
Magnuson until now may not know what
to make of this bizarre and highly theatri-
cal album. While it's a natural progres-
sion from Bongwater's spoken/sung cri-
tiques on pop culture, "The Luv Show" is
a release with almost zero mainstream
recognition or appeal - a gutsy and
unusual move onGeffen's part. Weezerit
ain't.
"The Luv Show" is, as the liner notes
say, "an old-fashioned star vehicle with a
newfangled sound that chronicles the rise
and fall ofa small-town girl with big-city
dreams ... a low-budget story with a big-
budget heart." Magnuson plays an Ann-
Margaret-esque starlet in a postmodem,
darkly humorous take on the classic ups-
and-downs of stardom - a thornier ver-
sion of "The Rose."

It's not, however, a one-woman show.
Don Fleming (Gumball) produced the
album, and shared guitar duties with
Magnuson. Foetus leader and Pigface
contributor Jim Thirlwell does a humor-
ous and sexy cameo as "That Satan Guy"
on the Latin number"Sex With the Devil."
Magnuson is well-supported with back-
ing bands on both coasts, whoplay instru-
ments as diverse as accordion, trombone,
vibes and theremin.
The music itselfon "The Luv Show" is
an eclectic mix of pop styles, including
eerieballadslike"Dead Moth"and"Live,
You Vixen!" '60s easy-listening paro-
dies such as "It's a Great Feeling" and
"L.A. Donut Day," lounge numbers like
"SomeKindofaSwinger"androckabilly-
punk like"Miss Pussy Pants."Thenthere's
the songs that segu6 into monologues
(songologues?) like the aforementioned
"Sex With the Devil" and the literally
apocalyptic closing number "I Remem-
ber You."
All in all, it's a fascinating album.
Magnuson's singing and songwriting has
never been stronger, and the artwork (in-
cluding the tongue-in-cheek centerfold)
and lyric sheet are just as important as the
music. A dark and campy hoot of a solo
project, "The Luv Show" is an uncom-
promising and entertaining work from a
savvy performer.
- Heather Phares

The lads of Menswear may not be the most original, but they are entertaining.

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